6 things that will set you apart from other IT managers

Senior managers of companies need partners who can lead IT organizations in a way that helps the company succeed. When they find an IT manager who is able to do this, quite often they give this person more responsibility.

In many companies, business executives don’t want to spend a lot of time with an IT manager or CIO. When they see their CIO walking toward them, they literally want to find a window to jump out of or a back room to hide in until the CIO leaves.

The reason, , , the CEO believes his CIO is going to do these things:

  • Ask for more money
  • Recommend projects he can’t understand or appreciate
  • Talk in a “techie” language that makes understanding him impossible

The problem is that far too many CEOs view their IT leaders as spenders, managers who like new toys and who are infatuated with technology, and people who talk in acronyms and terms that no one can understand. They just don’t understand what their CIOs are telling them. If this is the case, business executives tend to avoid you.

A better picture of this would scenario be when the CEO can’t wait to sit down to talk with the CIO because he is genuinely interested in what he has to say. Guess what, , , he won’t be interested unless he knows he will be able to understand what his CIO is about to discuss with him.

This only happens if the CIO establishes trust and credibility, , , two key things any IT manager must have to succeed.

You earn trust and credibility, , , it is not given to you just because your title is “CIO”.

“Trust” and “credibility” are similar to “respect”, , , all three must be earned, none of these attributes will be given automatically.

Then a key question is, “How does an IT manager or CIO earn trust and credibility?”

It’s actually simpler than you might think.

There are 6 key things that will distinguish you from other IT managers, , , truly set you apart from the masses of IT managers in the world. Plus, do these things and you will earn the trust of others and establish much needed credibility.

1.  Understand and communicate business value – Succeeding in IT management is not as much about technology as it is in supporting business managers and their units effectively. It’s more about “business value” than about the technology.

Business managers and executives understand business value, , , they “get it” when you discuss issues in business value terms. They don’t understand technology, , , don’t want to, , , and aren’t going to for the most part.

Business value includes the following:

  • Increase revenue
  • Decrease cost
  • Improve productivity
  • Differentiate the company
  • Improve client satisfaction

IT managers must learn to discuss IT initiatives, projects, recommendations, etc. in business value terms, , , when they do, the business manager will start listening and understanding.

2. Project recommendations are always cost justified – There has to be a reasonable benefit for spending money and using company resources to work on a project. These benefits are ideally presented with a Return on Investment (ROI). At a minimum, there needs to be quantifiable and tangible benefits discussed in business value terms that makes a project worthwhile to do.

If you cannot articulate the business value your project recommendation will provide, then you probably shouldn’t be recommending it.

Put your “owner’s hat” on. If you own the company, you only spend money on things that are going to provide some type of business value for the company. You invest in things, , , you don’t simply spend money. If there is no return on investment (i.e., no real benefit), then you keep the money to use it on something that will provide a benefit for your company.

3.  Develop an IT strategy and gain approval – Do this and there is no way your IT organization can be out of sync with your company’s business needs and issues. Too many IT managers simply want to go do the work and avoid the effort associated with developing an IT strategy, presenting it and gaining approval.

Other managers suggest that they can’t develop an IT strategy because there is no formalized company strategy. Unacceptable! Even if the company has no formal company strategy, IT managers still need to develop their IT strategy, present it and gain approval before you spend money and use resources, , , otherwise there is a big risk of IT being out of sync with your company’s needs.

4.  Communicate proactively – IT managers are generally shy and introverted. We don’t particularly like the idea of having to communicate with department managers and executives of the company, , , we just want to be left alone so we can get the work completed.

Shy and introverted people have a lower desire to communicate. An IT manager must break through this challenge and set up processes that forces him to communicate with key department managers (the big users of technology support), senior management, and IT employees.

And when you communicate with business managers, be sure to communicate in business value terms, not in technical terms and acronyms.

5.  Manage within your budget – Many managers in IT don’t seem to realize the importance of managing their organization within financial guidelines, , , and the key piece to this is your operational budget.

IT managers who show they have an appreciation for the financial side of the business and the importance of achieving their financial business plan earn respect from senior executives.

The keys to the kingdom lie in the financial aspects of managing IT support. Look at the components of business value, , , every item has a financial implication.

IT managers who do things that are financially supportive of the company’s success stick out, , , most executives view IT managers as “spenders”, , , not managers who always seek “value add initiatives”.

6.  Deliver projects successfully – Another way you earn credibility is when you deliver projects successfully, , , they are on time, within budget, and meet your client’s expectations.

When you do what you say you will do by delivering projects successfully, you gain trust by the company managers and executives you support.

The CEO will eager to sit down with you to hear what you have to say when you

  • Develop an IT strategy and get confirmation from senior management to insure your team is in sync with the business.
  • Always recommend projects that are cost justified and provide quantifiable business value.
  • Complete projects successfully and demonstrate your IT organization will “do what you say you will do”.
  • Communicate in business value terms.

IT managers who operate in this manner gain credibility and trust in their companies, , , and executives view them as partners who become integral components to the success of the company. As a result, they quite often give these type of managers more responsibility.

So, next time the CEO sees you walking down the hall toward his office, will he run and hide, , , or will he step forward to meet you because he wants to hear what you have to say. When IT managers operate more like business owners, executives usually want to hear what you have to say.

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