6 July 2017
How to be an Effective IT Manager
Being an IT Manager can be one of the most isolated jobs in any business. Even right there in a full office, there may be only one or two other IT staff, or you may even be the only one in the whole building who knows a server from a switch. Some days it may feel like people only talk to you when they have a problem, or need a new app deployed before morning tea.
Depending on the industry and culture, the IT staff may feel a little left out. It can be frustrating trying to get adequate IT budgets approved, maybe management has little time or mind space for IT, but everyone wants their issues fixed instantly. And as for trying to get a holiday away from work… forget about it!
We have helped many IT managers to improve their office experience. Here are our top tips to improve your success, wow the business, provide an ROI and earn more money.
You are busy, so it is often easier to send a quick email or instant message, but it lacks body language, expression, context and emotion. Stepping away from the keyboard helps you build relationships and learn about others in the business. You get to know a person’s role so you can better support them.
Nothing is more frustrating to a CEO or CFO than large, expensive surprises. A good IT environment has a 3 to 5-year plan, making budgeting clear. As an IT manager, providing estimated forecasts over a longer period, along with accurate annual budgets, makes the CFO’s life easier. Projects should be scoped well, so the proposed price is fixed. Best of all; explain clearly how each expenditure aligns with business requirements, so they feel equipped to justify the spending to shareholders.
As the saying goes, it’s not what you know, but who you know. Having skills and services available on speed dial is the key to being a successful IT manager. It is nearly impossible to know everything, so find good partners with the skills to fill any gaps. The right partner will make you look brilliant.
When you work alone or in a small group, it is easy to get in a rut. Join technology networking groups, attend vendor events, follow online groups, and socialise with others in a similar situation. These social interactions often help you spot opportunities for your business, as well as acting as a sanity-saver.
The moment you start talking technology jargon, your colleagues start edging away like startled deer. Talk instead about benefits and outcomes for the business – and save the tech specifications for your industry colleagues. There’s no harm in retaining a little mystique.
You work hard to keep up with the latest technology, but IT management is about so much more than that. Check in with your HR manager and ask about courses that extend your other abilities. Try communications, sales, leadership, speaking, and proposal writing courses to lift your results.
Focus on Outcomes
Far too often, people start with a budget and work backwards. Imagine you’re looking for a HR system for under $10k. What if a $15k solution can save $10k per year in wages? Consider business requirements, assess potential improvements, estimate the benefits and then look for the solution. Remember the answer may not lie in the technology, and could be people, role or process clarity.
A fast way to get feedback and easily track satisfaction is via a survey, and there are several free apps that can help you. Providing pre-project and post-project surveys can be a great way to show the value your team brings to the business. It can also alert you to problems elsewhere that can be easily fixed. Often people just put up with the status quo until someone takes time to ask what they think.
As markets are disrupted and some big brands diminish or disappear, it is no time to cling to the old. If you see a process that is manual, repetitive, high-effort, risky, has no client benefit, or is paper-based, there is probably a better way. The IT manager knows the business, the people and technology. This puts them in a unique position to champion business improvement and innovation.
We all have differences, and if they are understood, they can lead to improvements in work performance. If you don’t know your behavior traits, it’s time to find out. Online DiSC profiles are cheap, quick and enlightening – in a team, it can help uncover the best way to communicate and work together, and you will learn how to get the most from the different personalities.
Businesses can struggle to manage IT managers because they don’t have much experience in this area. You can help by providing consistent and regular reports that are well-explained. Reports help show where you’re effective, which investment is working and where future investment is needed.
Working with someone who has great time management skills provides a huge benefit in an office environment. When a computer is down and the IT guy is too busy, a seemingly small role can block important operations. Use available technology to prioritise work, maintain your diary and schedule projects. Use a ticketing system, communicate changes and plan a backup person (peer or partner) should you get busy, out of the office or away. Doing this can also provide documented evidence of the need for additional staff or external support.