Managing Technology

“I am putting myself to the fullest possible use, which is all I think that any conscious entity can ever hope to do.” – From the HAL 9000 computer, 2001: A Space Odyssey

When it comes to technology solutions for your business it is easy to get carried away with the latest-and-greatest gadgets and solutions. Everyone wants to have the latest shiny thing. In larger organizations, managing technology can become burdensome due to competing and duplicative technology requests. Left unfettered, the company technology platform can resemble a “spaghetti bowl” over time. Often is the case, new technology requests are submitted without any business case to support their investment.

I am a big proponent of having non-technology business leaders play an active role in the determination of the technology solutions utilized at an organization. While it is critical to include an IT perspective from a technical interface standpoint, having non-IT personnel drive technology solutions often lead to decisions based on thebusiness needs of the organization. As such, any technology request would require a business plan to support the investment.

Form A Technology Committee: This is the start of your technology approval process. Create a technology committee that represents various personnel from cross-functional departments. Consider selecting an operations, marketing, accounting, technology and finance member to this team. This committee is charged with creating the process for submitting technology solution requests for the organization as well as providing the prioritization and ultimately, approval of the requests.

Develop A Submittal Process: Inherent in a well-thought through technology strategy for an organization is developing a process for the submission of ideas. Following the “garbage-in, garbage-out” mindset, developing a detailed process for submission will help weed out the “nice to haves” and focus the committee on real, tangible solutions. This process should not only include the technology solution identified, but as importantly, the business case for its justification. For approved projects in the queue, a monthly communication should be sent to the organization recapping the activity of the committee.

Focus Your Projects: A technology committee creates focus throughout the organization. While it would be great to have every new iteration of technology that gets released, that is impractical and costly. The committee can help with providing a high-level perspective on the entire enterprise since it is considering all requests. All to often, departmental requests have a tendency to be created in a silo, with only the impact on that department considered.

Need To Have Vs. Nice To Have: This is a biggie. It is easy to feel that an iPhone 3 becomes obsolete as soon as the iPhone 4 is released, but when the technology is run by the committee, the “nice to haves” usually fail due to a lack of business case. The committee allows the organization to run with an unbiased interference with respect to technology. The committee is charged with improving ROI on technology solutions and since it is comprised cross-departmentally, there should be no “pet” projects.

One Project, Big Picture: I have headed a technology committee in the past and the greatest “aha” moment for me was the amount of similar technology solutions that were being presented from different departments. Had all of these requests been accepted, the organization would have overspent IT dollars as well as created duplicative solutions to the same issues. The committee allows for its members to “rise above” the fray of the organization and view the technology requests in the big picture. The committee’s goal was to ensure that any approved request was accretive to the overall company.

Create A Business Case: This is the best way to clear out the clutter. Ask employees what they need from a technology solution and the committee will be inundated with ideas. Ask them to submit in a business case (cost justification for the investment) along with their solution and ideas are significantly reduced. The business case for a technology solution not only helps in identifying whether the investment is worth it, but also forces the author to think about how this solution interfaces within the existing platform.

Post Analysis: Lastly, carefully measuring the business case proforma against the actual cost/return of the projects not only holds the submitter responsible, but also the committee. The goal with the post analysis isn’t to “call people out”, but rather provide an unbiased financial review of the project. Without this type of post analysis measurement to hold this team accountable, the committee eventually will serve no purpose.

Becoming a Certified Technology Specialist Upon Passing The 70-642 Exam

The 70-642 exam questions are challenging. Therefore, you need to utilize updated practice examinations. These provide you with an important measure of how well you will perform in the actual examinations. The 70-642 examination is an important technical examination from Microsoft. The examination provides Microsoft MCTS certification. The candidates get an opportunity to learn new skills while upgrading their curriculum vitae. The training offers skills in the most recent technology about the Microsoft Windows Server 2008 Network-Infrastructure.

