As your business grows, you’ll start outgrowing things that used to meet your needs perfectly well. Things like office space -- what once seemed like more than enough space for your business can turn cramped when it’s time to bring on more people and keep growing.
In the same way, your business can outgrow your IT team’s capacity. Unlike with physical real estate, the signs that IT is constraining your business can be more subtle -- but the effects on your business, however, are just as serious.
So, what are the signs that it’s time to start growing your IT team? We’ll cover those in this article. Then, stay tuned for our upcoming Tech Thursday articles that will help you to take a strategic approach to IT hiring.
Warning Sign #1: Everything Is Always On Fire
When you request something from your IT staff, is it received with a “sure, no problem!” and a quick turnaround time? Or is it met with cries of anguish and a weeks-long wait? If your IT staff seem to be constantly rushing around to “put out fires”, it can mean that it’s time to expand your team.
While major issues do come up occasionally, a well-functioning IT department is able to design and maintain systems that function well and do not cause excessive downtime. The problem is that it can be a self-perpetuating cycle -- constant emergencies mean there’s no time to design stable systems, which means constant emergencies, which means no time -- and so on. If this is the case at your business, it’s time to look at adding IT resources.
Warning Sign #2: IT Has No Long-Term Strategy
IT is a constantly changing landscape. New technologies -- and changes to old technologies -- mean that it’s a constant battle to keep from getting left behind. But, in most cases these changes can be seen coming from afar. Conferences, tech publications, and press releases all provide a way to keep up with what’s changing.
But, without a properly staffed IT team, your business can find itself reacting to changes, rather than proactively adjusting course. At best, this means that you’re failing to take advantage of better services and processes. At worst, it means that you could be left behind when disruptive changes sweep through the industry.
Of course, Warning Sign #1 could be at fault -- too many fires to put out means little or no time for strategic, long-term projects. But if your IT team isn’t overworked, it could mean that it’s time to bring in technical leadership, in the form of a CTO or IT Director, to provide guidance on long-term IT strategy.
Warning Sign #3: IT Isn’t Providing Business Insights
Even if your IT team is like a well-oiled machine, there’s another problem that could crop up -- that of the proverbial “tail wagging the dog”. In this scenario, technology tends to overshadow the rest of the business, and IT decisions are being made based only on technical merits -- not on the impact to business processes and goals.
In order for IT to properly serve the interests of the business, it’s important that all IT decisions be evaluated in the context of the whole business. But, it’s important to recognize the unique position that IT has to provide insights that can be helpful for improving other business processes. In many cases, detailed metrics can be gathered from the tools used by both customers and employees, and, if correctly analyzed, can provide real visibility into once-opaque processes.
In order to take advantage of these insights, you’ll need a team that can both gather and analyze this information -- the I in “IT”. This can mean bringing on a CIO, as well as business analysts and software specialists to compile, analyze, and act on the data collected.
Expanding an IT team can be a daunting challenge. Our next article will cover the various roles that can fall under IT, and how each one can provide value to your business.
E-N Computers is a full-service IT Managed Service Provider, serving businesses in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. Contact us today to find out how we can provide the IT insights you need to help your business grow.