What Computer and Information Systems Managers Do
IT directors sometimes present new ideas to a firm’s top executives.
Computer and information systems managers, often called information technology (IT) managers, or IT project managers, plan, coordinate, and direct computer-related activities in an organization. They help determine the information technology goals of an organization and are responsible for implementing computer systems to meet those goals.
Computer and information systems managers typically do the following:
- Analyze their organization’s computer needs and recommend possible upgrades to top executives
- Plan and direct installing and upgrading computer hardware and software
- Ensure the security of an organization’s network and electronic documents
- Assess the costs and benefits of a new project and justify spending on the project to top executives
- Learn about new technology and look for ways to upgrade their organization’s computer systems
- Determine short- and long-term personnel needs for their department
- Plan and direct the work of other IT professionals, including computer systems analysts, software developers, information security analysts, and computer support specialists
- Negotiate with vendors to get the highest level of service for their organization’s technology
Few managers carry out all of these duties. There are various types of computer and information systems managers, and the specific duties of each are determined by the size and structure of the firm. Smaller firms may not employ every type of manager.
The following are types of computer and information systems managers:
Chief information officers (CIOs) are responsible for the overall technology strategy of their organizations. They help determine the technology or information goals of an organization and then oversee planning to implement technology to meet those goals.
CIOs may focus on a specific area, such as electronic data processing or information systems, but they differ from chief technology officers (CTOs; see next) in that the CIO is more focused on long-term, or “big picture,” issues. At small organizations a CIO has more direct control over the IT department, while at larger organizations other mangers under the CIO may handle the day-to-day activities of the IT department.
CIOs who do not have technical expertise and who focus solely on the business aspects of creating an overall company vision are included in a separate profile on top executives.
Chief technology officers (CTOs) evaluate new technology and determine how it can help their organization. When both CIOs and CTOs are present, the CTO usually has more technical expertise.
The CTO is responsible for designing and recommending the appropriate technology solutions to support the policies and directives issued by the CIO. CTOs also work with different departments to implement the organization’s technology plans.
The CTO usually reports directly to the CIO and also may be responsible for overseeing the development of new technologies or other research-and-development activities. When a company does not have a CIO, the CTO determines the overall technology strategy for the firm and presents it to top executives.
IT directors, including management information systems (MIS) directors, are in charge of their organizations’ information technology (IT) departments, and they directly supervise other employees. IT directors help to determine the business requirements for IT systems, and they implement the policies that have been chosen by top executives. IT directors often have a direct role in hiring members of the IT department. It is their job to ensure the availability of data and network services by coordinating IT activities. IT directors also oversee the financial aspects of their department, such as budgeting.
IT security managers oversee their organizations’ network and data security. They work with top executives to plan security policies and promote a culture of information security throughout the organization. They develop programs to keep employees aware of security threats. These managers must keep up to date on IT security measures. They also supervise investigations if there is a security violation.