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Thursday 9th October 2014
by Edel Creely

Edel Creely

Plugging the skills gap in ICT with IT Managed Services

There is a growing skills gap in ICT. By all accounts it is here to stay. This can result in large amounts of financial resources being poured into a small staff that is then expected to work miracles.

Recent research has produced the following information:

  • Forfas estimate there will be an additional 44,500 ICT job openings in Ireland over the next six years.
  • The latest figures from the European Commission show that it is not just unique to Ireland but a Europe wide concern.

For companies that rely on ICT staff these can be worrying figures. This can result in panic where businesses overreact and offer ICT staff any figure they ask for. This can result in large amounts of financial resources being poured into a small staff that is then expected to work miracles.

As companies grow there are a number of changes an IT department typically goes through.The IT team cannot grow at pace with the rest of the company and so becomes swamped with basic issues and tech support.

  1. The IT team cannot grow at pace with the rest of the company and so becomes swamped with basic issues and tech support.
  2. IT professionals are expected to provide expert maintenance and monitoring of core ICT infrastructures while also applying themselves creatively to strategic concerns such as business innovation. This puts enormous strain on IT staff that is likely to lead to burnout and eventually high turnover.
  3. It can also result in the dreaded SPOF, the single point of failure. If your primary IT personnel is suddenly unavailable what happens to your critical internal and customer facing systems? Can they continue their day to day functions? Will they still be secure? With a company rather than an individual responsible for your IT processes the SPOF risk is greatly mitigated.
Measuring the Value your IT Department Adds to your Business

Companies of all sizes proactively measure the performance of their IT department and try to balance the risks of creating knowledge silos.

Often a business recognises that they cannot carry out this process internally while remaining objective. A managed service can establish performance metrics and develop processes for knowledge sharing from the outside. As an external agent they can take a more holistic approach to evaluating IT assets, including personnel.

Managing an IT department in such a way as to optimise its value is a goal of any business. The oversight a managed services provider can bring allows them to do this. This may include a real-time monitoring and reporting system to keep all stakeholders up to date with the status of IT assets.

Plugging the IT Skills Gap

Working with a managed services provider is an effective way of avoiding issues such as SPOF and turnover that arise from the current skills gap and affect many growing companies.

  • Specialisation and Maintenance

If your IT department is working flat out just to keep critical systems up and running there is no possibility that they can focus resources on improving your core product or service offering. With the shortage of IT talent out there does it make sense for fulltime staff members to focus on ‘keeping the lights on’? Managed Services can take care of ongoing work such as infrastructure monitoring, backups, storage and patching. This allows internal IT personnel to focus on company-specific, bespoke systems that in turn facilitate growth.

  • In-House Training Costs

It is far more cost effective for a Managed Service Provider to keep entire teams trained with up to date qualifications specific to IT infrastructure optimisation. To train staff with these qualifications internally would be prohibitively expensive for most companies. Managed Services Providers allow companies to access the skills of these professionals without this large outlay.

These skills also make give Managed Services Providers a greater ability to identify the types of issues that will result in waste or even stoppages.

Enhancement, Not Replacement

Companies are often concerned that hiring a Managed Services Provider is a replacement for IT staff they have worked with and supported, often for years. This is not the case.

The idea of Managed Services is not to replace IT staff. It is designed to free them from background tasks that can be carried out externally and allow them to be deployed more strategically to in-house and public facing systems. The goal is to create a more robust, sustainable IT strategy that facilitates growth across the company.

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