TORONTO (06/27/2000) - Now that IT is playing an increasingly important role in both the strategic and operational management of businesses, developing a strong IT senior management team is an essential survival mechanism for today's overly stretched CIOs.
As one CIO explained, "I can only be in so many places. If I didn't have a senior management team I could depend on, I'd be working 18-hour days."
Furthermore, with CIOs now part of corporate executive teams, succession planning is increasingly imperative. Boards of Directors everywhere are concerned companies have a good succession plan in place for each of their senior executives. It is therefore a key responsibility of every CIO to ensure there is enough strength in the IT management ranks to ensure both the vigour and the continuity of IT leadership.
However, good senior IT managers take time to develop. Although personal coaching and mentoring of selected staff can help them grow, they also need a broad range of personal, business, technical and managerial skills that must be taught and fostered. In today's complex business environment, cultivating an effective senior IT manager takes more than on-the-job experience. Many businesses are turning to universities for programs to help broaden the skills and abilities of key staff and prepare them to lead at the highest levels in the organization.
In response to this need, executive development programs at universities are burgeoning. Yet, while many universities offer MBA programs for executives, and some offer general executive development courses, only a few offer specialized programs for IT leaders. And it is not always easy for a CIO to navigate through what's available to find them. CIO Canada therefore surveyed the wide variety of executive development programs currently being offered by Canadian universities to find the ones which are specifically targeted to growing senior IT managers. Community and technical college programs were excluded from this survey as being better-suited to the needs of more junior managers.
There are four general types of programs that may be of interest to CIOs and their senior management teams: Executive Development Programs Focusing on IT Leadership, General Executive Development Programs with an IT Focus, Specialized Degree Programs, and Other Programs of Interest.
EXECUTIVE DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS FOCUSING ON I.T. LEADERSHIP These executive development programs are specifically designed for senior IT managers and are not part of a degree program (e.g., MBA). Unlike traditional university courses, executive development programs tend to be more interactive and case-based and emphasize practical, real-world relevance. Sharing and networking with one's peers in other organizations frequently builds strong relationships between the participants that continue to pay off when they are back on the job. Such programs typically involve several days of a manager's time. Four of the best-known programs include:
LEADING STRATEGIC I.T. INITIATIVES AT THE UNIVERSITY OF WESTERN ONTARIO. This week-long program is offered by the Ivey School of Business in London, Ont., in partnership with the Canadian Information Processing Society. It is designed to help participants: gain a broader understanding of the links between IT and corporate strategy; develop leadership skills in IT management; and learn how to manage the assimilation of new technologies. It also aims to improve a participant's confidence in accepting IT leadership roles. Executives stay in well-appointed guest residences on the university campus and participate in social activities and team-building exercises as well as learning activities.
Cost is approximately $6,000. More information is available at www.ivey.uwo.ca/executive.
MCGILL'S "USING INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY" AND "ELECTRONIC MARKETING AND COMMERCE". McGill's Executive Institute offers these two three-day seminars for senior managers. Both offer a business-oriented perspective on technology, and are also appropriate for non-IT managers seeking a better understanding of what technology can do for their organization. "Using Information Technology" offers an overview of technology and IT solutions, networks, electronic commerce and the costs and benefits of IT. "Electronic Marketing and Commerce" explores trends in business and communications that are developing as a result of technology use and examines uses of the Internet, database marketing and e-commerce in business. Each seminar costs $1,500 and is offered in Montreal.
More information is available at www.executive.mcgill.ca.
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AT QUEEN'S UNIVERSITY. Queen's University's Executive Development Centre offers an intensive five-day course in Kingston, Ont., that focuses on helping managers to use IT to their competitive advantage.
Participants learn how to develop a leading-edge strategy for IT aligned with their organization's business goals. Queen's uses a copyrighted approach designed to give managers a firm grasp of the right concepts and tools for integrating IT, operating procedures, and people into a cohesive plan. Cost is $6,900 and includes a follow-up service that provides further support and advice to managers when back on the job. Information can be found at www.business.queensu.ca.
