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Hiring an IT specialist

Moving IT support in-house can save money - and bring other benefits

If your paperwork is still largely paper-based then a full-time IT specialist might not be necessary. But if technology is part of your daily operation, and a part of your future plans, then an IT staffer may make a world of sense.

"There are businesses where computers are little more than $3,000 typewriters," says Stephen Buckley, an IT manager at the celebrated Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "But, if you run a small engineering firm where you're designing prototypes and sharing a great deal of files, an IT person may be an exceedingly good idea."

IT is one area of small business where there are often few, if any, established procedures. If so, an in-house IT person can help put them in place, and enforce them. "I've been called to work in businesses where there were no policies regarding IT — in fact, some didn't even have any virus protection software," says Stephen. "I'd do a virus sweep and find every computer in the place infected."

Needless expense?

Quote�There are businesses where computers are little more than $3,000 typewriters�End Quote
Stephen Buckley, MIT

How much computer downtime do you experience? This carries a double whammy. First, obviously enough, productivity suffers when computers are on the blink. But even worse, trying to find help when you need it can prove time-consuming. All too often, smaller businesses have to wait in a queue.

And even if you are blessed with an in-house "power user" who can handle most of your employees' technical problems, doing so can distract that person from his or her own work.

Many businesspeople argue that having an on-staff IT person is needlessly expensive. Maybe, maybe not. Track how much you're laying out for outside help. It may actually be cheaper to add one more salary than to be writing an endless number of cheques to consultants. If need be, consider blending IT responsibilities with other duties if your computer systems aren't big enough to warrant a full-time job.

Open your eyes

Quote�A visionary IT person can open your eyes to all that's possible.�End Quote

In time, an on-staff specialist can save more than just resources spent on outside assistance. A savvy IT staffer can also save your business money by getting the best bang for your IT buck on products, maintenance and other needs. A visionary IT person can open your eyes to all that's possible.

Plus, naturally, he or she will have an intimate knowledge of the business. Perhaps an outside consultant is suggesting inappropriate solutions, being overly pushy about expensive options, or recommending unrealistic implementation of changes and updates. That shouldn't be the case with an in-house IT person.

He or she will have a better handle on what matters to the company, and a personal stake in making it work. And you get peace of mind from knowing that you're in control of your own future.

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