What keeps an RIA firm’s “IT Guy” busy?


We’ve all seen our fair share of IT guys (and gals) come and go. Sometimes, a qualified IT professional is the hardest person on staff to keep. Eventually, the day-to-day doldrums of resetting forgotten passwords, retrieving accidentally deleted files, and well let’s face it – unjamming the printer, turns what might have started as a dream job into a jumping off point for something bigger and better somewhere else. Not everyone gets tired of these tasks, but many do. There are lots of great IT guys out there who have skills they want the chance to put to use and are just waiting for that opportunity.

Many of the RIA firms we work with have in-house IT staff whose job function changes considerably once the firm outsources some of the basics computer support services. This makes that really great IT guy a lot easier to keep. Their current job is their dream job again as the focus changes from “why is my computer so slow?” to “how can you help us strategically?” Suddenly in-house IT moves from putting out fires to focussing on innovation, long term planning and revenue-generating contributions. That is an IT dream job!

So how do you unburden your IT guy or gal so they can contribute at a whole bigger level and they are more likely to stay with the firm? Here are some suggestions.

Recognize your IT guy’s skills and passions

Good bosses understand what makes an employee love their job. Work with IT to understand where the firm’s priorities and goals merge with the employee’s skills and passions and then free up their time to focus on just those things. Letting your in-house IT support focus on the kind of strategic projects they are not only good at, but that they really enjoy is usually a win-win for everyone.

Prioritize projects that generate revenue or help cut costs

Evaluate your priorities. If your IT guy can’t do everything on his to-do list every day, you have to understand that the lack of priorities is impacting your bottom line. The time IT spends putting out fires and day-to-day trouble shooting, is time lost to bigger projects that can impact the bottom line. That’s not to say those fires don’t need putting out, but creating priorities for in-house IT staff is important if you hope to make progress with your IT infrastructure.

Understand the day-to-day processes

Do you know what the average day looks like for your IT guy? You don’t need to know all the technical details, but you should work to understand what day-to-day processes are in place to keep things running securely and efficiently. Now ask yourself:

  • Are these day-to-day processes the best use of your IT guy’s time?
  • What can be done by someone else in the firm?
  • What can be automated?
  • What can be managed more efficiently in the cloud or by others?

Consider taking it to the cloud

The cloud does not mean the end of in-house IT staff. In fact, for many RIA firms, moving to the cloud means freeing up time for the IT guy to become that strategic contributor he hopes he can be and you hoped he could be when you hired him.

A move to the cloud is another tool that can help alleviate the day-to-day tasks that bog down IT staff and prevent them from getting on with the bigger and the better – those projects that cut costs, or generate revenue, and leverage your IT guy’s passions.

Ask a Managed Service Provider what kind of difference they can make

A good Managed Service Provider (MSP) is going to customize their services to offer your IT guy the kind of support he needs to alleviate much of the pressure and stress of the day-to-day fires. Not only does it free him up for those other projects, he also has a resource to support him as technology continues to become more complex on the backend with virtualization, cloud computing and advanced infrastructure.

Depending on what you agree to with your MSP, your IT guy and your staff can have access to a help desk, tools for remote monitoring and mobile device management, and disaster recovery and business continuity. These all become things the IT guy no longer has to worry about.