IT Directors - Architects or Plumbers?
IT Directors - Architects or Plumbers?

Responsibilities of an IT Director

An IT Director can mean many things especially in small and medium size organizations; however, I would like to suggest that we could broadly classify IT Directors in two categories – the architect and the plumber.

Even in a small business of 50-100 employees, the IT Director would have a few distinct areas of responsibility including:
•    Communication and LAN
•    IT infrastructure
•    Managing software vendors or software development
•    Training and compliance

The difference between an architect and a plumber is in how one approaches the role. 

The architect 
The architects see their responsibilities as securing the present and preparing for the future and therefore she should spend time reading, going to conferences and placing themselves as a senior technology advisor to the board of the company. 
The architect will ensure that the company meets standards around cyber-security, ISO’s and GDPR. The architect will communicate well internally about technology and related procedures. Most importantly, the architect will choose software and communications vendors and will manage the infrastructure and LAN via a trusted and professional internal or external team. In other words, using the plumbing analogy, the architect will ensure that CORGI certified and trusted professionals are dealing with the plumbing. 

The plumber
The plumbers sees their IT responsibilities in the same way as he saw them when the company was half the size in 2007. Namely, walk the floor to ensure to correctly configure the printers, scan the internet for best deals on servers and work closely with the development team on their code.

What approach is better?
There is nothing like good plumbing and many small companies need nothing more than that, but as companies become larger and their requirements more complex, two things happen:
•    The ‘plumbing’ becomes more complex and professionals needs to manage the job for good results and for peace of mind.
•    The company needs an architect. If the IT Director is busy with the plumbing, they has no time for strategy.

Therefore, small companies typically do not need an IT Director and can outsource their entire infrastructure to a hosted desktop cloud based service.

An office manager or CFO can deal with the other aspects of IT. As the company grows and more vision is required, it is not enough to elevate the IT person to IT Director because the company will find itself with a glorified plumber. At this stage, the company should hire an IT architect (full time or fractional) who can lead the technology vision of the company and who is confident enough to leave the plumbing with the plumbers.     
 
 

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