Home > IT Management > I’m an IT manager but I don’t manage IT – Go Figure

I’m an IT manager but I don’t manage IT – Go Figure

cazh1 (aka James P MacLennan) is one of my favorite bloggers, who’s got a treasure trove of deep meaningful insights. His There ain’t much IT in IT Management post reminded me of my own epiphany two years ago when I realized – I’m an IT manager but I don’t manage IT!? Yes, it was one of those kind of “eureka” moments when you gain insight into a question or situation that was causing confusion but now all’s well because you now “get it”. Getting it meant that being an IT manager wasn’t like being a guy who could make a lot of decisions about IT toys and tools – although there is quite a lot of opportunity to do this as part of one’s “day job”**. But that being an IT manager was about two things:
(a) understanding the business needs, and
(b) people management – building a strong relationship with my team and knowing the people who fall under the sphere of IT due to their need to work closely with us. Every function has at least one or two of these people who by the nature of their work are like IT “business partners”. Because these good folk help my team succeed, I naturally would extend whatever influence I have to help them as well.

These two items generally occupies the majority of my day. Often times, the second – people management – takes up most of my time due to certain constraints within my environment. Why people first? Well, simply that strategy never happened without people making it happen. That’s fact number one. So naturally, it stands to reason that we should be considering our people trying to make it happen, first, second and third. As my key resource to make things happen (remember the no superman axiom), my team needs my support to achieve the goals set out by the business needs. Practical things that I do is:
1. What organizational obstacles does my team face that I need to clear out of the way?
2. What domain knowledge area are they missing to do their work effectively? I should then find a way to get them expertise, either through training, apprenticeship on a project or coach, or I teach them myself.
3. Listen to their issues and discuss with them to find a agreed way forward.
4. MBWA – walk around and talk to them, their customers, their team members and colleagues/peers. Unless you’re both blind and deaf, then your eyes and ears won’t defy reality as well as a Powerpoint presentation.

No less important is that understanding the business – an oft repeated refrain from my colleagues – is a prime directive. So in the midst of running around talking to people, one needs to wear the “engagement manager” or “consultant” hat on and probe into the operations to know what’s going on. Look at the data/information and ask lots and lots of questions on how this is either (1) going to grow our business, increase our revenues, and/or (2) help reduce our costs through efficiencies or smarter ways of working.

Because it’s about the profits and nothing but.

**I strongly agree with James that one still needs a solid grounding in IT fundamentals to be a proper IT manager. What that means for the every-day practitioner is (1) thorough knowledge in at least one or two of the technology subject matter domains, (2) thorough knowledge in at least one or two of the information subject matter domains, and lastly (3) Project Management or IT Service (delivery) Management. What the right combination is, well, depends on the company’s requirements of their chief IT guy or gal.

Categories: IT Management Tags:
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: