Part 2 of 3 – The Truth is…. I’ll share some truths about developers, managers, and processes in IT.
Just what is an IT Manager?
The management career path in the Information Technology field is often a major “fork in the road” or decision point. Individuals weigh options between maintaining their technical skills and job assignments with responsibility for managing people. In IT, it’s not uncommon to find workers that have zero-interest in management. The technology is what attracted them to IT and they prefer to interface with technology more than people. For those workers that choose the other side of the fork in the road there is an important lesson to be learned; Managing IT requires more than managing technology and technology workers.
We need to redefine what we expect of IT Managers.
A large component of IT management is comprised of understanding technology and managing the people that implement technology. But the most successful IT managers are those that align with and create partnerships with other business units in the organization. Managers from marketing, finance, operations, customer service, and other areas of the business want true partnership from their IT management counterparts. IT managers that just provide a technology service, follow IT rules and processes, and enforce standards are missing the mark. When that happens, IT becomes an island in the organization. Other business units start to look for ways around IT (often called Shadow IT). Business partnership is the place where IT managers connect the technology with solutions that the technology provides. The technology exists to connect people-to-people and businesses-to-customers.
Some truths about IT Managers.
Getting up every morning to work with technology is a good place to be. Opportunities abound to be the hero. But with every opportunity is the risk of being the goat as well. IT managers can be viewed as value-add or expensive overhead. These boundaries and risks provide the framework for a few truths that I’ve learned:
- IT managers wonder is it possible to please everyone. Business leaders want IT managers to have their IT organizations accomplish more, use more nimble processes, and cost less money. At the same time security and compliance officers want more controlled changes, more thorough processes, and added costs for additional security.
- IT managers are caught somewhere between run-the-business and grow-the-business. Traditionally business leaders wanted IT to keep information flowing through the organization so that business orders are processed, produced, and billed. But business environments change and products mature. When customers start looking for new products and services, business leaders wants IT to help grow the business as well. On the income statement, IT is a cost center. The IT manager must prove the value-add of how they help grow-the-business by mapping their actions to ROI and profit.
- IT managers struggle with prioritizing what’s important from what’s urgent. Internal customers create urgency with a variety of tactics when their routine is interrupted. Their urgency often interrupts IT managers from working on the important projects for the organization.
Next time you see your IT manager, say some kind words and help them build the IT-Business partnership. At the end of the day, they want to make their customers happy and provide better solutions for everyone. It’s OK if you tell them that they need to work faster and cost less. They’ve heard it before and it gives them a little challenge. 🙂
Onward and upward!