What Does an IT Department Do? (& Can Your CFO Run It?)
Have you ever looked at someone and wondered: “What is their job?”
Yeah. Aside from horror stories of co-workers who seem like their sole contribution is the air they breathe (and sometimes, not even then), it’s equally horrifying to realize you’ve hired a team member who just. Doesn’t. Do. Anything.
It feels like throwing money into the abyss – and frankly, you can’t afford it. (Well, maybe you can afford it. Congratulations! But … you really shouldn’t. Throw that money somewhere else – maybe to charity?)
Before hiring anyone, have a clear idea of what they will do.
And in this day and age, one of the most confusing departments to figure out is the IT department.
Sometimes it can be confusing to figure out if a task should go to IT and which shouldn’t. What do IT technicians even do? What is the entire scope of their job?
Don’t worry. As a Managed IT Service Provider (MSP), we field questions like these all the time. What is the function of an IT department? Why do we need it? Can’t we just keep hiring our friend’s second cousin to fix our printer? Can my CFO run my IT department?
To help you understand the complexities of an IT department and how you can best staff one, we’ll answer the following questions:
- What is an IT department?
- Who is part of an IT department?
- What are the main tasks of an IT department?
- What are the different kinds of IT departments?
It’ll be easier for you to choose your IT staff and structure it in the best way for your organization by answering these questions.
What is an IT department?
First things first, IT departments are groups of people who aim to manage and maintain technology for a business’ benefit. It uses the latest tech to keep communication lines running smoothly and protect critical data.
They primarily deal with all business technical aspects, such as computer setup and management, employee email distribution, and server management. They’re also responsible for the devices entering the company’s network.
Who is part of an IT department?
Too often, people’s functions at companies overlap. Maybe there’s a staff shortage, maybe they want to do multiple jobs, or maybe the company budget can’t handle hiring more team members.
But an IT department is one of those places where overlapping functions spell out disaster.
For example, the work of a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) in a business organization is to manage finances, record keeping, manage financial risks, prepare financial reports, and give general financial advice.
That’s already a fully-loaded job! By adding IT to your CFO’s duties, you’ll overload your CFO and open your IT department to security risks.
IT, especially in our current day and age, is advancing at a fast-paced rate. Specialized personnel needs to handle the intricacies of an IT network. Plus, IT maintenance must be top-notch for you to get cyber insurance — which is necessary for businesses as the threat of cyber attacks grows.
These complex needs are why there are usually three main roles in an IT department.
A team lead is a person in charge of the strategic management of an IT department. In small companies, they are also the main head of the IT department. In larger companies, you can have the head of the IT department that has different team leads underneath that perform other functions based on each team’s specialty.
Specialized technicians offer more in-depth knowledge and technical support. They can specialize in specific products or have deep knowledge about certain cybersecurity or server setup tasks.
General technicians often offer the bare bones of an IT department, such as email and user solutions. They have a wide breadth of knowledge about IT, but may be limited into in-depth needs tasks like cybersecurity.
What are the main tasks of an IT department?
IT stands for Information Technology. It primarily deals with the management of computers and IT networks, which involve:
- Connections with the Outside World
- Storage of Company Data
- Privacy and Security
IT functions have evolved into a massive effort to keep the company tech running smoothly and protect customer and company assets.
Connections with the Outside World
IT is responsible for connecting your business with the outside world. This means they handle:
- Email management
- Web server management
- Phone systems
- Company website maintenance
- Computers and mobile devices maintenance
These are essential functions as businesses can’t grow without strong communication between staff and clients.
However, some exceptions apply. The IT department doesn’t usually handle Social Media accounts. They may record all the accounts and passwords, but the Marketing department is responsible for the content.
Storage of Company Data
Long gone are the days when data was stored in large physical files using paper copies of documents. Those days are gone because of on-premise and cloud storage.
Privacy and Security
Modern IT sometimes seems too good to be true. But people only get this impression when they forget the large risk of an interconnected world.
Now that all our data is stored digitally or in the cloud, it’s available to hackers. They spend every day working to exploit each business’ tech vulnerabilities.
Security breaches can cripple a business and bring it to its knees. For example, a bank that experiences a data breach can kill its reputation and business. And while it can be devastating for any company to undergo a security breach, healthcare is especially vulnerable.
The IT Department is tasked with ensuring that security breaches don’t happen at all. If they occur, breaches are detected and dealt with as soon as possible.
The IT department must be vigilant in protecting a company’s data. It’s a full-time job.
Technology keeps on evolving to serve us better, and this is where the IT department comes in.
They must consistently stay aware of new security threats. Even though it’s tempting to ask if you even need an upgrade, IT staff must install system upgrades and train the staff on how the new upgrades are applied.
Consistently keeping track of new firewall updates and hardware is a full-time job. As a business owner, you need to give your staff enough time to stay on top of the latest news and practice proactive IT.
About to make an IT department for your business?
Getting an IT team together is a more complex process than it seems. It can get easy to get lost in the process! But as long as you take time to remember the following details, building an IT department will be much easier.
- IT departments aim to manage and maintain technology for a business’ benefit and deal with all technical aspects of the company.
- An IT department will often have a team lead, specialized technicians, and general technicians.
- Technicians’ primary tasks are managing IT connections, storing company data, maintaining privacy and security, and scheduling updates & upgrades.
But businesses often have only one idea of an IT department in their heads. As an MSP, we know that tech solutions are not one size fits all.
Which is why you should know about the different IT department options you have for your business. Read “Managed-IT Service Provider vs. Break-Fix and In-House IT” to learn about the different IT options for your business.