As a business owner, you’re likely to have found yourself in the position of hiring staff without a clear idea of what their responsibilities or KPIs should be. Hey, I’ve done it.
Maybe you did a few Google searches and looked at the sort of responsibilities and experience other companies typically look for. While it’s a clever workaround what you don’t know is that a lot of those companies are doing the exact same thing.
Why re-invent the wheel, right? Well, when it comes to people, it’s a little more complicated than that. Simply because the system isn’t ‘broken’, it doesn’t mean it is any good. When it comes to hiring, I’m sure you want a better guarantee than that.
The recruitment process can be tedious, and the time and money involved are not insignificant. For this reason, many companies choose recruitment process outsourcing, or RPO, to companies over having a dedicated resource manage the process.
With close to ten years’ experience in hiring IT support staff—and with many mistakes along the way—I feel like sharing some of that experience so that you can avoid some of the pain that comes with getting it wrong.
Here are my 4 favourite tips on setting IT Support responsibilities that will help you hire and assess your next IT Support staff member, contractor, or managed IT Support provider.
Just like in sales, there is a level of psychology required in attracting and engaging the right employees. Great IT Support specialists generally have a certain personality type which can be a great success indicator, which I will touch on in a minute.
When I first set out hiring IT Support specialists, I thought their key motivator would be money. I mean, who doesn’t like money?
As it turns out, I was actually turning the wrong lever. What technical specialists value most is learning and training above all else. There is a reason why so much software is free, and why there are so many communities with hundreds and thousands of people sharing information for free, and working together to develop open source projects. IT people work in this space because it is their PASSION, and your ad should speak to that.
If you hope to attract and retain great talent— and maximise the value they bring to your company— you must be willing to support and invest in their education. At Greenlight we have specifically had the most success in supporting technical training and certifications, customer support training and time management.
On that note, you should never be afraid of improving the skills and qualifications of your employees because you are scared they will leave. I’m not saying nobody will leave, but the benefits bring immense value to your company, both financially and in terms of employee retention and loyalty.
2. Screening applicants
Imagine you’ve now had an influx of eager applications for your IT Support role. You feel happy that so many technical specialists are clamouring to work for YOUR company. You obviously said something right in your ad, and now you’re faced with a fairly big challenge.
That challenge is separating the wheat from the chaff—you’re not an IT specialist yourself, so how can you determine who has the right skills, and who is just saying what you want to hear?
This is perhaps the biggest obstacle for a small business to surmount, but it isn’t a deal breaker. You may have some friends or past co-workers who understand IT, and who could be brought in to help screen talent and ask the right technical questions.
Our company sometimes offer these services to clients—from screening to an in-person interview—in order to help determine whether the candidates can ‘walk the walk’. We do this through a standardised technical skills test, followed up by an interview with one of our senior technicians.
The effort involved in doing this pales in comparison to the direct and indirect costs—usually thousands of dollars—that hiring the wrong candidate can have on a business.
3. Personality tests
You and I know we like to think that we are great at reading people—and in nearly all cases, we are—it is just incredibly difficult to gauge somebody’s personality traits in the matter of a few hours.
There are many different personality types, and about as many different tests that can be taken to better identify the traits in an individual. We want to hire somebody who will get along with both ourselves and our employees, partners and clients.
Is there a ‘personality’ that best performs as a technical specialist? In a way, there is. The traits that we find deliver the most value in this space are individuals who are patient and methodical, and who are able to deliver great customer service.
Personality tests can help you identify whether those traits exist in your top candidates. You will hire people who will deliver consistent results, and who will make life easier for your clients and employees.
4. IT Support Responsibilities
If you’ve ever worked for anybody else in your life, you probably know about KPIs, or Key Performance Indicators. These are the metrics by which you assess the performance of yourself, your staff, and your business.
KPIs for IT Support employees or managed IT Support providers can range broadly depending on the type of business you operate. If you’re hiring an internal technical specialist to look after your people and systems, the KPIs are much less formal than if you’re using an external team.
Internal IT Support
- Guarantee the uptime of your network
- Resolve any hardware and software issues quickly
- Manage your website
- Develop and resolve bugs in software
Whatever the metric, you should be setting minimum acceptable NUMBERS to objectively assess performance. It is then critical to track and improve those numbers by creating systems for each task.
If you are not tracking metrics, how can you possibly tell if you are improving on them?
Creating systems can be as simple as a Word document that details:
- What is the task?
- Why are we doing it?
- Who is doing it?
- How do we do it?
Managed IT Support
When working with a managed services provider, KPIs take on the term SLA—or Service Level Agreements. The most common metrics are:
percentage of calls abandoned before being answered
Average Speed to Answer
when something goes wrong, we want fast access to make sure the problem is going to get fixed as soon as possible.
Time Service Factor
the percentage of calls answered within a specific agreed timeframe. For instance: 80% of calls being answered within 20 seconds.
having to contact technical support departments to ‘follow up’ on the state can be frustrating. This metric calculates, percentage-wise, how many issues are dealt with during that first call.
from when you lodge an issue, what is the average time it takes for it to be completely resolved and considered ‘closed’?.
Mean Time To Recover
if there is an outage—whether it is a network, software or hardware failure—how long does it take on average to recover? This could include finding a temporary workaround while the major issue is resolved.
I’ll admit it—there was some measure of pain in learning these things first-hand. But getting it wrong and understanding the best way to do things is always worth it. I hope that sharing them with you brings some value to your business.
Looking for a technology partner for your business? Mike Smith is the Director of Greenlight ITC, a Managed Services Provider specialising in delivering IT Support and technology solutions to small businesses in Sydney and Melbourne since 2006.