Why a One-Man IT Department Isn’t Enough

Picture this: there’s a local Frederick business with twenty workstations and a dedicated server that’s dependent on one person to manage the IT.

This scene works – most of the time. In general, that one IT person is able to keep things running, or at least keep them from completely falling apart. There are occasional bumps (user errors, system issues, delays in hardware upgrades), but IT seems to be working to support the business, and the one-man department seems to be able to sustain it all.

Then, one week, the IT person takes a vacation. The next day, the server crashes.

Mission-critical systems fail. Work doesn’t happen. Clients call in. The business tries to get the IT person on the line, but the IT person is in Maui. Clients go elsewhere for business. Revenue takes a hit. People are let go.

Unfortunately, this isn’t a hard scenario to imagine. We see it happen too often in real life.

The Challenges of One-Man IT

Admittedly, the scenario we’ve just described is one of the harsher possible outcomes of relying on one person for IT service. But it’s only one of many potential pitfalls.

There are many challenges involved in a one-person IT scenario:

Time spent fighting fires (vs. preventing them).

If IT is up to one person, that person is almost always focused primarily on fighting fires. They generally have limited time (if any) to allocate to issue prevention.

Their typical day involves moving through a to-do list of fixes prioritized by urgency, and they’re lucky to get to everything on it. Often, their schedule is thrown for a loop by a new issue midway through the day.

When they do get through urgent fixes, they try to do basic system upkeep with the scant bit of time they have left. They may focus on the most pressing hardware or software updates.

They almost never have time to effectively plan for system upgrades or to think strategically about future needs. The result is that systems never perform to the level they could. And eventually, unoptimized systems lead to bigger issues over time (such as when the server that’s been scraping by finally crashes).

A lack of comprehensive knowledge.

Additionally, one person is never able to have a comprehensive knowledge of all components of IT systems.

It’s not possible; an expert at managing Windows OS issues probably isn’t also an expert at network design and installation. And if the one person does have deep expertise across a wide variety of skills, they’re probably very expensive.

Instead, most solo IT people are either generalists (they know enough about most systems to get by) or they’ve fallen into a generalist role after demonstrating expertise in one area (they set up the phones, then got asked to fix an email issue, etc.).

This means that they’ll be hard-pressed to fix issues outside of their area of expertise – which, means that, eventually, the business will suffer.

A knowledge silo.

Finally, a one-man IT department almost always represents a knowledge silo.

It’s natural. One person has nobody to share information with and no reason to document how things are set up. So, all of the information regarding a business’ IT systems lives in one person’s head.

The problem is that the exclusivity of that knowledge makes that person indispensable. And that’s bad for everyone.

It means that person will have a tough time taking a vacation – or even retiring. And, for the business, it means that if that person ever leaves, they’ll basically be taking the functionality of the business with them.

The Benefits of IT Teams

Fortunately, a one-man department isn’t the only option. With managed IT services, you can access an entire IT team at an affordable cost. And in cases where you still work with a dedicated technician (like you do when working with us), you get the best of all worlds.

That means a lot of good things, like:

Time spent preventing fires.

A managed IT team can get ahead of the break-fix cadence and move toward fire prevention. This means strategic planning to get the most out of your IT systems instead of panicked reactions as things break.

Access to comprehensive IT knowledge.

A managed IT team is made up of many experts – not just one. When you work with a team, you get access to combined expertise, which means better solutions across more system components.

Shared and documented knowledge.

Finally, a managed IT team inherently shares knowledge, so your systems will never be tied to one person. Additionally, the best IT solutions work to document your systems so that anyone can pick things up. This way, there isn’t a danger of information loss if service ever changes.

Ready to get an IT team – and get better IT?

A team can help your business to avoid the challenges of one-man IT.

If you’re weighing your options, here’s a final thought: an IT team doesn’t have to replace a one-man department. We frequently work alongside in-house IT personnel to supplement their support with the benefits of a full-service team. In these scenarios, a dedicated internal IT person can be empowered by managed services, with the end result being better IT for your business.

To learn more about managed IT services and the benefits of teams, get in touch with us, and take the first step toward IT you can trust.