In this twenty-first century so much is expected from Information Technology
(IT) managers. IT managers need to watch out for warning signals in
managing the huge resources and investment entrusted into their hands.
Don’t sit on the fence; it is time to do something.
Here are 5 red flags IT managers need to watch out for to ensure
IT investment is secure and productive:
1. Poor Documentation and Procedure
Managing IT particularly in big organisations can be very cumbersome;
however, it can be made easier. Usually, there are two types of knowledge:
it is either you know it or you know where to find it. Lack of proper
documentation can lead to business process disruption because needed
tasks cannot be accomplished in the absence of the ‘guru-staff’.
Proper documentation and procedure can in a way be seen as ‘permanent
staff’. Every item in a staff job description should have a procedure/documentation
in place. The least task, hardware/system/software configuration should
have a documentation and procedure.
Often, the attitude towards a new project is usually result based,
characterised by the question -is it working? . The resultant excitement
eventually leads to a ‘don’t care’ attitude towards
the project’s proper and comprehensive documentation/procedure.
In disaster recovery, the backup data is not more valuable than the
backup media, except there is a procedure/documentation in place on
how to use the backup data to recover business processes/activities.
2. No Separation of duties
Cross-skill within IT functions should be encouraged, but such skills
should be used only with a high degree of separation of duties being
in place. Functional encroachment should be checked. Higher percentages
of system security abuses are usually insider related, hence functional,
logical and physical separation of duties should be in place. This also
goes to create checks and balances towards task completion and acceptability.
Separation of duties also ensures someone is accountable for any task
performed. However, the use of generic user-id to access or run any
production application minimizes this advantage and also exposes staff
In this regard, staff who avoid going on leave should be made to go
on leave. Leave should be mandatory not optional. Leave time can be
organised based on an agreed leave-rooster rather than have staff request
for leave arbitrary. Excessive willingness to help users resolve problem
should be checked. Additionally, the use of help-desk should be encouraged.
Delegation is the process managers use to transfer authority and responsibility
to positions below them in hierarchy. This at the same time should not
be used to create total dependency on some staff for key jobs. It is
possible that over time that you forget the job you have delegated –
this is negative delegation. For every task, at least two staff should
be able to do it. There is a natural tendency of always wanting to delegate
to the best staff, but you will be doing better if you use this opportunity
to create more champions by challenging other staff.
4. Lack of distinction of System Steering Committee and IT
IT managers should be able to draw clear-cut distinction between IT
management functions and IT steering committee policy-making functions.
IT managers should watch out when the steering committee starts getting
too involved in implementation. Failure of IT projects is easily attributed
to IT managers, and rarely the steering committee.
IT managers should ensure that there is unity of command - that is
each employee is held accountable to only one supervisor. In similar
manner, IT managers should be held accountable to only one person and
not the IT steering committee.
5. Resistance to Changes
Today Information Technology is the fastest growing industry worldwide;
it will be catastrophic for IT managers to operate at status quo level.
IT managers reduce the cost of doing business through the knowledge
and use of newer technologies. IT managers should not remain in the
terrain where they are champions; otherwise, they will be out of the
race for which they are seeking championship. Why would you want your
organisation to incur the cost of acquiring higher bandwidth? Why would
you spend resources installing application on every workstation?
The giant vacuum-tube engineers never believed that tiny semiconductor
transistor would have them thrown out of the market. IT managers who
are afraid to fail will find it very difficult to change and without
notice, they will become irrelevant in this era. Change is expensive,
but resistance to change is more expensive to the IT manager and the
A modern day IT manager should get involved in self-development through
continuous education. IT managers should not be passengers, but drivers
Dominic Ogbonna is Head of Information Technology at Continental Trust
Bank of Nigeria, with over 10 years of experience in banking systems,
programming and IT Management. He is a Certified Information Systems
Auditor (CISA), with solid experience in Oracle, Visual Basic and various
banking software. Drop him a line at: email@example.com
For more coverage and information related to this topic, head to the
IT Articles and Resource Center: