We all possess different skill sets. Some of us are great with numbers while others thrive in the language department or devour history books. It’s what makes the world turn and keeps things interesting.
Being an information technology (IT) professional is no different. We pride ourselves on being experts at what we do and knowing the ins and outs and subtle nuances of the tech industry. At its core, being an IT professional is about helping people. (In particular, helping people who don’t have the specific skill set we possess.) And the first step in helping someone is to be honest with them.
This begs the question — Why would an IT person not be honest with me? Is there something she/he knows that I don’t?
Here’s the short answer: Yes. There are tons of things your IT person knows that they are probably not telling you. But don’t fret. By understanding what questions to ask and why they’re important, you’ll be prepared if there ever comes a time when your IT guy or gal tries to pull a fast one over you.
They can help you cut IT costs
Plain and simple. No one knows how to cut IT costs more than the IT professional. From shifting your company’s infrastructure to the cloud, to automating processes, to utilizing free apps and tools, your IT guy or girl is in the know when it comes to cutting corners while remaining a tech-savvy company.
Some of the biggest money saving secrets they possess are how to save you money on your recurring infrastructure cost and vendor costs (including their own), as well as what your IT cost truly is.
It’s in your best interest to be proactive and inquire about this info, as some professionals won’t always be inclined to offer up tips and tricks.
They can help you achieve your business goals (using tech)
Chances are, your IT person doesn’t know what your business goals are. They are there to do a job and thus it isn’t necessarily a requirement for them to know everything about your organization. But that doesn’t mean they can’t, or shouldn’t help.
One of the most important things in any business, regardless of industry, is compliance. For many, “security” and “compliance” are interchangeable, but in fact are different. Think of compliance as meeting the minimum requirements, and security as going above and beyond those requirements.
A good example of the difference is the international store Target. The chain had met the standards for PCI (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) compliance but still suffered a massive security hack in 2013.
Start a conversation the next time they’re in your office or on the phone with you and let them know what you’d like to achieve. More than likely, they’ll be privy to some tools or software that could help you accomplish these goals. Which brings us to #3…
They know about emerging data and technology that can save you money & help business
The first step is starting a conversation with them about your organization’s goals. The second step is to know what they know. Let’s say one of your quarterly business goals is to cold call 1,000 prospects. Pretty simple, right?
A natural follow up question upon learning of this goal is, “Are you using a CRM right now to track all of your leads / prospects / phone calls / etc.?”
If your answer is “no” then your IT person may suggest using CRM software (Customer Relationship Management) that helps businesses stay organized and efficient. Pay attention to how they react and what they say when you disclose these goals. If it seems like they’re withholding some juicy info, they probably are.
Some insider money-saving tips your IT person probably doesn’t want you to know:
They often make more money if they resell you hardware and software
You could probably save a pretty penny using other vendors
Sadly, they are likely clueless about vendor agreement renewals
They might not know how to maintain your infrastructure and backups
This is a big one. Any IT professional worth their salt will know where your businesses points of failure are and understand how to remedy them. Understanding where potential shortcomings are will give them the foresight to plan ahead. Make sure when hiring IT personnel that they have an internal process for disaster recovery, consistently test back ups, sufficiently monitor your infrastructure, and generally have the full grasp of what your organization does, how it operates, and what to do in the event of an emergency.
They might not be experts on Business Continuity Plans (and the need to be!)
Business Continuity Plans, or BCPs for short, is the process of creating systems of prevention and recovery “to deal with potential threats to a company.” Being knowledgeable about BCPs, how they work, and creating them for clients is an area where IT professionals need to be absolute experts. Yours might not be — and that’s an issue.
Firstly, make sure that your IT guy or girl has a plan of action for each and every year they remain employed with you. Merely thinking one or two steps ahead is not enough; s/he should have a complete, detailed, plan of action for the entire calendar year.
Additionally, ask them about the last time they tested your organization’s BCP tools and failovers. They should have an answer immediately. If it seems like they’re struggling to remember when they ran tests, that’s a bad sign. Consistent testing is of utmost importance regarding BCPs (and most areas of IT for that matter).
The overarching lesson is this: There needs to be communication between you and your IT person or team. You may operate in separate departments in the organization, but you’re all on the same team. Working together can mean serious savings, learning new things, and of course, a better business. Start a conversation with your dedicated IT person or even hold a meeting with the entire department to not only get on the same page about business goals, but also to get to know each other. IT professionals possess a wealth of skills and knowledge that you, as a business leader, need to possess as well to really let your organization thrive and shine.