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IT management: Functions and best practices

Modern enterprises require a technology infrastructure that aligns seamlessly with their business functions. Maintaining a working infrastructure void of vulnerabilities depends upon effectively managing these systems. Therefore, information technology (IT) management is the foundation of any successful enterprise. IT management administers and monitors a company's technology systems, including networks, hardware, and software.

Taking IT management a step further is IT Service Management (ITSM). ITSM is how IT teams manage the end-to-end delivery of IT services – including selecting and managing ITSM software features and hardware. It includes an established set of processes to manage the design, plan, and delivery of the services across the business.

This article highlights IT management's role and importance across teams. It explains the responsibilities of an IT manager and best practices that IT teams should implement when developing and maintaining a successful IT infrastructure. It also reviews what companies need to deliver high-quality services at a low cost.

What is IT management?

A company's information technology system comprises hardware, software, and network integrations. This supports business operations across different roles and functions.

IT management oversees the system, and IT service management (ITSM) encompasses how a company provides IT services. IT includes auditing, managing, and maintaining IT components. It also involves devising solutions to help information systems operate effectively and efficiently.

IT is often the keystone of designing internal infrastructure and communications across a company. IT teams have seen an influx of responsibilities as a result. Their tasks include ensuring technology works smoothly and securely while looking for opportunities to improve and innovate.

Why is IT management important?

As technology becomes ubiquitous, IT teams are transforming to meet the changing demands of companies, their employees, and the market. IT professionals today must be highly skilled and strategically focused to drive business decisions rather than simply reacting to requests. They have a seat at the leadership table and work toward improving business processes and cross-functional communication essential for business success.

You could previously classify the role of IT as a company’s help desk, mainly responsible for resetting passwords and providing network and folder access. But today’s IT teams are evolving in tandem with the technologies they implement. IT professionals now face compounding challenges from an incredibly fast-paced, dynamic industry riddled with cybercrimes and artificial intelligence (AI). Their evolved role focuses on uniting a company through a well-planned and sophisticated IT strategy containing a strategically designed software and hardware infrastructure. The role of today’s IT team transformed from supporting the business to differentiating the business.

Responsibilities of an IT manager

As IT has transformed, IT managers have experienced a shift in their core functions and capabilities.

These responsibilities include:

  • IT strategic planning: IT managers select the most effective IT management software, hardware, and systems that meet the company's needs. This includes ensuring a company's internal collaboration systems remain online and scalable. Some teams use a process known as the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (or ITIL service strategy), which is an approach to ITSM that focuses on delivering services with higher quality at a lower cost.  It also includes business continuity planning to avoid friction and complications.
  • Network management: This requires establishing and maintaining a network capable of scaling and storing protected data and files. This may require monitoring usage, determining traffic trends, and creating flexibility.
  • Risk assessment and mitigation: IT is responsible for assessing potential risks, deploying safeguards, and taking other precautions to avoid exposure and reduce risk, especially regarding costly cyberattacks.
  • Budget management: Financial responsibilities for IT managers can include assigning expenses to operating or capital budgets, reallocating funds for innovation or improvements, and budgeting resources for data breaches or other unexpected circumstances.

Role of IT management

Effective IT management solutions keep communication, data, and transactions flowing in a company. From customer relationship challenges to database and sales platform maintenance, IT managers contribute to a company's success in the following ways:

Improved productivity: Enhanced productivity and output stem directly from platforms, processes, and people. Reducing friction across a company with service management software like Jira Service Management results in quicker and more efficient interactions. It also creates a more productive workforce.

Innovation and adaptability: IT evaluates emerging technologies and deploys innovative solutions that fit the company's business objectives and infrastructure.

Ensuring data compliance: With increasing concerns over data privacy and security, robust and secure data collection, storage, and activation are key to a company’s success. IT is frequently responsible for the storage and transmission of data, which includes setting up new technology and ensuring compliance.

Decision-making: IT can guide what internal systems can and can't support. They can also provide validated data analysis or tech specs for scaling projects.

IT management best practices

For IT managers, best practices include:

  • Seeking education and learning new skills: Keep up with industry changes by reading, attending webinars, taking courses or training focused on new technologies, or earning certifications.
  • Remaining curious: Look for new ways to solve old problems. Explore tech-related innovations to help bring new ideas, processes, and methods to the company. Review case studies and build a use case to present to leadership to support recommendations.
  • Asking questions: You can’t expect IT professionals to know everything about a company's operations but they should be able to accurately assess a challenge and formulate a solution. Asking questions fosters collaboration and ensures end-to-end understanding of a practice or process to effectively find or create a solution.

Challenges in IT management

IT managers must learn how to work with new and emerging tools, such as AI. They must also provide necessary restrictions and employee education to preserve the safety and security of the network.

Using tools for cross-functional management can challenge IT managers to find a resolution using either existing hardware and software or building their own solution. Tools such as Jira Service Management simplify IT service management and bring everything onto one platform to optimize workflows and increase productivity.

Other challenges IT managers face include cyberattacks, rapidly evolving technology, and employee exploration with new tools such as ChatGPT and other AI-powered tools. Cyberattacks can be very costly for a company, both from a financial perspective and for the company's reputation. IT managers can mitigate these risks by ensuring network security and using additional measures such as two-factor authentication and other personal identity solutions.

Companies can support IT managers with certification opportunities and continuing education courses for upskilling. In addition, they can establish a Team Playbook to foster positive team interactions and provide a safe space for aligning goals and strategies.

Improve IT management with Jira Service Management

With IT becoming an even greater need across enterprises, many tools can support effective IT management. The key is finding the right ITSM solutions that fit your unique business needs.

ITSM software, such as Jira Service Management, offers the flexibility to set up and configure projects in a way that corresponds with and supports workflows. The Jira platform also enables collaboration across teams to streamline workflows. It tracks progress and connects data from other tools to increase response time for incidents, requests, and changes. In addition, no-code forms, automation, and AI eliminate manual tasks and processes to help companies move and scale more efficiently. The data and contextual information provided within the platform can lead to quicker, more effective decision-making while reducing risk.

Learn more about Jira Service Management

IT management: Frequently asked questions

What is an example of successful IT management?

Team-managed projects are a great example of a feature that enables a company to manage its IT practices in a way that best fits its needs. For example, when a team implements Jira Service Management, the entire team can see the project's process, workflow, and status creating visibility and accountability. By deploying the platform’s automation and AI capabilities, some processes can bypass manual interventions and reduce the timeline for completion. In general, this type of deployment helps IT deliver exceptional experiences across the company.

ITSM project management platforms also assist with defining the strategic value of the project and clearly outlining the scope. Throughout the project, IT service management tools ensure that projects have clear and aligned objectives, follow a predetermined timeline, and allocate and manage resources accordingly.

What are some popular methodologies used in IT management?

Not every IT methodology is suitable for every business. Some popular choices include:

  • Agile: This approach breaks a project into phases and emphasizes continuous collaboration and improvement. Teams follow a cycle of planning, executing, and evaluating.
  • COBIT: This framework fills the gaps between business risks, management needs, and technical problems.
  • ITIL: Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is a framework that provides IT teams flexibility and stability while standardizing the planning, selection, delivery, maintenance, and end-to-end life cycle of enterprise IT services.

What skills does an IT manager need to have?

IT managers must be knowledgeable about the industry, curious, willing to learn, and open to exploring new technologies and solutions. The industry's dynamic nature encourages flexibility and an open mind in the face of new technologies and new challenges. IT managers who are eager to learn, improve, and work collaboratively to improve a company from the inside out are those who will succeed.