QUEEN'S "I.T. MANAGEMENT FORUM" AND "CIO BRIEF". Queen's University School of Business offers two ongoing opportunities in Toronto for senior IT managers to learn and grow from each other. The "I.T. Management Forum" looks at topics, selected by the participants themselves, of immediate and critical concern to them and their organizations. Executives meet for a day four times a year to explore, share experiences, learn from their peers, and work out solutions to their common concerns. After the meeting, the Queen's facilitators prepare a white paper of concepts, trends, and best practices in the topic area. The cost is $5,000 for a one-year membership. The "CIO Brief" brings together heads of IT from leading-edge organizations to exchange best practices concerning IT strategy. The quarterly, half-day meetings feature guest CIOs speaking about the challenges he or she has faced on the job. The cost is $1,000 for a one-year membership. More information about both programs is available from Prof. Jim McKeen at email@example.com.
GENERAL EXECUTIVE DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS WITH AN I.T. FOCUS It is interesting to note despite its ubiquitous nature in organizations, not all executive development programs pay attention to IT. In fact, in many, managing IT is conspicuous by its absence. Nevertheless, several general executive development programs include a unit on IT. These programs are typically longer and more broadly focused than those concentrating solely on IT leadership. Their goal is to develop good general managers rather than good IT managers. Residence at the course site is usually required.
HEC'S CENTRE INTERNATIONAL DE RECHERCES ET D'ETUDES EN MANAGEMENT (CIREM). HEC, the business school of the Universite de Montreal, is the only institution to offer this type of executive development in French. It includes perspectives on doing business in Quebec, as well as in Canada and around the world. Focusing on enterprise strategy, transformation, and globalization, it integrates IT into many of its seminars. The program is offered in Montreal in two two-week modules and costs $14,000. Further information is available from the executive director, Denis Duquette, by phoning (514) 935-4207.
RESIDENTIAL PROGRAMME FOR EXECUTIVE DEVELOPMENT AT UBC. This program aims to develop senior managers into strategic leaders. It is designed for anyone being considered for an executive position. As such, most participants have over eight years of management experience. The program focuses on developing a broader perspective, increasing competency in areas such as HR and financial management, maximizing organizational effectiveness through the use of IT and business processes, enhancing senior management skills and developing strategic vision. The organizational effectiveness component includes topics on emerging technologies, the changing role of IT and the relationship of IT and business strategy. The program costs $14,900 and lasts three weeks. Information may be found at www.cmd.commerce.ubc.ca.
THE BANFF SCHOOL OF ADVANCED MANAGEMENT. Sponsored by the business schools of the Universities of Alberta, Calgary, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, this program is designed to provide senior leaders with the capacity and confidence to inspire organizations in complex global environments. This four-week course covers core operations, corporate strategy, the external business environment, and the organization. Technology issues are covered as part of corporate strategy, rather than operations. Their Web site explains "technologies...are fundamental to the intensity of the global business environment. [Their] impact...on organizational structures, relationships and operations will be one of the main challenges facing...leadership in the future." The course costs $17,900. Information is available at www.bsam.ca.
EXECUTIVE MANAGEMENT DEVELOPMENT AT SFU. Simon Fraser University's Executive Development Program is designed for busy managers who want to sharpen their skills in a broad range of management areas, including IT, and gain new insights into the practice of business and management. The program consists of seven three-day courses held on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, scheduled about one month apart. The IT component is designed to assist participants to make the necessary strategic choices and to explore how IT can support both business strategies and operations. The program costs $7,500. Information is available at www.sfu.ca/cstudies/bus.
SPECIALIZED DEGREE PROGRAMS
In addition to these short programs for executive development, some Canadian universities are also offering Master's level degrees with an IT focus. While there are many types of MBA programs available today, the ones below have been selected because of their specialized emphasis on managing IT. Master's programs require more intensive commitment on behalf of the student and the firm -- usually full-time attendance for a year is required. However, many companies find that by investing in a key staff member's participation they gain a highly valuable senior-level manager with broad skills and abilities.
MASTER'S IN ELECTRONIC COMMERCE. Dalhousie University in Halifax offers a two-year interdisciplinary degree, which is "not an MBA but a unique academic degree that blends course work, industrial experience, and a research project or thesis to give a commanding overview of the field of electronic commerce".
Students study courses in law, computer science and management and then concentrate in one specific area. Overall tuition is $11,462. In addition, Dalhousie has just announced an Executive MEC program in conjunction with The Institute for Government Information Professionals beginning this August.
Designed for public sector executives and professionals, it will take between 18 and 24 months to complete on a part-time basis. Further information on both programs may be obtained at www.ecomm.dal.ca.
MBA FOR SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY. This 12-month program based in Kingston, Ont., focuses on science and technology management. Ranked as the best MBA program in Canada for the past three years, the curriculum concentrates on the knowledge, management skills and business perspective needed to succeed in today's globally oriented, technology-rich organizations. The program consists of four stages: core concepts, functional management, strategic and managerial perspectives, and concentration and integration. Because of its popularity, students must have a strong background in a scientific or technical discipline to be accepted into the program. Tuition is $35,000. More information is available at www.business.queensu.ca.
MBA IN I.T. MANAGEMENT. Athabasca University, based in Edmonton, is a fully accredited university dedicated to distance learning. Students generally study at home, submit assignments and interact with professors and fellow students via telephone and the Internet. Two weekend schools and a week-long summer residence are also required. The MBA in IT Management is intended to support the development of professional IT managers and enable them to move into senior IT-oriented managerial positions, such as CIO. The program is organized into three phases. The first is common to all MBA students, the second focuses specifically on IT Management, and the third is composed of electives and a project. Typically the course takes between 2.5 and 3 years to complete. Total cost of the program, including the residential component of the program is $32,900. For more information, contact www.athabascau.ca/mba.
OTHER PROGRAMS OF INTEREST
Universities have taken a wide variety of different approaches to management development. At one extreme, some offer customized in-house courses for companies. At the other, universities are sticking with the tried-and-true approaches to education, i.e., MBAs and executive MBAs. In between, there is a great deal of variability in what is available for management development. Here are some of the most innovative.
SFU'S FOUNDATION PROGRAM IN MANAGEMENT FOR WOMEN. Simon Fraser University School of Continuing Studies has developed a program for working professional women who are looking for a more strategic perspective and enhanced managerial competence. It is designed to give women the skills and opportunity they need to move towards senior management positions. It consists of six three-day courses over eight months, concentrating on organizational behaviour and management communication, accounting and financial analysis, IT, and strategic planning. Information can be found at www.sfu.ca/cstudies/bus.
UNIVERSITY OF CALGARY'S FRIDAY MORNING AT THE FACULTY. The University of Calgary offers one of the more unusual management development programs available. Grouped under five themes, sessions provide an in-depth and practical treatment of each topic over several Friday mornings. Of particular interest to IT managers is its Project Management series, with 14 sessions looking at such topics as building trust, effective project controls, and future trends in project management. Other topics this year focus on coaching, entrepreneurship and holding effective meetings. Costs are a reasonable $35 per session. Further information is available at www.ucalgary.ca/UofC/faculties/MGMT.
BUSINESS PARTNERSHIP SEMINARS WITH CALGARY U. The University of Calgary also offers a series of two-hour professional development seminars in partnership with several large technical professional associations. These seminars focus on management topics and are designed for experienced professionals or managers who want to broaden their understanding of business fundamentals or to work better with professionals in other fields. Of particular interest to IT managers will be the sessions on project management, which include: picking the right project, managing alliances, delivering projects on time and on budget, keeping projects under control, and change management. Visit www.ucalgary.ca/UofC/faculties/MGMT.
QUEEN'S E-BUSINESS PROGRAM. Queen's Executive Development Centre has just introduced this two-day program to "cut through the hype and [provide] a frank assessment of the real issues...in the e-business world." Participants gain an in-depth understanding of e-business models, become familiar with the latest innovations in technology, and learn how to build a realistic e-business plan.
They also meet with e-business leaders, lawyers, and venture capitalists to gain practical, real-world perspectives on the e-business sector. The course is offered in Toronto and costs $2,900. More information is available at www.execdev.com.
UBC BUSINESS SEMINARS. UBC's Commerce Department offers a variety of concise, focused and relevant short business seminars in Vancouver for managers. In addition to general management courses, UBC offers a series of practical seminars in Operations and Management, including: Harnessing IT, The Technical Professional as Manager, and Thinking Strategically in Technical Environments.
Seminars last two or three days, cost between $1,000 and $1,300 and are spread throughout the calendar year. For more information about the seminars, please see www.cmd.commerce.ubc.ca.
Heather A. Smith is a former senior IT manager who now researches IT Management issues. She is a Senior Research Associate with Queen's School of Business and works with numerous organizations and IT leaders across North America to identify and document leading-edge practices and to bring the best of academic research to practising IT managers. She also collaborates on IT research projects with many Canadian universities and is chair of the ITX Awards University Advisory Council. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.