Careers in IT – Information Technology Management

In the previous “IT Diversity” articles I discussed Information Technology’s two main career paths – IT Systems and IT Application Development. While you can spend a lifetime working on the basics in either of these sectors, people often desire to advance their careers and move up the ladder into Information Technology management positions. In this article I will cover some important considerations to keep in mind while pursuing this path, and briefly explain some useful educational programs to help you prepare for the journey.

Information Technology management jobs exist at many levels within an organization. In a large organization, you could serve as an IT manager in just one portion of an IT department (network, help desk, or application development manager, etc); you could be the director of the entire IT department, or a senior executive such as a Chief X Officer (CXO) – where X = I for information, S for security, C for compliance, T for technology, K for knowledge, etc. In a smaller organization, you might find yourself as the only IT manager and be tasked with overseeing all aspects of the Information Technology environment.

Experience required for the various levels of IT Management generally include but are not limited to:

– For any level IT managerial position you will be expected to have in-depth experience in at least one specialized area (i.e., systems, networking, security, application development, etc.)

– For higher level positions, the more cross-functional IT experience you have – the better

– The higher level you seek, the more in-tune and knowledgeable you need to be with the enterprise’s mission, vision, and business processes.

As an IT Manager, several skills and competencies are critical to your success:

– People management: People problems can become an overwhelming concern.

– You likely will not have or maintain the level of expertise needed for all the people you are responsible for, so you need to hire staff who have the right staff expertise.

– Information Technology is critical to the success of most enterprises, so you will often be under-the-gun to keep things working and get new projects completed on time. If you don’t manage your staff properly, treating them with respect, professional courtesy, and making sure that they get continuing education, they will burn out quickly and/or not enjoy their work, and look for employment elsewhere.

– You will need to remove or fire unnecessary or problematic employees. A disgruntled worker can destroy the teamwork required for a successful Information Technology project.

– Collaboration and facilitation abilities: Most Information Technology areas require interaction between the IT staff and the business sector. From experience I can tell you that both of these groups often have very little understanding of each other’s situation.

– The IT staff generally does not understand the reasons or priorities of business processes.

– The business staff rarely understands the capabilities of what Information Technology can or cannot do for them.

– Effective program management abilities will help immensely. Many IT projects are very complex, involving multiple functional areas across different business practices.

– Strategic Planning: Information Technology managers at all levels must be able to identify IT lifecycle needs based on current capabilities, while planning for future IT requirements and upgrades.

– IT Managers must also be capable of convincing their colleagues that the Information Technology department’s needs are essential to the enterprises bottom-line, to ensure proper prioritization of limited resources.

– Maintain IT Currency: Managers must keep abreast of IT developments to keep the enterprise and its technology relevant in both current and future environments. Failing to do so could cause the company to lose its competitive edge.

Once again, this is just a broad brush of what you need to keep in mind if you are considering stepping into an Information Technology Management position. This is a reasonable path for many senior service members that have been in one or more of the many IT career tracks, or for veterans who have served in the IT trenches in either military or civilian environments. In many cases you may have attended senior leadership schools or been in a managerial IT role in the military which helped you develop some of these skills. However, when leaving the military in search of a career in Information Technology Management, you will likely be short of civilian-world business skills.

Course Layout of MBA in Technology Management

Management is as important as innovation, plan and execution. It plays a vital role in successful accomplishment of a task. Technology without management is just like gun without bullet. In subsequent paragraphs, general layout of MBA in Technology Management is given, in order to understand the training infrastructure of this particular course.

Basic Level Training

During the first year of the course, basics are taught to students, with an aim to give them the basic concept of the subject. Students are taught about early responsibilities of a manager. The course includes training in following major parts.

• General Management
• Financial Management
• Information and Technology Management
• Human Resource Management

Basic level training includes induction, orientation and then execution of a particular technology. Managing work keeping all these factors in mind is taught through rigorous and religious training classes.

Middle Level

After the basic level, the training enters the next phase, i.e. middle level training. The aim of this level is to produce first line managers who are dedicated and motivated enough to improve upon their skills, which they have developed during basic level. Communication skills are an important addition here in middle level training.

Leadership Training

After completion of first two levels, leadership training starts. It is most important and interesting part of MBA in Technology Management program. Leadership abilities of the students are polished and raised up, to make them better managers and leaders tomorrow. Management is kind of leadership, therefore this subject has been included, and its exclusive level shows the importance of this aspect.

In all, managing technology perhaps is the most critical and crucial stage in production and development of a new technology. Therefore, there are plans to make it an integral part of any technological degree.

Leadership Skills Are Necessary for Technology Managers in the Current Business Economy

Technology oriented careers have been making a comeback. Accordingly, talented technology managers are necessary in every area of the field – from Web design and development, to database-driven e-commerce, to software engineering, to technical service and support. Technology positions, from programmer to CIO, are also critically important in organizations from all industries, including manufacturing, healthcare, education, government and service firms. Technology professionals often seek career advancement but need the leadership skills necessary to advance their careers. In response to these industry demands, adult-learning and distance learning schools now offer technology degrees at the bachelor’s and master’s degree levels, often in accelerated formats.

However, other necessary characteristics of successful technology managers cannot be found on a silicon microchip or in a line of CSS markup code. Some of these characteristics include a talent for leadership; the ability to communicate ideas and directions, and the ability to motivate and mentor staff. These skills are not taught in all technology curricula of the 21st century. However, some information technology and computer science academic curriculum designers are beginning to recognize the importance of teaching soft skills in the classroom. Accordingly, some programs of study now emphasize specialized leadership training for would-be technology managers.

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that computer and information systems professionals typically require advanced-level training (namely, a master’s degree) in order to be considered for leadership positions in technology. The BLS also points to the need for technology job applicants to have diverse experience in technology systems and applications. This experience will allow them to lead staff who work in different departments and who have different types of technology skills. An additional benefit to pursuing training for technology management careers is the bright future outlook of this field. These careers are expected to grow 16 percent through the year 2016.

Technology leadership training programs at the master’s degree level will typically have two or three core academic components. The first core component, obviously, is technology. Students who pursue this type of master’s degree typically begin the program with knowledge of at least one higher-level programming language; and are comfortable with database management or development, as well as computer networking systems administration. The master’s in leadership and information technology course of study will build on students’ foundations in information science and systems, enabling students to approach these disciplines from a leadership and management perspective.

Students will learn to lead employees as well as communicate with all levels of the organization and customers.

In CIO Magazine’s 2007 State of the CIO survey of more than 500 IT professionals, the three skills “most pivotal for success in your role” were: the ability to communicate effectively, strategic thinking and planning, and ability to lead/motivate staff. In other words, leadership skills. The primary characteristics that all technology managers must have are leadership skills. These attributes enable technology leaders to motivate staff; to direct projects or business activities in a way that maximizes profits, and to ensure that staff on hand are competent and contribute to strong worker retention. According to career advice site Monster.com, the best managers and leaders in technology are those men and women who are directly involved in project management and task delegation, rather than those who give orders from afar.

In the tech industry, there exists a decades-old stereotype about the social inclinations of technology workers. Unfairly or not, they have been historically pegged as lacking in leadership skills and strong communication abilities. Industry efforts to disassemble this stereotype is one primary reason why students interested in technology management are able to enroll in master’s-level programs of study that combine technology skills with interpersonal and leadership skills.

The other reason more and more master’s-level technology programs of study focus on business and leadership skills is because technology manager careers have become more specialized and decisions-driven. Managers in tech fields must be able to assess the technology systems in place at their companies, and make system implementation and upgrade decisions that will be positive for their employees and clients. Technology must support and align with organizational goals. Making the right technology decisions requires developed leadership skills, strong soft skills, and polished business acumen.

As technology continues to change and develop rapidly, technology leadership master’s degree programs will continue to develop targeted curricula, integrating technology with the business world to produce strong leaders.

Technology Management MBA – Curriculum & Tips to Choose the Right MBA Program

Whether you plan to enter a master’s program right after college or you plan to return to school after years in the industry, choosing a technology management MBA program is the first step in securing your financial future. In addition to competitive salaries, this career field promises to offer stability, growth, and versatility.

Technology managers hold roughly 293,000 positions in the technology industry. During the next eight years, the workforce is expected to grow by 17%. This means technology management MBA graduates will have an opportunity to compete for more than 50,000 positions in the coming years.

According to JIST Works, earnings growth potential is expected to be “medium” and salaries will vary by industry. For example, technology managers in scientific & technical consulting services average $124,100 per year, while research & development professionals average $120,070 per year.

