Chris J Powell

IT Roles Get a Boost – Part 1

Last week I ran through a series of slides that looked to Roles within an IT Department that according to a poll done by CIO Insight Magazine can expect to see a staffing bump in 2011.  In this series it looked at 13 different roles.  Now as we all know there is rarely a case in large or small IT Departments that when a person is hired for one thing that is the only hat that they wear but to look objectively at these roles lets look at each one and see where the need and gaps may lie.

Roles and Job Descriptions are in constant flux through out any organization so instead of looking at the Job Title (which I have found can vary wildly from company to company) I will look at these roles one by one.  Today we focus on the bottom 3 (Human Resources, IT Research and Asset Management).  This week we will get through all 13 roles and then tie things up with my own predictions on where IT Professionals can get the most bang for their buck.

Human Resources

In my day to day job I work with companies that have as few as 1 in IT to companies that have as many as 3000 in IT all at one location.  What is the tipping point at which an IT Department needs to have its own HR Generalist to support them and facilitate the hiring and discipline within the department?  What would that position be?  What place would an HR  person have and would they be able to share their time between the two masters (Business and IT)?

There seems to be some wild variance about how many people you would need in the HR Team for an IT Department.  They would have the support of the company HR Department supporting them so the standard staff calculators do not apply directly but could offer some support in the starting point.  The general staffing ration calculation is:

      HR         ×   100   =   ratio                      1     ×   100   =   2.2 ratio
Total Staff                                                       45

This would be relatively high and there may not be the need for a full FTE here but depending on the issues and industry it might just be what the doctor ordered (rapid growth or too many conflicting personalities).  I see that as a department grows the management of the people, the policies and the engagement becomes increasingly vital to the smooth operation.  For many of my clients, their number one objective this year is better alignment with the Business and when you get big enough…this is a good way to connect with the one group of people who have their finger on the pulse of everything that is happening in the company.

Look to HR as a true support, my employer recently expanded it research into this space to form a sister company the McLean & Company which specializes in core best practice research and a real focus on employee engagement.

IT Research

I have only had 2 or 3 clients who have had a dedicated staff member that all they did was IT Research.  As a Professional Sales Person these companies are notoriously difficult to assist as they have already invested heavily in Research but also in a dedicated “librarian”.  Each person in an IT Department can, does and will continue to do research.  Whether it be a Sys Admin who needs to look up a nagging config problem on a server, an IT Director searching for a SharePoint Strategy or a CIO looking for the best Strategic Alignment with the Business.

I work directly in the field of IT Research everyday as this is my Full Time Job.  In many ways the standard that has been set for years does play well into the idea that one person is the holder of all the “collective intelligence” and then filters and distributes it to the rest of the worker bees but working for a company that provides a disruptive force to the status quo when it comes to not just what is written but how it is consumed I can attest to the fact that all members of an IT Department need access to both the Tactical insights and Strategic assistance that comes from quality research!

The CIO Insight slide says that the 34% of respondents who stated that IT Research roles would increase should leverage consultants for their research…this can be a double edged sword because those same consultants bill you an hourly rate and have a fixed contract that does not allow for much “extra service” to be baked in.  I myself love working with Consulting Companies because their specialization is at the same time their greatest strength and weakness.

There are many, many sources of IT Research out there.  They range from blogs like mine, to Tech Sites, to IT Research Firms to IT Consultants selling their time and expertise.  If you are an IT Professional…you will at some time turn to an outside source (after all…if your reading this it isn’t purely for pleasure).

Asset Management

Whether you have an ever expanding Software Stack or a Hardware Farm that has gotten a little out of control over the past few years of operating on a Lean Budget, Asset Management is key to success.  Knowing what you have before you head out and buy more is a sound business strategy.

Having worked with our Lead Analyst @SandiConrad it is also about knowing how much of what you have and the correct levels of maintenance support on both the software and hardware side of things.  Even the most dedicated IT Managers can fall victim to a slick sale pitch and over spend on a software contract.  I have seen enormous savings both in the the Microsoft Licensing space but also in looking at the right sized hardware contracts with the likes of Cisco.  Just because the money is flowing back into the IT Department does not mean that the days of Free Spending are back.

In Part 2 we will look at Business Continuity, IT Financial Management, Client Relationship Management and Service Management as roles.

Have a Great Day and Always Look on the Bright Side of Life!

Chris J Powell

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