Should You Hire an onsite Jr IT Support Specialist?
If I had to make a list of some of the most common questions I get when speaking to customers with high urgency needs is, “should I hire a junior IT staff?” would undoubtedly be right at the top.
It happened to me again, just this morning when I was on a conference call with a prospective client and we were attempting to preliminarily forecast their technology needs. This particular client fell pretty firmly in line with what I see from other “high urgency” prospects – meaning, they have next to zero tolerance for downtime either because of their own expectations, because of compliance requirements that they’re subject to or, most commonly, because of the requirements of their own respective clients.
In order to best understand the service model that would work best for the prospective client, we were discussing what their particular relationship with an MSP would actually look like within the context of some of the basic issues that their users are coming across on a daily basis. During the discussion, it was identified that most of the issues that end users complained about were quite simple and generally caused by the end user themselves. Some of these issues – all of which have quick turnaround resolution times – could therefore be addressed by a junior IT staffer. Some of these issues include but are not limited to things like:
- Password/Credential resets
- Email syncing issues
- Connectivity issues
- Account lock outs
- Printers not working
- Backup file recovery
As a technology professional myself with years of experience in this business, I’d like to tell every single person I talk with that we can take care of 100% of their issues – absolutely no questions asked. But the truth is, people need to nail down their expectations before they begin talking with an MSP in the first place – at which point they can determine if those expectations are actually aligned with that MSP’s business model and most importantly YOURS! It’s of the utmost importance to any long term vendor/client partnership that we understand all the unique considerations that make your organization ‘tick’ including the determination of the functions we CANNOT perform, which are just as important as identifying the functions that we can.
The Major Misconceptions About Junior IT Staff Members
But first, we must once again return to the topic of expectations – namely, making sure that we’re all on the same page about what junior IT staff members are and, more critically, what they’re good for within the context of your long-term strategy.
The biggest misconception I often see about businesses hiring junior IT staff members is that these hires will somehow be able to reduce all of their managed services support costs by having those tasks delegated to that individual.
To be clear, there are a lot of amazing, almost wizard-like IT professionals out there. Most of them are good at what they do, but none of them can “do” everything. Technology is changing far too quickly for this to be anything other than a myth, in addition to the complications of network specialties within network IT like server administration, network infrastructure and cyber security. Our team has a diverse range of ‘IT’ professionals that have different types of expertise that we leverage based on the customer or ticket issue.
Assuming that any one junior staff member will be able to take care of EVERYTHING related to IT is dangerous. Yes, you’re going to see an almost immediate cost decrease – but by delegating those responsibilities to this IT person that can “do it all,” you’ll be paying ten fold to remediate issues stemming from an incompletely thought out, IT management/systems methodology within the next three years.
Training is also a significant cost to account for. Depending on your organization’s focus areas, the best time frame you can expect a IT person’s skill set is three months to two years. If you need an IT staffer with security expertise, they will need continuous training and professional development as would someone on the network architecture side of things where the technology is always changing and the skills required to address it. For us, this training costs between $2,000 and $10,000 per year depending on what specifically is being pursued.
By and large, IT support professionals are not typically operationally oriented. Through no fault of their own, they can and often will miss both considerable and impactful details that could cost the business thousands of dollars in downtime and remediation alone. If you’ve ever worked with engineers who were nearly singularly responsible for implementing a new operational systems or even better, sales software, you know exactly what I mean.
Likewise, another common misconception is that hiring a junior IT staffer will allow you to immediately gain operational efficiencies once this person comes on staff and that they can take care of your issues with the snap of their fingers. Although this certainly is an end goal, there are many considerations to keep in mind throughout the hiring process and as they become a part of your day to day operations.
But again: I’m not advocating for the idea that you need to either partner with an MSP OR hire junior IT staff. If anything, I’m advocating that if you have the luxury to engage both an MSP and onsite jr. hire, that you’re well on your way of guaranteeing a long term strategic alignment and the best return of your technological investments.
Success Requires a True Partnership, Plain and Simple
To really address the needs of any “high urgency” environment, you need to be open and honest with your MSP partners about where you potentially need to review your expectations. If you’re at the point where you feel like hiring internally to address certain gaps will cause issues between the MSP and yourself, guess what – you’re probably not working with a capable or collaboratively modeled MSP in the first place.
Likewise, people’s perceptions change over time so that often skews what they believe about what they need to begin with. That lightning fast laptop you paid so much money for will look like a turtle when compared to the latest and greatest a year from now – that’s not anybody’s fault.
Think about it like this: you have five core needs that must be met, technologically speaking, on a daily basis. Your MSP is capable of handling Needs 1, 3 and 5. Oftentimes, the best solution is to bring on a junior IT staffer to handle Needs 2 and 4 – thus providing you with everything you need in the most effective way possible. Having your MSP handle something as irritating-yet-straightforward as a printer issue is a bit like grabbing your bazooka to take care of that ant hill on your front porch. Will it work? Sure. Is it overkill? Yeah – there are easier ways to take care of the problem for everyone involved. Save that proverbial bazooka for tasks that require it.
Thanks to the rapid pace at which technology is continuing to advance, we oftentimes advocate bringing on an internal junior IT staffer to address many of those Tier 1 issues for companies that absolute cannot experience any degree of downtime. In this situation, that junior staffer is NOT a replacement for an MSP. Instead, they supplement and empower what you’re getting from that MSP – and vice versa.
For most business owners, they can absolutely attain some incredible operational efficiencies if they encourage that junior staffer to truly partner with the MSP in question. At TSI, we love having a junior staffer on-site to handle the immediate end user needs so that we’re in a better position to focus on the bigger picture and the more complex issues associated with today’s fast changing and sometimes volatile technology landscape. Oftentimes, those junior staffers will use our ticketing and management systems as a means of managing and delegating their own daily activities. As an MSP, we’re in an excellent position to help guide or take on that delegation role to guarantee that the highest level of productivity is met.
Business owners can still leverage their MSP vendors to function as that trusted advisor they need and provider of critical services like vCIO consulting, technology needs forecasting and addressing GRC (think: governance, risk and compliance). But to give those MSPs the best chance to actually work on those tasks and unlock the outcomes you’re all after, they need some “boots on the ground” more often than not and a junior IT staffer is oftentimes the best way to create a mutually beneficial situation for everyone involved.
So obviously, the decision of when to bring in a junior IT staff member is one that will vary depending on your business. But if the situation I’ve just described sounds a lot like yours, hiring junior IT staff isn’t something to be apprehensive about and it doesn’t mean that you should start looking for a new MSP.
Instead, you just need a different support model that combines the best of both worlds.
About Jeremy Louise
As the Vice President of Sales and Business Development for TSI, Jeremy Louise works hard to guarantee that businesses all across the area have access to the IT resources they need when they need them the most. To find out more information about when it’s a good idea to think about bringing on junior IT staff, or to get answers to any other additional questions you may have, please don’t delay – contact us today.