Note: this article also appears on Windows IT Pro.
IT systems are a crucial business enabler, which isn’t something to take lightly. Though these systems are essential, a lot of decision-makers don’t invest as much in them as they should, which might leave an IT admin with a huge list of requirements to meet on a shoestring budget and with limited staff.
This leaves you in a tough position. You either have to do the best you can with what you have, or you need to make the pitch for more resources. If doing your job effectively means you need more resources, it’s a conversation you may need to have with the higher-ups. As you’re thinking about what you want to say to convince them to give you more resources (whether they’re headcount, budget, etc.) there are some things that will help you make your case.
A word on value
The big value in IT is its ability improve to business processes. If you’re looking for to prove or increase your value as an administrator, it’s wise to think in terms of how you touch these business processes. Illustrating what you already do and showing measurable improvements is the first step toward gaining more resources. A lot of businesses are hesitant to make investments if they can’t see how it will improve their bottom line, so you’ve got to show them.
Here are some areas of business you affect more than they may realize.
It may seem tangential, but IT has an effect on a business’s bottom line. You may not feel like a profit center, but consider all of the systems you touch that affect the way your company makes money. Are you in charge of a web server that hosts a site that makes sales? Do you enable an entire salesforce by maintaining a CRM hosted on a server? Heck, an email server alone is the center of communication—internal and external—at any organization. Where would revenue numbers be without that?
Outside of things like preventing malware and viruses, you’re also the line of defense against theft of intellectual property. Anything your business spends workforce hours creating is valuable property and you’re the guardian of that property in more ways than one. Whether you’re talking about stopping employees from using insecure third-party collaboration tools, ensuring that mobile devices are encrypted, or just making sure any device with company information on it is encrypted, you have a massive impact on the protection of what your company creates.
Systems you manage might deliver things like analytics, market research, and customer management. Could your business perform as well as it does without you providing the means to gain and use various forms of business intelligence? Given the crucial nature of processes associated with business intelligence, wouldn’t it make sense to invest in tech that makes even better decisions possible?
This one may seem obvious, but employees depend on computers to get work done. Where would they be if they were running into snags, and trying to troubleshoot issues on their own? A good IT staff handles their issues quickly so no employees at any level spends too much time without the systems they need. In many ways, a productive workforce can be a serious competitive advantage. A lot of lean companies get more done because the tech they use is just more efficient or allows for fewer people to get more done. If fewer staff members can get more done than competitors with larger staff, you’ll have a real advantage when you do bring more staff on board.
IT admins can be in a tough place if they aren’t getting the resources they need, but making the case for more budget or headcount is always going to be worth the effort. Now that we’ve talked about some areas to think about, our next post will go into more detail about what a good pitch might look like, and some clever ways of presenting information to managers so that you can come away from meetings with the resources you need.