IT MANAGERS AND IT TOOLS MANAGEMENT manual

 Save my face, am a boss, alright!!!!!

IT MANAGERS AND IT TOOLS MANAGEMENT

OBJECTIVES OF THIS PAPER

This paper aims at providing an understanding to IT managers and other prospective IT managers to manage both human resources and material resources.

It is a simple guide to managers both in big and small institutions in matters related to managing hardware and software equipments of the institution and managing the IT personnel in order to bring out the desired outcome without spending much.

It provides an understanding of the foundational elements that needs to be in place to foster high performance among IT equipment users and IT equipments themselves.

INTRODUCTION

Information Technology and Information technology tools play a vital role. Most of today’s work is automated; semi automated or seldom done by individuals but the most of it requires a computer, printer; telephone and a scanner among others even if it is a small office or a business entity.

It is thus of paramount importance that as managers we should be concerned with how these tools are used and where possible know how to manage them in order to bring out the best from what is done in the organisation. Most of the tools used in organisation if not well managed and catered for are likely to be misused and this causes tremendous losses to the organisation. Some of the tools are as well dangerous to use if one is not trained on how to use them effectively as a result all human resource should be trained and guided with clear cut procedures on how to handle, use and conduct themselves while using the organisations IT equipments. This promotes longevity of the equipments and safety for workers hence bringing out the intended result which promotes efficiency. Managers need to have a clear understanding of the difference between human resource management and material resource management in order to prevent conflicting royalties in managing the two distinct but at the same time joint sets of an institution in terms of bringing about required outcomes.

PRINCIPLES OF MANAGEMENT

There are various guidelines that help manager to manage materials resources as well as human resource and these can be called principles of management. According to Henri Fayol (1841-1925) in his book General and Industrial Management (1916), there are fourteen ‘principles of management’. These principles serve as guidelines for decisions and actions of managers. They are derived through observation and analysis of events which managers have to face in practice. They include the following:

1. Division of Work -The specialization of the workforce according to the skills of a person creates specific personal and professional development within the labour force and therefore increasing productivity. This principle is applicable to both technical as well as managerial work.

2. Authority and Responsibility-Authority means the right of a superior to give order to his subordinates; responsibility means obligation for performance. This principle suggests that there must be parity between authority and responsibility.. They are co-existent and go together, and are two sides of the same coin.

3. Discipline-Discipline refers to obedience, proper conduct in relation to others, and respect of authority. It is essential for the smooth functioning of all organizations.

4. Unity of Command -This principle states that every subordinate should receive orders and be accountable to one and only one superior. If an employee receives orders from more than one superior, it is likely to create confusion and conflict. Unity of Command also makes it easier to fix responsibility for mistakes.

5. Unity of Direction -All those working in the same line of activity must understand and pursue the same objectives. All related activities should be put under one group, there should be one plan of action for them, and they should be under the control of one manager.

6. Subordination of Individual Interest-The management must put aside personal considerations and put company objectives first. Therefore the interests or goals of the organization must prevail over personal interests of employees.

7. Remuneration -Workers must be paid sufficiently as this is a chief motivation of employees and therefore greatly influences productivity.

8. The Degree of Centralization -The organization should strive to achieve a proper balance on how authority is shared between higher levels and lower levels.

9. Scalar Chain -The principle suggests that there should be a clear line of authority from top to bottom linking all managers at all levels. It is considered a chain of command. It involves a concept called a “gang plank” using which a subordinate may contact a superior or his superior in case of an emergency, defying the hierarchy of control. However the immediate superiors must be informed about the matter

10. Order -Social order ensures the fluid operation of a company through authoritative procedure. Material order ensures safety and efficiency in the workplace.

11. Equity -Employees must be treated kindly, and justice must be enacted to ensure a just workplace. Managers should be fair and impartial when dealing with employees.

12. Stability of Tenure of Personnel -The period of service should not be too short and employees should not be moved from positions frequently. An employee cannot render useful service if he is removed before he becomes accustomed to the work assigned to him.

13. Initiative -Using the initiative of employees can add strength and new ideas to an organization. Initiative on the part of employees is a source of strength for the organization because it provides new and better ideas

14. Esprit de Corps – This refers to the need of managers to ensure and develop morale in the workplace; individually and communally. Team spirit helps develop an atmosphere of mutual trust and understanding.

