An information systems manager is responsible for the computer systems within a company. They:
- oversee installation;
- ensure back-up systems operate effectively;
- purchase hardware and software;
- provide the ICT technology infrastructures for an organisation;
- contribute to organisational policy regarding quality standards and strategic planning.
Information systems managers work in every size of organisation in the industry and the service sector, usually with a staff of technicians, programmers and database administrators reporting to them.
You'll need experience in the sector, in areas such as technical support or operations, before becoming a manager.
Although the title of information systems manager is becoming more common in the ICT sector, job titles may vary. For example, you might be a:
- service delivery manager;
- functional manager;
- systems manager.
Information systems managers are responsible for the implementation of technology within an organisation and direct the work of systems and business analysts, developers, support specialists and other computer-related workers.
The post holder will usually be an experienced worker with technical expertise coupled with an understanding of business and management principles.
Duties within the role are ultimately dependent on the employing organisation and the complexity of its information systems.
Standard responsibilities are likely to include:
- evaluating user needs and system functionality and ensuring that ICT facilities meet these needs;
- planning, developing and implementing the ICT budget, obtaining competitive prices from suppliers, to ensure cost effectiveness;
- scheduling upgrades and security backups of hardware and software systems;
- researching and installing new systems;
- guaranteeing the smooth running of all ICT systems, including anti-virus software, print services and email provision;
- ensuring that software licensing laws are adhered to;
- providing secure access to the network for remote users;
- securing data from internal and external attack;
- offering users appropriate support and advice;
- managing crisis situations, which may involve complex technical hardware or software problems;
- mentoring and training new ICT support staff;
- keeping up to date with the latest technologies.
Companies going through business process re-engineering may well look to the information systems manager to deal with change management.
Business process re-engineering entails re-designing the way work is done so that the organisation's goal is met and costs are reduced. This requires an understanding of the capabilities and constraints of technology and resource implications in terms of budgets, as well as the training and recruitment of specialist staff.
Typical salaries range from £40,000 to £55,000 as you usually require experience and knowledge to work in this role. Salaries are dependent upon location and type of organisation and may reach higher than this.
Income data from IT Jobs Watch. Figures are intended as a guide only.
The role typically includes regular unsocial working hours to undertake planned security maintenance and upgrade work. In addition, much of the work is project-based, which may require extended hours at critical times and there is the possibility of being called out at any time to resolve crises.
What to expect
- Self-employment or freelance work is possible in areas where the ICT sector employs contractors.
- Project management work is available on short-term contracts for those with extensive experience in the role.
- Since this is a management job requiring up-to-date technical skills in a rapidly changing field, it is unlikely that career breaks would be possible.
- There are more men than women working in the industry, however, opportunities for women to enter employment in the IT sector have never been greater. Various groups exist to support women in IT and technology, such as BCSWomen, TechFuture Careers and techUK, which has formed the Women in Tech Council for members to lead action to increase the representation of women in IT.
- Jobs are available in most areas of the country, but are less likely to arise in rural locations.
- Dress code is dependent on the organisation but usually relaxed as the role is rarely client facing.
- Threats such as outsourcing may be present as an employer may decide that the IT department is not a core business and rely more on using consultants.
- Travel within a working day, absence from home overnight and overseas travel are occasionally required, depending upon the organisation and its client base. There are increased opportunities to work overseas particularly within international companies located in several countries.
Although this area of work is open to all graduates who have relevant industry experience, a degree or HND in information technology may increase your chances.
Those studying in any area related to ICT may also be at an advantage and so the following subjects may help:
- business management with computer science;
- computer science;
- software engineering;
- information science.
The Information Technology Management for Business (ITMB) degree was established as a result of collaboration between e-skills UK and top employers after it was identified that there was a need for a qualification that addressed the skills gap and resulting shortages in the industry.
For information about where you might study an ITMB, visit Tech Partnership.
The work is also open to all diplomates, but an HND in the following subjects may improve your chances:
- business (information technology);
- computing (ICT systems support).
Entry without a degree or HND is possible for those with substantial relevant experience and ICT skills.
