Responsibilities of an IT Team Leader

Many organizations will have IT Team Leaders – these are usually the people responsible for managing a team of engineers. Large IT departments will have multiple IT Team Leads, probably specialising in different areas.

An IT Team Leader is different from an IT Project Manager – although similar skills are required for both roles. The IT Project Manager tends to be assigned per project for a fixed duration, whereas the IT Team Leader is a more permanent role spanning multiple projects.

Increasingly as the world turns agile Project Managers are turning into Product Owners  and the role of the IT Team leader has evolved to shift left in a DevOps context. This alleviates the stresses that arise when a ‘temp’ team wants to throw their code from the dev to the ops silo’s.

We have found that in larger organisations that the business wants to think and act waterfall and IT wants to think agile. The Project Manager is maintaining gantt charts and one big release. The Product owner talks minimum viable product (MVP) and two weeks sprints,

Friction occurs when the IT Project Manager’s objectives clash with those of the Product Owner. This source of friction is something that Daysha has a particular interest in. We see it is our job to ease this friction through:

The traditional IT Team Leader usually, in my experience, takes the stance that it is their role to protect the IT team and the existing IT systems. This is totally understandable and something that any project manager would be well advised to recognise and empathise with. Some 70% of effort and budget is spent on ‘keep-the-lights-on’ activities – these are the activities such as troubleshooting and maintenance upgrades that keep the existing systems running.

How can IT Team Leaders help themselves? What if we could better define their Roles and Responsibilities of the IT Team Leader? And can we help IT Project Managers Product Owners and business leaders to better understand the position of the IT Team Leader? I think that the following are the key areas that need to be addressed in this regard:

  • Collaboration: The IT Team Leader and the various project managers they work with need to take a collaborative approach to building software.
    Different departments within your organisation need to work together to find solutions to core issues that can work at effectively at every level. A good project manager is politically aware and emotionally intelligent of the sensitivities involved in working with multiple departments at the same time and these traits will allow them to figure out how best to align the interests of the business, the business sponsor, the Product Owner, the IT team leader and any other significant stakeholder involved in the project.
  • Team Leadership: It is the responsibility of the IT Team Leader to involve his team members in decision making and planning and his team is growing to include temporary developer assignees
    Involvement in decision making can mean many things and have different implications. For example, complete consensus building approach might be fine in an enlightened, self-organizing team, but is not appropriate in teams who expect and are used to working in a more bureaucratic style. It is also the Team Leader’s responsibility to ensure that team members understand the priorities of the business, why specific projects are important, and why certain decisions have been made. Finally, the IT Team Leader needs to lead by example. If they have an adversarial relationship with project managers and business leaders, the rest of the team will too.
  • Agility: Like it or not, the IT Team Leader has to be able to respond to changing requirements. A culture of agility within the team is needed.
    Team members need to understand why change is a reality. I think that if Team members can understand more about the business and the reason for changes they will be more accepting of the need to change plans. It is up to the business, through the IT Team Leader, to find ways to share this information.
  • Communication: The purpose of communication is to impart information and come to some shared understanding.
    Good communication is not the same as reporting. Compiling and distributing status reports or plans is only part of communication. Listening is just as important in this regard if not more so. Listening in this context is not just auditory, but the ability to absorb and understand information from many different sources.
  • Demand and Capacity Management: Demand and Capacity Management are clearly a role for any team leader.
    The problem with approaches to capacity management is that the IT Team is seen from outside as a ‘black-hole’. The activities of the team are not transparent. If the IT Team Leader says there is only 20% capacity for new project work this week, it’s not clear why this is. It’s also never clear how the time is being spent and what value a project is getting. It is the responsibility of the IT Team Leader to find ways to inform everyone (above and below) what the actual capacity of the team is week to week.

  • The above are just some of the responsibilities of an IT Team Leader. Consultants, Project Managers, Product Owners,Engineers

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