SME IT Responsible

2023 01 02 head

What does a senior manager in charge of information technology?

An IT director is the information technology right-hand man of the company’s manager. He sometimes has the shiny title of CIO. He proposes and implements the IT strategy of the company.

He intervenes at different levels in the management and optimization of the company’s information system.

This encompasses hardware and software infrastructures, information architecture, business tools, dedicated internal or external human resources, and often old technology.

The size of small and medium companies does not justify a full-time role. The IT manager shall be a part-time role. He shall also work in other roles.

Ideally, he performs the financial and technical tasks associated with the IT department responsibilities.

A modern IT leader works mainly on the tactical level. He identifies and deploys solutions optimizing the cost structure and reducing organizational risks.

The computer department of a technical university has regular variants to deploy their services:

  1. Buy own hardware. Install and support applications with an internal team. The challenge is to convince team members to stay.

  2. Delegate installation and support to the IT department of the technical university. Success is dependent on the affinity of the department to digital tools. Experience shows user satisfaction is low due to lack of technical expertise in the support group.

  3. Delegate the installation. Use a specialized academic support institution. Examples in Switzerland are Switch or the computing center of Ticino.

  4. Use a commercial solution provided by a hyperscaler or tool provider. GitHub, GitLab, Bitbucket have academic programs to support universities.

The IT responsible shall select the best alternative for his organization. Best means technically adequate and financially sound.

Areas of Works

Every company is now a technology and software development company.

Your organization needs an infrastructure to build, deliver and deploy digital software solutions [1, 2].

Software is eating the world.

— Marc Andreesen
Continuous Integration, Delivery and Deployment Pipeline

GitLab, GitHub, Bitbucket or Microsoft Azure platforms are the industrial standards for digital product development. Choose the most adequate for your developers.

Deployment Platform

Kubernetes is the industrial standard for deploying software solutions. The major discussion is how you deploy your applications: locally, in the cloud or in a hybrid environment. The decision is tactical and shall regularly be revised to optimize running costs and fulfill corporate governance.

Storage Solution

Your organization must store data in persistent storage. The information shall be backed up and protected against incidents.

Corporate Governance

Stakeholders are sensible that your organization respects laws and pursues an ethical obligation to collaborators, users and society.

Authentication and Authorization

Modern distributed organizations shall provide a secure and standardized approach to authentication and authorization. Single sign-on and federated solution (FIDO, Edu ID) are current best practices.

Machine Learning and Graphical Resources

Currently, graphic processors are the only approach to computing machine learning and big data problems and provide usable solutions.

Security, Audit, and Firewalls

Security and associated firewalls are mandatory to respect corporate governance and laws. Monitoring is a must for all enterprise relevant applications. Special solutions are seldom needed and shall be provided on a case basis.

Typical Responsibilities

An IT director can help the manager of an SME to respond to many problems, such as:

  • Are IT purchases carried out optimally?

  • How to choose an IT supplier or service provider?

  • Can multiple encodings of the same information be avoided?

  • Is integrated management software necessary?

  • How to choose a suitable tool or toolchain?

  • Is the security of installations and computer access guaranteed?

  • Is a backup procedure in place? Did you test the restore process? Is the restore process timely?

  • Are maintenance contracts being followed?

  • Are information technology budgets optimized?

  • Are the IT teams properly sized and supported?

  • Is the computer system still adapted to the needs of the company?

Ideal Profile

The ideal candidate shall have experience and training in:

  • Technical support for a virtual computing solution. The candidate shall have at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science or related fields.

  • Corporate governance for digital solutions and legal aspects.

  • Financial understanding to select solutions and drafting the contracts.

  • Team leadership to nurture a competent small group of specialists. The specialists could be collaborators or external experts.

  • Readiness to transition from a hardware solution to a service solution.

The only wrong approach is to deploy a local solution without maintenance contracts and without disaster recovery plans.

Most of the decisions are constrained by the trend to outsource hardware and applications to professional companies.

The political activities should not be underestimated. As an IT leader, you have to convince the organization to adopt and support the selected solutions. This process is often tiring and full of traps [3, 4, 5].

A typical scenario is:

  • Do we deploy our own storage solution?

  • Do we use the services of Switch or Amazon?

  • Do we use commercial solutions of other hyperscalers?


[1] N. Forsgren, J. Humble, and G. Kim, Accelerate: The Science of Lean Software and DevOps. IT Revolution Press [Online]. Available:

[2] B. Beyer, C. Jones, J. Petoff, and N. R. Murphy, Site Reliability Engineering. O’Reilly Media, Inc., 2016 [Online]. Available:

[3] P. Lencioni, Death by Meeting. Jossey-Bass, 2004 [Online]. Available:

[4] P. Lencioni, Getting naked. Jossey-Bass, 2010 [Online]. Available:

[5] P. Lencioni, Silos, politics & turf wars. Jossey-Bass, A John Wiley & Sons, 2006 [Online]. Available: