Wasting your time managing staff rather than delivering the required IT services?

by Marco Tapia

in management-it-consulting,

May 5, 2010

It is a well known fact that Information Technology professionals - AKA Computer people (mainly IT Support and Developers) are professionals with superior skills developed over time with keen intentions of keeping them up-to-date.

Unlike many other fields, IT changes almost daily. On the infrastructure front, new communication technologies emerge all the time (GSM, 3G, 4G, Frame Relay, MPLS, IP, etc) same with hardware, Intel is releasing new processors all the time, Apple is not far behind with iPhones, iPads and IBM is always innovating. On the Operating System (OS) front, new OSs are generated or upgraded (Windows XP, Vista, 7, Server 2003, 2008, Linux, etc), Databases DB2, Oracle and SQL do not cease to innovate, Cloud Computing SaaS applications, new development tools such as .NET and Java, HTML5, and the list goes on and on and on and on!

This is extremely exciting to IT professionals, and who can blame them.

In order to keep these skills up-to-date, most IT people tend to be very mobile, resulting on high staff turnover in IT departments when compared with other (non IT) departments. This is particularly and anecdotally true for ‘brick and mortar’ companies where IT is not their core business.

One commonly held view is that IT professionals belong to a generation that need to be entertained constantly and this need also applies to their work environment as well. They get bored easily and have no qualms about moving on to another job. Loyalty to an employer is old hat.

In general, brick and mortar companies have another role in life and they use IT as a tool to improve efficiency, reduce cost or increase revenue, however in most cases, IT is not the core business but just an enabler.

As such, they can’t change their technology as often as technology changes or can’t upgrade as often as technology upgrades. They can’t introduce new technology until a business case justifies it and or a business requirement demands it.

More often than not, for obvious reasons, your technology is not the latest. Due to budget, lack of business justifications, other projects, etc, you struggle to introduce blackberries, iPhones, iPads, the latest Windows OS, the latest database, the latest HTML version, the latest browser, etc.

This could be frustrating for many IT professionals, whose self interest is to stay ahead of the game and motivated by the exciting changes in technology.

This creates the need for IT professionals to constantly chase opportunities to work with the latest technology and seek higher salaries, creating mobility and high staff turnover.

Paradoxically, as a CIO or IT Manager you are tasked by your company to deliver a service, a support service to your customers (usually internal customers), who need your IT support to perform their activities, being production, sales, marketing, finance, etc.

So, irrespective of what technologies you have in place, you are tasked, among other things, to provide that support:

  • Continuously, i.e. regardless of situations like sick leave, annual leave, staff on training, etc
  • After Hours, i.e. regardless of situations like public holidays, weddings, etc
  • With motivated staff that delivers superior customer service

So whilst your IT internal staff is worried about the next technology, how to learn it, how to get into it, your customers are not been serviced.

That calls for you to worry about staff retention, staff motivation, staff training, staff salaries, staff performance review, staff attitude, staff sick leave, staff backfilling, staff weddings, staff firing, staff recruitment, etc, etc. i.e. you only worry about ‘staff’, ‘staff’, staff’… and your customers want a service.! No wonder why many estimate the real cost of an internal IT professional is at least twice as much as the base salary (a separate paper on this estimate is available from our website)!

It gets even worse in those large multinationals where increasingly, due to technology improvements, all of the ‘interesting’ IT is being centralised in other countries, leaving only the ‘boring’ stuff like supporting desktops, basic comm. gear and comm. links, and interfacing between the internal customers and the overseas IT functions locally.

So, how do we solve the paradox? You are tasked to deliver a service irrespective of the technology changes and using motivated IT professionals. You also have the need to think strategically for the long term and not implement technology for technology’s sake.

How do you leave the ‘staff’ management to others and deliver the service required instead?

A solution to seriously consider is to refocus on your core business and leave the IT to a company whose core business is IT e.g. PicNet.

Because of its business and operational model, PicNet brings to you the following benefits:

  • IT expertise at different levels: Should you need support at Level 1 or 3, PicNet will have IT professionals tailored for that level. Should you need a software application re-engineered or architecture from scratch, we have them.
  • Motivated IT professionals: Because PicNet rotates its staff across customers, projects and skill requirements, our IT professionals are always motivated because they are always working at the highest level of demand of their skills.
  • Up-to-date IT professionals: In order to fulfil new project requirements, PicNet’s IT professionals are always learning the latest technologies and are ready to step in and perform the service required by that customer or project.
  • Motivated by innovation: because PicNet is an IT company, IT is our core business. As such we invest in continuous innovation generating new products and services like our Risk Shield SaaS solution, our Mouse Eye Tracking SaaS and others. These innovations demand our staff to be always using the latest technologies in software and infrastructure, SaaS, cloud computing, latest HTML, etc.
  • Motivated by experimentation of technologies: PicNet has a ‘lab’ for Engineers and developers to install, test and learn any new emerging technology giving our staff true knowledge on the latest and greatest.
  • Microsoft Gold partner: Being a Microsoft Gold partner is not just another logo on our web site. We have access to all the Microsoft software, their personalised support and beta technologies. That gives our IT staff access to the latest developments from Microsoft to experiment, learn and to stay ahead of the game.
  • Stringent recruitment process: PicNet has one of the most comprehensive multi tier approach to recruitment, handling the whole process by IT experts and experienced IT managers.

So, by having access to multiple customers under our rotation scheme of projects and customers, by having access to the latest technologies, by having other peers doing the same and motivated by these developments, by having that expectation of next time working for another exciting project at a new customer or returning to base to complete that MCSE or another certification, working at PicNet creates an environment where people want to work, people want to stay and deliver that service that the customer wants.

Additionally, PicNet has an entrenched customer service culture, policies and practices that develop in our staff that extra level of superior service that the customer wants.

In other words a win-win for everyone.

By engaging PicNet to provide those commodity IT services you will achieve the delivery of IT to your internal customers with motivated IT professionals. These IT professionals are rotated to other projects and PicNet customers and they will continue to be accessible to you if required without having to force their stay in your company and wasting your time with staff management issues.

You will focus on outcomes and no longer on managing staff. That is left to us. You will achieve results for your business and not waste your time.