The Ultimate Guide To Your Business's IT Department
By Features Desk
Friday, July 8, 2016.
IT, both as a department as part of day-to-day operation, should be a part of your business plan from the very start. In the eighties and nineties, having a fully-functional IT department was a massive advantage. Today though, it’s a necessity. Like a lot of growing entrepreneurs, you might want everything that you gain from having a well-oiled IT department. But what if you don’t know the first thing about IT? If this is the case, then you’ve landed on the right website! Here’s a guide to setting up your business’s IT department for the first time:
What does IT Mean to you?
My first piece of advice may seem a little odd; remember that this and any similar guides won’t have all the answers. Part of the beauty of IT is that it covers so much different technology which is used in so many different contexts. Before you start building your IT department from the ground up, you need to decide exactly what IT means to you. It’s time to turn back to your business plan. You should have a good idea of how the supply chains and revenue streams are all going to work at your business. Aside from that, you’ll probably also have a company culture in mind which you’d like to aim for. These are going to be the two biggest guiding factors when it comes to building an It department from scratch. I’m sure that you’re not imagining a few hard-core gamers who only leave their office when someone else has a technical issue. This is exactly what some IT departments look like. However, yours can go so much further. As you move along in bringing your IT department together, you only need to keep one principle in mind. Make sure that all the tech you bring into your company is strategically selected to make your employees more productive and informed. Pull it off, and you’ll gain a considerable edge over your closest competitors.
Building an IT team
The next thing you’ll have to worry about is getting a team together. A lot of your other staff are going to be relying on your IT team to keep on top of their workloads. For this reason, hiring your IT personnel isn’t something you can afford to brush over. First and foremost, you need to pin down a great IT manager in the hiring process. Just like setting up any department, you need to make sure the managerial head of it shares your vision for the future of the company. They need to have a lot of expertise in their niche, of course. However, they should also possess some keen knowledge on how a business is run. This will ensure that the tech they pick out and implement is the most cost-effective way to make the business better. You’ll probably have your own ideas as to what you want your perfect manager to look and act like. The main thing to remember though is that they can’t be fresh out of education. Find a manager who’s got a decent level of experience supporting the IT at an organisation similar to yours. Once you’ve got your manager, the process of building the rest of your team will become so much easier. Have your manager sit in on the recruitment process, and ask them for their advice on each candidate. You may have worked with IT people before, but your new head has had to actually manage them for a living. Before you go through any CVs, talk to the manager about what you want to get out of your IT department, and create roles based on these needs. As the team takes shape, you should also start thinking about a few policies and conventions. This will relate to individual productivity, asset and information management and so on. You can find more advice for recruiting your IT team at cioinsight.com .
Your next step is to set out the services your It department is going to provide to the end users. All the best IT departments in the world are run like service providers, with the end user’s experience treated as a high priority. After you’ve gotten through the chaos of the recruitment drive, you should focus on drafting a good service menu for the end users. Obviously, this should be centred on the most immediate goals you’ve set for your business. Start with the most basic of services. Your email, network and project management software should be the very first order of business. As it starts to take form, continually go back to your goals, and use this to create an IT roadmap. This is basically a ranking of the different features you’ll want to provide, based on how important they are to the business’s overall goals. If you’re looking to get more conversions and revenue, then put more resources into developing your company website. If you’re more concerned with maximising your employees’ productivity, then your focus should be on the quality of the servers you choose. As with any business goals, make sure these are ambitious, yet realistic, and always time-constrained.
Employee productivity in itself is a very important factor to consider when you’re setting up any new IT department. Here, you’re going to need to acquire and implement various tools which aid communication and collaboration, both within your organisation and between its partners. How much or how little tech you use for this depends on your business’s individual goals. However, there are certain minimums that every business should have as part of the tech make-up. At the very least, you should set up a reliable messaging system for use within your business. This is a pretty big niche in itself now, with many apps like Slack making splashes on the market. All of these companies are trying to out-do one another in how smooth and easy they can make business communications, so you may feel a little spoilt for choice! You should have your own domain name by now, so find an email client to set up work accounts for all your employees. From there, you’ll probably want a range of other software, such as cloud storage. Picking the tech solutions that are best for your business can be pretty hard with all the different options available to you. To make sure you get it right the first time around, it may be worth bringing in a professional IT consultant like these ones: CMITSolutions.com . Outsourcing like this can be a big help in getting the best results for the lowest possible expense.
So, now you’ve got a well-oiled team under an experienced manager, and a range of technological tools for them to use. Next up, you’ll need to create a system for managing all the tech which you have at your disposal. The biggest factor you should be thinking about here is the company’s ROI. You’ve likely thrown a lot of money at the tech you’re using for your IT department. If you fail to keep tabs on what it’s all doing relative to your business plan, you could risk losing that investment with nothing to show for it. You’re going to need to tag all the hardware your company buys, and keep a close eye on all your software licenses. If there’s a shift in the market and some of the tools you’re using become obsolete, you’ll be wasting money by continuing to use it. As new tech becomes more and more popular, you’ll continue to lose business to more efficient and modern businesses. When it’s time to replace some technology at your company, you can’t afford to sit around. Make sure you’re monitoring the performance of all your tech, and recognising the fiscal need to replace it with other developments.
Finally, bring in some corporate apparatus for managing and securing all the information your company holds. You’ve probably already accumulated a massive amount of information. From sales records to customer behaviour and so on, there’ll be countless things which you’re going to need to manage properly, and present to the people who need it. By setting it out in a way that’s clear and easy to digest, you’ll be making it easier for your staff to make smart, calculated decisions. Look into database and warehousing models, and choose the one that makes most sense for the size and culture of your company. You also need to make sure that any sensitive data is well-protected from the wrong eyes. Cybercrime is absolutely huge now, and one of the biggest threats facing new businesses. Be sure to guard your network, databases and so forth with reputable anti-virus software made for businesses. You should also talk to your IT manager about policies for internet use during work days. Have a training day completely focussed on safe use, and make it mandatory for all your employees. If you make the smallest slip-up in protecting your customer data, you could have a full-blown scandal on your hands.
I hope this guide has made the whole task of setting up your IT department much simpler. It’s not easy or cheap, but the benefits are well worth the extra work!