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Looking for tech or tech leader roles outside an IT services company?

Working in technical / program roles in an outsourcing / system integrator company and considering roles outside?

Two avenues outside are to work in the IT organization of an enterprise or in the SI arm of a product or platform company.

Moving to an enterprise IT role

Roles in enterprise IT are focused on assessing, architecting, and delivering next gen solutions to help the business perform better. In addition, there are the run roles to ensure health and uptime of existing applications and infrastructure. Also, roles which help build and provide oversight to relationships with external partners.

Each of these roles focuses on different outcomes and KRA’s which in turn require specific skills and competencies.

Those looking to make a move from an outsourcing or SI vendor to an enterprise IT role should assess their own skills and strengths and then target the role(s) within enterprise IT which their strengths will best align with.

Enterprise IT roles – Technology (prove the concept – early stages)

These roles investigate new technology/platforms which can be applied (and how) to enable the business run better. These roles often tend to be part of the IT CTO organization.

Some of the roles include:

  • Enterprise architects who understand the business domain and relevant technologies to be adopted

  • Technology architects who can envision and architect the initial pilots.

  • Development teams which can deliver and operationalize the initial pilots rapidly and iteratively

The common theme in all these roles is the understanding of emerging technologies and the ability to envision and deploy them to solve business needs. These are roles for those who have a passion for technology and the aptitude to continually be on top of the latest tools and how they can deliver better functionality or efficiency to business outcomes.

The development/pilot programs which these teams tend to be involved in tend to be iterative and rapid prototypes of short duration to test and prove concepts. Hence every participant needs to understand the business problem and the technologies being deployed and roll up their sleeves to play a hands on role in delivering outcomes.

Enterprise IT roles –Scale, deploy and run

The scale, scope, and team sizes expand as successful pilots move into the build, deploy and subsequent maintenance phases.

To allow efficient handoff from the pilot teams as well as better control on project outcomes, in-house teams tend to lead the initial build and scaling of programs. This is an opportunity for technical talent and project leaders seeking roles in an IT organization.

Multi-site teams and vendor partners are also likely to be engaged for speedier as well as cost efficient delivery.

In order to be successful, Project and program managers engaged at this stage need to demonstrate the ability to work with multi-site teams in different time zones, and be willing to travel actively to meet and engage with these remote and often multi-cultural teams.

Equally important is the ability to align entities with different objectives towards a shared goal.

As an example, when working with IT partners, one has to recognize that their goal is to deliver programs on time/effort while ensuring profitable outcomes for their organization. For them, predictability is key. Scope changes and delays have a financial impact which will trigger change requests for timelines and costs. The ability to find ways of productively resolving these situations is very integral to the success of programs involving partner teams.

Teams shrink as large programs get delivered and move into a sustenance. A thin team of program management or SME’s may be retained for oversight while the bulk of the work is likely to be performed by remote teams, and progressively by automated tools.

Therefore, an essential skill for those looking to be part of project rollout teams in enterprise IT is the ability to repurpose / reskill themselves to contribute to new initiatives as the old ones ramp down and move into sustenance.

Enterprise IT roles – group leadership

IT organizations have leaders who carry oversight for groups which could be technically aligned e.g. testing, SAP, analytics or by business functions like supply chain, distribution, or manufacturing

These leaders oversee multiple initiatives and programs within their work streams.

Two key skills which are critical for success in these roles are

  • A very good understanding of the company business/business processes to be able to envision/crystallize new initiatives applying technology solutions to business needs.

  • An appreciation of organizational dynamics and priorities to be able to present the right initiatives, get stakeholder buy in and funding, and ensure their participation through the cycle of implementation.

Since success in these roles requires the understanding of the organization & dynamics in addition domain and technology skills, existing or vested employees tend to have an edge when filling these roles.

Enterprise IT roles - Outsourcing or partner management

Partner/vendor managers are tasked with three key goals. The first is to identify viable partners and set up enterprise agreements / frameworks for engagement. The second to be internal evangelists to identify and facilitate the migration of programs to these external partners. Finally, participate in overseeing the ongoing health of outsourced initiatives.

These roles mushroomed in the late 90’s with the first phase of large scale outsourcing of IT programs to partners (especially offshore partners). Today, most IT organizations have become familiar, comfortable and proficient working with their partners and are able to identify as well as oversee and negotiate both current and new programs with them.

Derivatively, the role of outsourcing or vendor managers as a bridge between IT managers and their vendors has diminished in organizations which have outsourced work for some years.

Those seeking roles in vendor/outsourcing management should target organizations which are still in the early stages of identifying and engaging with partners or have very rapid growth in their technology spending and hence need active partner participation to meet challenging program goals and timelines.

Tech roles with SI arms of product / platform companies

Product and platform companies need to ensure that their product or platform works well in the existing IT environment of their client.

To facilitate this most product/platform organizations have system integration teams tasked with ensuring the initial implementations / integrations. This is more so with emerging or complex platforms where clients lack expertise to handle initial implementations themselves This can provide opportunities for technical resources looking for roles.

Having done the initial implementations, product/platform companies tend to rely on a network of SI partners to help clients scale or customize their platforms as needs grow.

Hence, working in the SI group for a product company is for those who are strong in implementing solutions in the early stage of adoption and can handle the initial teething, integration and migrations. Once the initial stabilization or pilot is done, time to move to the next implementation.

For those seeking short cycle programs and specialization with emerging products or platforms (SFDC, Azure…), roles with the SI organizations of platform vendors can be a rewarding career move. For those looking at ongoing expansion or maintenance initiatives, a role with an independent SI or in-house enterprise role may be a better choice.

In closing

For technical and project resources working with SI’s/outsourcers, there are opportunities to work in Enterprise IT as well as the system integration arms of product/platform companies.

Roles in enterprise IT range from those engaged in evangelizing new technologies through those overseeing sustenance programs. Each requires certain skills in order to be successful and those looking to move from SI’s to these roles should assess their strengths/specialization and identify which role they will best fit. Some roles and their specialization are outlined in the table below

Also, keep in mind that while roles with SI’s offer opportunities to move from program to program and with different clients. On the other hand, roles with enterprise IT organizations tend to be aligned with a program or initiative for extended periods of time, requiring more depth and continuity but less diversity.

The other alternative of moving to the SI arms of product and platform companies can be rewarding for those who are looking to specialize in that product of platform and are adept at and keen on ensuring success of early stage pilots and implementations – across multiple clients.

There are careers for technical resources outside the outsourcing companies. Understand your strengths & specialization and aim for the ones where it will be most productive.

Keep swinging!

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