The case for the Office of the CTO and the return of the IT project manager
Are traditional executive structures equipped to keep pace with technology? There’s a case for businesses that want to get ahead to consider working with an Office of the CTO to bring a multidisciplinary approach to IT projects, says Wayne Yan, CTO at Dariel Software.
Consider the traditional executive structure: a CTO's primary task is to exploit technology for the end customer's benefit, distinct from a CIO who optimises tech for internal efficiencies. But is this sufficient in our rapidly evolving digital age?
As a software services company, Dariel navigates several industries, each with a diverse technological landscape. The skills, knowledge and expertise are simply too vast for a single individual. No one person can navigate the nuances of banking, healthcare, mining, insurance, and more. Nor can one person keep pace with the swift technological advancements across these sectors.
That’s where the Office of the CTO comes in. A multidisciplinary team dedicated to creating and commercialising disruptive technologies; it effectively breaks the mould of the typical C-suite structure wherein each executive is a specialist by nature. This team not only generates ideas for novel products and innovations but also brings these concepts to market, aiming to deliver profit and revenue. Customer-centricity is at their core - they aren't just crafting technology for technology's sake; they're creating solutions that benefit the end user.
As we reconsider our management structures, it may be time to revisit, or at least reimagine the role of the traditional IT project manager. After the IT industry embraced Agile, project managers became increasingly rare and then entirely absent from many organisations. The industry sought agility, flexibility, and speed, which seemingly clashed with traditional project management.
The industry now seems to miss the steady hand of experienced project management. We are seeing a deficit in forecasting and tracking capabilities, and a lag in removing obstacles to progress. Was the exclusion of project managers the cause of this? Or perhaps the shift to Agile itself, or even a loss of IT skills to overseas markets? Whatever the reason, it appears the industry dispensed with project managers at a high cost.
The perceived lack of value due to poor-performing project managers led many organisations to disregard the role altogether. Still, the pendulum might be swinging back. We must remember that industries evolve cyclically, and just as the need for project managers was once questioned, their value could be re-evaluated.
Organising, managing, structuring, and orchestrating IT projects are invaluable skills. Many businesses are enticed by the notion of self-managed teams, but without appropriate guidance, these teams often falter, or worse. A project manager, juggling multiple tasks, maintains a consistent vision and ensures that the project stays on course.
The journey to reestablishing project management within the industry won't be painless. However, navigating this challenge is essential to preserving the progress made and the future success of our industry.
As businesses grapple with how best to accelerate their digital journeys, it’s clear that a narrow, singular approach won’t suffice. The Office of the CTO offers a compelling, multidisciplinary approach that leverages the strengths of each team member and focuses on adding real value where it matters most.