What IT Departments Do Behind The Scenes
A good IT (information technology) department works behind-the-scenes to ensure that all of your IT systems and applications function efficiently and effectively so your organization operates successfully on a day-to-day basis. To your non-IT staff, your IT department’s function may appear to be limited to troubleshooting hardware and software issues, but they do much, much more than just that.
Summary Of IT Department Duties
Considering how dependent most businesses are on their technology, it should come as no surprise that IT departments have a huge responsibility within the organization. Depending on what a company’s needs are, their IT department may be responsible for providing technical support to both employees and management, maintaining a properly functioning IT infrastructure, upgrading and updating software, developing applications, integrating new systems, preventing and repairing cybersecurity vulnerabilities, and educating as well as training employees about the best IT practices.
A good IT department will help to optimize business functions so that your organization can operate efficiently and effectively to achieve its business objectives and goals.
3 Key IT Functions
When summarizing what an IT department is responsible for, it can seem like a lot of technology-related tasks that seem very loosely related to one another. However, you can break down the responsibilities of a typical IT department into three key categories: governance, infrastructure, and functionality.
IT governance refers to ensuring that an organization’s IT strategy and investments are optimally aligned with the corporate strategy. IT governance also provides a structure to ensure compliance with external regulatory and compliance requirements such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX). Additionally, good IT governance requires the IT department to make sure that any projects they undertake align with the needs and objectives of the company. Governance also involves enabling and monitoring permissions and access, although these are also decisions made by management and not the IT department.
The IT infrastructure refers to the foundation that enables all of your IT services. This includes all of your physical components (such as computer systems) as well as network components and some software components (such as CRM and ERP systems). The IT department is responsible for setting up all components of an IT infrastructure, maintaining that infrastructure, and performing troubleshooting when necessary. Some of the individual components of an IT infrastructure may include laptops, phone systems, wireless networking equipment, printers, and more.
The most visible responsibility that an IT department has is maintaining the functionality of an organization’s IT. This includes developing applications, deploying and maintaining operational software, security testing, device management, data management, network maintenance, and providing technical support to your employees.
Installation and Maintenance of IT Network
The network a company has in place is what allows communication and collaboration across various devices. It’s what connects everyone within the company to one another (and to business partners and customers outside the company as well). A typical IT department will have network and computer systems administrators that are responsible for installing, setting up, and configuring an organization’s computer networks.
Depending on the size of the organization, an IT department may have a single network administrator responsible for installing, setting up, and maintaining the company’s network; however, the bigger the company is, the more administrators will be needed to handle all of the network’s needs. Some networks can be incredibly complex.
Network administrators will also be responsible for upgrading networking hardware, identifying network issues, and fixing network problems. They may also be tasked with identifying what types of hardware and software are needed to help ensure that the network functions properly while working within the established IT budget.
Even though it’s the IT department’s job to keep the company’s network up and running, unexpected things can happen that can crash a network. If the network goes down, it can result in a lot of serious problems. Not only can a downed network cause a major disruption in the company’s day-to-day operations (which can hurt sales), but it can significantly damage the reputation of an organization. Business partners, vendors, and customers (as well as potential partners and customers) can lose trust in the company’s ability to remain operational if this happens. It’s why a network contingency plan is a must.
The IT department must put into place a contingency plan in the event that the network crashes. This plan should include a detailed process for getting the network back up and running as quickly as possible. It should also include a plan for switching over to an alternative system while repairs are being done if the problems that caused the network to go down are serious.
It’s not uncommon for businesses to develop applications of their own, especially customer-facing applications that will help increase their reach and that will improve the customer experience (such as mobile apps).
The IT department should have software engineers that are capable of designing innovative apps that meet the specific needs of the company. These apps need to be user-friendly and must be properly integrated with the organization’s existing systems. A number of IT professionals are generally needed to design, develop, and deploy a successful application, including programmers, interface designers, analysts, database administrators, and testers.
Ensures a Seamless Communication Setup
The communication capabilities of a company are highly dependent on the IT department. This is because the technical side of communication continues to increase as technology continues to advance. Forms of communication that organizations depend on now include point-to-point phone calls, conference calls, video conferences, web conferences, email systems, live chat applications, and more.
Not only is the IT department responsible for implementing and monitoring these communication systems to ensure that they function properly, but they are also responsible for making sure that they are properly integrated with the rest of the organization’s systems so that they can function and interact with one another.
Maintains Company Website
The company website is the foundation for all of its inbound marketing efforts. While the content that’s published on the site and the visual design of the site will likely be tasked to other departments within the organization, the IT department will be responsible for building the actual site. They will write all of the code, ensure that it’s properly integrated with other departments, test the usability of the site, launch the site, and continually monitor the site for any security vulnerabilities or technical issues. The IT department will also be responsible for upgrading the site when necessary, such as if security issues need to be addressed or if leadership wants to implement new features or functionality.
Provides Technical Support
The IT department must provide technical support to everyone who has access to the company’s computer systems or network. This can include installing new software, updating old software, installing new hardware, repairing faulty hardware, troubleshooting systems or individual computers, providing employees with assistance using their software, and training employees on how to use the company’s hardware and software.
IT Department Behind The Scene Capabilities
The importance of an IT department is often overlooked because of how much work is done behind the scenes. The following are just a few examples of why an IT department plays such an important role in the success of a modern day organization:
Protecting the company from the outside world
The more successful an IT department is at protecting your business against data breaches and other cyber attacks, the more invisible their efforts will be. If your company doesn’t experience any security issues, it means your IT department has worked hard to prevent those issues from taking place. They do this by implementing firewalls and anti-virus software that help protect your network from breaches. They are also constantly updating those firewalls and software to address new risks and continuously monitor your IT systems for any potential security issues so that they can address them before they are exploited.
An effective IT department will also have security protocols in place in the event that there is a security breach. This will allow them to identify the breach quickly, fix the problem, and mitigate the potential damage that was done.
Educate Employees to Protect The Company
An IT department doesn’t just train employees how to use the company’s hardware and software. It’s also responsible for educating employees on how to follow proper security protocols, like what websites they should avoid visiting and how to identify emails that may contain malware. Companies who do not educate their employees in such ways are much more likely to experience security issues as a result of mistakes made by their employees.
Govern and Lead
A successful IT department aligns itself with the needs and objectives of a company. They are the ones implementing the IT infrastructure needed to help achieve those needs and objectives, all while remaining compliant with the policies and processes put into place throughout the organization. By being proactive instead of reactive by installing new systems, developing applications, and more, they will become a more efficient department as well as a leader within the organization.
It Isn’t Just About Fixing Computers
While it is the job of an IT department to fix issues with your employees’ hardware and software, they’re not just there for basic technical support. Their main responsibilities take place behind the scenes. They are responsible for installing and monitoring an IT infrastructure that allows your business processes to run efficiently and that enables day-to-day operations to be effectively executed. A good IT department will put into place a solid IT infrastructure that will help your company to successfully achieve its business objectives and goals.
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