Alternative to IT Department Staffing
“Doing more with fewer people” has been a tenet of American companies for the past couple of decades, but nowhere has it been more prevalent than in IT departments. Although the amount and sophistication of technology has grown exponentially in most companies, there hasn’t been a corresponding growth in the size of IT teams.
Of course, much of the work IT staffers find themselves doing is anything but sophisticated. Instead of working on strategies to boost the company’s efficiency, IT team members at most organizations spend a mind-numbing amount of timing performing tasks such as solving web browser problems for the marketing team, helping the logistics director figure out why his smartphone isn’t ringing, stopping the spread of malware that guy in sales foolishly downloaded, and setting up the production manager’s new laptop after his old one mysteriously froze. Every IT staffer reading these words is nodding and rolling their eyes.
I’ve yet to meet an IT director who isn’t desperate to add bodies to their department. “If I only had one more person, I could …” “If we could just add two techs, we’d be able to …” “When someone goes on vacation, the rest of us have to work into the evening.” Top management is willing to invest six figures in some new system, but increase headcount? Not in this less-in-more mindset.
So IT directors can either resign themselves to forgoing vacations and working well into their evenings … or they can explore a relatively new strategy a growing number of their peers are using to accomplish more with less.
That strategy is Co-Managed IT, in which the internal team draws upon the expertise and resources of an external IT provider-partner. The internal team and the provider work together in a seamless fashion. Depending upon a company’s specific needs, a co-managed provider may keep an eye on the network, serve as a help desk for those annoying issues, and manage the seemingly endless deluge of software patches and updates. Because the internal team doesn’t have to deal with those time-consuming issues, they can focus their time on more meaningful tasks — like working on that initiative the CEO is expecting to see by year-end.
Co-managed IT isn’t outsourcing the department’s role to another company. Nor is it one of those consultant relationships that feel like a hit-and-run and create more problems than they solve. It’s a long-term collaborative relationship built specifically around the company and department’s unique needs. It allows the IT director to best deploy the internal team’s expertise, using the provider to address areas where they lack knowledge or just don’t want to focus their limited time.
It’s an approach that can also add depth to an internal IT department by giving it constant access to specialized experts with knowledge of current best practices. Co-managed IT can bring a more sophisticated layer of monitoring to servers and networks to head off issues before they become problems. It can bolster the company’s efforts to head off cyberthreats. It gives the company access to tested, proven technology without the cost of investing in it or having to take the time to train internal staff on how to use it.
And just as important, it gives the IT director professional peers who can serve as a sounding board for ideas and challenges, without the ulterior motives that often underlie advice from vendors and consultants. In simple terms, a co-managed IT provider doesn’t want to take over and become the company’s IT department. The provider’s goal is helping the IT director make their department even better.