IT Casebook: Why you need more than just one IT enthusiast

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Small, but perfectly informed?

Large organisations may have the luxury of a well-staffed IT department whose members have the skills and experience required to maintain and develop both internal IT systems and IT services for clients. In a smaller firm it is quite likely that the principal internal IT resource may be a partner or a member of staff who shows a particular aptitude and enthusiasm for IT.

Whilst having an IT enthusiast on the staff can have a very positive effect on a firm's IT development, relying too much on such an enthusiast can also have its dangers.

One firm I worked with had been delighted when they found that a new accounting trainee was really keen to get involved with, not only the firm's internal IT, but also helping clients with their IT problems. Lacking the t...

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10th Nov 2006 13:36

Re: Documentation
Documentation is an important point, but often more so because the 40-50 IT enthusiasts I've come across in the last few years are generally highly regarded by their employer but are pretty lousy at IT! As one clever person once put it - an expert is someone who knows 3% more than you do!

The big problem is that systems are left set up a rather strange way, or that huge amounts of time, money and effort are put into problems that wouldn't exist if things were done "properly" in the first place.

Internal IT enthusiasts DO have their place, though. A local IT company, whilst being a whizz on Windows or Exchange, won't know Sage or VT or business practices as well as your internal person.

Small businesses should look at having BOTH points of reference if they can - an external company to sort the basics out - properly - against the wider background of knowing what's going on in the IT world, combined with your "superuser" IT enthusiast that knows every nut, bolt and screw of what's going on internally. And if one or other parts company, it's not the end of the world.

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13th Nov 2006 11:38

Are they as enthusiastic about the job you pay them for?
It's great having staff that can bring peripheral skills to the job. However, if it's not what you pay them to do, the benefits that you reap from the peripheral skill sets need to be offset by the time that isn't spent on what you are paying for.

Also, you need to make clear the distinction between appropriate user generated IT developments (spreadsheets, macros, maybe even small access databases), and infrastructure that is key to your business, or your business partners, and needs professional support (networking, e-mail, operating systems).

Everyone seems to be an IT enthusiast these days. However, as a dedicated IT enthusiast myself, I know that the best way to learn about how something works is to break it first, and then fix it.

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