A recent British study accused 1 in 4 bosses of being bad, while a Norwegian study said 1 in 5.According to workplace researchers Sharon Jordan-Evans and Beverly Kaye, when people quit, they don’t leave a company, they leave a bad boss. Surveys show that up to 75% of employees who leave their jobs do so at least in part because of their manager. In the exit interview dutifully performed by HR, employees may say that they got a higher salary or a shorter commute out of the switch, but in anonymous surveys the truth comes out: My bad boss drove me away. The reason that having a bad manager is so bad for employees is that managers have power over them. Managers can change their work situation, give them good or bad tasks, and, ultimately, fire them. This power imbalance is why a good relationship with employees is so important. The good news is that emolyees are not powerless. They ultimately can’t accept a bad boss.

Materials resource management

Materials resource management plans and designs for the delivery, distribution, storage, collection, and removal of occupant-generated streams of materials and services. It is usually an additional service that is offered as part of planning process. Materials resource management looks at the planning and design considerations needed to support the efficient delivery and removal of equipments and services that support occupant activity. The streams of occupant-generated materials and activity include software and lab supplies, waste and recycling, and service calls.

A materials resource management plan may include planning guidelines for the following:

Delivery and servicing IT equipments, Installation of IT equipments, Recycling, trash, and hazardous waste collection and removal, to increase waste diversion and reduce costs, Service equipment and utility infrastructure relocation or concealment, to improve aesthetics and realize landscaping goals, Regulatory and opération planning

Benefits of proper materials management

The effective materials management plan enhances an institutional master plan by filling in the gaps and producing an environmentally responsible and efficient outcome.

Long-term cost savings, as consolidating, reconfiguring, and better managing of core infrastructure reduces annual operating costs.

An effective materials management plan also means a more holistic approach to managing IT tools use, maintenance, recycling.

And finally, an effective materials management plan can improve aesthetics(art of arrangement). Removing unsafe conditions, placing core services out of sight, and creating a more user friendly environment will improve the visual and physical sense of place for those who work there.

IT tools hardware and software change management

IT tools like other office/worker related equipments are prone to under go changes and deterioration as time passes by and as managers we ought to be ready to face and manage these changes effectively. These changes are can be either related to software or hardware equipments.

Software and hardware changes may include Upgrades, Additions and Removals.

Each of the above poses unique challenges to technical and support staff and clients.

Upgrades fall into two different categories: patches and version changes. A patch is an update to a software title that does not change the version. A version change completely replaces an application with a new release of the software. Version updates may include functional as well as user interface changes and may require re‐training to regain proficiency. In most cases, patches are installed as soon as possible. Version changes should at least be made annually and only with the approval of all the stakeholder(s).

Software additions are new titles added to the existing installed core or supplemental group. They are typically introduced to supplement on available software but can become a part of the core group as well. Additions require funding, therefore, the stakeholder requesting the addition is responsible for securing funding.

Removal changes are made when a software application is no longer needed or when funding is no longer available to insure updates are available.

Change Cycle

Regardless of the type of change (upgrade, addition, removal), each requires advance notice and planning to implement. In particular, each change needs to be tested before it can be implemented. Testing may fail meaning more work will be required. In some cases, issue(s) arising from testing may not be technically solvable so a decision will have to be made on whether to continue with the change.

The IT technical staff has to work with stakeholders to resolve these issues as they arise. New applications require special treatment and additional lead time. In order to actually do testing and, ultimately, implement the change itself, technical staff will need software installation media and license codes.

Software licensing agreements need to be reviewed by the institutions legal counsel before they can be signed.

• As soon as a decision is made to consider a new software title, contact the IT staff and talk to stakeholders to help you evaluate the software. Things to evaluate include:

Hardware compatibility, Operating system compatibility, dependencies on other software or services (e.g. database services), License management options

• A request for a new software application must be accompanied by appropriate funding source(s)

• Change requests should have time spans upon when they should be made so as to help the IT staff to review the requests for compatibility with existing environment and interest parties should be notified about any major changes and given an opportunity to comment and make recommendations on any changes.

• Critical upgrades (patches) to core or supplemental software should be installed as soon as possible to avoid poor service delivery to concerned parties.

Hardware changes in IT equipments

Another major function of the IT department is to provide access to high quality input and output devices including scanners, cameras, printers, phones, plotters, and projectors in addition to computers. These pieces of equipment interact with core software applications (operating systems, drivers) making changes even more complicated than software. Beyond the peripheral devices are the actual computers themselves which are also included in the hardware change management policy. Because the change cycle for hardware components is slower due to the fact that they are expensive, take long to wear out and because there is much less variety than software, the change policy is much simpler. In some cases, hardware may have software associated with it (drivers, firmware). These changes will be handled according the software change management policy.

Computer hardware devices should have drivers updated and new versions of hardware installed because it enable the device to function with computers, brings about hardware part compatibility with a new or different operating system, it helps to correct issues that may exist with older versions of drivers, promotes reliability of the hardware, it debugs previous hardware issues that might impede proper functionality and as a result it improves the overall stability of the system.

