Many of our mid-sized clients struggle with realizing true value from their IT investments, including their investment in the IT Director role. For a good description of the value to expect from IT, please browse our April, 2015 article Is IT Providing Value In Your Business. Part of the reason for this troubling situation is that many executives install the role of the IT Director to merely “manage the IT department” for the enterprise. IT Directors typically manage a group of 5 to 25 people, and these folks may be split into a few teams including infrastructure, applications and the service desk. Fortunately, that is only part of the story – the instrumental IT Director can (and should) do a heck of a lot more.
Determining the Right Skills
Today, it is an inescapable conclusion that technology is a critical lever for business success. Most business executives know this, but because of the complexities of a constantly changing technology landscape, these same business minds find it easy to delegate critical business decisions to their IT leader. This approach is fraught with danger, as the key responsibility to ensure delivery of business value from IT now rests largely on the shoulders of the IT leader, an employee in most mid-sized organizations who does not traditionally have the right skills to manage IT investments from a business perspective. These IT professionals are usually more interested in the technology-specific responsibilities of their role, and at best they work on providing decent IT services, failing to leverage IT for true business value.
Given this situation, with such a large responsibility placed on their shoulders, it is critical to properly determine if your IT Director is capable of delivering the goods. So, what are some of the key attributes of a good IT Director? In addition to strong technical skills, it is vital they cultivate additional, key business skills. Here are the five critical skills an IT Director must have in order to be effective in their role:
Communication and Relationship Building
Leadership and People Development Skills
Strategic and Planning Orientation
Project Management Skills
Strong Technical Background and Knowledge of IT Processes and Frameworks
The VIE Advantage
In 2013, one of our public sector clients informed us that they were not happy with the performance of their IT Director. A critical project had been delayed several times with no end in sight. After a short discussion of the capabilities of their IT Director along the five key skills mentioned within this article, it was apparent that the director was deficient on many, and lacked motivation to improve on any of them. Our client decided that they really wanted to make a change, but hiring a new IT Director can take up to six months.
This was the critical juncture when they decided to contract with VIE to provide an Interim CIO for six months. We installed a seasoned CIO who quickly went to work helping to improve their IT organization. Over five months, the VIE Interim CIO helped re-track the critical project, established a solid IT strategic plan, increased staff morale, and raised the level of service and overall value of the IT team. We also helped the client hire the right long-term IT Director, contributing to the eventual hand-off in duties. Learn more about the CIO services VIE provides, here.