Are you still looking for the “the one?” No, we’re not talking about romance. For that, try eHarmony.com or one of the many other online dating services out there.
What we’re actually referring to is your search for the perfect – or at least near-perfect – people to mastermind your small or midsize company’s technology operation. Whether you retain that work in-house, hire a technology outsourcing company or are simply looking for a technology consultant to review your infrastructure, getting the right people in those critical roles is essential.
As with choosing a spouse, a great selection won’t guarantee that you’ll never face problems, but it can make dealing with those problems easier and more pleasant, greatly limit the number of problems you face, and contribute greatly to a happy and successful life.
But, as with the search for Mr. or Mrs. Right in your personal life, finding the right person or people to fill important technology roles for your small or midsize business can be really hard, especially if you aren’t particularly experienced in courting such people or discerning their strengths and weaknesses. So how can you decide if an individual is right for your internal tech team, or if a contractor or team of contractors are the right people to handle your outsource technology work?
With a tip of the cap to writer and veteran CIO Eric Bloom and CIO.com, here’s a consolidated list of key indicators to look for in your tech pro evaluations:
- They understand BOTH technology and business. It is critical that they have a deep love for, and understanding of technology, but that, by itself, is not enough. They must also understand business and see technology not as a be-all/end-all but rather as a key set of tools for enhancing business performance. This means they have the capability of seeing how your company’s data flows tell the story of where your company is performing well or poorly, and how the data indicate where opportunities for business growth exist.
- They communicate well in BOTH English and Techno-speak. Too often tech pros hide their lack of understanding of – and/or their lack of interest in – the business world by speaking in techno-babble jargon. Less frequently, but occasionally an under-qualified tech pro will try to hide that fact by talking a good story in business-language. Your company needs tech pros who can translate business needs and practices into technical plans and directions, and technical knowledge into business plans and directions.
- They have BOTH deep expertise in at least one tech area and broad understanding of all tech areas. Having a specific area of technical expertise isn’t a mere advantage, it’s essential; though their specific area of expertise might not be all that important. This shows that the tech pro in question really knows how to dive very deeply into a subject area in order to master it. However, they should also have reasonable working knowledge of other areas of technology, showing that they are not a one-trick-pony and are capable of seeing the big picture.
- They have a great attitude. They aren’t self-satisfied but remain hungry to learn new things about technology, business and people. They’re also team-oriented rather than self-centered.
- They think positively and creatively. It is important that your tech people respond to challenges as opportunities rather than as limitations and that they inherently seek out new and creative solutions that sometimes break the mold. There are already enough curmudgeons in the tech world. Your company doesn’t need any more.
- They are intellectually curious and aggressive. It’s critical that your technology pros are always thinking about a better way to do things they’re already doing as well as ways to learn to do new things. They also need to be predisposed toward eagerly accepting new challenges.
Whether you’re looking to replace an internal IT staffer or screening potential IT managed services partners, keep these characteristics in mind. The decision you’re about to make might not be as important as finding a spouse, but it’s likely to be one of the most impactful decisions for your company’s future success.