Below are some of hardware devices that you should make sure are updated.

BIOS updates, CD or DVD drive drivers and firmware, controllers, display drivers, keyboard drivers, mouse drivers, modem drivers, motherboard drivers and updates, network card drivers, printer drivers, removable media drivers, scanner drivers, sound card drivers and video drivers among others.

Software deterioration against hardware wear out

First and foremost, IT managers should be aware of the fact that the hardware parts of most IT equipments are prone to wear out either due to mishandling, environmental conditions or due to industrial design and manufacturing defects. Most of the main causes of hardware parts malfunction and wear out is attributed to friction between the movable parts of the equipment and friction with other surfaces, internal and external vibrations within and without the equipment, accumulation of dust and temperature extremes. This therefore calls managers to take a keen interest in making sure that defects that can easily be avoided are prevented in order to prolong the lifetime of this equipments. Also, managers should make sure that parts that undergo wear out are removed and replaced through maintenance and thorough checking in order to prevent the entire equipment from crumbling down hence reducing the firm’s efficiency and incurring it more costs in replacing it. Heavy IT equipments and hardware parts should not be moved a lot as this causes more friction hence the wear out. The equipments should be shielded from dust and water as this will prolong their life. There should be cooling systems in the operation rooms. This helps to reduce extreme temperatures. Managers should buy quality and licensed IT equipments and hardware parts so as to avoid losses due to Industrial defects which are only rectified by the manufacturers of such equipments. This works when one has a guarantee from the factory or its authorised vendor company.

The problem created through hardware equipments wearing out will be totally overcome through automated hardware upgrading and updating though for the mean time it is still a dream that is to be realised.

Secondly, IT managers at firms/ institutions should be aware of the fact that poorly engineered and designed software can cost more than is expected due to failure to satisfy the institutions need and as a result leading for a demand in its updating, changing it completely or removing it from the institution equipments. Software has no spare parts as hardware, and every software failure indicates a failure in its design or the design process through which the design was translated into the machine executable code. Therefore managers should be aware that any changes that are made to the software part of an equipment may bring about deterioration of the software and that they should be able to accommodate change requests in software well knowing that it will involve to much complexity than that incurred in hardware maintenance. New changes in software introduces new risks as new errors are as well introduced and other technical issues that require trainings and getting used to this change. Therefore, every thing should be pre-planned to avoid surprises.

Software and hardware waste management and recycling

“Electronic waste” may be defined as discarded computers, office electronic equipment, entertainment device electronics, mobile phones, television sets and refrigerators. This definition includes used electronics which are destined for reuse, resale, salvage, recycling, or disposal. Others define the re-usable (working and repairable electronics) and secondary scrap (copper, steel, plastic, etc.) to be “commodities”, and reserve the term “waste” for residue or material which is dumped by the buyer rather than recycled, including residue from reuse and recycling operations. Because loads of surplus electronics are frequently mingled (good, recyclable, and non-recyclable), several public policy advocates apply the term “e-waste” broadly to all surplus electronics. Cathode ray tubes (CRT) are considered one of the hardest types to recycle. CRTs have relatively high concentration of lead and phosphors (not to be confused with phosphorus), both of which are necessary for the display. Informal processing of electronic waste in developing countries may cause serious health and pollution problems, though these countries are also most likely to reuse and repair electronics. Some electronic scrap components, such as CRTs, may contain contaminants such as lead, cadmium, beryllium, or brominated flame retardants.

E-waste management techniques

Recycling

Today the electronic waste recycling business is in all areas of the developed world a large and rapidly consolidating business. Part of this evolution has involved greater diversion of electronic waste from energy-intensive down cycling processes (e.g., conventional recycling), where equipment is reverted to a raw material form. This diversion is achieved through reuse and refurbishing.

Audiovisual components, televisions, VCRs, stereo equipment, mobile phones, other handheld devices, and computer components contain valuable elements and substances suitable for reclamation, including lead, copper, and gold.

One of the major challenges is recycling the printed circuit boards from the electronic wastes. The circuit boards contain such precious metals as gold, silver, platinum, etc. and such base metals as copper, iron, aluminum, etc. Reuse is an alternative option to recycling because it extends the lifespan of a device. Devices still need eventual recycling, but by allowing others to purchase used electronics, recycling can be postponed and value gained from device use.

Benefits of recycling

Recycling raw materials from end-of-life electronics is the most effective solution to the growing e-waste problem.

Most electronic devices contain a variety of materials, including metals that can be recovered for future uses. By dismantling and providing reuse possibilities, intact natural resources are conserved and air and water pollution caused by hazardous disposal is avoided.

