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Eight core competencies to look for in your new IT generalist

Most growing businesses depend on IT generalists to manage more of their tech operations. As the title suggests, an IT generalist is meant to be a jack-of-all-trades, but they should also be a master of these eight core skills.

Did you know that the most successful companies are actually more frugal than the average business when it comes to IT spending as a percentage of revenue?

So how can a growing business make wiser investments in IT? Some organizations might try to save time and money by virtualizing more of their IT operations via third-party Managed Service Providers (MSPs), who are often better equipped to maintain discrete systems more effectively than a small, on-prem team can manage. But if you’re already outsourcing much of your IT management—and spending a significant portion of your budget on operational costs to support these various partnerships—then it might be time to hire an in-house IT generalist to manage your tech systems.

The role of the IT Generalist

IT generalists tend to be better options for companies that are just starting to conduct their own IT services in-house. Their well-rounded technical knowledge, combined with their business acumen and people skills, allow them to contribute to a wide range of tasks, such as desktop support, phone and Internet systems updates, web design and maintenance, database development, project and resource management, and even vendor research and vetting.

By delegating different facets of technology to a single team member—especially one who’s capable of managing both internal resources as well as external service providers—businesses can effectively keep their operational costs down, while also staying on the leading edge of technical systems and processes.

If you’re looking to move some or all of your technological services from third-party providers to a dedicated, in-house manager, and an IT generalist is the next big hire on your HR want-list, be sure they demonstrate these eight core capabilities:

1. Working knowledge of major operating systems, software environments and other technical systems that your business and its industry/sector may demand, including server stacks, Internet and telephony, plus the options available to you to optimize web system performance, uptime and security.

2. Competitive knowledge of the marketplace and IT solutions providers, with the ability to vet external partners and providers thereby determining the best combination of Professional, Managed and Cloud-based Services that can balance your infrastructural needs against your budget.

3. Working knowledge of budgeting and finance, with the ability to develop budgets, strategic plans, and business cases so that non-IT stakeholders (such as finance, marketing, sales and board members) can easily understand the need for funding and the benefits that will result from the work.

4. Intermediate to advanced knowledge of HTML and SQL (Structured Query Language), for website development and communicating with databases, respectively.

5. Working knowledge of and ability to write code in programming languages like C++, Java, JavaScript, Objective-C/Swift, PHP and Ruby.

6. Basic graphics skills for when they may be asked to contribute to a client presentation or sketch a workflow diagram.

7. Advanced understanding of IT and data security, as well as privacy legislation, including CASL in Canada, CAN-SPAM in the U.S., PIPEDA and other legislation in global markets where your company conducts business.

8. Demonstrated soft skills, including negotiating, coaching and mentoring (in case they’re responsible for a team), diplomacy and communications skills (both written and spoken).

If you’re ready to take your business to the next level, consider putting the versatile capabilities and knowledge base of an IT Generalist—the “Swiss Army Knife of the tech world”—to work at your organization.