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from it developer to it manager

 
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is there any hard and fast rule on how to become a manager?

will an MBA degree help? Will short seminars on management do?

my focus is on it management position.
 
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A degree from a MBA school will help you get the job in my opinion. But to actually do work when you get hired is dependant on your skill. You dont really need a degree to do management work. Thats what i have seen so far. People seem to be doing well out of experience rather than degrees. A degree might teach you cost planning, pricing and other estimation techniques but things like man management, ethics, handling work stress cannot be taught in a class room.
 
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There are a couple of ways you can change career paths from IT (engineer) to IT (manager).

Before you start though, consider that management and engineering are two distinctly different job fields. An IT engineer who has no management responsibilities is solely responsible for mastering the technical, theoretical and application-specific portions of thier craft. A manager must be knowledgable in hard-skills such as accounting and law but must also master their soft-skills such as communication and intrapersonal communcation.

An engineer is expert at the tools and algorithms necessary to perform the technical portions of thier jobs. There is also the implicit understanding that a good IT engineer understands the theories and principles used to make the IT do its job. Be it from networking to computer programming to architecting, an IT engineer is responsible for all technical portions of thier job. The more an IT engineer can master their field and the tangental technologies the more respected they will become.

A manager of IT is understood to have a good-level understanding of technology, but must also master accounting, the laws of human resourcing, contracting, etc. and must also be good to varying degrees at soft skills including deriving business objectives from customers/executives and then explaining requirement to IT professionals.

On any given day, a high-level IT professional such as a technical lead, will be expected to take specific technical requirements and break them down into tasks that one IT professional will be able to understand and accomplish. They are also expected to understand their overall technical goal and apply technologies and algorithms to meet those goals. Lower level IT engineers are expected to have a good-to-firm grasp of a specific set of technologies and/or tools and be able to quickly perform the tasks the technical leads provide them.

On any given day the manager must review the costs of personel, identify the performance of a group of professionals, speak to IT professionals, and prepare reports for customers and executives which range from cost-accounting to your groups ability to meet various performance objectives. Additionally, the manager is responsible for meeting with the Sr. IT leads on a various number of topics including personell performance, task objectives, schedule, and how well the IT professionals are able to meet thier objectives. Also, managers are expected to review thier IT Leads expectations of IT professionals and periodically rate and review them. On a regular occasion, managers are also required to provide reviews on all of thier assigned personnel, explain thier reviews, and then assign raises and bonuses. Lastly, if an employee is unable to perform, refuses or is unable to improve thier perfomance, and knows of the problem, the manager is the person that fires them.

Now that you know the difference between a manager and IT lead, its time to think about how you transition.

First and foremost, make sure you are someone who will perform well in a management position. Here's a top-x list of things to keep in mind.
1) At home, do you account for all of your spending and balance your bank-account? Or, do you prefer to spend as you wish and then live inexpensively for a week or so until your next paycheck comes in? If you account and budget, you'll be good at management. If you don't, you should acquire the habit, because that's how you'll be driving your projects if you want to be successful.

2) When a fellow co-working comes up to you with a problem, do you listen to them or do you prefer that they go to someone else? You can be a manager without the ability to emphathise, but you must listen if you want to be a successful manager. Regardless of who you are talking to, knowledge is power and the ability to listen is one of the most important aspects of management. Knowledge is power, and you cannot gain that if you interrupt or try to finish the sentences of the people you're talking with. Lastly on this point, do you talk TO people or WITH them? Talking TO someone is a one-way communication process where you unload what you want and then go without getting feedback. Talking WITH someone is a 2-way process where you interact and LISTEN to what they have to say.

3) Can you understand the difference between business goals and technical objectives? As a manager, part of your job will be talking with customers and determining the overall business goals they have. In this case, your customer could be your executives, your paying customers, and the end-users of your product. Your job is not to define the specific technology or technical route, rather it is to document the actual goals. "I want 1,000,000 more visitors to my website with less than 1 minute downtime a year" is a business goal. "Using J2EE technology, load-balance a system across multiple geographically distant server-farms with automatic failovers" is a technical goal. Be able to understand the actual business goal.

4) Can you let go of Java as the end-all, be-all of software engineering? Recently I was asked to manage a website. My goals were specific, get it up and running quickly and have an administrative interfact which allows someone with absolutely no web knowledge to run it. I chose a PHP-based server called XOOPS. Why? Well, the customer may have been able to do better with Java, but thier human requirements clearly wouldn't allow it. Addionally, the server host was convinced Java would create problems. As such, to meet the timeline, I chose a non-Java Technology.

Ok, that's all for now. Let me know if this helps.
 
Mike Van
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To anwer your question now. If you have decided, reading my previous posting on the differences between management and IT that you want to pursue IT, this is what I did. You may find it useful.

The Project Management Institute is recognized worldwide as the leaders in the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK). IN fact, they wrote the ANSI standard in it and are considered the worldwide authority. When I decided to go management, I went to them and found a reputable "Registered Educational Provider" (REP).

My suggestion is that you begin slowly by reading and studying all of thier suggested curriculum. If you have been identified as someone in your organization with management potential, organize a study group of like-minded peers (people you work with who have similar goals) and start a study group. Of course, advertise this to your company or just to your boss. Plan study sessions on your lunch, your breaks or whenever you will have the least impact on your job. In organizations with very tight restrictions on time, consider doing your studies after-hours with your group.

Make your desire for management known, but do not do so in a manner that will threaten your current managers. Remember, you want to work for them not take thier job. If you feel they will work against you, then do your studies in private. Management is a very political group, so make sure you don't make any waves that will upset the people that you are trying to join, the managers.

If your company supports continuing education in the form of college, get whatever support you can and try to get that MBA. At this point, remember, education is a wonderful thing because the more you have in a particular area, the more you are considered an expert. Also, if you are attempting to gain a Project Management Professionalisation (PMI's PMP), make sure you document your credits earned and the number of hours you spend training. They will all help.

Remember, management is a highly technical task, so you must understand it and master it. If you jump into a management position without any training, you have a higher likelihood of failure. As such, get as much training as possible.

Finally, when you are ready, express your desire to move into management. Do so diplomatically, and present yourself as someone who can further the goals of the customer and the manager you are appealing to. REmember, if you can help him/her get better bonuses and promotions, you are their asset.

Please feel free to ask questions on this topic.
[ September 03, 2006: Message edited by: Mike Van ]
 
Jesus Angeles
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...a little bit off topic...

Mike, I checked PMI's site. For CAPM, is it right to say that, as far as I meet the prerequisites (enough experience hours in a project team - not as a manager), all I need now (assuming they validate my prerequisites) is just pass 1 exam (via prometric)?
 
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