The changing line up of a modern IT team

Managing Director

Fav thing about the office

Good banter

As a child I wanted to be a ... when I grew up

Plumber/Electrician

Guilty Pleasure(s)

Strictly come dancing

Favourite Holiday

Crete

If I had a superpower it would be...

Mind Reading

Describe yourself in three words or less

Methodical, Energetic, Reliable

An interesting fact about me

Started “Work” life as an opera singer

Likes

Horse riding, fillet steak and a good curry

Favourite Band

…into Classical Music

Karaoke Jam

Desperado- The Eagles

What I do at Q2Q:

My role is to provide the overall direction and “eye on the compass” as to where we, as a team, are heading.

I’m still very much focused on the customer and will often get involved in customer solution discussions. As a techie at heart, I’m regularly seeking to understand industry developments and directional changes that may affect our customers, so we and our customers can remain on the front foot.

Background and Achievements

I started out in an I.T technical department of what was then British Rail, following which I joined a large construction company to re-organise their I.T infrastructure.

I then spent a couple of years as a business systems analyst at P&O Nedlloyd designing, developing and implementing systems within their Bulk and Tank Carrier companies.

In 1999 I was appointed as I.T Manager of SockShop and subsequently as of Head of I.T. at the Tulchan Group, comprising then of 300 stores. Due to a Year 2000 compliance issue, we were required to seek an alternative system, which we were able to more cost effectively write ourselves. This product subsequently became known as RAWHIDE and we later sold this product into a number of other businesses. At the time it was quite cutting edge as all the warehouse function was undertaken using handheld, wireless scanners, rather than the batch scanners that were dominant at the time.

In 2003 The Tulchan Group was acquired by Harris Watson. We were then asked to take responsibility for the I.T. of Viyella Ladies wear and in 2004 the demands of two MD’s and two FD’s (Tulchan Group + Viyella), resulted in the sensible decision to break out of the group and Q2Q was born. This then enabled us to also get involved with a number of other group companies (Harris Watson owned companies) as well as other non-group parties.  At one stage we were managing the I.T for almost 500 stores across a number of businesses.

Today Q2Q retains some of the group customers that we acquired along the way, as well as a substantial number of new and diverse customers in almost all industries including accounting, business development organisations, legal marketing, medical, retail and wholesale.

Hobbies and Interests

Horse riding, running (Jogging), motorbikes, reading any of the Detective Rebus stories.

Silos are for farms, not SMEs – unless, of course, your SME is an agricultural company that needs to store grain or compress green crops for sileage.

In that case, of course, silos would be very useful. Otherwise, avoid them at all costs.

Having people ‘working in silos’ – that is, operating in isolation from others – is bad practice. But it can easily happen, especially in the area of IT where specialisms can be complex and colleagues perhaps don’t routinely share details of their work goals, or progress towards them. Designing out such blinkered practice with a well-planned team structure is therefore becoming a growing priority for companies of all sizes, as they strive to be as efficient as possible.

And as technology continues to evolve, the ideal line-up of an IT department has become the subject of passionate debates, historically reserved for the intricacies of fantasy football.

So what should your IT team look like in 2018?

Predictably, there isn’t a single off-the-peg solution, but one thing is certain – the old model of an IT department as simply an enabler and cost reduction unit is fading fast.

Digital transformation is everywhere, data is king and it’s up to your in-house or partner IT experts not just to fix things but to actively identify the business opportunities via latest technology – as well as being able to present those ideas and carry them forward.

Jobs on the increase

As IT has become so central to commercial success, titles such as ‘Head of Projects’ and management roles in software development, analytics and data, enterprise, digital and commercial areas are increasing in status and prevalence.

Increasingly, jobs like ‘Support Manager’ have been modified with new titles such as ‘Customer Experience Manager’, with the focus no longer on keeping a helpdesk afloat but on the management of internal relationships – plus, making sure that the team actually delivers what the technology makes possible.

Also, following GDPR and the threat of devastating consequences following a data breach, you are now more likely to see a ‘Head of Security and Risk’ in larger companies, who can scan the horizon for challenges ahead, rather than merely reacting when something goes wrong.

Declining roles

As many businesses outsource their data to a cloud, ‘Infrastructure, Operations or Support Managers’ tasked with the sole responsibility of looking after the company hardware are becoming fewer and further between – unless they are able to find a new niche, and probably a fresh job title, in client/vendor engagement.

It goes without saying that in five years’ time, further changes will have reshaped the way companies operate, and the jobs, skills and personnel needed in IT will be very different again.

If you are a start-up, you are advised to think about structure from the outset – within IT and beyond – as many experts believe a robust organisational framework will mean the difference between growing successfully and dying a chaotic death.

And since we’re talking keys to success, another one is to assemble your team so that important, creative projects get the attention they require alongside the regulatory and compliance priorities.

Which brings us back to silos…

To achieve in such a mission, any silos need to be broken down and replaced with an open culture of effective, cross-functional working.

No more silos

Silos actually used to work well in many situations, by allowing IT pros to focus on a particular technology and eliminating the problem of ‘too many cooks’. But as we’ve been discussing, the times they are a changin’.

Some organisations have tackled their silos by breaking up well-defined teams to focus on special projects, with personnel chosen for their interests and expertise. Though this radical approach needs buy-in at the outset, from all involved – and time to settle in – the results are often worth the upheaval.

One silo-free vision of the corporate IT ideal is a team that is high performing, does not have any turnover but is happy and seeks career growth with your company. One that is comfortably challenged and innovative, whose members know what they are aiming for – and why.

A similar sentiment can apply to an external IT partner – a company whose staff can demonstrate those attributes, and who will constantly come to you with new ideas and proposals.

Finally, whatever you are achieving together, there should always be scope to do better and aim higher. Good luck!

Want to talk about your IT team structure? Contact Q2Q today to see how we can help.

The changing line up of a modern IT team