A ‘virtual’ IT Director is someone who is there for you as and when required without the need to hire someone into this position as a full-time employee with all of the associated costs. They can work for you as needed whether a few days a month, more regularly or simply on an ad-hoc basis. They could work fully on-site or sometimes remotely, whichever suits your organisation.
Many organisations have IT teams that are constantly overstretched. They are in ‘fire fighting’ mode – constantly reacting to immediate tasks with no time devoted to proactive actions. The result is a lack of time spent on important issues such as the organisation’s business strategy, the long-term IT strategy and staff development. Such teams tend to work as they always have without time for continuous improvement or innovation.
There are several situations where a Virtual IT Director will be beneficial. You might be a stable business that needs to review its current IT processes or you might be a fast-growing business that requires additional resource or new expertise. Alternatively, you may be looking for new ideas or innovative solutions. You might also wish to fill a resource gap, whether a specific skill such as negotiating with suppliers to drive down costs, or the full range of skills because your current IT leader is departing the organisation.
Several different types of benefits can be derived from a Virtual IT Director including business benefits, financial benefits and people benefits.
- Having someone who can dedicate their time to understanding the business and developing a longer-term IT strategy.
- An independent and unbiased view, casting a fresh eye on the current IT setup
- The experience of someone who has recently worked in other organisations.
- The injection of new ideas and outside thinking into the organisation.
- Lower capital expenditure through reduced headcount and lower costs as a result of not having to pay PAYE or NI contributions, pensions or other benefits.
- No expensive recruitment costs.
- The skills and experience of a senior IT Director at a fraction of the cost.
- The resource can be used flexibly, being ‘turned on’ only when required.
- Taking stress away from the current IT team.
- Providing mentoring to the permanent IT staff.
Remember too that a Virtual IT Director need not be limited to the talents of one individual alone. The use of such a resource from an IT consultancy can have the support and backing of other staff at the consultancy. This structure also guarantees that adequate cover is in place during periods of holiday or sickness, ensuring the necessary resource is always in place as and when it is required.
The engagement of a Virtual IT Director would include some or all of the following:
- A full strategic review
- Development of IT strategy
- Vendor/supplier review, re-negotiation and on-going management
- Hardware, software and service procurement
- Review and /or creation of regulatory policies and procedures
- Budget preparation and management
- IT team management & mentoring
- Project management
- ROI analysis
- Ad hoc guidance at significant times e.g. office moves, computer room relocations, mergers/acquisitions, etc.
- Expert input at specific events, such as management/board meetings or annual planning conferences
Consider the use of a Virtual IT Director to support and supplement your current team or to fill a gap during a crucial recruitment period. Doing so will ensure that your organisation doesn’t fall behind the competition due to a lack of proper expertise.