To start a career in technology management, you should enroll in an accredited technology management MBA program. You can earn your MBA in a traditional or online environment. Most MBA students work in the field, full-time. The flexibility and convenience of an online program allows students to keep their full-time jobs while earning a degree at night, on weekends, or just about anytime.

A large number of traditional colleges offer all or part of the MBA degree program online. All you have to do is check the school’s online division or check with the distance learning department. There are also a number of non-traditional colleges and universities that operate (for the most part) in an online environment. For the aspiring technology manager, online business schools, as well as traditional schools offer MBA programs with concentrations in operations management, human resources, labor relations, finance, and more. Information about where to find online business schools can be found at the end of this article.

Whichever format you choose, there are a number of things to look for in a quality technology management MBA program. First, the program must be accredited. The accrediting agency must be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (Ed.gov). The top accrediting agencies for business schools include:

-Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
-Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
-Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA)
-Distance Education and Training Council (DETC)

You may also look for accreditation by a regional accrediting agencies. The following are recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as well:

-Western Association of Schools and Colleges
-Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
-Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
-North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
-New England Association of Schools and Colleges
-Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools

In addition to accreditation, you should examine the technology management curriculum carefully. In addition to technology and information systems, the curriculum should include advanced courses in economics, finance, accounting, business strategy, marketing management, human resources, statistics, manufacturing and production, and operations management. Major courses should include:

-Analyzing the Corporate Financial Environment of Technology-Driven-Companies
-Data and Information Quality for the Information Executive
-Decision Making Tools for the Technology Manager
-Enterprise Information Modeling
-Global Aspects of Technology Management
-Information Systems Policy
-Leadership and Organizational Behavior
-Managing Organizational Change
-Managing Technology Projects and Operations
-Marketing Foundations for Technology Managers
-Strategic Technology Management
-Systems and Information Concepts in Organizations

When it comes to admissions, getting past the front door at top colleges is tough.

Admissions requirements for top universities include transcripts from all institutions attended, a B average or better, high scores on the graduate record examination (GRE), and recommendation letters. The school should also require a statement of purpose or essay and other supporting materials that demonstrate leadership ability and the desire to succeed. It is important to note that competition for MBA programs is intense. Average GRE scores for top MBA programs range from 529-626 (verbal) and 700-773 (quantitative),

Technology Management Is Essential in Today’s Business Environment

Say the words “technology management”, and some people have a look of puzzlement on their faces – they have no idea what the term means. Basically, technology expertise follows the same course as other strategies applied in the workplace in order to further the success and sustainability of a company or organization: Planning, organizing, staffing, implementing and monitoring/evaluation. The one difference is that in technology management, you add the “technology” factor to the mix.

Nearly every individual today knows that technology is meant to make life simpler and more streamlined. Today, information technology management allows companies to make their business more competitive by utilizing available information technology resources. Corporations and companies of all sizes benefit through information technology management, as managers and business owners discover effective ways to utilize technology so that the operation and standing of the company is improved in a competitive business environment. Technology management is necessary in all divisions, including marketing and communications, development of products, process innovations and reporting efficiency. Through these strategies, companies are able to create value and remain competitive with a cutting-edge advantage.

Information technology management can be useful in all levels of business, from online websites and internal business functions to management of daily activities in the workplace. In the corporate environment, information technology expertise assists owners and managers in determining the markets they choose to operate in. Most businesses today have an online presence in the form of a website; those in technology management can set up such a presence, making ordering materials and other goods easier and efficient. In any business setting, forecasting production and projecting sales is essential; information technology also becomes useful in this sense, since many companies use software to create this data.

In any type of technology management, it is essential that an individual or team take responsibility for implementing and developing strategies that are functional, efficient and designed to make the everyday tasks of business easier and more efficient. At this point, efficient technology management requires that employees and management understand how these processes work, and how to use them in the most productive manner. In today’s business environment most tasks, communications and projects are made simpler due to the ease of transfer of information between departments and individuals. This means that good technology expertise often does away with time-wasting, needless activities that essentially cost the company money.

In the workplace, it’s easy for productivity and efficiency to suffer; time necessary to complete tasks and projects can be drastically reduced, resulting in an impact to the bottom line. Good technology expertise often results in an improvement in all aspects of business, including finance, accounting, research and development and human resources. Various software applications, programs and computers increase the productivity of individual employees, making many processes automatic, accurate and more efficient. In order to remain competitive in the business environment and stand apart from direct competitors, efficient technology management is an essential investment.