Blog October 31, 2018

Solving the IT Skills Gap Starts With Diagnosing the Problem

There’s been a lot of online talk about the IT skills gap. Some say it exists, whereas others claim it to be a figment of our imaginations – or at least the media’s. In truth, the only skills gap that matters is the one that you’re experiencing (or not) in your own organization.

For those of you who do see a challenge, solving it starts with properly understanding the problem. Here are three different types of skills gaps, each with a potentially different solution.

Problem #1: You don’t have enough people on your team. Every organization has certain “basics” they need to cover, e.g., data backups, credentials administration, etc. If your organization is in a highly regulated industry such as healthcare or retail, you have more basics than others. When you don’t have enough people, things don’t always get done, and that can increase your risk.

The Cause: We most often see this kind of skills gaps in businesses that have an issue hiring and retaining IT staff. It may not be their forte, or perhaps they are in a city that isn’t quite as desirable for potential candidates. Sometimes, the expense of IT professionals – specialists run easily over six figures in most cities – means the organization has to scale back on its hiring plans for a while.

The Solution: If hiring isn’t your forte, there is plenty of help to be found from online articles to seminars to professional consultants. But if it’s a matter of retaining staff, either because of your company culture, the local community, or the expense, then a managed service provider can take on some of the day-to-day administrative tasks to ensure they are getting done.

Problem #2: You don’t have the right people. Imagine this. You’ve built a solid IT team around your current infrastructure, but one day, the CFO asks, “Could we save money if we migrated some of our workloads to AWS?” You know the answer is probably “yes,” but you also know you have no one on staff – at least not today – who can make it happen. And when the CFO asks about saving money, they usually mean this fiscal year.

The Cause: Your team is solid, but the IT landscape changes quickly – both in terms of opportunities as well as threats. Market dynamics and strategic plans change just as fast. More and more, CIOs and other IT leaders are expected to be able to adapt on a dime.

The Solution: You need to decide whether it makes sense to hire the expertise you need, build it in-house, or outsource it. For many organizations, the time it takes to hire or build expertise in-house is a challenge in itself. While there are plenty of candidates in the market, it can take months to find one that really feels right.

A managed service provider can help you bridge that gap and then shorten onboarding time by providing expert guidance to your new hires. If you decide outsourcing is the better option for some aspects of your IT, such as managing that AWS cloud, then you’ve already got it covered.

Problem #3: Your people don’t have the right level of expertise. This is one of those problems that keeps CIOs up at night. In this scenario, your people have skills in the right areas, but as you lie awake, you start to wonder if they have enough expertise. Are we really compliant with HIPAA? How would we handle a DDoS attack? How quickly could we get back online after a natural disaster?

The Cause: Every IT leader worth his or her salt goes through this one. That you worry is a good thing, but if all you do is worry – then that’s a problem.

The Solution: Ask a managed service provider to review your plans, your systems, your skill sets, or whatever you’re not sure about. They can point out areas of potential concern and provide helpful suggestions – not always involving a service they provide – to cover the gaps.

Is IT Your Secret Weapon?

It’s easy to see how an IT skills gap can be problematic, especially for organizations dealing with sensitive data or in highly regulated industries. But just as importantly, an IT skills gap can keep your company from realizing its full potential.

In our digitally driven world, business leaders are counting on their IT departments to be full-fledged contributors to the company’s success. For many, IT is seen as a secret weapon in the fight to create a competitive advantage. Or at least it could be if only they could break away from the more mundane but essential tasks that need to be done every day.

Outsourcing some or all of your day-to-day administrative tasks and cloud management responsibilities lets you focus your efforts on strategic initiatives that move the business forward.

 

Contact us to learn more.

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