Technical know-how will only take you so far in a leadership role – you also have to know how to manage people and processes.
To run an IT department, you’ll need the same core business management skills that are required to lead any other business unit – with a few additional demands. Added to the workload and stress of the typical IT manager are the complexity of information technology, the rapid pace at which new technologies emerge, and the unique skill sets required to develop and administer a variety of systems.
Whether you’re a newbie or a veteran, using IT management principles and software can help you spend less time putting out fires and more time turning your IT department into a service-oriented, strategic partner in the organization.
According to Gartner, “IT governance is the set of processes that ensure the effective and efficient use of IT in enabling an organization to achieve its goals.” Typically, IT governance is the responsibility of C-level executives. But, IT managers can still use the principles of IT governance to keep the department moving forward.
Depending on the size of your organization, you may want to suggest the company put into practice a formal IT governance framework, such as Control Objectives for Information and Related Technology (COBIT). If it’s just you running the show, keep a list of guidelines handy to remind you of what you should focus on as a manager instead of adopting a highly-structured framework.
There are five principles of IT governance:
Many software tools are available to help IT managers wrangle the numerous devices and connections the department oversees. Here are the top management tools experts recommend for small, medium and large organizations:
Small to mid-size businesses
SmallBusinessComputing.com took an in-depth look at Spiceworks and gave it a thumbs-up. The free (advertising-supported) network management software, the latest version of which supports up to 1,000 devices, includes inventorying, monitoring, reporting, and task-tracking capabilities (via a help desk module). The company does offer an ad-free version for a minimal monthly fee. SmallBusinessComputing.com says it’s an impressive tool and a “remarkable value.”
PCMag.com gave cloud-based Panorama9 a very good rating. The software is installed on one computer which acts as a server that gathers information from the other computers on the domain using Microsoft’s Active Directory before transferring it to the cloud platform (a feature that sets it apart from other IT management software). From there, administrators can monitor “company assets, availability, security vulnerabilities, and compliance. All the information…is automatically gathered and rolled up in a high-level overview. Administrators can easily drill down to find the precise issue and the actual machine.” The cost is a monthly subscription fee based on the number of devices. There is a free version available for one user only.
Enterprise-level network management tools
Network World recently reviewed network management software from HP, IBM, and CA and said any one of the three will help large organizations solve network problems quickly and save companies money. Here’s some of what Network World reported: