According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), many businesses experience a "summer slowdown." During this time period, certain companies have less business due to the fact that their customers and clients are on vacation. The summer slowdown often applies to both employees and executives, leading to a bare-bones crew at the office, little to no new projects and overall reduction in performance.
But here's the real question: Do IT professionals experience this same slowdown, or does their "busy season" run 12 months a year?
As noted by MFA Talent Management, hiring slows down in the summer, unless you're in the market for IT specialists. Web developers, systems analysts, support specialists and network admins were all in high demand even through characteristically "slow" months in 2015. And if companies are hiring new IT staff, they likely have more than enough work to go around.
This all makes sense: After all, summer is the ideal time to retro-fit legacy systems, take servers down for extended maintenance and on-board new hardware, as these months are typically when the lowest number of users are putting pressure on the system. According to Network Computing, many surveyed tech workers actually have an increasingly intensive workload during the summer, when more employees attempt to access corporate servers remotely. During this time, IT pros often have to deal with cases of malfunctioning laptops and poor remote connections.
And as if that wasn't enough, IT teams are often on the receiving end of C-suite initiatives to outsmart the summer slowdown. For example, The Muse suggests that companies take advantage of social media platforms to run contests or tap the popularity of local events. These types of programs demand IT oversight to ensure that employees don't accidentally compromise network security, and to prep servers in the event of a significant consumer influx (if the campaign is successful). Ad Solutions, meanwhile, suggests that small businesses update their websites to better reflect their goals. If this review process leads the organization to make any decisions that involve redesigning sections of the website redirecting incoming traffic, the IT pros must add these projects to their to-do lists.
Beyond social campaigns and website makeovers, companies may want to use this slower season as a time to seek out and evaluate new technologies, according to Carbonite. As this technology needs to be able to coexist with current systems and offer sufficient security controls, IT pros play an essential role in this overall endeavor. When you add up all of these potential projects, you find that — instead of a slowdown — IT teams actually just face a busy season with different goals during the summer months.
Mind the Gap
On a fundamental level, SMB IT pros run on the same kind of bandwidth and are expected to match the same kind of throughput as those in enterprise organizations, unlike their counterparts in sales, marketing or even the C-suite. As such, time can create a challenge for SMB IT departments that are driven by new technologies and the needs of an evolving mobile workforce. This busy season gap also speaks to the divide in compensation and recognition often experienced by small business IT pros. But with the summer slowdown in full effect, SMB IT teams have the opportunity to take their case up the chain of command.