Many small and medium businesses have an in house “IT Guru.” Often this person is deeply rooted in the business, having shown a technical aptitude early in their career and likely helped build the business to where it is today. They are an invaluable part of your business, but in-house IT Guru's do carry with them unseen risks to your business.
Technology evolves quickly and you have to keep pace. In order to stay competitive and properly protect your business from cyber security risks, your IT person needs to stay current. Professional development and continuing education in technology is an immense challenge and financial burden for many small and medium businesses who have an in-house IT person (or even a small department). Moreover, it is very difficult on your employees to maintain both a deep technical knowledge and perform well in a role as a “technology jack of all trades” within the company.
Small IT departments are often asked to stretch their limited time and attention between all aspects of technology. However, this approach is not sustainable in the long term and can hamper your business's ability to capture market, scale and keep current with modern technology.
At the same time, if you do invest in training your in-house IT group and developing deep technical aptitudes into robust skill sets, you may have a difficult time retaining your people. Competent technology workers are constantly being sought after by larger enterprises who offer compelling salary, benefits and other perks which small and medium businesses often can’t compete with. While some large enterprises may be "too big to fail," small and medium business IT departments may in fact be "too small to survive."
Engineers and Technicians who are good at their job are curious and driven people at their core. They are constantly striving to improve and drive greater efficiency, which is exactly why they are so valuable to a business. However, does your business provide sufficient challenges to keep them engaged in the long term? Perceived monotony or lack of upward mobility can lead these excellent people to look for other opportunities. As the saying goes “the grass is always greener on the other side.”
Companies with small or “one person” IT departments are at risk of burning out their people. Tasked with the complexities of maintaining business applications, dealing with the lifecycle of technology, emerging threats and assisting other employees can take a toll over time if not managed well. Can your company afford to provide the work life balance that your employees need? Do you have sufficient staff redundancy if your IT Guru were to turn in their two-weeks’ notice?