Find out more about Paul Rutter, Head of Solution Architecture, on progressing from building Lego to IT solutions, the most exciting parts of his job, and his journey at Perfect Image over the last nine years…

I’ve always been fascinated with how things work. From an early age, I was building things out of Lego or Meccano. When I was much younger my dad worked at the shipyards, and one day he came in with a computer. Not a normal desktop, but a huge two-foot square beige box with a black and green screen he’d removed from a ship. My cousin who worked in IT visited and we managed to get Prince of Persia going on it. Well, that was me hooked. I was intrigued to learn more about how it worked and what else I could build.

It’s knowing how and why things work, that’s what I’ve always liked about IT. Back in the day, we had a big industry in the North East, building ships as my dad did. We don’t really do that anymore, but we’ve evolved and still build things – software. That’s what I do, I build software for people to solve their problems. It’s modern-day engineering.

“That’s what I do, I build software for people to solve their problems. It’s modern-day engineering.”

Carving Out a Role and Adapting to Constant Changes

If you have a look in my top drawer, you’ll see my Perfect Image business cards with about seven or eight different titles on them. First, I was a Junior Trainee Consultant, then a Grade 1 Consultant, Grade 2, Grade 3, then CRM Practice Manager, Senior Solutions Architect, and now I’m Head of Solution Architecture.

It was nine years ago when I started at Perfect Image as a Junior Consultant. It was back in the day when consultants had to do everything; spec the job, understand what the customer wants, tell them what they need, then go and actually build, project manage and support it. As the company has grown and we’ve taken on bigger and bigger projects, it has become impossible for one person to be responsible for all aspects. We’ve seen the growth and addition of multiple teams and new roles to support our delivery capability, from project managers, through to delivery engineers.

The changes to my job title have also been due to how the products have transformed and grown over the last few years. You can’t be an expert in everything. We’ve had to acknowledge that and break out the role of the consultant quite a bit. What we’ve got now are consultants, including my Solution Architecture team, who understand a customers’ requirements and what they’re trying to achieve. We can then pick the best tools in the big toolbox of products that we have, to build what the customer needs.

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A Handpicked Team of Solutions Architects

The Solution Architects are handpicked from our consulting teams and are experts in their field. The platform is changing at a rapid rate, which means we are seeing more and more cross-discipline solutions being required to meet customer needs. This is where the Solution Architecture team really fits in. As a team, we can bring in the most appropriate skills to create end-to-end solutions that are right for the customer. We ensure that the team can assess a solution, pragmatically and without bias, to do what’s right for the customer. Customers have a need, so what we present back to them must be the right solution, both commercially and technically.

“Fundamentally that’s what we create: end-to-end IT solutions that are right for the customer.”

Using Exciting Technologies to Create Innovative Solutions

There are many instances where we’ve used brand new, bleeding-edge technologies to solve problems. For example, we’re working with a Local Council at the moment where we’re building an analytics solution purely using Microsoft Azure data technologies for limitless, cloud scalability.

Whilst we’ve been in the analytics space for years now and have delivered some very complex enterprise-scale solutions, we’ve never delivered a true “cloud scale” analytics solution. We couldn’t do that without the team investing in and learning new technologies to trailblaze forward to prove what does and doesn’t work. The analytics platform that we are developing will save the customer a lot of money – not just in licensing, but time. That’s my pride and joy, to work with customers until they start realising the potential of what they can do with new technologies.

“That’s my pride and joy, to work with customers until they start realising the potential of what they can do with new technologies.”

Working With “Geeky” New Technologies

I’m a massive geek at heart. What I really enjoy is working with new technologies. The IoT tech, the geeky stuff. Microsoft is making that easier and easier to do. I recently experimented with Microsoft’s IoT hub and made a fully functioning, voice-controlled IoT setup with Alexa. What I built on a Sunday afternoon would have previously, five to ten years ago, taken a team of computer scientists a huge budget to build.

The Future of His Team: Taking Risks on Fresh Talent

I came in as a junior consultant, an ex-Oracle PL/SQL developer who didn’t know a great deal about Microsoft technologies. I am where I am now because I was mentored, invested in, and trained extremely well. That’s the ethos we try to encourage: empower and train enthusiastic people to be the best they can be. I hope this continues for a long time to come.

Joining Perfect Image, you will learn a lot in a very short space of time. We take a risk on people – I had a lot of risks taken on me where I was allowed to try things. If the worst happens, well, the worst happens, and we’ll put it right, it’s never to the detriment of the customer or the end delivery. We’ve got people who are brilliant at what they do. That’s what we breed and what we want to foster going forward.

“We’ve got people who are brilliant at what they do. That is what we breed and what we want to foster going forward.”

About Paul Rutter

Paul Rutter is Head of Solution Architecture at Perfect Image and Microsoft certified Partner Technology Solutions Specialist in Business Applications. In 2008, he started his career in IT as a developer. In 2010 he joined Perfect Image, working his way up to lead a team of Solution Architects, providing guidance and oversight to the wider delivery teams within the business. He is certified in Microsoft Azure, Dynamics 365 and SharePoint.

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