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IT Jobs in Operations and Program Management

Joseph Gulla explores the diverse skillsets required in IT operations and program management.

"IT Trendz" in white against a purple banner, white chat bubble in righthand corner, with connected cubes against a blue background below.

I am continuing the series on IT jobs in today’s full employment economy by picking and exploring jobs from two more IT departments and investigating in more detail the variety and diversity of the skills that are needed by employers. Last week, I focused on application development and service management. This week, I am writing about IT operations and program management.

IT Operations

IT operations is an interesting career for at least three reasons. First, it involves a team of people responsible for day-to-day maintenance and management of the organization's IT infrastructure. The main goal is to ensure delivery of the agreed level of IT services to the business. The scope could be broader than infrastructure and is likely to include applications.
 
Second, it has helpful processes. Take, For example, incident and problem management that are part of a broader category called IT operations management. These operational tasks are activities contained within the IT infrastructure library (ITIL) of services. ITIL isn’t the only way to organize work. Others include COBIT 5, ISO/IEC 20000, eTOM, MOF and Knowledge Centered Service.
 
Third, the people in IT operations use software tools. IT operations management software has the tools needed to manage the provisioning, capacity, performance and availability of computing, networking and application resources. These tools also handle overall quality, efficiency and experience of their delivery.
 
So there are skilled people, mature procedures and useful tools. Now, lets focus on people and jobs. My operations jobs search resulted in more than 414,000 jobs. What kind of jobs? Here are a few examples.
 
Operations managers have responsibility for operations and delivery of some aspect of the organization (such as one or more applications within a line of business). Managers direct people so they have responsibilities like developing a flexible, proactive and resourceful team. This includes direct supervision, evaluating performance and hiring staff. They likely also have direct responsibility for departmental activities like planning and coordinating the infrastructure operations, application and database middleware for core business units.
 
Operations specialist have a technical focus including tasks like setting up personal computers and telecommunications systems at company locations. This typically includes configuring hardware and software for network use. Specialist troubleshoot and maintain hardware and software on a preventative and corrective basis, provide support in the use of software and may act as a technical specialist for specific applications.
 
The operations analyst provides technical expertise in the design and development of IT operation environments. Also, they may be assigned responsibility for the management of the IT operations function, including associated staff. Operations associate and operations coordinator are other job titles within IT operations management.

Program Management

Program management is typically the process of managing several related projects with the intention of improving the organization’s performance. It’s closely related to organizational change management and requires project management skills. Project management is a discipline of initiating, planning, execution, controlling and completing the work of a team to achieve specific goals and meet specific criteria. Projects always have a start and end, along with certain goals to be met. Multiple projects can be part of program, but that isn’t always the case as sometimes a program can just be one large, on-going activity without a planned end like a project.
 
People manage IT programs and they use tools to do their jobs. Here are some examples of the tools they use:
 
Tool or Source Category or Content
Cyfe Business intelligence/analytics
SAP Lumira Business intelligence/analytics
Zoho Reports Business intelligence/analytics
TD/OMS Change management
Whatfix Change management
Asana Project management
Clarizen Project management
Mavenlink Project management
Wrike Project management
Aha Requirements management
iRise Requirements management
Jama Requirements management
Projectmanager.com Templates, checklists, forms
Projectmanagement.com Templates, checklists, forms
Project Management Institute Templates, checklists, forms
 
Lets shift the focus to people and jobs. My program management jobs search resulted in more than 51,000 jobs. What kind of jobs? Here are three different job types that I found.
 
Program managers plan and manage a large program consisting of multiple complex projects. They drive delivery of project work through other project managers and are typically  
accountable for change management within their program domain. They must demonstrate proficiency in program strategy and execution and use communications effectively to inform and influence relevant stakeholders. They also identify core problems or opportunities within business processes.  
 
IT program coordinators can be tasked to handle a variety of programs from long-term support to multiple, concurrent, quick turnaround engagements. They’re expected to develop a rich understanding and working knowledge of the program’s subject matter as well as have the skills to implement computing services across the enterprise. They need communication skills (developing, writing, reviewing and editing technical and business documents) and they create weekly and monthly status reports, as well as preparing charts, tables and images for inclusion in documents.
 
Program manager for IT infrastructure is one of many specialties found in the profession. These specialist handle areas of focus including project planning and management, team management and development method support (like Scrum). They also handle process management and improvement. Strong interpersonal skills like mentoring, coaching and collaborating are required as well as the ability to manage competing demands. Specialists also need demonstrated experience in using appropriate tools like Jira/AgileCraft (agile project management tools) and Microsoft Office (communications and analysis tools). 

Next Week

Next week, I’ll finish the series with a focus on key jobs in IT governance (HR, legal, compliance, risk management and financial markets operations). In my initial search, I found more than 22,000 open jobs.

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