A postgraduate qualification is desirable and those without a relevant first degree might choose to take a postgraduate course in computer science. For further information, search postgraduate courses in computer science.
A new graduate without experience is unlikely to enter directly at management level. Experience in computer operations, technical support or systems programming, as well as in project management, is normally essential. In addition to technical skills, potential candidates will need to show evidence of the following:
- the ability to work with people at all levels in an organisation;
- the ability to contribute to and implement organisational strategy.
Unless the employing organisation is very small, this position also requires the ability to manage a team of individuals, each a specialist in their own area; knowledge of personnel issues is, therefore, useful.
A wide range of experience in hardware, operating systems, software and team leadership through appropriate paid or unpaid work experience will enhance your skills portfolio.
Global companies may be interested in work experience abroad, even if this is not directly related to ICT.
Consider applying for programming jobs and company training programmes as a first career step.
Take advantage of the networking opportunities offered through membership of a professional body such as the BCS (The Chartered Institute for IT).
Opportunities can be found at any organisation that makes use of ICT facilities, meaning the range of potential employers is vast.
Recruiters include organisations in the public sector, such as local and central government, universities and hospitals, as well as those in the private and not-for-profit sectors.
The role of information systems manager can provide you with the opportunity to use your ICT skills in a hands-on environment in a sector that is of interest to you. You can work for organisations as diverse as charities, the media or in higher education.
Opportunities also exist within the ICT sector itself. Even household names in the industry need to ensure that their own systems are functional and well-managed.
ICT companies range from industry giants such as IBM to micro companies employing fewer than five people.
Skills shortage areas are reported to be in:
- systems design;
- systems development;
- PC support.
Employers include ICT consultancy firms, software houses, ICT services providers and telecom companies; these are likely to place even greater reliance on, and have even higher expectations of, their ICT systems.
Opportunities also exist for self-employment and consultancy roles.
Look for job vacancies at:
- Contractor UK
- Inside Careers: Information Technology
- the IT job
- IT Jobs Online
- IT Jobs Post
- Women in Technology
- National and local press.
Specialist recruitment agencies commonly handle vacancies, particularly for more senior positions.
There are no widely recognised training courses for this management role. However, regular training in specific technical products is essential and offered by product suppliers and ICT training providers.
Like many career paths in ICT, progress will be aided by taking additional courses, especially in market-leading technologies such as with Oracle and Microsoft and the operating systems on which they run.
Most training is likely to be technical in nature to ensure that you are up to speed with developments.
'Soft' skills are also important and in-house courses may also cover:
- time management;
- project management;
- customer service skills.
To understand user needs, information systems managers must be able to work in multidisciplinary teams, so training may be given on team working and team leading.
Training in company systems and procedures is also common. The majority of training is on the job, supplemented by short, internal or external courses as appropriate.
Formal training is more likely in larger organisations than in small ones, where on-the-job training is the norm and the provision of books and e-learning courses for self-study is typical.
Larger companies may offer mentoring schemes and tailor training to facilitate individual development plans.
The BCS also provides information and guidance to assist members in developing their expertise and to recognise and plan their learning needs, and are an examination institute for service management qualifications such as ITIL.
For a range of courses, events and advice you may want to become a member of techUK.
Information systems managers work in a wide variety of organisations and career prospects vary accordingly.
Larger organisations may offer structured career paths in this field, with increasing management and technical responsibility. Opportunities may also exist, depending on the organisation and the nature of the role, in management and technical strategy at directorship level.
Information systems managers may also progress into roles in project management and IT group management.
The role of an information systems manager in a smaller organisation is likely to cover a wide range of responsibilities, some may choose to enhance their programming and development skills within the organisation. They will customise their role to satisfy their interests while meeting the needs of the organisation. They can stay with that organisation, or use the skills they have developed to move to a different role in another business.
Some information systems managers choose to capitalise on their specialist technical knowledge and business experience by moving into technical consultancy, contracting or project management.
Qualifications and continuing professional development (CPD) programmes are offered by the:
The BCS also provides up-to-date information on career progression and areas of development.