A computer systems manager plays a critical role in helping an organization determine its information technology (IT) goals and then designing, planning, coordinating and implementing the technology to meet those goals. Other titles for these professionals include computer systems and information managers, information technology (IT) managers or IT project managers. Whatever their title, they are responsible for the development, maintenance and security of the company's computer networks, software and hardware, internet and intranet. As managers, they supervise IT staff and usually report to top management.
Day in the Life of a Computer Systems Manager
Computer systems managers jobs vary depending on the organization they work for. The size and structure of the company determines a computer systems manager's specific responsibilities. In a small company, one individual might manage all of the organization's computer system needs, but on a small scale. A large company, on the other hand, is likely to have several computer systems managers, each devoted to managing specific systems and groups of IT personnel.
With those variables in mind, here are some of the tasks a computer systems manager might perform on a typical day:
- Analyze and determine the company's computer needs based on the organization's goals.
- Identify ways to upgrade the organization's computer systems with new or reconfigured technology.
- Calculate the costs and benefits of any new purchases or systems upgrades. Propose possible purchases and upgrades to top executives for consideration.
- Plan and supervise the purchase, installation, maintenance and upgrade of software and hardware, as well as the development of computer programming, networks and systems design.
- Evaluate and approve project plans, systems charts and programs before implementation.
- Negotiate with vendors to ensure an appropriate level of service for the organization's technology.
- Develop budgets and business plans.
- Ensure the security of the company's network, data, and electronic documents.
- Determine short- and long-term staffing needs for their department.
- Plan, direct and supervise the work of other IT professionals, including computer systems analysts, software developers, information security analysts, and computer support specialists.
- Review the performance of personnel.
Important Characteristics for Computer Systems Managers
Successful computer systems managers tend to share some key characteristics. Of course, they should have an advanced and extensive working knowledge of programming and system analysis. They also need to be analytical, detail-oriented, and have good organizational skills. It's important that they possess strong leadership and communication skills, which can help them lead IT teams and present and discuss technical subject matter to non-technical management and staff. Computer systems managers must display sound business judgement and have good decision-making skills.
Typical Steps for Becoming a Computer Systems Manager
You can prepare for computer systems managers jobs by possessing a combination of technical computer knowledge and a foundation in business and management. They gain this through a combination of education and work experience. The typical steps to this career are as follows:
- Earn a bachelor's degree in computer science or management information science.These degree programs include courses in computer programming, software development, and mathematics. Management information systems (MIS) programs typically include both business and computer-related courses.
- While some small companies may promote employees who don't have degrees but have gained programming knowledge on the job, having a bachelor's degree in hand can be a way to demonstrate your depth of knowledge and it may improve your candidacy for a promotion.
- Association of Information Technology Professionals
- International Association for Computer Information Systems
- International Association of Computer Science and Information Technology
- Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/computer-and-information-systems-managers.htm
- Summary Report for Computer and Information Systems Managers, O*NET OnLine, https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/11-3021.00