Management of Technology Activities

For most companies, management of “technology” involves both engineering/product development activities (i.e., incorporating technology into products and/or the processes used to manufacture products) and information technology (“IT”) activities that include internal and external communications and other projects and support.  In some instances, these companies will create separate management structures for each of these functions, although a single senior executive, generally referred to as either the “chief information officer” (“CIO”) or the chief technology officer (“CTO”) will still retain ultimately responsibility and the leaders of each function will report to that executive.  For example, a company might have separate vice presidents or senior directors of engineering and IT.  The engineering group might be a centralized source for standards and assume responsibility for support functions, technology initiatives and engineering career development.  The day-to-day work of the engineers is often organized into decentralized project teams in various business areas.  In contrast, the IT activities are typically fully centralized and organized by function (i.e., support, service, infrastructure etc.) that carry out their activities through project teams.

Advances in technology have changed the ways that all companies and public agencies conduct their businesses and identifying and implementing the best organizational structure for managing technology activities has become a key issue for chief executive officers and members of organizational governing boards.  Management activities not only include oversight of IT assets and managing the integration of technology into the design and manufacture of products, but now extend to developing an IT strategic planning process; integrating IT management operations and decisions with organizational planning, budget, financial management, human resources management, and program decisions; coordinating the technology strategies and activities of divisions and business units; and providing information and advice to the senior management group and other company managers regarding technology-related issues.  This chapter covers key concepts and issues in the management of technology activities including the roles of the chief information and technology officers, and strategies for effectively deploying each of those positions in the organizational structure; ideas for improving appreciation of the role that the IT department plays within the company; guidelines for determining the CIO reporting structure; the responsibilities of chief innovation officers; and the management of technology in technology-based startups.

To learn more, download the chapter on “Management of Technology Activities” prepared by the Sustainable Entrepreneurship Project.  Additional Project materials on technology management are available here.

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