TIME TO READ: 4 MINUTES
At least once a week, we get a certain type of support request from customers. It's one of their employees calling. They're troubleshooting a computer or network issue, they've Googled their hearts out, but they can't seem to resolve it.
IT isn't their job, but they're trying to fix it anyway. They've become what we call a "De Facto IT Manager" (“DFITM”).
What is a De Facto IT Manager?
If you spend more and more time each week on IT support tasks that aren't part of your job description, you may have become your company’s De Facto IT Manager.
It starts with helping a few coworkers with their printer issues or Wi-Fi connections. Five minutes here & there. No big deal, right?
Then, before you know it, you're the go-to "tech" in the office. Everyone asks you for help with email, computer crashes, even malware. You’re even being called into executive meetings to provide IT advice.
This practice happens across all industries. However, we see it the most in healthcare, education, construction, software, and startups. Industries where growth can happen fast, without enough (or any!) IT staff on hand.
The Pros & Cons of De Facto IT Managers
It's both a good and a bad thing to have a De Facto IT Manager (or DFITM) on staff.
- There's a perceived cost savings to having someone on staff who can support coworkers' IT issues. (Even if it does take time away from their actual job.)
- They are often loyal, integral team members, respected throughout the company.
- The De Facto IT Manager has come to understand each of their co-worker's day-to-day IT needs and the company’s software solutions.
- They also understand the office's priorities and team dynamics.
- Business networks are complicated, and security is an ongoing concern. DFITM's can unknowingly put the entire company's IT at risk.
- Most of their work is break/fix oriented; they're just trying to fix the immediate problem so someone can get back to work. They often don't make a permanent fix (or don't know how to).
- Almost no De Facto IT Managers document the problems they troubleshoot. This increases support costs over time, since you don't have a troubleshooting history to reference.
- Because they aren't officially charged with managing a company's IT—and typically don't have a budget—they are less likely to take ownership and do critical maintenance work like software updates, security protection, cloud backups, etc., or recommend upgrades to avoid future downtime or plans for expansion.
The Solution: Turn to an IT Support Agency, and Free the De Facto IT Manager!
More than half the time, when we talk to De Facto IT Managers, they want to hire a third-party agency to support their IT. The reason they haven't done it yet? The company’s concern about costs.
But here's the flaw in that argument: Hiring a third-party IT agency will usually SAVE you money.
How? By maximizing overall productivity and reducing security costs.
- The De Facto IT Manager can now do their job ... and only their job.
- The IT agency documents your network and troubleshooting efforts. With documentation, it’s easy to detect recurring problems and find permanent solutions (like the ones a De Facto IT Manager addresses repeatedly).
- You're far less likely to suffer a security breach or cyberattack. This comes from the IT agency taking care of critical maintenance & backups, plugging holes a De Facto IT Manager doesn't see. Sadly, 60% of small businesses close after a cyberattack hits. They just can't survive the financial hit.
- The IT agency introduces new products or cloud services that save the company money, over older/outdated hardware and software.
Since working with an IT agency eliminates the need for De Facto IT Managers, everyone can focus on growing the company. We see it happen time and time again.
De Facto IT Managers Are Unsung Heroes. But They Have a Higher Use—Their Job!
We salute the De Facto IT Managers of America! They are the consummate multi-taskers/team players of the business world. It's an innocent and well-meaning phenomenon.
However, the fact remains that they have a job, and it isn't IT support. Even if you don't mind doing the IT work, you still have two major issues looming in the background:
- A De Facto IT Manager doesn’t have the time to maintain an IT skill set, in addition to their regular duties. The tech world never stops changing, particularly when it comes to cybersecurity. Using outdated security methods practically guarantees a crippling cyberattack.
- Co-workers rely on the DFITM’s regular job duties being completed and IT support is time taken away from those projects, causing delays and the potential for frustrated customers.
When you're losing 8 or more hours every month to IT work, it's time to switch from "De Facto IT Manager" to "Outside IT Support."
How an IT Support Agency Saves, Over and Above the DFITM
Still concerned about cost? Start small. Contract the IT agency for a few hours every month (4-8). You regain the productive time from the De Facto IT Manager, which often translates to incoming revenue exceeding the cost of the IT agency's support hours.
IT support companies offer many support models, from on-call hourly help to full monthly support contracts. From our own experience, we know the best way to start one of these contracts is to speak with the De Facto IT Manager. Learn what they know about the office network, who has what issues all the time, etc.
This accomplishes two useful goals. One, it saves us (and you) lots of time familiarizing ourselves with your systems. Two, it frees the De Facto IT Manager of any lingering responsibility. They can resume their normal job with full attention! Meanwhile, your company has solid IT support ready & waiting. Everyone wins.
Do you have de facto IT managers on staff? Send your experiences to firstname.lastname@example.org!