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The Role of the IT Operations Manager

No matter how big or small the business, it is fair to say that most companies are relying more and more on complex Information Technology infrastructure. The capacity, power and communication capability are growing at rates that could barely be comprehended 20 or 30 years ago. Add to this the dynamics, innovation and penetration of global competition, not only in services and product delivery, but also in remote operations, application and project support, then it is little wonder that any sub-standard Operations Management model is at risk of  undermining an otherwise viable enterprise.

The foundation to a succesful and sustainable Operations Support team lies with the diligent selection of the right IT Operations Manager, plus the clear, detailed, well planned and unequivocal role description by which he or she is directed on a daily basis.  "Making it up as you go" will not cut it any longer.

In the overview to our IT Operations Support stream, we looked at  a logical Operations model spit across several support teams (Data Centre, Desktop and Server Support, Helpdesk, Database, Storage, Change Management and so forth). The size of the organisation, infrastructure and teams will dictate a possible need for a hierachy of Operations managers. Whatever the need, the role of the senior IT Operations Manager is what we want to understand.  We understand that many Operations Managers are required to be "hands on" in many environments, with appropriate technical skills and experience.



The seven accountabilities defined above are largely centred in the establishment stages of the position, team assembly and definition of roles. This is almost akin with the D-M-A-I-C DEFINE phase in an annual cyclic maturing of the Operations Manager role in a expanding organisation.  Let's not forget about  the standard set of Operational best practice processes, which also need to be owned and managed by the modern IT Operations Manager. These standard operational processes are in large well documented and support with the ITIL set of service management practices.

The following table provides our views on a comprehensive breakdown of the roles of a Senior IT Operations Manager, which can be scaled down to a medium and smaller organisation.


Phase Accountabilities Role Description Deliverables
  1. Well tuned with Company Mission and Strategic Objectives
a. Engage with executives and senior management to understand and be in full accord with company  vision, mission and strategice objectives.
b. Provide communication, training and facilitation of objectives across al operational teams and staff.
1.  Meeting and workshop events and outcomes.
2.  Mission statement, strategic objectives, and management plans documented and available to all staff.
  2. Maps Products and Strategic Objectives to IT Operations Charter
a. Work with team leaders to define charter of services, deliverables and procedures.
b. Communicate Charters, along with missions, strategic objectives, standards to all staff (in a captured presentation to be used in new staff inductions).
1.  Charter of services are visible as managed documents in the company Knowledge base and Document / Record control system.
2.  Deliverables, procedures, methods, standards and policies are documented, controlled, owned, visible, and reviewed to agreed cycles and triggers.
  3. Leads the Design of Operational Deliverables - Products, Services, Processes, Accountabillities and KPIs
a. Maps charter of services to detailed definition of products, services, tools, methods, processes, performance management cycles.
b. Reviews and defines standard operating processes.
1. Workhop event, outcomes, action plans.
2. All objects, plans and records managed in KBS and Document Control.
3.  Process Capability  and performance reporting methods, KPIs, review and improvement methods - documented and controlled.
Definition Phase
Establishment (or Review) of Position and Teams
4. Defines and Assigns all Operations Support tasks, events, outcomes
a. Builds organisation and team structure for IT Operations.
b. Defines staff roles and responsibilities, and works with team leads to develop team charters.
1.  Organisation and team structure charts and documents showing roles, current staff and reporting lines.
2.  Job descriptions defined in detail for all staff, roles and responsibilities.
  5. Develops cost effective resources and staffing plans
a. Builds and manages operations resourcing plans.
b. Understands skills needs and develops skills matrix and training plans.
1.  Documented resource plans, recruitment and induction processes.
2.  Skills and capability maps.
3.  Training and staff development plans.
  6. Champions an Operations Continuous Improvement Plan
a. Work with Quality Assurance team to develop Quality Management system and process disciplines for IT Operations.
b. Helps define, own and manage a practical continuous improvement plan.
c. Ensures QMS and CI are entrenched in staff behavours and are continually reviewed and assessed.
1.  QMS and company standards, policy, methods and processes documented with reusable training presentations, videos and staff certification.
2.  Continuous Improvement plans, methods, records, training, reporting, dashboards, workshops - all documented and dynamcally visible.
3.  QMS, CI and other compliance assessment schedules, audit methods and records.
  7. Engagement and coaching of all staff
a. Establish standard meetings, staff dialogues, quality review and problem solving workshops spanning across all staff and external stakeholders.
b. Ensure that appropiate communication is constant, innovative, multi-directional.
1.  All standard meetings and workshops, along with agendas, outcomes, action plans and results are documented, tracked and visible.
2.  Communications of all forms and methods.
3.  Coaching plans, methods and records where applied
  8.  Responsible for all regular operational processes and deliverables.
a. Oversee and ensures all operational processes run smoothly through to completion.
b. Ensure that Daily dasboards and regular reporting are consistently completed, are dynamic, relevant, appropriately visible, and allow time reaction to problems and changing priorties.
1.  Appropriate daily, weekly results and performance tracking through reports, dashboards, checklists and Knowledge based systems.
  9. Problem and conflict management
a. Ensure all problems, issues and conflicts are rapidly identified, analysed and resolved in a timely, effective manner.
b. Ensure Impact, Severity and agreed Service Levels are understood and appropriate priorities are applied.
c.  Ensure all problem management processes are capable and commensurate with operational complexity and dynamics, and that IT Service Management best practices are employed (eg. as per ITIL V3).
d. Facilitate and lead Critical Situations, and both real time and test Disaster Recovery processes.

