Mid-Level Information Technology Professionals: Skills and Traits Relevant to Fit, Individual and Organizational Success Factors

Mid-Level Information Technology Professionals: Skills and Traits Relevant to Fit, Individual and Organizational Success Factors

Vickie Coleman Gallagher (Cleveland State University, Cleveland, OH, USA), Kevin P. Gallagher (Northern Kentucky University, Newport, KY, USA) and Kate M. Kaiser (Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/ijsodit.2013040102
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A gap exists in understanding organizational career ladders for IT professionals. This gap is especially pronounced in organizations externally sourcing IT related activities to vendors, given that technical positions often feed the pipeline to mid-level roles. Based on prior research and qualitative discussions with key informants, this paper discusses the skills necessary for mid-level roles and proposes individual differences in social skills / traits for several key positions (project manager, senior system analyst, and relationship manager). The authors’ research informs IT professionals as to traits that are most strongly related to success within particular roles. Furthermore, the proposed model and the concept of “fit” will help employers and universities improve coaching and counseling regarding career paths, and contribute to the effectiveness of university curriculum. Finally, this research will inform the types of motivational techniques necessary for organizations to incentivize and achieve results in the form of increased performance, lower turnover, and increased satisfaction.
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Background And Literature Review

Management information system (MIS) professionals enjoy promising career opportunities as the recession subsides. There is an ever increasing need for individuals who understand information technology (IT) and its role in helping companies identify business needs, design IT-related solutions, oversee delivery of projects, and manage vendor relations. There are also many baby-boomers with years of IT experience who will soon retire, creating even more opportunities.

However, IT professionals and students with strong technical training face challenges in trying to secure positions in IT, as the role of IT professionals in organizations has changed from technical to an emphasis on business domain and project management skills (Hawk et al., 2012; Zwieg et al., 2006). Large and medium-sized organizations have outsourced some technical development work traditionally assigned to entry-level IT personnel, such as application programming and IT system operations, making entry to the field difficult for those interested in more technical roles.

Alternatively there is increasing demand for mid-level IT workers in positions such as project managers, system analysts, and relationship managers (Gallagher et al., 2007; Zwieg et al., 2006), three key roles identified as vital to the IT department (Overby, 2007) according to an article in CIO Magazine. However, due to their lack of work experience, professionals may not be suited for the roles and responsibilities of these more advanced mid-level positions and what knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) are required in order to attain and succeed in such a role. Organizations struggle to define and outline IT career ladders for their employees. This is especially problematic if they no longer hire into traditional entry-level positions (Gallagher et al., 2007). One respondent explained (in our exploratory research described shortly), “I can buy skills in the application development world offshore…but my architects, I want to develop in house… [but then] I’m taking a large part of the feeder group out…I’m going to have a problem here.” Another executive explained that “developers are basically a commodity, so other than really specialized technical skills, those are things you would offshore”.

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