by Jennifer Lonoff Schiff

How to Build the Ultimate Fantasy IT Team

Sep 19, 20136 mins
CIOInnovationIT Jobs

In the spirit of Fantasy Football, technology pros share their insights, strategies and top draft picks for their dream Fantasy IT team.

With the fantasy football season underway, we started to wonder what would a fantasy IT team look like?

Building a Fantasy IT Team

“Assembling a solid IT Team is like drafting a good fantasy football squad,” says Chris Moore, senior manager at Navigate, a management consulting firm. “It’s all about balance. You can’t overstaff in one area, as it might cause other areas to suffer.”

You also need to pick your position players wisely.

Being football fans (and, yes, techies) we had our own ideas about who should quarterback and defend IT. But we wanted to know what the pros — fantasy football-loving IT execs — thought. So we asked, who would you want on your fantasy IT team?

Top Draft Picks For Your Fantasy IT Team

Quarterback (QB): The CIO. “Though some argue a running back provides more value to your fantasy team, no position is more important than a consistent quarterback,” says Kevin Goldberg, marketing director, WalkMe, an interactive online guidance and engagement platform. “The CIO and QB are the ultimate heads of the team, receiving the blame and credit whether it’s deserved or not,” he says.


“A quarterback must possess sharp leadership skills and a keen eye for visually mapping out plays to be successful,” states David Link, CEO, IT monitoring software provider ScienceLogic. “His counterpart in the IT world, the CIO, requires similar skills to get the job done,” he explains. “A CIO that can adapt well to change while maintaining visibility across all of an organization’s IT infrastructure is a huge asset.”

Backup Quarterbacks: Project Managers. “Project managers are the quarterbacks on my team,” says Moore. “I don’t necessarily need them to be elite, but I need them to be solid, effective and unflappable,” he says.

“Performing well on one project and poorly on the next won’t work for me; I demand consistency in this role,” Moore says. “No matter what pressures or issues arise, I need PMs who can motivate and lead their teams, keep projects moving and manage to timelines, all while being judicious in their decision making and rarely making mistakes,” like an NFL quarterback.

Wide Receiver (WR): Director of IT. “While the quarterback leads the team on the field, it’s the wide receiver who gets to execute on the QB’s vision,” says Link. “The director of IT holds a similar role, and to be successful, he or she must be able to take direction from the CIO and quickly execute on it.”

Running Backs (RB): Director of Infrastructure/Architecture, System Administrators, Network Engineer. “The directors of Infrastructure/Architecture provide the foundation for your IT team; same goes with the running backs,” says Goldberg. “Last year, I went heavy with other positions and light at RB and subsequently paid the price,” he sorrowfully notes. “Your IT team relies on these guys more than you’d think, and you only realize you take them for granted after they’re gone.”

System administrators are also like running backs.

running back

“From receiving handoffs and catching passes, to making critical blocks and tackles, the position of running back is multifaceted and requires a tough, adaptable player — not unlike systems administrators,” says Link. “Tasked with installing, maintaining and supporting an organization’s IT systems, it’s also not unheard of for systems administrators to be called on to troubleshoot issues for technology-challenged employees.”

And you need an agile network engineer.

“The running back’s role is determined by the kind of play his quarterback calls. Whether it’s blocking defensive attempts, gaining yardage or catching a pass while eluding tackles, his actions change with every call in order to advance the play,” says Joshua Wright, CIO, Bomgar, a remote IT support provider.

[Related: How Big Data Is Changing Football on and off the Field ]

“Similarly, the network engineer must take whatever action is needed to fix problems with his company’s infrastructure so that his end-users are able to score,” he says. “Just as the running back needs to pay close attention to the nuances of every play, so too must the network engineer monitor changes to the network so that he can adjust his actions accordingly.”

Tight End (TE): DevOps. “Often overlooked, like a good tight end, DevOps serves multiple roles on their team,” says Dave Messinger, chief architect, CloudSpokes. “A good DevOps teammate allows developers and other teammates to develop and work faster and more efficiently, and helps remove obstacles for developers just like a tight end allows a passing game to flourish,” he continues. “Furthermore, like an elite TE who contributes to the offense, a great DevOps engineer can proactively improve release cycles and quality through automation and development of scripts.”

Defensive Linemen: Security Team, Help Desk, Quality Assurance (QA) Team. Your security team is like “the big guy in the middle [the nose tackle], whose job it is to not allow the opponents to cross into the goal line and score points for the hackers,” says Bob Bentz, president of Advanced Telecom Services, which provides mobile marketing solutions to advertisers, advertising agencies and media.

You also need someone who can play strong safety.

“In football, strong safeties are typically the last line of defense and are trained to be sure tacklers,” says Wright. “Whether defending a pass or run play, strong safeties must be ready to improvise and block anything that comes down their side of the field,” he continues. “Information security analysts have to react to security threats in much the same way, keeping an eye out for any threats getting through their standard security programs, or first line of defense, and stop and put down those threats before they cause any real damage to the entire team.”

And you can’t forget the help desk. “The help desk is the main line of defense handling the day to day blocking and tackling that keeps IT running,” says Wright.

As for cornerback, that role often falls to quality assurance.


“A good QA needs to be able to read what the developer team is throwing (pun intended) at them and dynamically adjust the flow of the play similar to a quality cornerback,” explains Messinger. “Furthermore, a successful QA knows when and what to automate and how to push their teams to give the right level of feedback, ultimately leading to a victorious project.”

Kicker: Systems Software Engineer. “Just like kickers, systems software engineers languish in obscurity, spending most of their time on the sidelines,” says Bentz. However, “when the game is on the line, you want a seasoned systems software engineer that can pull the game out, often in a do-or-die situation.”

Jennifer Lonoff Schiff is a contributor to and runs a marketing communications firm focused on helping organizations better interact with their customers, employees, and partners.

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