The Story of Jonathan the Amazing IT Guy – A Modern Day Myth
Jonathan works as the lead IT person for the FOYI Company. He is part of a small team of two people who make up the FOYI tech team. Jonathan takes the lead in tech, and Mark is his intern helper. Between the two of them they manage IT for the entire company.
On a typical day, any one of FOYI’s 150 users can reach out to Jonathan and get help. They simply email, text or call him and he responds, usually within 5 or 10 minutes. He most often handles the problem himself, but often asks for Mark to step in for him. Most of the time, the problem is solved within a short amount of time, and the user can return to work. If there is follow up to be done, it is never forgotten. Jonathan sends out a follow up message the next morning just to make sure all is well, and often leaves a piece of chocolate by the user’s keyboard. He and Mark can knock out any problem whether Windows, Mac, Mobile, or even Linux.
Jonathan also pays close attention to account management. He and Mark are on it when an employee is terminated and immediately disable the account. They also have new accounts created and equipment deployed for new users within a day of the HR notification of hire. Jonathan seems to have a sixth sense and just knows what type of equipment the user will need and how to have it configured and ready.
Data backups can be complex to setup and monitor, but Jonathan has them humming. He checks them three times a day just to ensure nothing is failing. The company had a major drive failure a few months ago that took a server down. Jason had a spare drive on hand, brought up the server with the restored data within 30 minutes. The company hardly missed a beat.
Jonathan is diligent about tracking equipment and inventory. He keeps spreadsheets of all the equipment purchased. He ages out the equipment, and replaces it at the optimal time, so that rarely does anything go down and everyone is operating at peak performance.
In addition to keeping track of hardware, Jonathan tracks licensing and maintenance contracts. FOYI is always on track and legal with their licensing, and maintenance contracts for firewalls, servers, and other critical equipment. He understands the complexities of Microsoft, Autodesk, Adobe, and various cloud SaaS model licenses, and miraculously keeps them in budget with exactly the right numbers.
Jonathan is a genius with the company ERP software. He not only maintains user accounts, but he loads new versions and even writes custom scripts to enhance the functionality of the software. He also trains new users, and even facilitates projects to build out new ways to use ERP more effectively.
Updating patching systems are performed regularly and flawlessly. Jonathan often stays late or early to perform these updates. He reads the Microsoft Security Update Releases like they were novels and knows exactly how to combat the worse hacking attempts. He even conducts lunch and learn seminars to keep the employees up-to-date on how to be secure on the Web.
The list could continue and the truth is Jonathan, if he existed would be very tired, and the Figment of Your Imagination (FOYI) Company would be very fortunate to have him. The reality of this story is that there is no Jonathan. If there was, he would be far too expensive, and would move on to greater endeavors quickly. Though all of us might like to find a Jonathan, the more realistic solution is to outsource to an MSP. Here are a few reasons why self-managing IT in an organization with under 200 technology users is not the best option:
1. IT Requires Management and Discipline – With a small IT team it is hard to implement good IT management. A true manager will focus on leading well, following best practices, and developing process. This is often not feasible in a small IT department and the dual hands-on technical and managerial role is often attempted and fails.
2. IT Takes a Team – The person who is good at troubleshooting a Windows PC problem and interfacing with the user is rarely the right person to setup a new VLAN or stop a hacker who has infiltrated the firewall. And, he is also probably too mired down in the day to day practical issues to think strategically about implementing new technology. Division of roles is required to do IT well.
3. IT Needs Executive Sponsorship – The nuts & bolts IT person often falls short when making the case for an IT solution to the decision maker. When doing IT assessments, I have often found organizations operating in a very insecure or crippling way because the previous IT person could not make a value proposition that made sense to executive management. This happens for a variety of reasons: lack of ability to communicate in business terms, lack of respect from upper management, selling from their own pocket, misaligned priorities, and more.
4. IT Requires the Right Tools – To do IT well, there must be trouble-ticket tracking software program. There must be a network management and remote access tool. There must software for tracking inventory for IT equipment. Monitoring & Alerting software should be in place to notify about failures and problems. Purchasing this type of software and implementing typically does not happen and may be cost prohibitive in an environment with a few hands-on people handling IT.
5. IT Strategy Requires Separation – Often IT people feel overwhelmed. They go into protection mode and opt for solutions that mean less work for them. While new software or new technology could produce significant results for the company, the IT person blocks and downplays simply out of self-protection and to minimize their workload.
6. IT People Are Hard to Recruit and Find – Jonathan doesn’t really exist, and finding IT people who have both the tech-savvy and people-friendly skills are difficult. And, in today’s fully employed marketplace, it is even more challenging.
I was meeting a friend over lunch today and was explaining what we do. He summarized by saying, so you can do tech better than a company who employs their own staff of 1 or 2 or 3 IT people and probably at less cost? My answer was “yes”. The reason is because there are no Jonathans. A well-managed team with process, tools, and systems is the only way to succeed with IT. In an organization with 200 or fewer technology users, outsourcing to a best-in-class IT managed services provider is the right solution.
Scott Hirschfeld is the President of CTaccess, an Elm Grove IT support company that has been helping small 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.