How to succeed as an interim IT manager

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How to succeed as an interim IT manager

Working on a short-term contract can be challenging.

In uncertain times, working as an interim manager on a short-term employment contract can offer tantalising prospects for the experienced IT professional: ­ freedom, variety, challenge and distancing from corporate politics.

It also brings insecurity, a loss of corporate benefits, some degree of loneliness and potentially a great deal of time away from home ­ so it is not for everyone.

In today’s economic climate, there is pressure to drastically cut costs through stringent project prioritisation. This usually results in projects being cancelled or delayed.

But there is also an openness to investing in projects where there will be a rapid and significant impact on operational effectiveness, either in terms of cost reduction or revenue creation.

These business priorities create the need for IT leaders with a proven track record of managing in a tough climate ­ delivering cost cutting while maintaining high standards of customer service, as well as having the business experience to be able to contribute at board level.

You must have credibility and a history of good results in addressing the challenges the client faces. Experience in the same type of industry gives you a head start in understanding the business overall and the client’s specific challenges.

And, importantly, you need to be able to adapt to the working environment. Research by the Interim Management Association identified six generic competencies that most successful interim managers displayed: quick working; driven by continuous improvement; deadline-focused; action-oriented; results-oriented; driving, and adapting to, change.

You also need to go out and win assignments. Marketing and selling yourself effectively is critical to success in interim management.

Many potential interim IT directors will shy away from this, but unless they are willing to do what it takes to succeed ­ market themselves, network, build relationships, take rejection ­ their career in interim management will never get off the ground.

Simon Berry is director of Interim Assignment

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