Most of the questions we hear when speaking with Business Leaders involve IT processes and redundancies rather than the technical aspect. Good operators don’t need to know anything about technology to understand when a process is broken. They can see through the haze when it comes to people being overwhelmed by both volume and/or technical capacity.
As business leaders, we know deep down inside some things just don’t exist, but yet we are always searching for those unicorns when hiring people and hoping our current caterpillars turn into perfect butterflies. With the landscape of technology being as vast as it is, this type of thinking can get us in trouble. To expect anyone to perform at a high level through the 6+ roles they are responsible for is just ludicrous. It doesn’t matter how much of a mythical creature they appear to be – they are only human.
Many times internal IT people (or external one-person companies) are asked to do everything under the sun when it comes to technology. They are viewed as an “IT Guru” and if it plugs into the wall or lights up they are expected to be the expert. Unfortunately, that is just not reality. There are not only an abundance of technology roles that you probably are trying to get out of one person, but those people are often asked to do things that really should fall on other people’s plates. Let’s break these roles down to better understand what we are asking for.
After a “quick” whiteboard session, we found that for ongoing positions there are at least 7 different roles just when it comes to IT infrastructure, 6 different roles for development, and 4 different roles for cybersecurity. That’s 17 different roles for those of you keeping the score at home. You could also tack on the 3 C-Suite positions (CIO, CTO, and CISO) that oversee these departments, as well as people handling A/V equipment, but let’s not get too far down the rabbit hole. There are 3 additional roles which are more of one-off scenarios that also get stacked on your IT person’s responsibilities list.
This is the area you probably hired your IT person for. It’s the group of roles that work with the network, servers, and endpoints. They keep everything connected to your network and running smoothly. They are also the firefighters when you have an IT issue like a printer not printing or a program not opening. Remember, there are at least 7 different roles that fall under this group and each role has multiple skill levels and divisions under each. In most cases, your IT person will be good at a couple of these roles, serviceable at a few, and just bad at others.
- Network Engineer
- Systems Engineer
- Communications Engineer
- Backup Engineer
- Infrastructure Architect
Contrary to popular belief, developers are not IT people when it comes to making sure your IT systems are working. What they do is completely different than what an IT infrastructure person does. This role is for building and changing programs, softwares, and apps. Again there are also different specialties and we have broken these up into 6 general roles. Just like IT infrastructure, there are multiple skill levels and divisions under each role. Also, if you hired a good infrastructure person, they will most likely have little to no experience with these group of roles.
- Frontend Developer
- Backend Developer
- Quality Analyst
- Middleware Developer
- Web Developer
This is another role one that gets lumped into IT infrastructure a lot, but much like software development, it is just not the same. IT infrastructure and cybersecurity do work hand in hand, but they have completely different goals. IT infrastructure is for operating and cybersecurity is for protecting. Those goals often clash with each other. Additionally, since new cybersecurity threats are popping up what seems like every day, you need to have a person dedicating a good amount of time just to stay up on all the current changes.
- Security Engineer
- Security Analyst
- Compliance Office
- Security Architect
Not Ongoing Roles / One-time Projects:
This role can get mixed up with a software developer for obvious reasons, but an implementer does not create software. They just massage software to fit into your company. A good implementer needs to know more about your process than your technology backend. These people are frequently involved in implementing a big piece of software like an ERP system or a CRM like Salesforce.
This role allows someone from the outside to get some fresh eyes on your systems. This can go from a complete system architect to a very narrow piece of your systems like data management. They often give more direction than actually making the changes. You could use one of these in place of a CIO, CTO, or CISO role if you didn’t have one but needed more high-level guidance in one of the technical areas.
Standard Application Training
This is really not a role but more of experience. Don’t get me wrong, helping users work with general software making their jobs easier can be a huge benefit to your organization, but that is what google searches, lunch & learns, and one-day training sessions are for. Example: In most offices, Excel is a commonly used program and most people only know how to use about 10% of the functionality Excel offers. But not everyone has it in them to be an educator and just because your IT person can build a server doesn’t mean they know diddly squat about building a pivot table in Excel. Here is an article with 20 Excel Tricks from lifehack.org to give you something to share with your team if you are still concerned.
Are There Any Unicorns Out There?
“But my guy…”
No, you didn’t and even if you did find the greatest IT person of all time (we’re talking about literally the Albert Einstien of infrastructure, development, and cybersecurity) they would also have to be willing to be extremely underpaid for their skillset since they could easily work as a consultant for the biggest tech companies in the world. Even if you found this non-existent person, they still wouldn’t be enough, unless that person has discovered the ability to duplicate themselves. There is no possible way one individual can handle the responsibilities of 20+ roles.