Most, if not all of today’s businesses, government offices, educational institutions and various organizations have a need and use for computer technology. Before, the number of computers found in an office could be counted on only one hand. Now, almost all employees are assigned one computer each, sometimes two.
With the myriad of computer related devices and applications in use today, the need to have a dedicated IT or Information Technology department has never been greater. IT is also referred to as the MIS or Management Information Systems department. There was even a time when it was called the EDP or Electronic Data Processing department.
Role of an IT department
Depending on the size and functions of an organization, the IT department can be expected to perform the following roles:
- Procurement of IT related hardware, software and other supplies. The IT department should always be on top of new technology in the market to keep the company’s hardware and software up-to-date. They are responsible for finding IT solutions to business tasks and problems. This includes procuring software used in finance, manufacturing, marketing, sales, distribution, human resources and general administration, etc.
- Manage computer related equipment and infrastructure. Whether it is desktops, laptops, network servers, printers or peripherals, the IT department manages all of the hardware used and owned by the company. They also oversee the licensing, installation and use of software as well as maintain and repair equipment when necessary.
- Manage the network. It is the job of the IT department to make sure that the computer network is up and running at all times. But even more importantly, they need to secure the data on the network. Management of servers and other network related equipment is an important function as well as monitoring the firewall that protects the network.
- Provides support for voice and data communication systems. Maintenance and management of Internet and intranet sites is also under the control of the IT department. This includes ensuring that voice mail, email, message boards and faxes are operating as they should and are secure. Coordination with suppliers and vendors of voice and data communications systems is part of the IT department’s role.
- Provide technical support to end-users. When technical issues or problems occur related to systems or computer related equipment, the IT department is called. Depending on the type of problem, IT personnel can help users over the phone, visit them at their workstation or call the vendor to assist in solving the problem.
The IT department is only as good as the people assigned to it. As such, it is staffed with technically competent computer professionals. Some organizations’ IT department, depending on their size, is made up of managers, supervisors and staff. Others however are able to keep the IT department small by outsourcing certain IT-related jobs.
When technology is used to further an organization’s growth and development, a well staffed and well managed IT department is essential. This department is responsible for managing and supporting the IT infrastructure of any business or organization. An IT department provides value by increasing efficiency, reducing costs and finding technology related solutions to business challenges.