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Developing effective IT people


In an article written by Gerry Dodd in this months inside learning technologies magazine, he examined the problems that industry are faced with because of a shortage of suitably qualified people in both business and IT skills.

Many problems that faced IT departments in the past were that they contained the appropriately skilled IT personnel, however they were not very good at communicating with the rest of the organisation. There certainly was a distinct lack of skill here. I remember the days when the IT division used to tell the customer what they needed, and not listen to what they really wanted. Luckily nowadays this is now changing and many existing IT departments have started to change their approach to becoming more customer oriented. It was either that or cease to exist.

Gerry writes that with the development of e-commerce and windows 2000 that IT has become the core of any business strategies and also the presence of the IT manager will be required at senior management meetings on a more regular basis.

So, what would be the ideal IT manager? Someone that has the right combination of both business and IT skills. Gerry states that in many sectors the IT department is moving further away from the rest of the business and that most IT managers lack the business skills required to communicate effectively with the board.

This then leads to the implementation of new IT projects within the establishment being much too slow on the uptake. The board would delay the project and make it dependant upon the new financial year and the budget before the new project could be started.

Many IT managers are required to manage the implementation of large scale projects. Even though they may have the appropriate technical knowledge, they are expected to manage multi-million pound projects without the opportunity to learn the project management skills needed to ensure that this project would be a success. The other skills also necessary would be the right communication and financial skills.

Gerry has listed the key aspects to look for when considering the appropriate training course to send your IT staff on:

  • Reputation of training provider
  • Accreditation
  • Course consist of both theory and practice
  • Flexibility of course delivery
  • Don't let the price of the course dictate suitability.

Here are also some key tips for IT managers to ensure that they speak the same language as the board.

  • Clarify business benefits, not technological ones. Emphasise what impact the technology will have to the company.
  • Be well prepared with clear PowerPoint presentations. Identify business indicators that will be meaningful to the board.
  • Make the most of internal resources especially in areas where the IT managers skills may not be as strong, such as identifying someone who could help with the financial aspects and then fine tune the IT project.

There are many opportunities for organisations to make the most out of their IT staff as long as they take the time to equip them with the appropriate skills such as project management, systems development, consultancy and interpersonal skills. In the long run, these skills would not only benefit the IT managers, but also the organisations as they would then be able to understand what it is that they are trying to achieve.


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