We usually don’t blink an eye for dollars spent on CPE for our accounting staff. 40 hours per year is typical. Whether you run your own training in house or ship staff off to conferences, there are dollars involved….lots of them. But what about training for your IT staff? They need education as well, even though it is not required by their industry (unless they’ve got to keep up those initials after their name). Spending technology dollars on your IT staff will go a long way, beyond the education itself.
When you invest in your IT staff, it tells them that you care about their growth. Indirectly, they bring value to your firm. While they are not chargeable, they help your staff use technology tools so that they are able to be efficient at their job. IT staff are often categorized as “overhead” at the firm, when in all reality we should be deemed a strategic asset. If the only perception of your IT staff is frantically running through the halls each day fixing printer jams and anything and everything that plugs into the wall, what you probably don’t see is what they work on when their phone is not ringing off the hook. Just like taxes and audits can be complex, so can multi-office CPA firm networks. Many of the issues are not simple fixes, rather trial and error…..troubleshooting skills (and a lot of patience) are a must.
While much of this is on the job training, there is value in sending your IT staff to 3rd party training and networking events. Often times, IT staff are lone wolves at their firms – they need peers to run ideas past just like you do. They can’t walk down the hall and ask another accountant’s opinion, so it is up to you to help them build a peer group to reach out to for help. There are industry groups like AAA that have sub-groups just for CPA firm network administrators – allow them to join and see their stress level drop down a few notches. Nobody wants a stressed out IT person. Especially in tax season!
Your IT helpdesk often has to put up with some difficult customers, make sure you give them the education and networking opportunities they deserve. Sometimes, it is benefits like these that mean more to your staff than a deposit to their bank account every other Friday.