Superhero or Single Point of Failure?

Superhero or Single Point of Failure?

The Dangers of Asking Your Sole IT Support Technician to be Your Superhero

As the old saying goes, “Hope is not a strategy.” But for many organizations, hope is the strategy when it comes to their technical support staffing.

At a large number of organizations, IT staff members are often asked to take on “superhero  support”  measures  to keep  the  applications available 24/7. This could mean they work late nights and into the early morning to maintain the company’s critical functioning systems and drag themselves into work the next day. They must be available during an emergency or disaster, even when they have personal responsibilities. Many professionals put their  work life ahead of their own family’s priorities, often taking work home over vacations and weekends.

There’s no such thing as a personal life when you are the sole IT person for an organization.

A recent visit to a local manufacturing company highlighted this phenomenon. I was meeting with the CFO, who had nothing but great things to say about the new IT staff member sitting next to me, Jeff. After the CFO completed his introduction, I turned to Jeff and said, “Jeff, it sounds like you don’t have anywhere to go but down after that introduction!” We all laughed, and Jeff agreed.

Joking aside, Jeff later informed me that he was the only IT staff member at the company. When I asked who his back-up would be if he were to get sick or go on vacation, the CFO interrupted, joking that Jeff is not allowed to get sick or take a vacation. We all laughed, but we also knew that Jeff was a single point of failure for that company and the critical applications they rely on, such as email and the company’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) software.

The ERP application is particularly important because it integrates all of the business processes of the company, including accounts receivable and accounts payable. Yet, its most dire function is to integrate payroll software. Needless to say, an interruption with the company’s ERP system would be a major disruption to the organization. Most employees wouldn’t be too thrilled to learn that a disturbance impacted the company’s ability to make payroll and delayed their payday.

Sure, being on-call 24/7 is pretty much the norm for singular IT staff members. But with the above examples in mind, companies  must  ask  themselves  the  following questions.

  • Are we burning our employees out?
  • Have we created or evolved to a high-risk situation for our organization?
  • When we rely on one person or a few people, is this the best strategy to prevent our company from disruption 24/7, 365 days a year?
  • What kind of work-life quality are we providing these employees?
  • Are we relying on only one person’s expertise when it comes to designing, building, and maintaining our infrastructure?

Quite often at Network Access, we talk to firms that only have one or two people responsible for providing IT support for the critical applications the company needs to function. However, augmenting your staff with support resources can greatly reduce these real and potential problems that come with having a small IT support staff.

One of our clients recently shared with us that the reason his management approved the cost of our NetWatchman Managed Service is because they wanted to have more expert resources available in the event of an emergency. This was from a competent, 20-year veteran in the IT profession.

We need people to put their families first, because when we employ people with those values, it drives their desire to be successful and loyal. If you’re still not convinced, consider having a discussion with us regarding your organization’s emergency support  situation.

NetWatchman services offer managed services that can relieve your organization’s risk, vulnerability, and unplanned  downtime.