Congratulations! Under “other duties as assigned”, you’ve inherited the managing of your companies IT needs. Shhh sssshhh…s’ok. You’ve got this. Today’s IT landscape includes a long list of things: computers, software, smartphones, firewalls, switches blah blah blah insert big technical words here. Here’s your beginners guide to your first few weeks on the job.
Assess your IT Debt
The longer a business goes without investing in computer hardware and software, the more IT debt it racks up. First things first. On a scale of 1 thru 10, assess the debt.
( 1- not bad, we’re up to date and nobody is complaining 10- password to server is on a sticky note which is taped on the actual server , which is plugged into the same outlet as the coffee maker. After talking to support, CEO slams receiver on rotary dial phone)
Look for an MSP (managed service provider) or another resource who will come alongside you and work with you. The size of the IT world is BIG. Major big. You’re going to want someone working with you to help you navigate it. That and you’re probably going to need an interpreter.
The Language Barrier
Like any profession, IT has its own language. However, the phrase “ I don’t understand what you’re saying” is universally understood by IT people to mean, please repeat that in human speak. Nobody takes offense to this. Use as often as necessary.
Hardware – You get what you pay for
“Can’t we buy it online for cheaper?”Ranking right up there with “Hey, real quick, what’s the Wifi password again?” this is the most common question you’ll need to answer. Here’s a quick reference.
|Business Grade||Consumer Grade|
|Both business and consumer grade computers share the same components||Shares hardware components with business grade|
|Not exactly eye candy – Typically designed for travel, business grade laptops are built to be sturdy and last longer. Often built with more metal and shock resistant features. Keyboards and switches are built to hold up to extensive use||Prettier and offers unique design features (Bright glossy displays, island style keyboards, sleek chassis, 360 degree hinges, detachable screens etc.)|
|Consistent design||Design may vary from year to year|
|Created for long term all day use||Aren’t intended for a 40 hour work week|
|Easier to upgrade with more configuration options assuming they will be replaced less frequently||Assumes the consumer will want to buy new more frequently|
|Typically longer warranties||Typically comes with a 1-year warranty|
|Basic software||Comes with lots of pre-loaded software- game demos and trial offers|
Invariably the conversation will fall to security, spam, phishing, hacking and breaches. Coincidently, this conversation usually comes on the heels of a co-worker registering their user id and password on a website like www.pleasehackme.com in order to get something for free. Weird, right? You’re going to need what we call a multi-layered security approach. This is a fancy way of saying you’ll need multiple products, some policies and procedures, and employee training.
The Human Firewall
Employees are considered the human firewall of your business. When technology fails, the humans in your company are what stands between your company and the wild west of the internet. Train, educate, repeat. Your users are your first line of defense, make sure they know the cybersecurity basics.
Pro Tip: Never underestimate the human firewall’s ability to create large gaping holes where perfectly secure passwords used to be. Remember: You rule the password policy. A good strong password policy is cheaper and requires less antacid than a breach.
Find a Great Partner
Let an IT provider do the heavy lifting. It’s reasonable to expect an IT provider to help you budget, justify expenses, plan ahead for capital expenses, and help you make a business case for purchases. You should never be in a position to wonder if you’re making the right decision. A good MSP or service provider will work with you, at your pace, and help you understand the why behind the decisions. If all else fails, you can blame them for the 14 character passwords everyone is complaining about.
Ask for service with a side of sales and supersize the service. If you feel like every conversation with your MSP or service provider is about buying more product, find someone else to talk to. While bailing out of IT debt requires several sales conversations, more important conversations are the ones around how to make your job easier or how you’re doing in your role. What are your pain points? What can be taken off your plate?
You’re the IT person, so this is going to get tricky. Even if you have an IT service provider, you’re going to get the support calls. This means that rebooting is now your friend and so is his brother the power button. A quick consultation with Dr.’s Unplug It and Plug It Back In also solve a lot of general networking issues. I know it sounds trite but in reality, a reset solves a lot of problems.
Now that you’re in IT, you’ll need to find what works for you. From full online accreditations to small sounds bites for being more productive, there are a ton of resources out there to help you. You don’t have to manage all of it by yourself. Get your team of resources and get ready! It’s a pretty cool ride.