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Why Managing An Information Technology Department is Similar to Managing Your Own Business?

When we work in information technology, it is common for us to think of ourselves only as technology people. Even when we are promoted into management, we still tend to think of ourselves as technologists and engineers. What many of us in technology fail to realize is that managing an information technology department is very similar to managing a business. All the same things that a CEO must do in order to effectively manage an organization, a CIO or information technology department manager must do as well.

To clarify the point, an MBA student studies the subject areas that would help him or her to run a business. Some of the areas that an MBA student studies are: Strategy, Operations, Accounting, Product Development, Organizational Behavior, Project Management, Risk Management and Economics. All these disciplines are part of managing an information technology department.

The 8 areas of my approach to information technology management are very similar to the subject areas studied by MBA students.

  1. Customer Sales and Customer Service - How effectively are we selling to, and servicing, our internal and external customers?
  2. I.T. Finance - How much does it cost to run our department? What is the expected and realized ROI potential of the project portfolio?
  3. I.T. Strategy - What is our plan for the future?
  4. I.T. Operations - How effectively do we deliver our products and services to our customers?
  5. Human Capital - How effectively do we recruit, select, hire and manage our employees, contractors and consultants?
  6. Technology - What are the tools we use to deliver products and services to our customers today and going forward?
  7. Procurement & Vendor Partnerships - How effectively do we buy the things and partner with the organizations who help us to achieve our goals?
  8. Risk - How effectively do we anticipate and mitigate the risks of delivering products and services to our internal and external customers?

It is easy to forget how substantial the role of a department manager can be. The role of an information technology department manager is especially critical given how important technology is to every business. For every one of the 8 areas, you need a plan. You need a plan not just for today, but a plan with a 1 to 3 year window. If you are not focusing on each of the 8 areas that ensure that your department is ready to succeed today and positioned to succeed going forward; there will be gaps in how prepared your department is for its strategic opportunities and daily challenges.

Copyright © Devon Manelski