When you’re a non-technical person, it isn’t always easy to know whether your technical resource truly knows what they’re doing, or if they’re just really good at Googling quick fixes and feigning confidence.
We’ve seen it over and over again when organizations call our company in to assess their technology and the team behind it—they have suspicions that something isn’t quite right, but they don’t know for sure what it is or what to do about it.
Sometimes we find incredibly dedicated and competent teams who just aren’t being given the proper resources to accomplish their goals. Other times, we find people with no technical background who were shoved into an IT position thanks to vague web development skills and don’t even know how to implement a firewall.
The good news is that there are a few key (non-technical) factors that will give you a solid sense of how well your internal IT team is doing, and where they may need some improvement.
Below we’ll work through the importance of clear expectations, along with how to best evaluate your team members to make sure that your company is getting the level of support it needs.
First, set proper expectations
This might seem like a “duh” section, but I feel so strongly about this that I want to call some dedicated attention to it.
If you’re going to evaluate your team, the first thing you need is a detailed description of the job duties they are to carry out (especially if you have multiple IT staff). Each member should have an up-to-date job description, as well as a document that spells out the expectations of their position.
I can’t stress this enough: No employee can be successful if they don’t know your definition of success. So this is step #1 when it comes to making sure your team is on the right track.
How to evaluate your internal IT team
For a clear picture of how well your internal resources are serving your organization, evaluate them based on the following four elements:
- Customer Service. This is overlooked more often than not. In an internal IT scenario, the “customers” are your staff members. Look at response time, resolution rates, and feedback from your staff about your IT team’s ability to take care of them. “Deskside manner” is important here. It’s not uncommon to find employees that are disgruntled with the IT team, and who feel as though IT is controlling them. This, as you can imagine, doesn’t do too well for company morale or productivity.
- System Uptime. Of course, one of the key responsibilities of your IT team is to keep your organization up and running. Do you have frequent issues with your system that prevent your staff from working? How responsive is your team when there are outages or interruptions? You don’t have to know the technical elements of your infrastructure, but you do need to keep an eye on the overall performance of your network.
- Communication. This is where you see the most consistent gaps. The tech industry in general doesn’t teach IT people how to talk to their customers; it’s not that they don’t want to, it’s that they often don’t know how. Are your people able to effectively communicate with your staff? I’m talking everything from technology changes, to issues that are happening with the system, to communication with management. Your team’s ability to effectively communicate should be not only a key evaluation point, but one of your organization’s committed development goals for this group of people.
- Organization and Time Management. This element might be the most difficult for a non-technical person to assess. Is your internal team using its time wisely? Are they turning projects around in a timely fashion with the stated objective? Are they on task, or are they working on their own agendas? Are their plans for the future of your systems in alignment with your company’s objectives? This will require that someone in your leadership be in regular communication with your team to stay in tune with their plans and motivations.
As you can see, you really don’t need 100 different data points from which to evaluate your team; you need to take a look at the value your team is providing within the context of your organization’s overall business objectives.
It’s also important that you have someone in place to actively manage your IT team, whether it be a CIO, IT Manager, outsourced consultant, or otherwise. This does wonders to make sure that your team retains only high-performing individuals, and that your systems are nurtured within the context of your business goals, not with Johnny the IT Guy’s particular (and limited) skillset.
Beyond that, make sure that you have some sort of ongoing performance management system in place to measure your team against these principles on a regular, consistent basis. We use a system called Catalytic Coaching. You can use something entirely different, but you need to use something.
Otherwise, you just wasted a lot of time reading through this blog.