Getting "IT" to Work for YOU

Too often I find clients spending too much time sorting out IT issues. Either they can’t get a file to print or they are busy calling the product manufacturer trying to sort out what’s not working; Taking valuable time from their actual job. Here are a few quick tips for getting the right IT professional:

Is it time to have somebody on site full time? If you are spending more than 5-10 hours a week sorting out technical issues it may be time to start thinking about hiring a full time IT professional. A lot of small firms contract out IT professionals or hire a firm to remotely manage their technical issues. For about 25% more than what you pay your traditional employees you should be able to find a quality IT professional cross trained in what your fulltime workers do. Now you have someone who is able to manage your network, know the ins and outs of your system, handle the issues that are holding you back, and when no technical issue is afoot, work just as any other employee does to maintain your business.

Make sure you hire the right person. This cannot be stressed enough! Too often, technicians embellish their skills to land the job and then find themselves in way over their head. And, the business owner does not know enough about the technical aspects of their business to know that the person they hired is unqualified. In order to find the right technician, you need to know what you are trying to accomplish and what obstacles may arise on that path.

Here are a few steps that can lead you down the right path to finding a quality IT person to help you maintain your business:

  1. Identify past problems that have consistently kept your office from being productive.
  2. Identify issues that you would like to resolve, or objectives you would like to accomplish in the future. Contact someone who has already resolved these issues and ask them what type of technical issues they had encountered.
  3. Know your system, and what data do you access daily. Is it stored in a database? Do you have a peer to peer network or a client-server network? How are you backing up your critical data?
  4. After answering the previous questions, get a list of questions together that test the potential employee’s ability to manage tasks associated with your setup. If you are unsure what to ask, find someone competent that has successfully helped you in the past and ask them to generate a few questions for you.
  5. In IT, experience is everything. It’s great if someone has obtained certain IT credentials such as COMPTIA certification or an IT Degree but nothing makes up for experience. Anyone is able to obtain a degree but to be able to work a technical issue requires a different sort of problem solver. Make sure your potential employee can not only answer questions on paper but also solve real world problems. Have a live test ready to evaluate their competency.
  6. Find someone you can trust, it’s very hard to tell from a resume and an interview whether or not you can trust someone. You need to be able to trust your IT person. They need to be aware of every aspect of your business so they can identify potential issues. This may involve divulging information you wouldn’t usually disclose to other employees. How can you tell if you can trust someone? Well there is no easy answer for this; integrity is a value that is practiced. Does this potential employee practice integrity? Have some interview questions ready that will identify this value. CHECK REFERENCES!!!

For IT job seekers:

The information age is upon us, the job listing may not say “Looking for an IT professional” but most if not all offices are in need of finding a quality IT professional but some don’t know it. Research potential openings and identify needs for a quality IT person, if you think you can handle the specifications for the current opening and you feel they could benefit from your IT skills, bring this with you to the interview, give a brief presentation on how you would be able to benefit the company, filling their immediate need and offering solutions to other not so obvious needs.