Network managers are at the heart of any business' operations in today's environment. No company can afford to be reliant on an outdated or ineffective IT infrastructure, so skilled professionals who bring a deep understanding of the technologies their firm needs are essential.
Yet there is much more to this role than the technical aspects of overseeing the network. There are also a range of other attributes that any successful network manager must possess, from communicating with other departments to leading a team. Here are three critical skills no networking professional can afford to be without.
1. Problem solving
Being able to look at a situation, identify where any issues lie and determine the best course of action to fix them is a skill that's invaluable in many roles, but it's especially important in network management, where the complex, intertwined relationships between various components demand a careful, intuitive approach.
However, it's not something that comes naturally to everyone. Key factors that make for strong problem solving skills include the ability to quickly define what the problem is - something that may often be harder than it sounds - map out potential solutions and recognize the pros and cons of each, then identify the best strategy for moving forward.
2. Project management
Being able to plan, manage and execute projects from start to finish is another invaluable skill for an effective network manager. IT infrastructure will be in a constant state of change, as business needs evolve, new technologies emerge and legacy solutions reach the end of their life-cycle. Therefore, there will always be some activities being undertaken that can benefit from strong project management skills.
There are many elements to this, though they tend to fall into three main categories: knowledge; experience; and personal attitude. However, within these, there are many specific skillsets. The International Project Management Association, for example, identifies 42 key competencies for knowledge and experience, as well as eight aspects for personal attitude and ten for 'general impression'.
These range from communication and organization to creativity, vision and conflict resolution. Therefore, any network manager with these skills will undoubtedly be in high demand.
3. Access management
Today, one of the top concerns for any network manager needs to be keeping their business' systems secure. But this requires much more than simply technical skills and expertise in cyber security. One of the most challenging aspects of this for network managers is access control - who is able to view critical and sensitive information - and this means being able to understand and manage your employees as well as the technology.
For instance, in today's always-connected, mobile-first world, personally-owned devices are increasingly making their way into the workplace. Therefore, many people will not see any issue with carrying around sensitive company information on their smartphone or tablet and may not appreciate any tough restrictions imposed by IT. This means it will often fall to network managers to implement effective access management policies, as well as ensuring these are effectively communicated to employees.