What does an IT manager do each day?
An IT manager's job is rarely boring. The work is dynamic. Some days are spent helping your team solve operational challenges while others focus on long-term planning. It is your job to bring teams together so all functional IT groups (software development, operations, and security) understand how their work impacts the organization's broader goals and direction.
Most IT managers start as individual contributors — writing code, maintaining systems, providing tech support — before progressing to a role in management. Becoming a manager means taking on new responsibilities. Now you are charged with solving technical problems across the organization and accelerating your team's performance.
A day in the life of an IT manager involves work in each of these areas:
Your work requires technical expertise and deep situational awareness — so you can uncover the root causes behind problems and collaborate on solutions.
Successful IT managers put strategy first. You need to understand the "why" so you can be sure the information systems, resources, and infrastructure you are building are sound. Leading with strategy means you will be able to make better decisions about what you should and should not invest in.
Your IT roadmap will demonstrate how the team will continue to manage day-to-day operations while also introducing innovation. Increasingly, IT managers are expected to meet customer needs just as well as external-facing teams like sales and support do.
The scope of strategic work may include:
Setting the vision for the IT department and tracking team progress and KPIs
Working with organization leaders to identify business opportunities and threats
Synthesizing and reporting on IT infrastructure, development projects, security, and IT budgets
Evaluating new tools and technologies to lead transformation initiatives
Maybe you are at an organization where the strategy has not been clearly defined. In these situations, you have an opportunity to disrupt business-as-usual thinking and align the department's work with the needs of customers.
Communicating project plans, milestones, and progress to-date is a big part of an IT manager's role. It is your job to bring visibility to what the IT department is working on and provide support when new technology is rolled out. You likely spend a good portion of your week in cross-functional meetings.
You also need to solicit feedback and ideas from other departments. Get comfortable asking internal and external customers what they need — then distilling those requests into future enhancements, tools, and platforms.
Your day-to-day work related to communication and customer feedback may include:
Meeting with stakeholders to design cross-functional workflows and processes
Addressing customer issues that have been escalated from the support team
Identifying customer problems and working with the product team to design solutions
Building an idea management process for continuous improvement and feedback loops
Presenting IT progress to the broader team or entire organization
When it comes to the time you spend meeting and communicating plans, the key is communicating the right information to the right people. For example, executives care about high-level themes — IT investment areas and timelines across technology areas. Engineers and operators want to zero in on planned work — features and components to build, status, and release dates.
Some IT managers oversee one functional area. Others are responsible for multiple groups, such as network and system administration, database administration, software development, security, and even project management. Your success relies on how well your group performs, so set aside time to think strategically about hiring, mentoring, and supporting teammates.
Leadership tasks can include:
Developing ongoing technical trainings for the IT team
Providing project feedback and helping the team work through challenges
Holding 1:1 meetings with your direct reports
Conducting interviews with new candidates and leading new hire onboarding
An IT manager guides the IT team. While you may no longer code or be as close to the technical bits, now you mentor your teammates and discover what is most important to internal and external customers. The work you do focuses the team and keeps the organization moving forward.