What exactly is an IT Director directing anyway?

it director

Congratulations, you are a growing company, and now it’s time to hire an IT Director.  Or is it?  This role has evolved significantly over the past ten years.  The advent of the cloud, software-as-a-service, and increasingly digital workflows means that your IT Director needs skills that are likely different than you think.  Less tactics, more strategy.

An IT Director should be adding competitive advantage to your business.

Competitive advantage is DIFFERENT and UNIQUE from similar businesses in your industry.  Keeping the computers working and the email flowing is very important from an operational standpoint, but it will not generate additional profits or margins.

Many businesses start with a small outside IT “person” who comes by when needed and helps out.  This works well until one day, it does not.  This occurs when the business grows past 20 users and/or the small IT “person” becomes overwhelmed with THEIR growing business.  The technology fires increase in frequency and the reaction is often, “we need to hire someone to handle this”.

Before going out and hiring that IT Director, review these points:

  1. A single IT Director cannot be expected to have adequate time to be both strategic and tactical.  The reality for most is that they are forced to be tactical 90% of the time; thus, the organization lacks technology strategy and overpays for tactics.  The ROI here is unacceptable compared to utilizing an outside technology partner of a suitable size and experience.
  2. Wanting an “onsite ” employee to take care of technology issues.  This is typically in response to bad technology experiences in the past or the need to handle constant reactive technology issues (fire fighting).  Stabilizing your technology is not difficult if you have a partner utilizing proven Standards.  Think about doing that first and then revisiting the hire.
  3. Who is going to oversee this person?  It’s crazy to think about, but no established oversight is available for technology in a business.  We have external financial audits/CPAs, OSHA, Worker’s Comp boards, and HIPPA compliance reviews.  The mentality becomes that if nothing is “broken,” then IT must be doing great.  In today’s all-digital world, the risk of having in-house IT is becoming increasingly unacceptable.

For those of you going, wait a second, of course someone running a company that provides technology services would tell you to hire them, not an IT Director.  That couldn’t be further from the truth!  At Stringfellow, we work with a number of very skilled, experienced IT Directors that provide great value to their organizations.  The common trait we see is they understand their value is based on DIRECTING the technology strategy to provide competitive advantage to the business.

A final point about hiring an IT Director.  They are hard to keep!  The market for competent technology talent is fierce and you will either be in one of two positions:

  1. Paying more and more to “keep” your IT Director on staff.  Even then, at some point, they will leave for another opportunity if there are not sufficient growth opportunities available
  2. Hiring an IT Director who is a technology support person.  This increases your business’s internal risk profile and will generate less margin and profit over time.