Tech Thursday: The Well-Staffed IT Department – Part 1: Operations

Tech Thursday: The Well-Staffed IT Department – Part 1: Operations

If you’ve decided that it’s time to expand your IT department, you’re probably wondering, “where do I go from here?” From the outside, an IT department in even a medium-sized organization can be a rather complex affair. But the goal of this article and the next is to acquaint you with the different roles in IT, and how they work together to make IT a resource in your company. Then, we’ll look at which roles you should plan on filling as your business grows.

The Front Lines - Help Desk and User Support

When most people think of “IT”, they’re thinking about the help desk. This is because the help desks is the “front door” through which most users will interface with the rest of the IT department. Help desk and user support technicians are responsible for gathering, triaging, and in some cases fixing the problems that users experience when using the company’s computer systems.

Having a well-functioning and easy-to-contact help desk is essential to a well-functioning IT team. Users need to know who to contact and how to contact them in order to get their problems taken care of. And the help desk needs a clear escalation path for issues that it cannot solve or that need the attention of other IT team members or teams. This will ensure that the work moves smoothly through the department, and that IT continues to meet the needs of the rest of the company.

Keeping IT Running - Infrastructure and Engineering

IT infrastructure is complex and ever-changing. So many companies have staff dedicated to maintaining it, as well as planning for future growth and changes.

Server engineering involves maintaining both the physical server hardware as well as the OS environment and virtual infrastructure. Maintaining high availability of critical services is a top priority. This usually involves procuring enterprise-grade hardware and maintaining systems that can self-recover in the event of a failure, as well as using monitoring systems to make sure the entire environment is healthy.

Datacom and telecom engineering involve the cabling and hardware necessary to support computer networks and phone systems. For a business in a single small location, this can be a simple task easily shared with another engineering role. But when it’s time to expand to additional sites, support high-performance applications, or expand to a multi-floor office location, a dedicated datacom/telecom team becomes vital to make sure that your network continues to meet the needs of your business.

As these teams grow, their members can become more specialized. For example, a server engineering team may have a storage specialist, a messaging expert, an AD architect, and more. The importance of each of these roles will vary depending on the needs of your company, but for critical infrastructure, it’s important not to skimp on expertise where it can do the most good.

Compliance and Security

Not everything in IT is purely technical. Once your business grows in size, there are many administrative aspects to IT that can help you to save money, foresee problems, and remain compliant with laws and regulations.

If your company falls under HIPAA, PCI-DSS, DFARS, or another privacy or security regulation, then having a team dedicated to security auditing and compliance is essential. But even if you’re not under a specific regulation, as your company and IT team grows, managing all of the moving parts that are responsible for security can become a challenge. An auditing team can make sure that new projects and existing infrastructure are secure, and that they remain so throughout their lifecycle. They’ll be able to look at the overall picture and provide guidance to other teams on how to maintain security and compliance as your infrastructure grows more complex.

We’ve looked at some of the key operational roles in a well-staffed IT department. Next week, we’ll look into some of the more administrative roles, including licensing, inventory, and project management, and how they fit into the structure we’ve discussed so far.