The sorry tale of the ‘accidental IT manager’

4 Sep 2013

Martin Cullen (front), Small & Medium Sized & Partner Business director, Microsoft Ireland

The lack of a dedicated IT manager in small firms has given rise to the phenomenon of the accidental IT manager, the unqualified person in a business who gets lumped with DIY fixes for IT problems. Men over 35 in senior roles in firms tend to be the designated accidental IT manager whether they like it or not.

According to research from Microsoft Ireland, Irish small and medium sized businesses’ reliance on accidental IT manager is significant – 66pc of firms surveyed do not have IT support, resulting in a senior members of staff blundering into the role.

This is also causing frustrations – 33pc of accidental IT managers spend up to 156 hours a year or 6.5 days a year doing DIY fixes.

Future Human

Some 56pc of workers in Irish organisations are frustrated by non-technical staff trying in vain to fix complex problems. Employees under 35 – digital natives for the most part – are the most likely to be frustrated when dealing with the accidental IT manager.

Despite the majority of firms (75pc) agreeing they cannot function without their IT systems fully up and running, SMB owners believe not employing a dedicated IT manager or contracting an outsourced provider saves them money.

When it came to solving IT issues in organisations without IT support, 40pc of men and women under the age of 35 years responded they would be happy to occasionally assist, but dislike being asked to help as 20pc felt it interfered with their job.

A thankless task

“The Accidental IT Manager is a thankless task. There is a big difference between helping out on small IT issues, versus having to manage an IT infrastructure which they are not equipped for,” said Martin Cullen, director, Small & Medium Sized & Partner Business, Microsoft Ireland (SMS&P), who urged firms to look to cloud services such as Office 365, Lync and CRM Online that are updated and managed online by providers like Microsoft as a possible answer.

“Time spent firefighting means loss of productivity, by not being able to get on with what they do best, innovating and growing their business instead of wasting valuable time on checking updates, licences and other non-productive IT issues.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years