May 11, 2022

Article
7 min

The Solo IT Worker Problem

Are you stretched thin in a one-person operation? Below are six steps to take when pitching professional services to leadership.

Let’s face it.  Your operation is small—like, just you, small—but your leaders have big plans, and there aren’t enough hours in the day to do it all on your own. How do you convince the C-suite to invest in managed or professional services?

Is Professional Services Right for Your Organization?

Whether you work at a startup with a lean team and enormous dreams, a nonprofit scattered across the US supporting thousands of BYOD volunteers, or a small business with less than 500 employees, support and budget for increased IT staff can often fall to the bottom of the priority list.

But the tide is changing. The IT services segment is expected to have the second-highest spending growth in 2022, up 7.9% from 2021, according to Gartner. That’s because more organizations realize the benefits of outsourcing both commodity tech and nuanced IT deployments to third parties.

Yet, some leaders are still not convinced. They see the innovations that other companies are making. What they don’t see is how those companies are fully resourced with separate teams of IT professionals who are equipped to manage a hybrid cloud environment or on-prem data centers, configure and assign devices, tackle securing the network, and update archaic software and hardware, along with delivering end-user-support via the help desk hotline.

For smaller operations, tech budgets are growing but headcounts aren’t, leaving IT staff overwhelmed and unable to maintain day-to-day operations nor fully leverage the additional budgets for value-added innovations.

Are you on Spiceworks and Reddit lamenting your position as THE single on-the-ground IT employee at your organization? After working sunup to sundown have you reached out for support but hit a wall convincing higher-ups about the critical needs of your IT infrastructure—even as the laundry list of emerging tech projects like DevOps, edge computing and AI continue to grow? Then this article is for you. 

Take Inventory of What You Don't Have

It may seem counterintuitive but have an honest conversation with stakeholders about how the resource gaps from their single-handed IT department is preventing the company from achieving their overall goals. Outline every asset and liability, whether that includes outdated equipment and software or your own lack of IT experience in certain areas. It’s important to explain why you can’t juggle all the responsibilities of an entire IT team. If the tech budget increases but the IT headcount doesn’t, it will still be impossible to maintain day-to-day operations AND fully leverage the additional budget for value-added IT innovations.

However, as the resident in-house IT professional, hang your hat on the idea that you not only understand the organization’s strategic goals and priorities but also can map them to the specific technological capabilities needed to deliver real outcomes for your customers and partners. This will help codify the role you would play as a liaison between you and a third-party managed services provider.

Show Potential Cost Savings

According to a recent Deloitte survey, managed services can provide cost savings of 40%. This means CIOs can reallocate some of the 59% of budget they reported spending for day-to-day business operations to increase line items for business innovation initiatives, where they reported investing only 15% of budget.

Right now, leaders see how much they are spending on IT, but they don’t know how that budget is being used daily. Describe how much of your time is spent on maintaining commodity infrastructure (i.e. routing, switching, backup, etc.), which requires regular updates, subscription/license maintenance and configurations.

Show them how a third party could set up IT asset management to save time and money. In fact, 25% of annual software budgets are wasted on managing license utilization and complexity, according to Cisco. Lastly, explain that managed services can be a seasonal utility cost that you can turn on or off depending on demand. 

Explain the Risks and Costs of Inadequate Security Measures

New research from IBM shows that 2021 had the highest average cost for a data breach in 17 years. More specifically, small businesses who had a breach saw a 27% increase in costs to $3 million in 2021; which doesn’t include costs to brand reputation.

Remind leaders that cybersecurity breaches are increasing rapidly and that in 2022, with employees working in remote and hybrid environments across multiple time zones, running a secure and efficient IT operation is a 24/7/365 endeavor impossible for one person to tackle. Incident detection and response alone is more important now than ever before. A third-party provider can develop a plan, deliver continuous endpoint monitoring and remediate fissures that can shorten the recovery window.

Give Examples of What Other Organizations Are Doing

Gartner forecasts that organizations will increase their reliance on external consultants through 2025. Within regular reporting, leverage use cases to provide insight into how other similarly sized operations in your industry are leveraging IT services for consulting, staffing, and scaling tech infrastructure up or down based on seasonality.

For instance, if your retail chain is struggling to find a solution for long waits at the checkout counter, present to leadership case studies that used managed services as part of their solution. In this example, you would share this case study of a retail grocery chain that expanded their curbside pickup by configuring devices at 300 different stores with the help of CDW. Knowing that professional and managed services is a common investment that their peers are making and seeing successful outcomes of shared challenges could alleviate their hesitance to outsource IT responsibilities.

Also, staying connected to managed services companies via social media or email newsletters will keep you in the loop of new stories that show how managed services saved the day. Include those stories in your pitches to leadership for additional headcount.

Highlight the Higher-Value Projects You Can Focus On

Now that you’ve laid out the large number of routine tasks that preoccupy your time, explore how if freed from these obligations you could capitalize on critical customer-facing innovations that are integral to the businesses’ core priorities and keep pace with competition. This might include your vision to use machine learning to optimize employee training or plans to synthesize customer eCommerce data with artificial intelligence (AI) to enhance product development.

In a survey conducted by McKinsey & Company, respondents said that more than three-quarters of tech transformation investments yielded either some or significant cost reductions and improvements to employee experience. Often, they report, that these changes increased revenue from existing streams of income and more than half cite the creation of new revenue streams.

Explain the Impact of the IT Labor Shortage

The secret is out. If you’re an experienced IT professional with numerous certs on your belt, you’re in higher demand than the top seed at the NBA draft. Your leaders may think that they can hire staff to fill the gaps. But when it comes to building a skilled tech workforce, the move to remote working since the pandemic started has turned what was a bad problem in 2019 into a workforce crisis.

According to a survey by TalentLMS, 72% of tech employees in the US are considering leaving their jobs in the next year. They are leaving due to burnout, limited career progression, or for opportunities that pay more as the demand for tech talent has propelled salaries upward. If you’re a small or medium-sized business with an understaffed IT department, chances are your modus operandi doesn’t align to the new ways of working. And even recruiting for a few new roles with a limited personnel budget won’t suffice as digital transformation is now a 24/7/365-day operation.