Opinion - How to know if you have an IT person of quality
Over the last 10 years seeking a career within the IT Industry or just working within IT has become a trendy career option. So much so that we are now seeing a mass of unsuitable candidates that are attempting to enter the industry. On top of this, there is just so much work required of IT people due to the way business now operate. IT is now a very board area within businesses. IT encompasses hardware, cloud computing, software, security, databases, phones, printers, portable devices and many other specialist items.
IT is now so broad that it is ridiculous to expect one company or one person to know it all. However, you do need someone who is competent enough to express when a specialist is required to fulfill a job. You will also require your IT person to periodically review these areas unless you are planning to do this yourself.
Over the last 10 years I have both experienced and seen so many issues with IT staff that I could probably write book. To give you an example: some IT people lack the required amount of sleep and fail to meet minimal nutritional requirements which affects their productivity and quality of work. I have met IT people who have been under the influence of drugs, and I have met IT people who are not able to follow a basic list of written instructions.
The problem in IT is that the solution to an issue is not always clear. Even today my own personal PC is being affected by a nasty bug that no one else in the office is experiencing. Another senior experience coder and I have spent the last 4 hours trying to resolve this issue and we are now at the point that we have had to apply a totally different work around.
So how do you go about finding a suitable person to look after all your business’ IT related needs? Below are some questions that you can ask to find out if you have an IT person of quality for your business.
- Does your IT person ever make suggestion in the form of “If I was you, I would consider options x, y or z.”, or “Based on your company’s usual practice I would suggest x.”?
- Does your IT person listen, communicate and document responses to you in a timely manner?
- Does your IT person offer quotes when requested?
- Based on their performance, is your IT person delivering what you need?
- Has your IT environment been crisis free?
- Does your IT person recommend other IT specialists for specific tasks?
- Is your IT person aware of the latest IT issues and trends and do they discuss these with you?
If the answer to any of questions is ‘No’ then you may need to consider reviewing your IT person and maybe seek our someone who will do the right thing by you and your business.
The biggest problem we are facing in IT is our education and expected career time, as these do not help to gain and maintain quality IT staff. This is mostly due to how fast IT is evolving. By the time a university can teach a topic on an issue in the industry, the topic has either resolved itself and there is now something else that causing an issue. So, by the time the university can get the information together and a course approved the information and textbooks are outdated.
Universities teach the information to their students in bit size pieces, i.e. languages, databases or applications. This information is then brought together with other facets and often requiring other courses and life experience to utilize the information the students have been taught. As such, we are seeing students leaving university that believe they know it all and have all answers. When in fact all they have proven is their capability to learn and now the real learning is about to begin as they learn how to apply knowledge they gain while at university.
The next issue is that as people believe that studying IT will help them get a job. So, what we are seeing now are people not suited to the IT industry undertaking IT degrees and courses at various institutions and passing. Despite their inability to work well or apply their knowledge, and they are not applying their abilities to an area that would match their personality or thinking patterns.
Finally, and probably the most difficult issue for quality IT people is the time and experience they have working hands on. Many ‘hands on’ people in IT eventually move on to management, due to the amount of time required to learn in their own time and keep up on top of trends in the industry. This means that the management have the skills and the understanding but may not be in the most current in their application of this understanding. To add to this, we are now also seeing a generational issue of people changing their careers every 7 or so years which is limiting the depth and knowledge of people in the IT industry.
Do I have a solution? No.
I will add however, if you have a good IT person, work with them and make them feel appreciated. This means that they will work even harder for you. But if you don’t have a good IT person, consider an upgrade.