The role of an IT manager is not always an enviable one. It is a demanding, and often thankless job. Many new IT managers struggle in the first few weeks as they grapple with numerous IT problems and challenges.
Here are 11 ways that can help an IT manager settle into their new job:
- Face to face is best – If possible, meet your IT suppliers in person. Find out exactly what they can do for you, and how much it will all cost. This will give you the best possible indication of whether what they’re offering is good or bad. IT suppliers need to be looked upon as your allies. They can bend over backwards in tough times, and can often be relied on for innovative ideas that can benefit you, your job, and the company.
- Go over all current service contacts carefully – Of course, nobody really wants to do this, but it’s worth at least checking contract dates, reviews and executive summaries. Negotiating old contracts is a great way of saving money. You might find obsolete services that are no longer needed, but you are still paying for, while contract renewals can be planned in advance to maximise their effect.
- Play to strengths – Ask your suppliers what makes them stand out. What are they best at, or what makes them famous? How have they helped their most successful or prestigious clients? By planning ahead to see who is best for what, you will give yourself the advantage when your boss announces that enormous special project out of the blue. If you leave your investigation until then, you are already behind.
- Create a flow chart – You need to have a good idea of how your IT system works and how it all integrates together. This should allow you to see how your IT system accommodates your company’s goals and perhaps more importantly, where the bottlenecks or vulnerabilities are so that they can receive immediate attention.
- What is critical to the company – It’s important to get a clear idea of what is the most important, and least important aspects of the company. This will help you to put together a comprehensive recovery plan where you know exactly what parts of the business needs the most attention should you run into trouble.
- The finance of IT – Who is technically responsible for decisions, invoices and finances when it comes to your IT? Who controls the budgets and who maintains the accounts? These are the people who can give advice on how to get things done. They can help you avoid the pitfalls, advise against overly ambitious projects or spending and generally provide hands-on advice where they can. It’s also likely that these will be among the first to know about major changes within the company, and how it may affect other parts.
- What came before you – Find out exactly what projects or expenditure was approved, or even pre-approved before your arrival. It goes without saying that you need to be fully up to date on any future plans. These can be assessed on an individual basis, and decisions on reviews, cancellations or delays can be made where necessary. Once you take responsibility, you are also responsible for what came before you. Saying that wasn’t my fault or that wasn’t my decision will be an unacceptable response.
- One-to-ones – It’s important to get to know everybody on your team on an individual level. Make time to sit down with everybody and find out their likes, dislikes, strength and weaknesses. Encourage them to stay clear of office politics, and instead participate more in the company’s future by submitting their own ideas for improving the business. It’s very likely that you may choose to make changes to the team, but nothing should be done hastily. A lack of development is the main cause of staff turnover and listening to what your team has to say will make it clear that possibilities of advancement do exist.
- Second in command – It’s important to delegate authority early on. This will not only provide you with support when you are not in the office but will foster a stronger business structure. You need to know that when you are not in the office, whether it’s for a meeting, or even if you are sick, the office can function without you. Trying to carry the entire load by yourself, especially at the start, is likely to lead to problems. If you can lean on your IT support when needed, and have a trusted group around you that can share the reins with, you will make your job, and life, considerably easier.
- Produce an IT operations manual – This shows how the IT department functions, both internally and externally as well as setting out your disaster recovery plan. It’s important to build confidence within the team, and putting together an IT manual early can really help with this, even if you plan to edit much of it later. People thrive when they know that a plan and a system is in place. Maybe you have great ideas in your head, but unless you verbalise it, and set it down in a manual, you run the risk of losing the confidence of your colleagues.
- Plan ahead – If possible, put together a 6-month IT operations plane. You should include any upgrades, changes or improvements that you have planned, or envisage in the future. This plan can be shared with your most trusted IT suppliers who may have previous experience. The more people that are prepared for your plans, the better. If you do want or need to make sweeping changes, it’s best that those are set out sooner rather than later. 6 months is a good frame of time to be working with and allows you to test the waters to see how you can best improve your IT operations.
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