Build with beyond-IT blocks

The journey from an IT manager to a business leader is all about an all-round development of functionalities

he IT manager community in India is very vibrant today and its members include some of the brightest IT minds, globally.
IT managers have played a major role within and outside India and contributed to the success of the country on the global map. I am positive and confident that they can do much more in terms of their achievements.

However, IT managers cannot be satisfied with being technically competent only and not paying enough attention to development of skills like management, HR, business and finance. Development of these additional skills is equally important for progressing their careers. The role of a CIO is that of a business leader too, so to be considered a prospective for such a role, these skills are a prerequisite.

What kinds of skills are required? Let me draw from my organisation.
Our company is the largest corporation of India, where the IT department has the task of controlling IT operations and SAP (ERP) operations in a total of 798 locations all over India. We have successfully accomplished mega business projects. All this has been possible because of some of the important traits adopted by our IT team.
I will briefly touch upon some vital traits and skills that will help IT managers to get transformed into future CIOs and business leaders:

IT must align with the vision and mission of the business, so IT managers should not only have comprehensive business knowledge but also a proactive business focus.
Collaborative technologies will become highly important, requiring collaboration and integration with customers, vendors and channel partners

IT-enabled strategies for continuous growth and development of decision support systems for competitive edge will be the need of hour.

All IT projects require good human resources for successful accomplishment. Therefore, besides project management skills, HR skills are very important. I have seen many projects getting over-delayed or even failing, due to poor team spirit. Therefore, to succeed as project managers, IT managers must be effective team players too.

This can be well illustrated by an example. Our company was awarded a prestigious and highly complex overseas project of SAP implementation at three companies. The project was to go on for 18 months and fairly large teams were to be deployed going up to 60 at one stage. We selected project leaders with higher weightage for HR, management and administrative skills. As per our expectations, they were able to lead not only our teams but hundreds of employees in the client companies. The project was highly successful.

For IT managers to be successful, they must acquire business knowledge and HR skills. These skills will not only be helpful in project execution, but also pave the way for their progress towards becoming an IT or business leader.

The author is Executive Director (IS), Indian Oil Corporation Ltd.

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