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Why we have a Technical Steering Group instead of a Chief Technology Officer

Insight Published on 23 March 2021

At PDMS we have a Technical Steering Group, similar groups in other organisations are variously named Architectural Review Boards or Architecture Board.

However, in PDMS the group's scope stretches wider than the specifics of IT Architecture and takes into account the company’s technical policies, processes and the skilling of our engineering teams.

The group’s overall primary purpose is to provide technical; leadership, governance, and oversight across all the PDMS businesses, with a specific focus on customer delivery.

This group is chaired by the Chief Information Officer and is composed of all our Solutions Architects and other subject matter experts, including support and security.  The group convenes once a month, more often as and when required, and has three focussed sub-committees for Security, Skills and Platforms.

You'll notice that we do not currently have a Chief Technology Officer (CTO), and this is by design. Interestingly nor do Google.  We see the role of a CTO to, either make strategic technical decisions within a highly focused product-based company or being the force for digital transformation within non-technical businesses.

We are neither of these - in fact - our business "is" technology, and we, therefore, need several technical leaders who can provide CTO level skills to our ever-broadening range of customers.

We don’t develop a single product; we develop bespoke digital systems for a broad range of customers. We are a professional services business, not a product business. We use a diverse range of technologies for our clients: C#, SQL, .Net core, Java, Android, iOS, React, Python, Angular, C++, TypeScript, Node... the list goes on.

With the number of technologies in play, we do not burden any one individual with the need to 'know it all', but ensure that the group as a whole constantly and consistently challenges the use of technology to meet the needs of our clients for the very things that they need; user experience, stability, security, scalability etc.

From a personal development perspective, this approach also empowers our Solution Architects, providing them with the opportunity to both lead and grow professionally within our team structure.

Our Technical Steering Group is working well for our technical teams and our customers as we continue to provide transformational services and systems which deliver real business value.