The Meridian Blog: Tech News, Tips & More for SMB and Enterprise Environments

How to Take Stress Off Your IT Department: Go Hybrid

Matt Williams

Posted by Matt Williams
Tue, Jan 30, 2018

Outsourced IT professionals can support existing departments.
Outsourced IT professionals can support existing departments.

Partnering with a managed IT services provider (MSP) for a Hybrid IT approach enhances your internal IT department with much-needed support, specialized skills and more — without the expense of adding headcount.

Not every business has the staff within their existing organization that they may need, especially with today's quickly-evolving technology landscape

As Gordon Haff states in his article, Why IT Went Hybrid (And Why It Matters), "it's probably impossible to do everything in-house — and it's certainly not economically sensible." 

Haff is right on target, as more and more situations require specialized skills, such as those specific to cybersecurity, physical security, strategic planning or technology upgrade projects. When these situations arise, a company that attempts to solely handle them in-house, on top of their existing workload, can put too much weight on internal IT departments, leaving them less likely to succeed.

Read on to learn how we partner with many of our clients to alleviate these stresses, because your team deserves the resources and support necessary to succeed.

You may also like: Discrepancies Between Reported IT Concerns and Spending

Identifying & Solving the Problem

CIO.com recently looked into the necessities of using sufficient IT specialists and following best practices. According to this article, turning to the same people for every IT-related event can leave them "burnt out." To help avoid this, companies can both consider existing management, IT staff, and any "on call" personnel carefully, and clearly define what constitutes an emergency or escalation worthy of their attention

Questions to consider include:

  • What kinds of IT tasks exist, and have we clearly defined responsible parties for each?
  • Does there seem to be potential to overwhelm one or more of these responsible parties?
  • Is there any scalability within the IT support infrastructure for times of unusually high or low demand?
  • Do the management and IT personnel who are at the core of your operations really need to be inundated with every single help desk ticket? 
  • What critical communications could be lost in their inboxes cluttered by trivial requests and complaints?
  • Could your IT director's time be better spent elsewhere than resetting passwords over and over again for forgetful employees, or managing a print fleet?
  • Are there strategic projects or organizational initiatives that your IT team could assist with more often if the busy work was removed from their plates?

Educate All Employees to Minimize Avoidable Issues

Business leaders can also work hard to integrate cyber knowledge and fair expectations across the organization as a whole. In addition to documenting how long regular IT requests should take to complete, this also includes creating standard operating procedures that minimize avoidable issues. You can't assume that rules like don't click on suspicious links or attachments are common sense for your entire employee population.

To start, you could download and distribute a copy of this free eBook, Cybersecurity Tips for Employees: The complete guide to secure behavior online and in the office, or provide training on security best practices for all employees.  

Related: The Biggest Threat to Your BYOD Security Could be Your Employees

SET RULES, GUIDELINES & EXPECTATIONS

I also recommend setting clear guidelines, hours and preferred communication methods for contacting IT, submitting requests, etc. For instance, simply requiring all IT requests be submitted to a centralized queue or inbox so that they may be assigned to the appropriate internal or external party based on priority level, skills, roles, availability, etc., can have an immediate positive impact.

You could also consider prohibiting employees from physically entering the IT work area and/or making verbal IT requests or complaints. While it may seem innocent, this kind of disruption is a huge opportunity for important things to "slip through the cracks." It can also create more room for error — which you can't afford when it comes to your business technology — as well as stress, lost productivity, and more.

In fact, Don't Interrupt Me! An Examination of the Relationship Between Intrusions at Work and Employee Strainpublished by the International Journal of Stress Management, asserts that intrusions are associated with strain unrelated to the actual workload. Respondents in their study reported significant incremental increases in exhaustion (9%), physical complaints (4%), and anxiety (3%), which had nothing to do with the volume or complexity of their work. 

Now, just imagine the impact on an already overloaded IT employee with the weight of your company's entire network on their shoulders — especially without an MSP partner to help bear some of that weight.

Additional Considerations

"There's a lot to consider when establishing IT services..."

There's a lot to consider when establishing IT services, especially when combining internal and outsourced resources in a hybrid IT environment. Managers have to see that operations stay within budget, meet their specific qualifications and have clear organization.

RELATED: Top 3 Reasons DC Businesses Should Adopt Hybrid IT

Resources and responsibilities must be clearly defined and assigned, and the team members should establish a working cadence. This can be true whether you want to outsource an entire department, or just augment or enhance the internal department without the expense of adding staff to an existing team.

Mind the Gap: Old systems, emerging innovations & skill shortages

There's also the ever-present concern of skills shortages, something affecting many technical fields. Many organizations still have some older systems or software still in use, requiring them to consider the balance between the increasing risks of using outdated technology and the velocity of constantly emerging innovations. To keep up, your business may need experts who can work with particular systems, execute complex updates to multiple systems over time, and ensure compatibility with both existing and future IT infrastructure.

If your existing team does have the skills to execute tasks such as those listed above, do they have the uninterrupted time to focus and do it right?

If your existing team doesn't have the specialized skills and certifications for certain projects or initiatives, do you really want to take on the fully-burdened costs of recruiting, interviewing, hiring, on-boarding, and managing such expensive...ahem, sorry, I mean skilled...headcount?

Managed IT services from a partner like Meridian can offer exactly the support your company needs to help your team stay productive and competitive — whether it's by augmenting or enhancing the existing IT support infrastructure, a comprehensive outsourcing program, or anything in between.

Contact us today to learn more about how you can customize our support options to help take stress off your IT department. Together, we can build a strong, sustainable technology ecosystem that sets your business up for success.

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Matt Williams

Matt Williams

As Meridian's President and Chief Operations Officer, Matt Williams drove Meridian's successful expansion into a full-service provider of information technology consulting and professional services. Supporting a management team and staff of over 125 full-time employees, Matt brings over 20 years of technical and management experience to Meridian, and guides the company toward a vision of operational and service excellence in all areas. Outside of work, Matt enjoys spending time outdoors with his wife and sons, especially on their farm in Maryland. "We have assembled a team of the very best technicians, connectivity and solutions experts, customer service reps, and administrative staff in our industry. We know our work ethic, expertise, and integrity of our people is essential to success in the market."

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