Network managers: master project management to get better salaries
Network technicians will need to learn project management skills if corporate rollouts of wider and more advanced networks are to be successful, according to attendees at the Cisco Networkers 2008 this week.
IT managers currently involved with deploying wireless local area networks, combined voice and data and unified communications said networks had become the focus for delivering business services and demonstrating budgeting and scheduling skills were essential to be seen as valuable by management.
Martin Godfery, network and telephony manager at the University of Plymouth, is in the process of deploying a converged data, voice and video network for 30,000 students and 3,000 staff.
He said forecasting the amount of bandwidth the business will use in five years time, as new applications are deployed on the network, would be a key skill to learn to ensure right investment in network hardware was made today.
“Management will give IT a fixed budget to last over a period of time. But network managers need to be able forecast how introducing new applications could change bandwidth requirements," he said.
Godfery said managers needed to be able to draft budget proposals which made this clear, so that if the business case changed, funds could be allocated. He said that deploying network services such as wireless was needed to ensure the University stayed current in attracting students and more applications would be deployed in the future.
Raymond Mohr, director of IT at Balfour Beatty’s rail division in Germany, said that network managers should train in scheduling work if they are involved in larger and ad-hoc rollouts.
He said he regularly needs to set up reliable wireless networks for construction and repair teams quickly, so being able to draft and plan schedules was skill network managers needed to master.
"They also need to master contingency planning if there are delays to projects or if the business needs a network deployed at short notice. If they can demonstrate this kind of planning to the business then they will be able to get higher salaries" he said.
According to Yankee Group, an IT research analyst company, network design experts are no longer involved in hands-on configuration, but rather in strategic design and architecture. Mastering project management and business skills will become essential as they come under the management spotlight.
“Networks are strategic and the role of a network designer is becoming much more important,” said Yankee Group research analyst Zeus Kerravala. “People who take on design roles impact the strategy of their organisations."