As your SME grows and your IT systems become more sophisticated, the chances are you will want to boost your technical support capacity. That could mean adding extra employees to your payroll or looking for more robust external help.
Whichever option is best for your business, the right qualifications and experience are crucial to new people’s ability to hit the ground running. Installing, testing and maintaining computers, networks and software systems all take specific knowledge and expertise.
However, this is only part of the picture. Equally as important – or perhaps even more so – are a candidate’s personal attributes and attitude. But what should they be, and how do you know when you’ve hit IT support gold?
Here are five things to consider…
- Are they a good communicator?
You will get a sense of this on first contact with a potential employee or consultant. Do they get back to you promptly? Are they listening properly when you explain your ideas and aspirations? Are their written communications – such as their CV and covering letter – precise and to the point? Can they tell you about their technical skills and knowledge in a way that you understand?These general professional skills are certainly indicative of how they will perform when it comes to deciphering a problem or a challenge and relaying information to colleagues in the necessary technical language – as well as, crucially, simplifying this for non-techy co-workers who may be feeling stressed or angry about their failing systems.
- Can they solve a problem?
IT support invariably involves fixing things and making sure systems run smoothly. This requires an ability to analyse problems and solve them – along with a willingness to continue thinking, planning and trying out solutions until all is good again.As well as the knowledge to be able to pinpoint what has gone wrong, you will want to look for someone who is innovative and tenacious in deciding what must happen next – even when under pressure, or when the issue is something unusual and difficult to diagnose.
- Will they pay attention to detail?
Little miscalculations or errors are often to blame for IT problems, which could affect the way that a programme works or a web page looks, for example. Meticulous attention to detail is therefore required to be able to hunt out and fix such mistakes – as well as the ability to be both logical and creative in their approach.
- Are they passionate about what they do?
A great IT consultant or employee will be excited about developments in technology and able to keep up with – and advise you on – the latest in devices, networks and software. This might sound like a big ask, but it will be easy and enjoyable to someone who is switched on and passionate.And whilst an avid interest in IT is important, they should also be humble enough to realise that they won’t know everything all the time! Being willing to ask for help – or research issues independently when they need to – is essential.
- Will they be there for you, even on a Saturday night?
We don’t mean we would expect an IT professional to handle repeated or unnecessary out-of-hours calls, but how about the odd occasion when it’s really important? Sometimes problems happen in the middle of the night or at the weekend.Because of this and the wider nature of the job – often requiring employees work on projects alone and set their own schedule – you will need to look for the self-discipline that makes for a dependable and reliable colleague or associate.
So how do you find such a person? Ticking off this long list of attributes in a single human being might seem an impossible feat. But creativity in your search can help! As well as the usual routes of simply advertising a job/contract or enlisting a recruitment agency, how about asking around your colleagues and associates – perhaps via LinkedIn?
You could go along to conferences or seminars where potential recruits are likely to be, talk to external experts such as Q2Q IT, or connect with local colleges or universities if it’s new graduates you are looking for.
And of course, outsourcing your IT support to an external team of specialists is always an option too. It’s not as expensive as you might think, and provides a shortcut to the expertise your company needs – without the headache of recruitment.
Whatever you do, happy hunting – and good luck!
If you want to find out more about enlisting the right IT support for your SME, contact us to find out how Q2Q IT could help!