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What to Ask Your Tech Guy/Gal

If you are a small business person and find yourself at a crossroads where you need a technology problem solved, don't have the time to solve it yourself, and are considering hiring someone to help out on a short term basis, it is really important to get it right the first time.  Here is how to approach building a relationship with a tech guy or gal.

First, imagine this scenario.  You and your candidate go out to Starbucks for coffee to discuss your project.  Only before doing so, you grab someone from the line just after they get their coffee.  Yes, I mean someone "off the street" who you have never met and has never met you.  You ask them to join you and your candidate.  The three of you sit down and you sip your coffee and introduce yourselves to each other.  Let's say that random gal from the line is Mary and your candidate is Jim.

You look at your candidate (Jim) and say: "Jim, please explain to Mary what we do in our business."

That's it.  At that point you clam up.  You resist the temptation to jump in and clarify things.  You do not necessarily expect Jim to have all the nuances of your business down pat.  But before you commit to working with him, you do need to know that he knows enough about what you do to recognize how information technology can bring the most value to your company.

Now having thought through how that conversation would go, and what Jim would have to say that you would be satisfied with, start to put together a package of material.  Remember, this material is aimed at a tech person to make sure they understand enough about your business to be able to recognize what from their range of expertise would bring value.  Once you have that material, you are now ready to set that appointment for Starbucks.  Make sure you email it to them along with the calendar invite.  Also make sure they know they are expected to review and discuss it at your meeting.

When you do get together you're probably not going to grab that random gal from the line (although it would be really interesting to see how that would play out!).  Either way, your first question should be something like this: "What do you think about my business?"

This is purposefully a very vague and open-ended question.  Do not ask him or her: "Do you understand my business?"  That is a "yes/no" question.  Start vague and open ended.  Here is what you want and do not want to hear.

You do not want to hear about their mastery of technology right out of the gate.  You do not want to hear about their last project or that really cool feature they came up with.  The really talented tech people know this (or should know it).  You want to hear them grasping for a way to articulate what you do.  If they seem a little uncomfortable, that is actually a very good sign.  They are uncomfortable because their work requires a deep level of mastery of technology.  It also requires a deep level of mastery of your business.  If they are grasping - even if awkwardly - for a way to explain your business it means they: 1) already know their technology; and 2) realize they need to know your business.  That is the kind of person you want to work with.

The person you absolutely want to avoid is the super-senior, smartest-guy-in-the-room tech guru who is all wrapped in with impressing his peers with how cutting edge he is.  These pocket-protector types are more into getting the propeller on their beanie spinning faster than the geek next to them.  Your business will be forgotten in the breeze all those propeller beanies generate.

Your small business really requires that the money you put into IT gets you the right solution the first time.  A careful evaluation of the tech person/people you work with will go a long way.

Why Certification Matters

You're standing in line at the pharmacy looking at the prescription you're about to fill.  You'll fill it - and then you'll take the medicine as directed.  All because you trust that your doctor knows what you need to feel better.

We are comfortable with all of this because of the trust which has been built up by the rigorous standards doctors have to meet in order to practice medicine.

But every day we make decisions with our personal information that are just as important.  This is why certification in information technology is so important.

The International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium, Inc., (ISC)²®, is the global, not-for-profit leader in educating and certifying information security professionals throughout their careers. (ISC)²® is recognized for Gold Standard certifications and world class education programs. 

John Horst, Managing Member for Technology, has the CISSP®-ISSAP® certification, considered the highest level of certification for secure software architecture by the United States Department of Defense (DoD 8570 IASAE Level III).

Cybersecurity is always a tradeoff between secure solutions and flexible solutions.  Let Xanesti Technology Services guide your organization in discovering the security solutions which best fit your business plan.

8(m) Minority Woman Owned

Xanesti Technology Services, LLC is an 8(m) certified Minority Woman Owned Small Business Enterprise (MWOSBE) interested in partnering with DoD other Federal and State government Prime contractors.

We provide DoD IASAE Level III Information Assurance (IA) Workforce solutions.


Managing Member for Technology John Horst holds the CISSP®-ISSAP® certification, considered the gold standard information technology security certification.

John Horst currently serves as the Treasurer for the San Diego Chapter of (ISC)2.

Committed to Business

The single biggest challenge businesses face with information technology is the tendency for business professionals and IT professionals to talk past each other.

Xanesti Technology Services is committed to bridging this gap with a requirements gathering methodology which places your users (not the technology) at the center of the process.

We discover (often from a business plan) the discrete groups of users who have discrete responsibilities for the execution of the business plan, and then map how your information technology infrastructure provides the capabilities they require.

This allows us to identify where "commercial off-the-shelf" (COTS) products are sufficient (usually for 80% of the needs) and where customized solutions can provide the remaining capabilities.

Partnering with Xanesti will result in a clear picture of business value for all your information technology investments.