Agents of change: the growing popularity of the interim technology leader and IT Director

Posted on Aug 2016

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In recent years there has been a significant increase in demand for interim technology leaders and interim IT Director roles. Traditionally brought in by organisations with the aim of minimising the impact of a gap in recruitment, interim CTOs, CIOs and IT Directors are now increasingly being hired as agents of change to provide a whole range of benefits. But what is it that makes interim managers ideally placed to transform technology within a business?

The fast-paced nature and changing landscape of technology demands flexible and agile technology functions that are able to keep pace with new developments. The interim model is therefore particularly applicable to these departments. By embracing an adaptable model technology departments can respond quickly and easily to changing market conditions, customer preferences, and competitor activity. When a step change is required – be it the implementation of a new system, infrastructure, process or operating model – an interim IT Director or CTO can come in with the expertise and management capability to lead and implement the transformation successfully.

Over a three to six-month period, or longer if required, an interim can revitalise underperforming technology functions, rejuvenate failing transformation programmes, or define, lead and implement technology or digital strategies. Interim leaders bring with them real-world experience and expertise, and will quickly be able to streamline processes and make them more effective. Key to an interim leader’s success is his or her ability to quickly gain trust and respect, as well as developing a rapport with colleagues in the organisation, from the Board level downwards.

Recruiting an interim IT Director or CTO for a specific project is a cost-effective and flexible option. The interim will devote 100% of their energy and time to the role, and then on completion of the project will leave to move onto the next position. There is often no requirement to recruit a permanent member of staff; once the project is complete the role will cease to exist. An interim may even be brought in to work alongside a permanent CTO or IT Director, providing a guiding hand during times of change.

Alternatively, a need for a permanent role may be identified. If this is the case then an interim will be able to handover to the new appointment. It is vital that a plan is put in place and agreed upon to protect the work the interim has carried out during their tenure and to ensure that whoever assumes responsibility for the technology landscape has everything they need to continue implementing effective change and improvement.

Interim IT Directors or CTOs will usually be responsible for managing employees within the organisation, thus providing leadership to strengthen the team. By transferring knowledge to the rest of the team an interim leader is able to ensure their long-term value to an organisation, and by setting up effective processes they will continue to add value long after their contract comes to an end.

This focus on achieving results benefits the interim as well as the business, as it helps them secure their next role – in a world of high-impact quick turnarounds reputation and value are paramount.

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