So, what do users expect of an IT Manager?
One answer to that question which I find fascinating is that users consider IT the same way they think of a desktop icon. One click, no thinking required, you get the product or service you want (thanks to Niel Nickolaisen’s essay).
OK. If I can’t change that perspective, how can I change to adapt? One way is to consider myself a product manager. If so, then successful product management best practices should work equally well for IT management:
- Understand market needs
- Develop product roadmaps and product lifecycle plans
- Conduct formal product launches
- Define and use product success criteria
To understand market needs, the best approach may be to work for a day in the exact same way as the user; if that means being a scheduler for a day, so be it. Product roadmaps and lifecycles mean we need a plan for every step in the evolution of an IT product within the enterprise from roll-out to replacement. Launches imply trials of new IT-related functions and procedures followed by enterprise-wide communication and campaigns. Product success criteria suggest we can use metrics to determine when we are on track and when we wandered too far.
There’s some meat on those bones, I think. Maybe not the best metaphor for a sometimes vegetarian who’s about to undergo a colonoscopy, but it merits further reflection, to be sure.