Passing the examination

Passing this examination gives you an opportunity to take up other examinations such as the 70-643 exams. Therefore, you can consider being the first technology specialist in your organization by sitting and passing the 70-642 examination. The course covers the following areas:

  • Configuring addressing & services
  • Configuring network access
  • Configuring names resolution
  • Monitoring & managing the network infrastructure
  • Configuring file & print services

The candidate needs to have the skills for implementing, configuring, deploying and providing business solutions of the Windows Server 2008 Network-Infrastructure.

Enrolling with a leading training institution

In case you are looking for an opportunity to study for the 70-642 examination you can consider leading training institutions downloadable sample examination. You can download the examinations, which offer a trial version Microsoft practice questions. This allows you to see the quality of the questions, the friendly interface, the value and the appearance of the examination before you attempt to sit for the examination.

In case you seek to pass the 70-642 examination, or you are having problems passing the exams the right training institute guarantee that you will pass this Microsoft exam with confidence. The right training institute offers advanced Microsoft training tools and study materials including practice test, free demo and sample questions that go a long way in allowing the candidate to pass the exam. The practice question and answers are updated regularly in line with the most recent 70-642 examination objectives. This gives you a 100% success in the examination.

Becoming a certified technology specialist

The 70-642 certification allows you to become a Microsoft-certified technology specialist or a Microsoft-certified IT professional. This gives you an opportunity to enhance your career growth. The right training institution value the quality of their training. Their examination questions offer good and updated practice examinations, which offer an ideal measure for the actual examinations.

It does not cost much to purchase the Microsoft 70-642 exam sheets while at the same time allowing you to pass the examination. With the right preparation, you will be in a position to pass the examination with your first attempt. The right training institution supplies materials, which have been prepared by active IT experts, who have achieved high achievements within the IT industry.

Small Business Technology

Technology Levels the Playing Field

One advantage small business has gained over the years is the ready availability of sophisticated technology that was once the exclusive asset of the largest corporations. But with this benefit comes the additional responsibility of proficient management of that technology.

Customers Demand Better Service

Today’s customer has come to expect the greater convenience and efficiency the Internet Age, with online connectivity to company accounts, or at least computerized records, information databases, and customer management systems.

A Technology Breakdown Can Be a Public Relations Nightmare

Managing your technology may not be at the top of your list of important business activities, but perhaps it should be, because how your computers, database, network, phones, etc. are running can make the difference between being seen by your customers as competent and caring about their needs, or inefficient and unconcerned.

Asset Management Can Be a Daunting Task

Your technology must be chosen and sized to the required tasks and your staff must be proficient in its operation, but there is much more to keep track of. Your technology must be periodically upgraded. It is vital that software be updated for security and fixes. Hardware and software depreciate and must be either upgraded or replaced. When facing budget constraints, decisions must be made whether to continue using current equipment and software, or to replace it. For example, perhaps a three-year depreciation cycle could be extended to five years, but circumstances might dictate replacement, such as the inability of older equipment to support the software needed to remain competitive.

Threats Cannot Be Ignored

Damage from computer viruses, unreliable power sources, improper usage of software, etc. is a problem small business managers didn’t have to deal with in the past. Proper rules need to be set up, taught to your employees, and enforced. Commercial grade surge protectors, UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supplies), or even backup electrical generation may be necessary for the protection of your equipment, and proper technology training of your employees is always important.

Technology Glitches Must Be Handled Properly

No matter how good your hardware, software, and employee training, technology breakdowns do occur. Properly handling them is a matter of communication. For example, if a customer experiences difficulty accessing their account, they may keep trying over and over. This uses valuable bandwidth and CPU time. Multiply this by many customers trying to access your system, and your network, as well as your technicians, could be tied up with customer requests instead of working to solve the problem. The solution is to tell your customers you are aware of the problem, apologize for the inconvenience, and let them know you are working on it.

