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I.T Manager’s Handbook (Second Edition)

What does an IT Manager actually do? Are you glad you got the job? Or do you eventually want to become one yourself? The definition and the pros and cons of being a manager, clearly management as a career path is well suited for some people, but not for everyone. Is it right for you? IT Managers need to wear a lot of hats. Different parts of the organization will have different expectations of this position, and you’ll have to address them all. Finance expects you to manage costs; Sales and Marketing will want to see IT help to generate revenue; your staff is looking for guidance, career development, and a work-life balance; and the administrative assistant down the hall just wants her printer to stop smudging.

IT Managers now have many responsibilities (data centers, staff management, telecommunications, servers, workstations, Web sites, user support, regulatory compliance, disaster recovery, etc.) and connect with almost all the departments (Accounting, Marketing, Sales, Distribution, etc.) within a company or organization.

This is both the good and the bad news. At some companies, an IT Manager can have direct influence on the strategic direction of the company, suggesting and helping implement e-commerce initiatives, for example. In other companies, an IT Manager is really a technician, a software developer, or network installer. And to complicate things even further, those definitions change quickly over time. Yesterday’s network installer is today’s e-commerce consultant. By the way, at this point, “IT” (Information Technology) and “IS” (Information Systems) have now become synonymous terms. While they are often used interchangeably, “IT” is becoming much more widely used. Some people may use “IS” to refer to activity related to business software applications, but this use has waned considerably.

The position of IT Manager can be very challenging. It is extremely varied in scope, allows you to come in contact with a large portion of your company, provides you with opportunities to directly affect the overall direction of your organization, and is excellent professional experience to acquire. In addition, you get to increase your range of experience; you are forced to (and get to) keep up with the latest changes in technology (so your skill set will always be in demand); and your network of contacts gets large. As important as all that is, there is an added bonus: In recent years, IT has taken on a strategic value in the roles companies play in the new economy.

Information Technology is now a critical component of many companies and the U.S. economy: “IT is the fastest growing sector in the economy with a 68% increase in output growth rate expected between 2002 and 2012 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).” Not only is your job interesting and rewarding, it is also very important. Dependence on technology is only growing, and issues like security and compliance are making IT more visible throughout the organization. What more could you ask for?

On the other hand, being an IT Manager is a difficult, often thankless, task. Like many service jobs, if you do it superbly, most people don’t notice. In addition, the responsibilities differ radically from company to company. Some companies actually have many IT Managers and several layers of management. At others (and this number is shrinking), an IT Manager is a part-time role someone fills while doing their “real” job.

In addition, the role of an IT Manager can often vary widely within an organization, depending on who is making the decisions at the time. While the techniques might vary, the “Western Region Sales Manager” knows what his or her role is get more sales as soon as possible and that isn’t going to vary much from company to company. An IT Manager, on the other hand, can mean many things to many people and the job changes as technology and needs advance and evolve. Addressing all these needs and people can mean that time for “Extras” like sleep and meals have to be sacrificed. As a manager, everyone else’s crises become yours. People (your users, your staff, etc.) are demanding quick resolutions to problems, and are looking to you to fix them.

In this book, we will discuss in detail the positive and negative elements of the key components of being an IT Manager. If a process is littered with political landmines (“budgeting,” for example), we’ll warn you about it; if a process has hidden perks (being an unofficial project manager for a project can put you in contact with many different people at many different layers of the organization), we’ll tell you that, too. But before you decide if you should be an IT Manager, read the next section to determine if you want to be a manager at all.

One of your goals as an involved and caring manager is to make sure that your department’s aims are in line with those of your organization. It doesn’t matter if you’re an IT Manager for a non-profit citizen’s group or midlevel manager for General Motors; you need to discover what the organization’s goals are and make them your own. If you work for a corporate organization, your IT goals may be measured in the same terms as the business units that you support reduce per-unit costs of the division’s products and increase the capacity and throughput of the business and manufacturing processes.

Your tactics must clearly satisfy these goals. If you work in a non-profit or educational organization, your goals and the way you are measured will be different. Your boss should be clear about communicating those goals to you. But they shouldn’t be a secret anyway. If your company makes widgets, make sure the company’s strategy includes an appropriate use of IT throughout the company. Is the widgets factory truly automated? Can the Accounting Department’s systems talk to the HR systems?

IT is a brave new world to many of today’s corporations. Many executives now know how to use Word, Excel, e-mail, and their handheld Blackberry, but some have little or no understanding of the deeper, more complex issues involved in IT. They imagine IT to be a powerful but complex world where rewards can be magically great and risks are frighteningly terrible. These executives, and their corporations, need professionals to both explain and execute in this new world.

This is where you come in. You can leverage your technical knowledge, experience, and interests with your company’s direct profit and loss requirements. Together, you and your company can provide a powerful business combination. Alone, your individual skills and passions can wither into arcane interests, and your business expertise can build models relevant to an economic world decades in the past. Will your technical expertise and recommendations occasionally clash with the company’s needs and vision? Absolutely. Will your ideas about technical directions sometimes be in direct opposition to their perceptions of “market forces”? Absolutely. Will you “win some and lose some”? Absolutely.

By Bill Holtsnider, Word Flow, Denver, CO
Brian Jaffe, Senior Vice President of Global IT, McCann-Erickson Advertising
Paperback | English | date: SEP-2006 | ISBN: 0-12-370488-X | 632 pages | PDF | 4.331 KB | Download | Password : it

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