Professional designation for IT managers: why not?

<p>Well here goes – my first blog post.  After sitting on the sidelines of the blogging world, the next few weeks is about learning what this form of communicating can do and how to use it effectively.  Feedback welcomed - good, bad, and ugly.  So here goes:<br>

Professional designation (PD) for IT managers: why not? The wording suggests that the editors may have already made up their minds. I think the question could be better stated as: ‘why is a PD needed?’<br>

PDs can be good things. You want to know that your doctor, dentist or lawyer has the educational background, demonstrated that they understand what they need to do by passing an appropriate set of tests, apprenticed with more experienced professionals in her/his field, and is accountable to a professional body for his/her actions. If you don’t think that those credentials are in order, likely you’ll go to someone else.<br>

We all like the assurance that certifications give us. But, at best, they’re only one part of the decision process. You wouldn’t go to a real estate lawyer to draw up a will (same PD). Or select the taxi you’ll take home based on the driver’s educational qualifications. Dots and letters after the name indicate that the person spent the time, money and effort to get them. They don’t guarantee that the person is good with people, understands the nuisances of the industry and the business, or has experience, mental agility and passion for continuous learning specifically relevant to the business problems of the company today and tomorrow. And while some PDs are rigourly policed by professional bodies with legal standing to back them up, many others are not. The decision is judging the applicability of the PD to the task at hand.<br>

A PD for IT managers? Nope. IT is not an end unto itself. If it were, then there wouldn’t be the ongoing discussions on aligning IT to the business and ensuring that IT is an enabler. And no discussion of why is IT almost always treated as a cost to be controlled rather than as the activity leading the business?<br>

What skills and knowledge could certification assure an employer that this IT manager candidate would be successful to work in their industry and company that aren’t in the resume and references?<br>

That the IT manager knows the IT technology applicable to that company’s current and potential future needs? Or more to the point, that this person has the ability to think about and communicate strategies that would improve the company’s ability to move on an appropriate future path that none of us can even see today?<br>

That she/he knows how to manage people (IT and non-IT skills, unionized staff, contracted-out services…), budgets, projects, and their peers and bosses?<br>

And knows how to get along with the CFO and cut costs year-after-year while delivering all commitments on-time to the delight of all of IT’s clients (as if we don’t do that already)?<br>
Of course all of this must be done while ensuring compliance with a myriad of regulations, audit standards, and industry practices.<br>

Perhaps the interest in an IT specific PD is because as IT people, we tend to view the world in technology terms first, and then work to justify the technology to the business instead of the other way around. If you have a hammer in your hand, it’s very tempting to start hammering the screws in – after all, it’s expedient, but it’s not the right process and creates a high risk of future failure. A PD isn’t going to solve the problem of finding a “good IT person” to run the shop for the non-technical company hiring executive nor will it help the candidate prove that “I’m a better choice because I have the PD.”<br>

What do you think?</p>

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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