Outsourcing As a Solution

Many businesses solve their technology management problems by contracting with an outside technology management service. It is important that you chose one which is competent, flexible in its prices and levels of service, and has a reputation for effective communication with its clients.

Managing your business technology is as important for your business as sales, employment, and other aspects of your business. Properly managed, technology can give you an edge over your competitors and bring you up to the level of the large corporations.

Contracting with the right managed support IT service company is a valuable part of a successful business strategy. InHouse Techies offer several levels of managed IT support services, including custom tailored monthly plans.

Leadership Skills Are Necessary for Technology Managers

Technology oriented careers have been making a comeback. Accordingly, talented technology managers are necessary in every area of the field – from Web design and development, to database-driven e-commerce, to software engineering, to technical service and support. Technology positions, from programmer to CIO, are also critically important in organizations from all industries, including manufacturing, healthcare, education, government and service firms. Technology professionals often seek career advancement but need the leadership skills necessary to advance their careers. In response to these industry demands, adult-learning and distance learning schools now offer technology degrees at the bachelor’s and master’s degree levels, often in accelerated formats.

However, other necessary characteristics of successful technology managers cannot be found on a silicon microchip or in a line of CSS markup code. Some of these characteristics include a talent for leadership; the ability to communicate ideas and directions, and the ability to motivate and mentor staff. These skills are not taught in all technology curricula of the 21st century. However, some information technology and computer science academic curriculum designers are beginning to recognize the importance of teaching soft skills in the classroom. Accordingly, some programs of study now emphasize specialized leadership training for would-be technology managers.

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that computer and information systems professionals typically require advanced-level training (namely, a master’s degree) in order to be considered for leadership positions in technology. The BLS also points to the need for technology job applicants to have diverse experience in technology systems and applications. This experience will allow them to lead staff who work in different departments and who have different types of technology skills. An additional benefit to pursuing training for technology management careers is the bright future outlook of this field. These careers are expected to grow 16 percent through the year 2016.

Technology leadership training programs at the master’s degree level will typically have two or three core academic components. The first core component, obviously, is technology. Students who pursue this type of master’s degree typically begin the program with knowledge of at least one higher-level programming language; and are comfortable with database management or development, as well as computer networking systems administration. The master’s in leadership and information technology course of study will build on students’ foundations in information science and systems, enabling students to approach these disciplines from a leadership and management perspective.

Students will learn to lead employees as well as communicate with all levels of the organization and customers.

In CIO Magazine’s 2007 State of the CIO survey of more than 500 IT professionals, the three skills “most pivotal for success in your role” were: the ability to communicate effectively, strategic thinking and planning, and ability to lead/motivate staff. In other words, leadership skills. The primary characteristics that all technology managers must have are leadership skills. These attributes enable technology leaders to motivate staff; to direct projects or business activities in a way that maximizes profits, and to ensure that staff on hand are competent and contribute to strong worker retention. According to career advice site Monster.com, the best managers and leaders in technology are those men and women who are directly involved in project management and task delegation, rather than those who give orders from afar.

In the tech industry, there exists a decades-old stereotype about the social inclinations of technology workers. Unfairly or not, they have been historically pegged as lacking in leadership skills and strong communication abilities. Industry efforts to disassemble this stereotype is one primary reason why students interested in technology management are able to enroll in master’s-level programs of study that combine technology skills with interpersonal and leadership skills.

The other reason more and more master’s-level technology programs of study focus on business and leadership skills is because technology manager careers have become more specialized and decisions-driven. Managers in tech fields must be able to assess the technology systems in place at their companies, and make system implementation and upgrade decisions that will be positive for their employees and clients. Technology must support and align with organizational goals. Making the right technology decisions requires developed leadership skills, strong soft skills, and polished business acumen.

As technology continues to change and develop rapidly, technology leadership master’s degree programs will continue to develop targeted curricula, integrating technology with the business world to produce strong leaders.