The motto of many IT managers could easily be, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” It’s a fitting slogan because managers still face the same concerns now as they did a few months or a few years ago. Today’s issues of executing solid management strategies, retaining a qualified staff, and managing projects without breaking the budget are issues managers must confront no matter how the IT industry changes.

To help you answer some tough management questions, we’re highlighting the top IT Manager discussions from the past year. Although these discussions were launched in 2001, the advice and tips offered by TechRepublic members will guide you through decisions you are facing this year on a number of important topics, including whether to upgrade to Microsoft’s Windows XP or how to keep your best employees.

Are you ready for the eXPerience?
2001 was a big year for Microsoft, which managed to release a new operating system, Windows XP, during a year when the tech giant was also reneging on its decision to terminate the certification status of MCSE NT 4.0s and embroiled in its continuing antitrust litigation.

XP was the topic of the top IT Manager discussion of 2001. When Microsoft is involved, the discussion can move from which OS is best to the merits of certifications to the battle between Linux and Windows. This particular discussion was no different, but it did provide insight about how TechRepublic members feel about XP.

When asked if he would upgrade his machines to XP, member Matthew Damp said that there must be a clear business benefit from making the switch. “There has to be a legitimate business reason to upgrade anything as major as an OS. Obviously it varies from company to company, but there has to be a sound reason other than ‘everyone else is,’” said Damp.

Member TomSal doesn’t see an upgrade in his future. “Besides the fact that I plan on testing Linux in a few applications, I think upgrading to XP or W2K is pointless for us. We know NT 4 and Win98; we have our manuals and books on it—it works fine and does exactly what our business needs. So why change? Because MS (Microsoft) says so? Please.”

For more XP viewpoints and XP advice from TechRepublic members, browse the discussion’s 347 (and counting) replies. You can also add your own thoughts about the release of XP and tell other members if your shop will make the switch.

More hot IT Manager discussions

Click on these links to other popular 2001 discussions for advice on how to save organizational dollars and still complete quality software upgrades, how to put a forward face on your department for the rest of your organization, and how other TechRepublic members feel about using instant messaging in the corporate world.

Tips for keeping employees happy
Recruiting employees can be a difficult process. Retaining employees and keeping them satisfied can be even more difficult. Despite your best efforts, some employees will still seek other employment.

Accepting a resignation, especially one from a valued employee, can throw your management strategy off balance, according to TechRepublic columnist Andy Weeks. “Once an employee has made the decision to look at other opportunities, the odds are stacked against you as a manager. You can turn the situation around, but it takes intelligence and determination,” Weeks wrote in his column, “When should you stop valued employees from walking out the door?” The column generated one of the top IT Manager discussions of 2001.

In his column, Weeks explained that employees are usually unhappy because they feel they are underpaid or feel that they possess an advanced skill set that keeps them from moving up in the organization.

TechRepublic members agreed with Weeks in the discussion that followed the column. They also offered advice on how managers can be proactive instead of reactive when it comes to keeping top employees.

“Listen to your employees and address issues as they arise. Reacting after the fact is difficult and rarely results in long-term success for either employee or company,” said TechRepublic member Wayne Mack.

Member John Kimble said it’s up to managers and employees to work together on a solution. “As a manager, we have to walk a fine line between what is best for the company and what is best for the employee. The best solution means the employer receives fair value for the salary paid, and the employee receives fair value for the service provided,” said Kimble.

The discussion’s other 89 responses offer other words of wisdom managers can use when faced with trying to retain an employee who is planning to leave the organization.

We want to know what you think

What large IT or management issues do you think you will face in 2002? More of what you tackled in 2001? Drop us a line and tell us about what you think you’ll have to cope with in the next year.