Guide: What Does the IT Department Do in a Business?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 30 August 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Many businesses of all sizes have digitised and automated some or all aspects of its functions. This digitisation process and the system that supports it is often managed by skilled employees from the field of information technology (IT). These professionals configure, set up, maintain and troubleshoot computer based-systems, allowing businesses to function smoothly without disruption. In this article, we answer the question, "What does the IT department do in a business?" and discuss the details of how the department functions within an organisation to meet business needs and goals.

What does the IT department do in a business?

The IT department of a company ensures that the network of computers within the organisation are well-connected and functioning properly. All the other departments within the company rely on them to ensure that their respective functions can go on seamlessly. The IT department has three major areas of concern, which include governance of the company's technological systems, maintenance of the infrastructure and functionality of the systems overall. The IT department also works on the organisation's internal software and hardware requirements, aiding in its improved efficiency, profitability and success.

What are some primary responsibilities of an IT department?

Since the IT department works behind the scenes, the scale of their responsibilities is not visible to most employees from other departments. You may only need to contact this department for login assistance or when the system you are working on is experiencing a problem. Every IT department typically manages multiple responsibilities. Each responsibility could be under the purview of one member with the required skill set or shared by many. This depends on the size of the organisation and the number of employees on the IT team.

In small organisations, most responsibilities can be taken care of by one person, while taking help from other external vendors when there are specific requirements. The main responsibilities of the IT department are:

Administration

IT administrators play an integral role within a company and the IT department itself. They are the person who assists when someone needs help with a technological issue or has just joined the company and needs help navigating new equipment. The duties of an administrator may overlap with other team members at times. For instance, the jobs of system administrators and network administrators may have a similar structure but different focus. Some common administrative duties include:

  • Assisting new users with computers and related software

  • Training employees to use new systems and software

  • Maintaining all computer infrastructure of the company

  • Performing regular software updates as and when available

  • Overseeing data storage

  • Completing all statutory formalities

  • Ensuring compliance with mandatory quality standards

  • Renewing licences of all relevant hardware and software

  • Scanning and assessing risk of any kind of threat from possible sources

  • Monitoring vendor and supplier contracts

Related: How To Become a System Administrator: A Complete Guide

Technical support

When people need access to computer systems or require troubleshooting assistance, they typically get referred to the technical support team. Tech support professionals are especially handy at fixing problems related to hardware and software issues, though their role within the company is usually larger. Another large part of their job involves educating people and answering questions relating to the technologies they use. Here is a list of duties they may perform:

  • Configuring and installing new hardware, software, office devices and equipment

  • Procuring required IT hardware, software and accessories

  • Processing documentation of all IT assets

  • Participating in periodic IT inventory audits and management

  • Creating work logs

  • Configuring phone systems and installing phone and video conferencing interfaces

  • Installing cloud-based application services

  • Troubleshooting network and technical issues

  • Maintaining hardware in good working condition through prompt repairs and servicing

Communication

Digital technology has taken over all forms of business communication. One of the chief responsibilities of the IT department is to facilitate communication within the organisation and with potential and existing clients. As many businesses work with global clients and remote workforces, online conferences and meetings are conducted frequently. The onus of enabling undisrupted and seamless communication through voice and visual platforms often falls on the IT department. The key responsibilities of an IT department with respect to communication are:

  • Preparing interfaces for video and web-based conferences

  • Setting up point-to-point calls and conferences

  • Updating new data in the systems as and when necessary

  • Creating backups of data sources

  • Serving a consultant to heads of departments and employees

  • Updating security of communication systems

  • Updating, maintaining and troubleshooting internal email systems

Programming

The IT department of an organisation, while working along with other professionals, often need the skills of web developers and programmers. The programmers within an IT department work in conjunction with other software developers and engineers during the coding stages. Some responsibilities of programmers within an IT department are:

  • Coding in languages like Linux, Java, JavaScript, C++, Asp.net, C#, SQL, HTML and PHP

  • Developing new versions for software and enhancing business applications

  • Establishing new databases

  • Transferring and converting hard copies and digital documents to ASCII, HTML, PDF and other file forms

  • Copying, editing and saving graphics using graphics applications

  • Implementing knowledge of application development languages

Related: Coder vs. Programmer - Fundamental Differences

Company website

A well-designed website is a powerful tool for business development. The IT department works in tangent with management and other departments to create a user-friendly and informative website that provides a strong online presence for the company. While the content is often developed by the marketing team, it is the role of the IT department to implement it as per their expectations. Once the website is accessible to users, the IT department constantly works to test for functionality and helps with any user-related issues. The duties that an IT department completes to maintain a company website are:

  • Configuring site layout as per requirements

  • Writing and implementing website code

  • Testing the site for usability

  • Maintaining a company's internal network or the intranet

Application development

Whatever be the goods or services a company deals in, they need to have applications that can improve visibility and serve as a statement of business efficiency and professionalism. Business applications can be in the form of content management systems, customer relationship management interfaces, employee communication portals or enterprise resource planning systems. Developers from the IT department work with other departments, develop applications and test them with employees before going live. The most significant responsibility of an IT team related to business applications are:

  • Turning software concepts and ideas into code

  • Meeting with clients to understand requirements

  • Creating code that can perform as per client's and in-house requests

  • Documenting the coding process for future use and reference

Related: How To Become a Front-End Developer: A Complete Guide

IT security

The risk of hacking and the threat of losing confidential business data has increased significantly in the past decades. The IT department ensures the security of a company's IT network. Some important security-related responsibilities of an IT department are:

  • Deciding on who can access the network and grant access

  • Preventing hacking of websites and other data systems

  • Following privacy and other security standards set by the industry and government

Related: Cyber Security Interview Questions and Answers

What does every IT department need?

There is no generalised formula for the number of staff or a ready checklist for the type of hardware and software for the IT team of any company. It usually depends on the size of the company and the work employees perform for customers and clients. The size of a company, the nature of their business, the type of clientele they cater to, the extent of their digitisation, and most importantly, the budget allocation influence the number of personnel required in an IT department. Here is some guidance on what a department may require:

Personnel needs

Here is a list of specific job roles associated with an IT department:

  • IT project manager

  • Systems engineering manager

  • Business analyst

  • Network administrator

  • Network engineer

  • Programmer

  • Software tester

  • Security analyst

  • Help desk support professional

  • Help desk analyst

  • Hardware technician

While one professional can perform in several job roles in smaller organisations, larger organisations may need multiple employees with the same skill set to work effectively.

Infrastructure needs

A company's IT infrastructure comprises hardware, software, network, enterprise and database systems. To optimise the use of these systems, management often has to plan effectively and strategically so that they not only derive financial returns on investment but also enable integration with existing systems. These are the common infrastructure needs of an IT department:

  • Computer hardware

  • Operating systems

  • Enterprise software applications

  • Networking and telecommunications systems

  • Consultants and system integrators

  • Internet platforms

  • Data management and storage systems

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