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Developing your IT Skills as a Manager

By: Lisa Koning - Updated: 7 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss

As a business Manager, sometimes IT skills can seem in contradiction with some of the key aspects of the management role: to manage people. Managers make things happen, they organise people and activities, surely IT skills can be left to their employees who need to use IT systems to get their job done? But is that really the case? More and more managers are developing strong IT skills to support them in their management role. How can you build your IT skills to help you be a better manager?


Some basic IT skills can mean the different between a boring presentation and one that makes a real impact.

Presentation software such as Microsoft PowerPoint give you the ability to produce interesting and appealing presentations. Adding elements such as pictures, charts and diagrams can help people understand the information you are trying to communicate. Consider how quickly someone understands a graph with the line going upwards, verses a list of figures on the screen.

Tips for improving Presentations:

  • Consider the main point that you want to say on a slide, and ensure that the content reflects this
  • Use bullet points and list phrases not sentences (aim for 5 words per line)
  • 5-6 lines per slide
  • Where possible use graphical ways to present information
  • Use clear colours – pale colours are difficult to see on white backgrounds particularly if you cannot darken the room
  • Remember some people are colour blinded, so be careful with the colours that you choose

Reporting Information

Tools such as Microsoft Excel not only help with managing information but in producing different ways of displaying information in your reports.

Microsoft Word allows you to display information in a variety of formats and some basic Word training, can teach elements such as Chaptering and Headings, that can greatly improve the layout and appearance of your reports.

Tips for improving Report:

  • Use Chapters and Heading to clearly display your information
  • Always include a title page, date, author, version, and any revisions
  • Use features such as standard characters to ensure consistency of fonts and sizes
  • Use inbuilt functions, such as shorting and calculations

Project Planning

Planning tools such as Microsoft Project are not just for Project Managers. Planning software can help create plans for all types of work and can make the task of monitoring and updating plans much easier.

Tips for better Planning:

  • Share Plans with the people that are doing the work
  • Always baseline (take an original copy) of the agreed plan. Any updates are made to subsequent versions. Without a baseline you cannot tell what has changed.
  • If the people doing the work update the plans your planning will more closely reflect reality
  • Monitor the plan regularly, or you may find that you planning is quickly out of control


Emailing is such an essential part of business today that it’s seems somewhat unnecessary to list it as an IT skills, however that said, many managers do not take full advantage of the facilities available within Email software.

Applying some management to emails can make the different between feeling on top of your emails and a sense of drowning under the weight of your Inbox.

Tips for better emailing:

  • Use folders and subfolders so that you can file messages away appropriately. Keep your Inbox for items that need your immediate attention.
  • Encourage your staff to indicate urgency in email headings: distinguishing between messages that are for your information only, and those require your involvement. This will save you wasting time.
  • Decide on a frequency for how often you will check your emails: perhaps every hour? This way you can avoid being continually interrupted by incoming emails demanding your attention.


The Internet is a useful medium for any manager. It provides access to information, forums and news. Any research obtained from the Internet should always be checked for accuracy and correctness, however the Internet provides a great means for a manager to keep informed of industry news, subject matter forums, and events.

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