A few decades ago, the position of an IT Manager was not easy to come by, such titles only existed in organizations that sold IT-based products and services. However, this has changed and today, even the most buttoned-up of companies have an IT department run by an IT manager, thanks to innovation and technological advancements in digital technology. Currently, nearly all organizations have completely switched off to IT-based platforms or are trying to implement such methods in their operations. The role of an IT Manager is essentially to plan, implement, manage, and maintain the firm’s application and utilization of technology. Besides, the manager assesses and provides recommendations concerning IT systems and software (Lucas and Baroudi, pp. 98).
IT Managers and Project Managers perform almost similar functions, however, the difference comes in the path of their tasks: IT Managers are responsible for all continuing IT projects while the Project Managers’ responsibility is limited to specific projects with definite time limits (Thomas, para. 3). This statement practically means that IT Managers are also project managers for they manage IT projects that the company runs at any given time.
He/she ensures that adequate resources are allocated to specific IT projects in the organization. He also supervises the administration and maintenance of the organization’s IT infrastructure, and directs more junior employees to these projects when required. Today, IT systems are constantly being upgraded and it is the role of the IT Manager to ensure that the organization’s IT systems are up to date. Other roles include staff management (e.g. recruitment, training, supervisory etc) to enhance productivity of personnel and hence achieve the organization’s goals (Jarvenpa and Ives, pp. 47).
Similar to all managerial positions, the position of the IT Manager comes with many challenges. The first challenge is to keep up with advances in IT based technologies. IT systems are constantly being improved and it is the role of the IT manager to identify important developments in the IT sector and recommend them to the organization’s senior management or the Chief Information Officer (CIO).
In modern times, IT solutions find use in many sections of the organization, from financial analysis to assisting in making business decisions (Decision Support Systems), this means that failure to make the required changes may make the company lag behind in all fronts. The IT Manager must apply extra effort to ensure that the organization is at par with its competitors regarding the application of information technology systems. This enables it to compete fairly with other firms dealing in similar products and sevices.
An IT Manager’s career path is very broad. A fresh IT graduate rises through ranks such as Network Administrator, Network Engineer, Database Administrator, and Systems Administrator, upon reaching the required level of competency, an employee can be appointed to the position of IT Manager, albeit with several other IT certifications. However, the career ladder does not end here. An experienced IT Manager can become the organization’s Chief Information Officer (CIO). The CIO is the overall head of IT in the organization and is directly answerable to the organization’s chief financial officer, or in some organizations, the CEO.
An IT Manager may also opt to establish an IT consultancy firm. In short, the position of the IT Manager is one of the most exciting jobs and exposes one to the dynamics of the IT sector together with its challenges and vast opportunities.
The Making of a Successful IT Manager
As mentioned earlier, an IT Manager performs several organizational functions. These functions are divided into two: staff management and IT systems management. Staff management entails supervising his team with regards to recruitment and training, the manager manages his staff with assistance from the human resource department. He performs three main roles in managing his team: interpersonal, informational, and decisional functions. Informational tasks connect all managerial functions towards realizing the company’s goals. Interpersonal roles enable informational exchange among employees while decisional roles utilize the information collected in making departmental decisions.
IT systems management involves identifying important tools for planning, implementing, managing, and maintaining the firm’s application and utilization of information technology.
The IT Manager as a Project Manager
In handling the organization’s IT projects, the IT Manager employs a set of skills, abilities, and personal attributes to plan, manage, direct and supervise his/ her team. The IT Manager is responsible for all IT projects being undertaken by the organization at any given time, he performs project management roles with the assistance of his juniors.
In order to perform his duties satisfactorily, the manager must possess the following characteristics:
- Excellent leadership and interpersonal skills;
- Ability to manage resources;
- Strong communication and presentation ability;
- Organizational skills;
- Honesty and integrity.
The time-limited nature of projects demands that the manager possesses these special traits, in fact, his ability to achieve success in projects is a measure of his leadership abilities. The manager must have the ability to direct human resources towards achieving growth since all organizational projects are implemented through project teams (Schwalbe, pp. 82).
Due to their fixed daily routines, some IT Managers are bound to fail in achieving the company’s objectives and their own targets. This may occur when the managers do not have a clearly defined purpose and plan of action. This can be in the form of failing to set up any targets, setting too many goals, or setting up contradictory goals such that the success of one project kills off the other. The objectives must be clear, distinct, and well defined. The manager may also fail when he manages a number of projects simultaneously. When working on numerous projects, an IT Manager can often use to delegate other duties to his immediate assistants, this enables him to give his full attention to particular projects (Benjamin et al, pp. 12).
An IT Manager may also fail in his duties when he stops listen to his juniors, especially on technical aspects of IT systems. Besides being a manager, he must bring out his leadership qualities and engage in open talk with his employees. The junior employees have a hands-on experience while using the IT-based applications and their recommendations can be invaluable to the success of IT-based systems. Before making decisions that will affect his department, the manager must consult his juniors (Thomas, para. 4).
IT Manager as a Leader
The IT Manager must incorporate leadership qualities while running his daily duties, he manages his team by ensuring that project tasks are in line with the organization’s objectives and challenges others to develop as leaders while acting as a example and mentor. To ensure that the organization is at par with the latest technologies, the IT Manager identifies opportunities for improvement and makes positive suggestions for change.
He supervises activities in the IT department and other departments applying IT-based solutions and acts as a consultant in these projects. He also leads teams set up by the organization to look into matters relating to information systems. The manager must understand both organizational and technical issues as well as making decisions that solve, not create more problems, therefore, this calls for the IT Manager’s meticulous application of leadership qualities while exercising his duties.
The position of IT Manager in an organization is an exciting one, yet very challenging. The IT manager is more than a senior technician, he manages employees working under him and makes decisions aimed at putting the organization on the front regarding the application of information technology systems. Leadership skills are very important for a person who occupies this position: this helps in creating a positive work atmosphere at his department and extending to other departments. A positive work atmosphere enables the staff to work together towards the realization of the organization’s goals.
The IT Manager is therefore at a position to inspire the organization towards growth and success. However, this position comes with numerous challenges and any slight lose of focus could be a major setback. To ensure success, the IT Manager must balance between managerial roles and leadership roles.
The position accords one the opportunity to stay abreast with the latest innovations in IT and offers numerous career path options, this makes the position of IT Manager to be a very exciting one.
Benjamin, Robert I., Rockart, John, Morton, Michael S., and Wyman, John. Information Technology: A Strategic Opportunity. 1983. Web.
Jarvenpaa, Sirkka, and Ives, Blake. 2008. Executive Involvement and Participation in the Management of Information Technology. MIS Quarterly, Vol. 15: 2.
Lucas, Henry C., and Baroudi, Jack. The role of information technology in organization design. Journal of Management Information Systems, Vol. 10 (4), 1994.
Schwalbe, Kathy. Information technology project management. Boston: Cengage Learning, 2009.
Thomas, Rhané. IT Managers and project management. 2009. Web.