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Every business in the world today is a technology company, whether you intended to be or not.

From the core systems that run our businesses to the way we interface with current customers and sell to new customers, and even how we manage the processes in our businesses… every business is a technology company. Because of this, organizations are faced with a decision around how to manage the systems within a business to ensure they are optimized, secure, stable, and designed in a way to keep people productive. For some businesses, this means the consideration of bringing on an IT person to help drive the business toward desired outcomes. There are times when this is the right thing to do, but hiring an IT professional is a challenging decision to make, and it is one that requires a great deal of consideration.

First, I think it is important to know what you are signing up for. Here are the three main aspects of hiring IT help that business leaders are most likely to overlook, and why these factors play such a crucial role in making the right decision for your business.

  1. You will be hiring someone whose skill sets you do not know how to evaluate. Because IT is like a foreign language to most people once you get beyond a surface level, it becomes very challenging to know if an IT professional really knows what they are doing. To do so, you have to have an IT person who knows more than the role for which they are hiring. This is true in any new role you may bring into a company; however, this one can cost you your business. There are a lot of people who “work in IT,” but there are actually very few who are trained, skilled IT professionals who know the best practices, how to manage risk, and have the courage to speak up when they need help… and can also provide great end-user. This is a very expensive hire that requires a very high amount of responsibility. Knowing if the individual is really good at their profession takes in-depth conversations to uncover the truth. There are many who can answer questions about IT at a high level because they understand the concepts, but it is totally different to know if they have actually done the things your business needs, and done them well.
  2. You will be leading and managing someone who does work you likely don’t understand. Just because you come to the office in the morning, turn on a computer, and it works doesn’t necessarily mean your IT person is doing their job right. There is a massive amount of analysis, log reviewing, alerting, security management, redundancy management, business continuity planning, testing, and vendor management to be done… and that is the short list of IT responsibilities! Because of this, determining success or failure is challenging. Additionally, IT professionals are traditionally not easy to lead. Their motivations are different than the average worker, and helping them solve problems requires a higher technical skill set than the average business leader has. When you sign up to hire an IT professional, know that it’s a journey to get things right.
  3. Managing a budget is an essential IT skill. Knowing how to properly spend funds on IT requires ten or more years of experience. To run IT properly, there is a budget range that is right for every business. However, IT professionals normally go down one of two paths. They either try to show value to the organization by saving money, or they “geek out” and over-engineer a network. Both are horribly wrong. Let me explain:
    • Underspending: When you save money in technology, it is most often done by cutting corners of some kind. This leads to risk in the business as well as a cost in productivity. This may be due to systems without proper redundancy, systems that have a higher failure rate, inadequate security, inadequate alerting/notification capabilities, inadequate warranty and replacement part availability, or even something as simple as a system that runs fine… until it unexpectedly doesn’t, bringing the entire organization down.
    • Overspending: Many IT professionals like to build a network that has all the latest bells and whistles just to prove that they can. However, just because a system can do something doesn’t mean that it should. Time and time again, JMARK’s engineers encounter IT environments and networks that have been over-engineered to the point of driving costs, complexity, and risk higher for the business. The more complicated a network design, the more challenging it is to keep it running, managed, and secure. Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Knowing the right balance of design, continuity, redundancy, and recovery is definitely an art and science.

Hiring an in-house IT person is an important decision and requires a good deal of knowledge in order to get the process right. It is one of the most important decisions you will make in your business. Technology forms the foundation for all our modern business processes. The right IT systems set up and run in the right way can keep your business safe, help your workers be more effective, and make your business more profitable. Done incorrectly, IT can leave you stagnant with unwanted downtime and vulnerable to hackers or other disasters.

The three top considerations I’ve listed here are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what should be considered before hiring an IT professional. In fact, there are seven other very important factors to take into account as you decide the right course for your business, and they are all just as vital for you to know as the three listed here.

I don’t have the space to get into those seven other factors in this blog post, but because they are so important, I put them into a whitepaper that I’m making available to everyone who wants it. You can access that paper here. Inside, you’ll find all ten of the most essential things every business leader needs to know before hiring an IT professional. Get your copy now so that you’ll have all the information you need to navigate one of the most critical business decisions you’ll make.

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