1.  Problem, Issue and Event Management Systems should be robust to manage and track all activities, progress, outcomes and associated records and linkages.

2.  Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Plans (BCP) including test plans and events.

Standard Daily Operational Phase 10.  Responsible for Operational stability and consistency.
a.  Develop and continually review KPIs for effectiveness to ensure Operational Performance is optimised against agreed Service Level agreements, services and all deliverables.
b. Partner the IT Change Manager and take ownership of all Change Control processes and procedures.
c. Responsible for the success of all IT Changes, by ensure the change plans and impact analyses are completed and commensurate with the complexity of the change.
1.  Performance processes, methods, tools and daily/ weekly outcomes are documented and recorded.
2.  Change management processes, rules, tools are recorded and suitable for all types of changes, infrastructure and complexities.
3.  The Change and Service Request Management Tool should be integrated with the Problem, Issue and Event management tool.
4.  Standard Change Review Meetings and Post Implementation Reviews tracked with CI actions.
  11.  Resposible for optimal staff deployment and skills availability.
a.  Ensure that all teams are appropriately skilled and capable to deliver both standard services and deliverable, and respond to all contingencies.
b.  Ensure all teams have a clear and comprehensive Service Charter, and that all staff have clear, current and detailed Role descriptions and Work Instructions.
c. Ensure all staff skills and experience are mapped to service requirements and regulary reviewed.
d. Ensure Training Plans are in place and managed.
e. Ensure all staff have regular and annual formal performance reviews against agreed and achievable goals and measureable performance KPIs.
1.  Skills matrices, Training plans and Staff development plans.
2. Team service charters with review cycles.
3.  Roles and Responsibilities with reviews.
4.  Standard Operating Procedures, Work Instructions, User Guides, Technical Specifications and manuals documented, controlled, owned and dynamically available through scaleable / indexed document catalogues.
5.  Training plans, manuals, presentations and workshops.
6.  Formal performance reviews, processes, targets, outcomes and improvement plan, actions all documented and recorded.
  12.  Responsible for regular, multidirectional reporting and communication.

a.  Define and manage and track multiple standard and adhoc reporting processes, and methods, including email, meetings, assemblies, presentations.

b. Regular communications and review meetings with the customer or the CRM (Customer Relations Manager).

1.  All standard and on-demand meetings, workshops, communications and assembly evenets, presentations and audience / attendees.

2.  Customer satisfaction reports, and Service Improvement plans.

  13.  Review Financial and Budget Plans against expenditure and growth.
a.  Plan and manage finances and budget and forecasts.
b.  Regularly ensure budgets and expenditures are governed, approaved and tracked to plan.
c.  Provide regular reports and periodical reviews with management and finance / accounting teams.
1.  Budget Plans and Financial performance reports.
2.  Financial procedures, methods, tools and records.
3.  Approval and review records and events.
4.  Audits and conformance processes, events, outcomes and actions.
Assessment and Review Phase 14.  Responsible for successful completion of all Audits (quality, financial and security).
a.  Manage regular internal assessments and remediation against all confromance policies, processes and standards.
b.  Plan for and facilitate all external and interdepartmental audits and conformance events.
c.  Ownership and timely action of post audit reviews CI and remediation requirements.
1.  Internal assessment policies, methods, events, results, actions and owners.
2.  Conformance and audit reports, issues, actions, owners, plans and timeframes / follow-ups.
  15.  Responsible for reviewing and adjusting all Objectives including Quality and Continuous Improvement.
a.  Regularly and periodically review all reports, KPIs, production trends, customer issues against SLAs and Objectives.
b.  Take appropriate adjustment measures and develop CI and remediation plans where required.
c.  Manage regular and cyclic reviews and changes.
1.  Performance reports, reviews and assessments.
2.  Remediation plans and Service Improvement plans
3.  Cyclic review event, outcomes and revised objectives and performance management plans.

I stress that this breakdown is our own views and guidance, and may vary considerably in scope, content and detail for different companies and roles. The detail and complexity is intentional to help new IT Managers as a baseline to develop or review their own Job Description.  Clearly, what is absent here is a breakdown of the required experience, qualifications, and people attibutes (Leadership Skills etc.). We'll leave that for another discussion.

We'll appreciate and consider any feedback nd suggestions.

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