Ian Henderson has been an interim IT Director for over 17 years, working with companies as wide ranging as Amtrak Express Parcels, RMBI and CenSus Partnership through to Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation and Wilson Connolly
In this Q& A Ian tells us more about his career and why he believes interims have a particularly important role to play in small and medium sized businesses.
Ian, can you tell us about your latest role?
I’m currently working for a spin-out business called Synergy Health Managed Services, which trades as Synergy LMS. It provides laundry services to the NHS. With a turnover in the tens of millions, the company employs over 700 people and is highly mechanised but is also highly people intensive. My role among other things has been to oversee the migration and transformation of all the IT systems, as the business moved from the parent company. Now that work is completed and an IT manager is handling the day-to-day work, I’m concluding the more strategic items – putting the longer-term IT strategy and road map in place, completing the business continuity/disaster recovery strategy, making an investment case for a network equipment upgrade, completing a big data related project and so forth.
Why did this company go the interim route?
Probably for the same reasons so many businesses use interim managers. It has given them quick access to a very specific set of senior skills and experience. It’s a transitional role, so an ideal interim assignment. Also, the company needed to be able to quickly fill this gap; it couldn’t wait for someone with a notice period to serve. Lastly, it also needed someone who knows how to get the job done; interim managers are known for their ability to roll up their sleeves, hit the deck running and deliver fast.
Are there any other reasons why smaller companies should be using an interim?
I’ve found that many smaller companies have important IT projects to see through, or need regular senior strategic advice, but they haven’t got enough requirement for a full-time, long-term role. They need a partial or part time IT Director! The Interim marketplace is a rich and often un-tapped resource in such situations.
Put like that interims sound ideal – why don’t more SMEs like this company use interim managers?
I think it’s purely down to a lack of understanding and awareness. They just don’t realise that it’s a recruitment option open to them. Those who do, really are getting the edge on their competition.
To help more SMEs see where someone like you might fit in, can you give some other examples of how smaller companies have used your services? The type of projects you’ve helped with?
I’ve helped start-up companies use cloud services like Google and AWS to have IT services without capital investment. I’ve advised another company for over 17 years on all aspects of IT from internet to internal processes. I’ve helped entrepreneurs assess what they have acquired during post M&A IT reviews and strategy development. I’ve been a Trustee to a charitable foundation helping, guiding and providing IT support through very challenging times when changing IT support companies. I’ve helped a charitable care home organisation improve its security and operational procedures by installing an improved private network between the HQ and the homes.
As you can see from these few examples the range and scale of what an Interim can bring to the organisation is really only limited by the imagination of those seeking the help. I’d be prepared to bet that whatever your requirement is, there is an interim out there who can deliver it for you.