Posted by: David Scott
business environment, IT discipline, IT job descriptions, IT position descriptions, IT staffing, SMB
In Part I we spoke of how “Frankenstein” positions get cobbled together, comprising various disciplines and duties for an awkward straddle. Here, we’ll discuss a few ideas for correcting, and even avoiding, these inefficient situations.
Ignoring increasing burdens or emerging priorities is not wise – whatever else may be hindering action. If you lack budget, approval, and your own authority to build a new position, you can still plan the position and have it ready to go. If you believe in a new position, and believe in a necessary redistribution of work based on changing conditions, you can still create and assemble your supporting documentation.
If you’re right, the issue will force itself sooner or later. Without preparation, you may make mistakes when the time and authority to act does come. Waiting until you absolutely have to break off work to a new position is like standing at the base of a cliff. You won’t have the gentler progression of planning as you track the practices and requirements of new areas.
IT should look at the long-range business plan, the projections of growth (hopefully), and general changing methods regarding the exercise of business in order to assess their own staffing requirements. This should be marked and tracked within a Five-Year Plan, with more specifics in a One-Year Plan. As any new positions begin to manifest and focus, IT should build position descriptions, budgets, and justifications for them. This prevents being caught flat-footed.
A new position may become necessary through an increasing volume of existing work, or the requirement to perform a new kind of work. In either case strong consideration should be given toward emplacing the new position before a critical need develops. Where possible, activate a position for new work “ahead of the curve.” This way, you can have the concurrent grooming of an incumbent along with the “settling” of that position as it breaks-in to business.
Waiting means that you risk sizing a position, and hiring into it, to cover requirements not fully understood. You’ll be scrambling to define the position, the salary, and the kind of person you want for it, while needs are yet evidencing themselves. You may not have direct familiarity with the market for such a person. Business won’t know how it needs to be supported, HR won’t quite know how to hire for the position, and IT will be struggling to define it based on an amalgam of surveys of peers and associates. This, plus you’ll be reaping the results of running “lean” for too long: impacts of bad morale and negative consequences to staff and business are quite possible – frequently there is turnover and the loss of good people.
Next – we’ll get a bit further into setting IT staffing structure.
NP: Blue Train, John Coltrane, Jazz24.org.