IT Policies optimize

Anticipate problems when requesting more staff

If you're one of the fortunate few companies that continue to grow through even this economic mess, justifying additional headcount can be tricky. And when you are transitioning from a small company to a mid-sized company, you need to be able to combat the sticker shock management will inevitably experience.

If you're one of the fortunate few companies that continue to grow through even this economic mess, justifying additional headcount can be tricky. And when you are transitioning from a small company to a mid-sized company, you need to be able to combat the sticker shock management will inevitably experience.

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Recently, many companies have had to lay off IT employees. Of course, the amount of work does not decrease and the rest of the team is asked to pick up additional duties at no additional pay. Eventually, this economic situation will end, but before that happens, many companies will realize that the problems with added workload on fewer heads and things will start failing and falling through the cracks.

When this happens, it always pays to be prepared. If you leverage the ITSM model, you can quickly adjust service levels when you lose headcount. One example is going from a 24x7 help desk to an 8x5 help desk. The challenge with these types of cuts are that they sound good on paper, but the details make them difficult to implement. There are always processes built into these services that can't be cut back. Pretty soon, you start managing a list of exceptions after you have implemented the programs.  Before you know it, you're back servicing the company 24x7 with fewer resources.

If you're one of the fortunate few companies that continue to grow through even this economic mess, justifying additional headcount can be tricky. And when you are transitioning from a small company to a mid-sized company, you need to be able to combat the sticker shock management will inevitably experience.

The first thing to do is understand what the IT organization does today. Help desk tickets are a great way to quantify this. But be careful. Just because you have an increase in the number of help desk tickets does not mean you have to increase your headcount to address the higher workload. This can be perceived poorly by management. Instead of hiring reactionary heads, look deeper into why the number of tickets has increased and don't be satisfied with the first answer you come across.

Your goal as your company grows is to look at ratios and prove economies of scale. As an example: Say you have 100 employees and four help desk technicians. This number of technicians allows you to meet a particular service level with regard to help desk inquiries or requests. Straight line method assumptions would suggest that for every 100 additional employees, you need four additional technicians. Instead, look for ways to demonstrate better economies of scale. If the three-year goal is to grow to 1,000 employees, your goal should be to support 10x the current number of employees with only four additional heads. So your ratio goes from 25:1 to 125:1.

Investment in the proper tools, training, partners and people will allow you to achieve these economies if you approach it correctly because what you're doing is hiring people who can do project work. Identifying the issues in the help desk that can go away if you design infrastructure correctly, outsourcing low value IT tasks to partners or building things correctly the first time all contribute to reduced help desk tickets.

Then there is another phenomenon to consider: When your IT systems are working very well, users will use them more and require more and more from the systems. This can also result in additional help desk tickets. These types of requests, the ones with increased complexity and impact are the ones where IT can provide more value. Because by this time, you're dealing with more advanced topics that can really start impacting productivity within the company.

Tomorrow I will talk about specific ways I have used to get additional head count with good success.

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