Dale N. Frantz
Auto Warehousing Co., Tacoma, Wash.
Premier 100 IT Leader, 2005
Frantz is this month's guest Premier 100 IT Leader, answering readers' questions about charge-for-service models and the value of an MBA. If you have a question you'd like to pose to one of our Premier 100 IT Leaders, send it to email@example.com, and watch for this column each month.
Our IT organization has gone through a variety of transformations, and we have an average reputation with the rest of the company. We're moving to a charge-for-service structure, and our first objective is to have the business units pay for the customizations to our ERP system that they request. Is this a common practice, or does IT generally budget for the customizations at the beginning of the year? -- J.H.
I have seen both the "charge-for-service" and departmental budget approaches. You stated that the move is under way to the charge-for-service structure and that your group has an average reputation within the company. Rather than approach how your services are underwritten, I would be most concerned with upgrading your image within the company. Examine what your IT organization is doing that is resulting in this average reputation. When you begin to charge the other business units for "average" service, logically, they will begin to press company leadership to allow them to get competitive bids via outsourcing -- and they would be right to do so. This is one of the greatest threats in our industry today. Who wants to pay for "average" service? I would invest time in meeting with the various business units in advance to find out why they view your IT organization as average, and then begin to transform your department's service to a higher level. Once you start to sell your services to the individual business units, you will find that their demand for excellent service will increase dramatically, and that could threaten your department's existence as you know it today.
I'm 23 years old and an account executive for an independent insurance agency in Texas. I earned a bachelor's degree in business administration in 2003. I want to get an MBA in technology or computer information systems. What could I expect if I completed one of these programs? I'm interested in being a technology manager, but I hope to begin with an entry-level job in the technology sector while I pursue an MBA. -- L.C.
The short answer is that you will encounter a very tough job market right now. I don't want to discourage you in any way but want to prepare you for the fact that an MBA alone won't get you in the door at most companies. The fact that your job experience to date isn't in IT will hinder you somewhat in your search. I would ask you to search inside yourself to answer the question, "Why do I want to be a technology manager?" Are you more interested in the technology part or the manager part? If you have a passion for technology, then your plan to begin with an entry-level job in technology is sound. However, if you are more interested in being a manager and go into the "entry-level tech" job with the view that it is temporary and that the door to management will be unlocked by the MBA, you might be in for a surprise. If your desire is for technology, then you will pursue any tech job with tenacity, and your enthusiasm should be noticed by your superiors. Advancement in technology to a management position is usually produced through a proven track record of achievement coupled with the respect of your peers. An MBA is an important credential that will enhance your portfolio, but it isn't a substitute for proven job performance.