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What are some useful skill/attributes for being a computer and information systems manager?

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Mark’s Answer

To be a successful computer and information systems manager you need to be a successful computer and systems professional. Tech employees do not want a manager who cannot do their job. So, you need to first do that job.
There are many different skill sets now. You can't be an expert in all of them.
1. Identify 3-5 areas of tech expertise that you are going to excel in. Spent the next 3-5 years learning the trade. These can include the following. They are very different. Here is a sample list.
a. a Modern programming language (C#, Python, PHP)
b. a front end and framework (java script, react)
c. a framework (Laravel, .net)
d. AWS or Azure (cloud platforms).
e. dev ops (CI/CD), Kubernetes.
f. Machine learning
g. AI, natural language.
2. Learn everything you can about leadership. Read, go to seminars, do webinars, ..
a. agile
b. managing teams

Mark recommends the following next steps:

You should determine what YOU want to do
Review your options in this field as there are many. Pick a few areas and study those
Do some sample projects to see what interests you
After a year or two, see if you like the tech path or you really want to manage
Then determine if you want to manage people and learn leadership or manage projects and learn tools and methodologies
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Raghunandan’s Answer

Ability to deal with unknown problems
Ability to motivate and enable high performance teams
Communicate fairly and passionately to ensure there is sincerity in your thoughts and actions
Lots of energy and motivation to stay positive
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Ralf’s Answer

- experience as a software developer, so you understand issue and tradeoffs
- people and communication skills, ability to motivate people and solve issues
- project management, be organized, understand dependencies, drive milestone to completion
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Walt’s Answer

Hi Andrei,

I have been a CIS Manager in the past and here are a few skills that I think helped me to do well in that job:

Organization - A CIS Manager has a LOT going on. On any given day, they might be dealing with many issues or challenges within the CIS department. It's really important to schedule time for meetings, time for thinking, and time for solving problems. It is also important to keep track of things they have promised to people. They should also know the status of every project going on in the CIS department on any given day.

Positive Attitude - With so much going on, not everything is always going to go smoothly. Sometimes this causes people to get discouraged. It is important that a manager has a positive attitude and that they coach the people who work with them through hard situations.

Negotiation - Everything in a business is a negotiation. What that means is to get anything done, the CIS department has to work with a lot of other departments in the business, like finance, procurement, sales, and operations. Each of those departments has their own goals and limitations, and problems that they need to address. So asking them to help with a CIS project is going to interrupt them and maybe make them uncomfortable. So being able to negotiate with other people and create a "win-win" for everyone involved is a key skill.

Math - Being a manager means looking at a lot of numbers and measurements, such as how much work is the department doing each week, or how much money has the department spent this month, and many other things. So being good at math, and especially at using spreadsheets to calculate things is a very important skill.

Passion for Learning - Software and computer systems only exist in a business to serve the needs of the business. As a manager, you will be talking to lots of business people to understand what they need from the CIS folks. Understanding what they do for a living is important so that the manager can talk in depth about solutions to their problems. So for instance, if they are talking to a warehouse manager, that manager will be more impressed if the CIS manager knows something about how warehouses move stuff in and out, and how the trucks at the warehouse know where to deliver their stuff. This is just one example of the hundreds of functions that a business might have. So if the CIS department is going to build software for the business, the manager will need to learn about the whole business. This could take several years, so the CIS manager needs to have a passion for learning about the business. Also, computer software and hardware changes every year, so the CIS manager needs to keep up with technology and how it might help the business make more money, or save money.

Those are just a few ideas. Hope this helps you.
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Michael’s Answer

In order to be a technology manager I would say one of the best skills you can learn and develop is project management. I would study for and receive the PMP project management professional certification. Having project management skills will help you prioritize and organize large projects. I would also study cloud computing as the IT industry is quickly moving in the direction of cloud computing. Many software vendors are only offering their products as cloud offerings. I would start with studying for the Amazon Web Services Certified Cloud Practitioner. This certification is a great first step in preparing for more challenging cloud computing certifications. Amazon provides this course for free on their training and certification web site. I would also study agile as the IT industry has moved to agile processes in order to provide faster solutions for customers.

Hope this serves as a good first start!!
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Aaron’s Answer

While not exactly a CIS manager, my career path to current position as Software Engineering/Application manager is very similar.
I started as a front end developer (3yr), then backend developer (3yr), and then manager (5yr).

From the development side (front and back end), the things that helped me the most was understanding design patterns, design principles, environments and frameworks. There are many technologies that can be used for these purposes (php, Java, C#, JavaScript, python, react, nodejs, angular, IIS, LAMP, MEAN, SPA, PWC, MVC, docker, ITIL, Scrum, lambda, AWS, GCP, kuberneties, etc.).

Design patterns and principles can apply to different languages (php, Java, C#, JavaScript, python). I would recommend becoming experienced with at least one OOP language (Java is most common) and one scripting language (JavaScript is most common). Some languages can be both (php), which can help better understand frameworks like react.

The environment is important for managers because the manager is often the facilitator between different departments for requirements, incidents, and training. As the "translator" between departments, understanding business needs, technical needs, and having the soft skills to communicate effectively to the target audience in a manner that they can understand is key. Thus the need for understanding various technologies that are used in CIS.

The soft skills revolve around project management, communication and leadership skills. Scrum, Agile and PMP certifications can help with project management skills. Communication and leadership skills typically come with various business courses or certifications. Two books I highly recommend in this area were given to me by one of my first managers are: How to win friends and influence people, and Seven habits of highly effective people. Both books have excellent tactics to build your soft skills.
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