What Does an IT Manager Do? (And How to Become One)
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Information technology (IT) managers coordinate a team of professionals to manage a company's data. IT managers are senior professionals who possess strong technical skills and leadership abilities. By learning the answer to "What does an IT manager do?", you can discover how to apply your knowledge and technical skills to the role. In this article, we discuss what IT managers do from both technological and management perspectives, and explore how to build a career as an information technology manager.
What does an IT manager do?
You may wonder, "What does an IT manager do?" They coordinate a team of technology professionals that manage large sets of data. Information technology refers to the study of computing systems for the purpose of data storage, retrieval, and transmission. IT professionals protect private information, create and manage databases, and provide technical support. IT managers' work consists of these main focuses:
IT managers can perform the duties of anyone in the department and typically guide other team members. They create strategies for data protection, information collection, and network administration. IT management meets with the team to discuss project objectives and delegate work according to levels of expertise. Here's a list of other common IT responsibilities:
IT managers gather internal company information and outside sources to assess technical trends and identify ways to improve. Managers learn company goals by meeting with corporate executives and stakeholders. They receive a budget and objectives for the department, then use this information to strategize solutions.
Managers assess the approaches competitors employ and research new technological solutions. These department leaders also conduct research and consult with team members to gather input. IT managers have diverse objectives based on the company's goals, including:
Streamlining digital processes
Improving technical infrastructure
Adding security measures
Reconfiguring internal networks
The manager considers the company's overall goals and finds technical solutions to help achieve them. Suitable approaches depend on the business's plans, economic conditions, and technological trends. For example, if the goal is to expand the company's reach, the IT solution can range from investing in building a proprietary application to incorporating internet-of-things technology into new products. Comparatively, when companies decide to reduce costs, IT managers can automate customer service procedures or reduce website features.
IT managers work within a set budget and find innovative ways to use those funds to achieve business goals. The budget applies to both personnel and equipment, requiring IT management to innovate and coordinate resources properly. IT management typically communicates with other departments to collaborate on various projects. For example, IT managers might engage with the marketing department to coordinate application development. Efficient communication helps IT managers identify potential issues and allocate IT resources accordingly.
IT managers routinely audit the information systems in the company, testing for any application flaws. They can delegate this task to employees and review the complete reports. When there's an identifiable bug or a glitch, IT management assesses the issue and identifies a solution. The IT manager delegates the repair to a team member that specializes in the area. By performing routine diagnostics, the effectiveness of standard software checks increases and it helps enable IT managers to prevent issues rather than repair them.
These professionals create process maps for the company's inter-departmental network. The IT manager controls the communication systems, including everything from email protocol to remote computer access. The manager routinely audits the network to diagnose any functionality issues and identify potential vulnerabilities before delegating the repair to a team member.
IT management generates disaster recovery protocols and backup processes to prevent data loss or corruption. Information security refers to both data integrity and security, where integrity refers to the quality of the data itself. Security first protects data from corruption, then secures it against outside parties, meaning only authorized parties have access to the data. IT managers undergo regular professional upgrading to remain current on security protocols and best practices.
This role involves establishing departmental protocols for the information technology team. The IT manager hires and trains new employees according to those procedures, then sets objectives for professional development. IT management reviews the budget to plan new projects and make decisions related to onboarding and scheduling. Some of the most common IT management tasks include:
Recruiting and interviewing
IT managers identify qualified applicants by creating specific job advertisements that target suitable candidates. IT management receives resumes and portfolios, assesses them for skills and qualifications, then interviews shortlisted applicants. Usually, IT management creates a test to assess the skill level of interviewees. This typically accompanies the regular interview process, where the manager decides how the prospective employee fits into the team.
Training and monitoring staff
Once the manager hires a new employee, the next step is completing training. Managers generate procedures to acquaint personnel with the company's systems. During training, IT management sets goals with the new team member and monitors their work. The IT manager concludes training by providing feedback on the training's success.
Coaching and disciplining
Managing a team involves coaching and support. IT managers continue to teach team members by setting goals and providing opportunities for professional development. They remain available for questions and to provide assistance to employees. By coaching the information technology department, the manager can reduce costs through increased efficiency.
Creating a safe workplace
IT managers work in places that rely on technology and are responsible for the safety and well-being of staff members. This means remaining current on all safety protocols of the work environment. For instance, an IT professional may need a hard hat to fix a network issue in a construction zone. Conversely, in an office, a safe workplace can mean ergonomic equipment to prevent repetitive strain. IT management communicates with team members to learn about safety needs and implements solutions.
IT managers regularly attend workshops and seminars to remain current on technology developments. They may develop relationships with fellow professionals and contribute to academic and professional organizations. Informed by these experiences, the IT manager can explore industry trends and focus the team's research efforts accordingly.
Contributing to the team
IT managers are integral members of the technology team. They contribute to the project in whichever capacity is most necessary. For example, they may manually review lines of code or run network diagnostics. They can also act on behalf of a team member to reduce downtime during staff shortages.
How to become an IT manager
Here's a list of steps you can follow if you are interested in learning how to become an IT manager:
1. Get a relevant degree
Information technology managers require a minimum of a bachelor's degree to provide the requisite knowledge and skills for the role. As IT is the focus of the role, common majors include computer science, engineering, or software development. Many companies prefer candidates with master's degrees to help ensure that the candidate is technically qualified and competent.
2. Gain professional experience
IT management is a senior-level role, so most employers seek candidates that possess a minimum of five years of experience. Information technology is an in-demand position with many entry- and mid-level opportunities. You can begin your career as an IT professional, taking on additional responsibility as you gain skills. Maintain a resume that highlights your skills and the projects you work on to demonstrate your competency as an IT professional.
3. Get supplemental education
To qualify as a manager, it helps to have human resources or managerial training. Some leadership skills come from experience in the workplace, yet other management jobs require specific knowledge. You can take a short management course to learn the essential skills related to budgeting, staffing, and problem-solving. This credential shows that you have academic qualifications for both the management and the IT aspects of the role.
4. Focus on technical development
Identify trends in the technology industry and develop your skills accordingly. New software becomes available regularly, and understanding how to integrate it into the IT department is important. Before you apply to an IT manager position, identify what programs the business or its competitors use. You can familiarize yourself with those applications to show prospective employers that you have up-to-date knowledge.
5. Regularly update skills
Once you begin work as an IT manager, it's important to maintain focus on your professional development. Regularly research the field and remain informed of any updates in industry standards. You can routinely assess your management skills by setting clear objectives and determining if you meet these goals. Employee retention, project efficiency, and departmental morale are indicators of managerial success. Identify your team's needs and develop your skills accordingly by attending relevant seminars and workshops.
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