A business is only ever as good as its talent. Although every team member at your company has a crucial role to play, there are extra considerations when choosing members for your tech team. This is because tech encompasses a large number of activities, no matter your industry — in the modern business world, almost every company is a tech company to some extent.
1. Figure Out Your Priorities
Since there’s tech in every business activity, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by just how much tech you need. However, it’s important to remember that building a tech team is a process that grows with your business. Consider just your current requirements and prioritize the tech you’ll need for upcoming projects. Going overboard by anticipating your needs far into the future is expensive and makes your business less agile.
2. Identify Current Skills Gaps
Bear in mind that you may already have people on your team with tech skills, even if these skills don’t fall under their job descriptions. For instance, it’s possible that an employee has sufficient coding skills for your needs. Of course, you’ll need to balance your tech requirements against your employees’ current responsibilities. Always think about what is the best use of your employees’ time.
3. Figure Out Where You Can Upskill
In some cases, it may make more sense to provide current team members with training than to hire someone with the skills you lack. Again, you’ll need to think about whether team members have the time to do this work (and the training). If you have capable, tech-minded employees, though, it may be worth providing them with training and delegating basic tasks that currently fall to them, such as admin work.
There are additional advantages to upskilling your employees — not least of which is that it’s an excellent retention tactic. Employees will feel that your company is investing in them and giving them an opportunity to progress in their careers. Plus, if some of the skills you teach relate to cybersecurity, you’ll reduce the risk of security problems at your company.
4. Decide What Team Culture You Want
When building a tech team, it’s important to think about what kind of culture you want. Considering your company culture is a great start, although it’s unlikely that your tech team culture will match up exactly. This is because tech teams tend to require more autonomy than employees in general. Much of tech is about solving problems, meaning tech workers need to be able to go ahead and implement ideas without receiving authorization from the top all the time. In fact, high autonomy can mean a sense of empowerment, which leads to better results in terms of innovation and performance.
You should also decide how much freedom you’ll give your tech team according to the workers’ experience. Those with less experience will require more guidance than those who have worked on similar projects in the past.
5. Choose Between Hiring vs Outsourcing
One of the big decisions you need to make is whether you’ll hire employees or outsource contractors. It’s often more affordable to outsource, as there’s no need to pay benefits and you only contract the hours you need. However, the advantage of having employees is that your workers are dedicated to your company and won’t need to split their time between working for you and other businesses. You may like to consider a hybrid approach: hiring a couple of essential tech works with skills you need permanently but outsourcing the rest.
If you do decide to outsource some of your tech team, you’ll need to figure out what size team you want. There are advantages to both large and small teams. For example, large teams give you access to a greater variety of talent and ideas, whereas small teams are easier to manage and it can be more motivating for team members when their individual contributions to a project are obvious.
6. Consider Hiring a CTO
One position you may like to hire is chief technology office. If you’re still a startup, it may not be necessary to have a CTO at this stage. Although it would make a good impression on investors, it may be a luxury you can’t yet afford. Having said that, if you’re an IT company or your business model strongly relies on tech, you will most likely want to hire a CTO from the start.
7. Value Quality Over Price
You’ll find that tech professionals come at a wide range of price points. Whereas you may need to keep expenses low, you should always avoid paying the minimum when it comes to any type of talent. In some cases, of course, quality matters less or it may be difficult for a worker to do a poor job. This means it makes sense to choose a candidate who is willing to work for an average to low rate. However, when you have specific needs, and especially when you’re looking for a leader for your tech team, quality matters much more than price.
8. Seek Passion
Another thing to look for in candidates is a passion for the work. Ideally, candidates will be excited by the mission of your company, motivated to help you solve problems, and interested in expanding their knowledge.
9. Aim for Diversity
Building a diverse team is about much more than showing investors that your company is inclusive — it has some important benefits for your business. Most significantly for tech, diversity leads to more creative solutions and enables you to better meet your customers’ needs. For instance, if your team is an echo chamber of ideas, you may design a product that has a major flaw for a subset of customers and be completely unaware of the fact until too late.
10. Ask Candidates to Demonstrate Their Skills
Tech is not about possessing knowledge as much as about putting knowledge into action. When interviewing candidates for your tech team, ask them to demonstrate their skills — either through an assessment or with a portfolio of past work.
11. Invest in New Technology
Your tech team is about more than just the people: it’s also about the tools and software you have available to the team. Tools are important in all departments of your business, but nowhere do they matter more than tech.
Investing in every new piece of tech that comes along is unfeasible. Not only is it too expensive, it’s also too difficult for your team to keep up, as each new tool has a learning curve and it may not always be obvious how to incorporate a tool into your business. Instead, you need to involve your team to ensure you choose the right tech. Discuss what new advancements your team finds exciting, would have benefits for your company, and would allow you to do things that are not possible with your existing tools.
By making the right decisions about tech, you can put your business ahead of your competitors. Whereas there is always some risk involved — you may adopt a trend that ends up being short lived — the potential payoffs are huge.
For instance, many companies were hesitant about embracing cloud computing. It’s now clear how much time businesses can save by using the cloud, meaning that those who did adopt cloud early must have seen considerable advances in productivity. Plus, cloud solutions can significantly improve security, which has an impact that goes far beyond productivity.
12. Set Standards for Communication
Even the best team will fall apart if you lack good communication. Whether your tech team works at your location or everyone is remote, you’ll need to set communication standards from the start. It’s easy for a tech team to feel isolated from the rest of your business — make sure individuals feel part of something larger and know they’re valued, no matter if they’re employees or contractors.
13. Offer Feedback
One crucial aspect of communication is feedback. Team members need to know where they’re falling short and how they can improve. With the right approach, you can avoid hurt feelings and everyone can benefit: your business will receive higher-quality work and the members of your tech team will be able to improve and grow.
There’s no need to think of feedback in a traditional way — top-down from managers to subordinates. Modern businesses are embracing 360 feedback, which allows everyone to provide feedback to anyone else. Done right, this can feel supportive rather than critical and show team members that others care about them and want them to succeed.
Whether you want to outsource tech, admin, or general tasks, a virtual assistant is the answer. At MYVA360, we have specialist virtual assistants for IT companies on our team. They understand your unique needs and can support you with everything from networking and project management to research and expense tracking.