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Computer and Information Systems Managers - What They Do


In the modern workplace, it is imperative that Information Technology (IT) works both effectively and reliably. Computer and information systems managers play a vital role in the implementation and administration of technology within their organizations. They plan, coordinate, and direct research on the computer-related activities of firms. In consultation with other managers, they help determine the goals of an organization and then implement technology to meet those goals. They oversee all technical aspect of an organization, such as software development, network security, and Internet operations.

Computer and information systems managers direct the work of other IT professionals, such as computer software engineers and computer programmers, computer systems analysts, and computer support specialists. They plan and coordinate activities such as installing and upgrading hardware and software, programming and systems design, the implementation of computer networks, and the development of Internet and intranet sites. They are increasingly involved with the upkeep, maintenance, and security of networks. They analyze the computer and information needs of their organizations from an operational and strategic perspective and determine immediate and long-range personnel and equipment requirements. They assign and review the work of their subordinates and stay abreast of the latest technology to ensure that the organization remains competitive.

Computer and information systems managers can have additional duties, depending on their role within an organization. Chief technology officers (CTOs),for example, evaluate the newest and most innovative technologies and determine how these can help their organizations. They develop technical standards, deploy technology, and supervise workers who deal with the daily information technology issues of the firm. When a useful new tool has been identified, the CTO determines one or more possible implementation strategies, including cost-benefit and return on investment analyses, and presents those strategies to top management, such as the chief information officer (CIO).

Management information systems (MIS) directors or information technology (IT) directors manage computing resources for their organizations. They often work under the chief information officer and plan and direct the work of subordinate information technology employees. These managers ensure the availability, continuity, and security of data and information technology services in their organizations. In this capacity, they oversee a variety of technical departments, develop and monitor performance standards, and implement new projects.

IT project managers develop requirements, budgets, and schedules for their firmís information technology projects. They coordinate such projects from development through implementation, working with their organizationís IT workers, as well as clients, vendors, and consultants. These managers are increasingly involved in projects that upgrade the information security of an organization.

Work Environment
Computer and information systems managers generally work in clean, comfortable offices. Long hours are common, and some may have to work evenings and weekends to meet deadlines or solve unexpected problems; in 2008, about 25 percent worked more than 50 hours per week. Some computer and information systems managers may experience considerable pressure in meeting technical goals with short deadlines or tight budgets. As networks continue to expand and more work is done remotely, computer and information systems managers have to communicate with and oversee offsite employees using laptops, e-mail, and the Internet.

Injuries in this occupation are uncommon, but like other workers who spend considerable time using computers, computer and information systems managers are susceptible to eyestrain, back discomfort, and hand and wrist problems such as carpal tunnel syndrome.

Education & Training Required
A bachelor's degree in a computer-related field usually is required for management positions, although employers often prefer a graduate degree, especially an MBA with technology as a core component. Common majors for undergraduate degrees are computer science, information science, or management information systems (MIS).

A bachelorís degree in a computer-related field generally takes 4 years to complete, and includes courses in computer science, computer programming, computer engineering, mathematics, and statistics. Most also include general education courses such as English and communications. MIS programs usually are part of the business school or college, and contain courses such as finance, marketing, accounting, and management, as well as systems design, networking, database management, and systems security.

MBA programs usually require 2 years of study beyond the undergraduate degree, and, like undergraduate business programs, include courses on finance, marketing, accounting, and management, as well as database management, electronic business, and systems management and design.

A few computer and information systems managers attain their positions with only an associate or trade school degree, but they must have sufficient experience and must have acquired additional skills on the job. To aid their professional advancement, many managers with an associate degree eventually earn a bachelor's or master's degree while working.

Other Skills Required (Other qualifications)
Computer and information systems managers need a broad range of skills. Employers look for individuals who can demonstrate an understanding of the specific software or technology used on the job. Generally, this knowledge is gained through years of experience working with that particular product. Another way to demonstrate this trait is with professional certification. Although not required for most computer and information system management positions, certification demonstrates an area of expertise, and can increase an applicantís chances of employment. These high-level certifications are often product-specific, and are generally administered by software or hardware companies rather than independent organizations.

Computer and information systems managers also need a thorough understanding of business practices. Because information technology is a central component of many organizations, these workers often must make important business decisions. Consequently, many firms seek managers with a background in business management, consulting, or sales. These workers also must possess good leadership and communication skills, as one of their main duties is to assign work and monitor employee performance. They also must be able to explain technical subjects to people without technical expertise, such as clients or managers of other departments.


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Academic Programs of Interest

Computer Systems Analysis
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Information Technology
Information Technology encompasses many aspects of computing and technology, and the term is more recognizable than ever before. The information technology umbrella can be quite large, covering many fields. IT professionals perform a variety of duties that range from installing applications to designing ...more
Management Information Systems
Management Information Systems (MIS), sometimes referred to as Information Management and Systems, is the discipline covering the application of people, technologies, and procedures - collectively called information systems - to solving business problems. Management Information Systems are distinct ...more