The Six Kinds of IT People
The category of “IT People” is an interesting one. What comes to mind first when you think of an IT person? For many it is that geeky guy who knows computers, but does not necessarily know how to communicate. Or it might be that devious hacker, who is lurking the Internet looking for a way to wreak havoc on your business. Maybe you have a good relationship with a positive IT person, and that is what comes to mind.
Recently, after meeting with a company about replacing their very small IT department as their IT Managed Services Provider (MSP), I began to think about the different types of IT people I have met over the years. The interesting thing about IT is that it takes a strong team to really do well. When operating independently, often the structure, guidance and background needed for an IT person to succeed are just not there, and things often go a little off target. I came up with a list of 6 different kinds of IT people, that I have run into over the years.
Here are my 6 Kinds of IT People:
1. The Doer. This is the hands-on person who gets things done. He is always running from one problem to the next, always busy, and often viewed as a great guy by the teams of people who he rescues from IT problems. The Doer tackles everything on his own, seldom needs help, and keeps users happy. The downside is that this person often wears himself out. He is often unable to take a true vacation and unplug, even for a day or two. He is so busy dealing with daily issues, that he cannot plan for the long-term. Though he would say being proactive is important to him, it just rarely happens. The Doer is often a “if you want it done right, you have to do it yourself”, person. He wants to please everyone, but sometimes he just can’t do it all, so it does not get done.
2. The King. This person has a bit of a complex. They have allowed their knowledge of all things IT, or their innate insecurity to make them obnoxiously superior. I once had one of these IT people refer to the users he supported as “my little children”. Hard to believe, but I have seen this attitude in action more than once. These people are territorial, assume that the user is misreporting their problem, and does not see it as their job to figure out what the real issue is. The King is unpleasant to work with and fits the stereotype perfectly of the arrogant nerd.
3. The Wallet. The person who fits this pattern is not able to move past the cost of good IT solutions. They may have distorted relationship to money in general, or it may have been put upon them by management at some point in their career. The Wallet views everything as too expensive. She often uses freeware or writes customized scripts to avoid paying for a solution. The problem with this low-cost approach is that it creates a support nightmare. Freeware and custom scripting are hard to support and often result in cobbled solutions, that don’t integrate and work together. In addition, this person often cannot present a case to management on an initiative that requires spending. They have a very hard time presenting a clear budget to executive leadership. When they receive any budgetary pushback, they resort to offering a solution that is at best cheap and hard to support, and at worst not functional at all.
4. The Coordinator. This person is a good administrator and is great at coordinating vendors to do the work. You can identify them by their knowledge of vendor solutions, and by how many vendors are tapping into the budget. The skill of understanding vendor solutions and coordinating the right ones to get the job done is a valuable one. The problem with this small IT department coordinator is that he is often overspending on vendors and self-performing very little work himself. Often there is a significant overspend due to the vendor overlap, and working with an IT Managed Service Provider (MSP) to provide a single point of contact and a larger breadth of services would be far more efficient. Frequently too much time is spent coordinating and both the salary of this person and the vendor expense is too high when combined.
5. The Smart Newbie. This person is a great IT hire. They are quick learners and can figure almost anything out. They would be a great addition to an IT Team with the structure and senior members to guide them, as they grow and learn. The issue arises when they are part of a one or two person IT team with little direction. They have little or no exposure to best practices and no reference point. They implement solutions that often fall short because of their lack of exposure. For instance, a recent network review showed some scary shortcomings in backup and recovery. The backup method chose by the Smart Newbie left this company in the lurch, when they needed to recover data from just a few days ago, and also greatly lacked in creating offsite copies of data.
6. The Antique. Nobody wants to be the antique, but it often happens in IT. Technology is always changing, which means if you don’t keep learning you fall behind. The Antique is that IT Guy that has been around and has a wealth of information in his brain about how IT should be done. The problem is that he has stopped learning. He might still be using a tape drive. He might be Cloud averse. He might refuse to virtualize servers. He often sees the roadblock on every new idea. Instead of trying to figure out “How can we”, he is always putting up the “Why we can’t”. He sometimes uses security as a roadblock, and at other times ignores it altogether.
Hopefully these stereotypical IT types have made you chuckle a little. Maybe you saw an IT person you worked with in some of them, or maybe you see them as types of people in general. The goal here is to poke a little fun, but also to be aware of what to avoid as IT people and as leaders of organizations.
The real issue in most of these instances is that IT needs leadership and structure and IT is not that easy to lead. Technology is constantly changing, security is more important than ever, and a structured IT discipline is difficult to set and keep. Working with a strong IT Managed Services Provider (MSP) who has the structure, tools, and leadership helps avoid the pitfalls of dysfunctional IT and provides a strong platform to help your company meet its goals.
If you would like to discuss IT Managed Services and a high-performance IT solution for your organization, please reach out to CTaccess, Inc. We would love to chat with you.
Scott Hirschfeld is the President of CTaccess, a Brookfield IT support company that has been helping businesses stop focusing on IT and getting back to doing business since 1990. Under his leadership CTaccess provides the business minded approach of larger IT companies with the personalized touch of the smaller ones. Connect with Scott on LinkedIn.