For any small- to medium-sized nonprofit organization, the idea of losing a key team member can be daunting. However, the idea of losing the person in charge of your technology can be downright terrifying. Suddenly your organization’s leaders not only have to make sure your technology platforms continue to work until a new IT person can be hired, but you also will have to assess how long it will take to train that new employee as well as how to handle everything from normal technology glitches to a full-scale IT emergency until they get up to speed. Will your technology platforms remain secure, and who will monitor network stability throughout the transition?
When you put it in perspective, does the thought of losing your IT person terrify you? If the answer is yes, here are a few things to consider that will protect your organization against the loss of an internal IT expert.
- The safety and effectiveness of your technology platform should never be dependent on one employee.
- In the event of an emergency, there should be appropriate documentation (stored in a place where key people on your team can access it) and safeguards in place to help solve the problem and avoid disaster.
- Have a technology backup plan so that if your IT person leaves, your organization can manage the transition until a new person is hired.
- And make sure you have the proper systems in place so that your IT expert can take a vacation now and again! If you don’t, turnover eventually is going to become an issue.
Standard Operating Procedures Are a Must
Internally, having guidelines in place for your technology team, or person, is an important first step. The purpose of a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) is to provide detailed instructions on how to perform tasks so that any IT professional can do so correctly each time the task is necessary. The SOP should have a clear purpose that is defined in the document. It should be well-organized, with sections and subsections, and clearly written so that any IT employee can follow the instructions to perform a specific IT-related task. It should also include visual aids, such as screenshots and pictures to clarify the information. Keeping the SOP updated regularly to maintain relevance to the current environment is also key to its value.
Consider An Outside Expert
Even with a clear SOP document and a strong IT platform in place, issues can arise at any moment, including the exit of your technology expert. No matter what size your organization is, having the proper structure and processes in place to handle the loss of an IT person is a must. For small to midsize organizations, the best solution may be hiring an outside IT expert who provides managed IT services, ensuring appropriate and consistent support in any situation. This MSP can work with your IT team, no matter the size, and provide CTO-level knowledge and guidance.
Consider this real-life story when assessing the value of an IT services company: a small accounting firm with one IT person on staff decided to work with an outside technology expert for support and protection against IT disasters. A few months after starting that relationship, the accounting firm’s software went down at the height of tax season. The accountants were unable to work, and of course, the IT person was on a long overdue vacation with no cell service. They immediately contacted their IT company’s help desk and were back in business within the hour. That new partnership had suddenly become well worth the investment for the accounting firm.
In a similar vein, imagine what would happen to your nonprofit if your online giving platform went down on Giving Tuesday or during the height of your annual appeal, if your website crashed during a critical service period for your clients, or even if your staff lost email connectivity as they were planning a major event.
If any of these scenarios hits too close to home for your nonprofit organization as to what could happen if your IT person is away, consider contacting us to discuss the backstop options we provide. Cross the Divide provides enterprise-level support, management, and IT services for nonprofit organizations like yours that understand the critical importance of technology in service to mission.