Additionally, recycling reduces the amount of greenhouse gas emissions caused by the manufacturing of new products. It simply makes good sense and is efficient to recycle and to do our part to keep the environment green.

Consumer awareness efforts

This can be done through comedy shows, social media platforms, incentives to consumers to take back used equipments to companies and through legal enforcement initiatives. Consumers should be educated to use only certified electronic products which are too recyclable.

Legislation on managing and using electronics in India

Various legislations cover different aspects of e-waste and all managers should be informed about such rules so as to choose which ones suite well in their institution. This prevents the institution from incurring losses due to fines and lack of beneficial information that would make the institution acquire more resources from proper recycling and management of e-wastes.

 

Recommendations

  • Records about software and hardware bought, installed, updated, added and removed should be kept. This documentation acts as a future reference in case there be change in staff.
  • Stakeholders should be consulted for comment before any change is made.
  • Software and hardware changes should be done periodically unless otherwise.
  • An inventory and control system should be in place to help the manager know all IT equipments within the institution and who uses it.
  • There should be proper and free (means of/ channels of) communication amongst all levels of people in the organisation about how to handle and use organisation IT equipments.
  • The IT personnel/IT department should be the one in charge of doing all IT tools installations, updates, additions and removal of both software and hardware to enhance proper follow up.
  • There should be procedures and regulations in the reach of every stakeholder so as to consult the dos and don’ts on IT equipments amongst all stake holders.
  • There should be capacity building and training on the use and management of IT tools to both the IT personnel and staff in the organisation in order to promote competency and acquisition of skills hence efficiency.
  • There should be resources allocated specially to the IT department to help it in everyday activities. These may include a resource room, funds and time to carry out check up and maintenance of all equipments.
  • Experts should be hired to help IT personnel especially where it is due.
  • Safety of both IT personnel and institutional stakeholders should be insured by all parties because IT tools can be hazardous if one is not keen at using them. This means that safety procedures should be taught to all.
  • Security of the IT equipments should be a priority if the data, information and finances of the organisation are to be in good hands. There should be restrictions on who accesses what (data and equipment)and where the equipment is stored and stored. There should be risk assessment and security procedures should be based on it.
  • It’s always better to use licensed software and hardware because this helps one to access necessary updates, versions and replacements in case of an unsolicited for damage from the manufacturing company.
  • A disaster recovery plan should be developed and backup procedures should be conducted. Data backups are an important part of the disaster recovery plan.
  • As part of e-waste management and recycling, a museum of specimen for all IT equipments that have been used in the institution should be set up. This will not only generate income from tourists in future but will serve as reference points for new recruits and the next generation in this institution as well.

In conclusion, it’s always a better practice for managers to separate material resources management form human resource management but having in mind that the two are inseparable in terms of efficiency and productivity. Man needs these equipments to have his work done and he changes according to prevalent situations. This means that these equipments should be used, made and arranged to fit in this man’s work environment and this is the duty of the IT manager. IT Managers should always be on a look out for current updates in software and hardware equipments in order to use them and increase productivity but having in mind all the precautions and procedures to follow. Proper managers need to know how to handle old equipments and the regulations available that cover the use and recycling of such equipments. Good managers should be aware of the fact that purchasing licensed and certified IT products though expensive has a long run gain in terms of maintenance and insurance coverage when need arises.

References

  1. Principles of management adapted from http://en.wikiversity.org/wiki/Principles_of_Management on 30th August 2012
  2. Material resource management adapted from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Materials_management on 30th August 2012
  3. 3.      Software and hardware change management adapted from Software and Hardware Change management policy for CDes computer labs http://www.design.umn.edu/about/offices/it/labs/documents/CDesLabChangePolicyFY2010.pdf   on August 30, 2012 and  http://www.computerhope.com/issues/ch000546.htm  on wed 22 August
  4. Software deterioration versus hardware wear out adapted from software engineering, A Practitioners Approach by Roger S. Pressman, Seventh edition, MCGRAW-HILL International Edition, pages 5, 6.
  5. E- management and recycling adapted from http://ewasteguide.info/system/files/Widmer_2005_EIAR.pdf publication on e waste management, http://www.ewasteguide.info/Wang_2012_Bo2W, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_waste and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_waste_recycling on 6th September 2012
  6. Recommendations adapted from Best practices for managing computer systems journal page 57, and http://www.auditor.leg.state.mn.us/ped/pedrep/0209ch3.pdf  on 30th August 2012.
  7. http://positivesharing.com/2007/01/how-to-deal-with-a-bad-boss/#sthash.9Fb0UYB4.dpuf
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