The network manager (and his team) is responsible for maintaining the network. In order to carry out this task the network manager often has an elevated level of access privileges. The network manager should be able to expect these access rights as standard and would naturally expect a degree of autonomy from the company managers. Balancing these, are a set of responsibilities and duties that must be performed in order to maintain the position given. These rights, expectations and responsibilities will now be examined in more detail.



Network managers have a large and far reaching set of rights and privileges in order to help them administer to the network that which must be administered. A network manager may not necessarily directly exorcise those rights but will likely delegate certain roles to his team of administrators and technicians. Ultimately it must be recognised of all the administrators and technicians that they do not operate under their own authority and direction but under the authority and direction of the network manager and is the network manager alone who will answer for everything that they do, say or fail to do.

As will be made apparent in the section entitled "Responsibilities" the network manager is answerable for the network and activities carried out thereon. As such, the network manager must have the right to set out policies of acceptable use, grant and revoke rights of access to different areas of the network


  • To create acceptable use policies and to have users follow them.
  • To know the nature and quantity of all software installed across the entire network.
  • To set boundaries and restrictions, to enforce said limits and to have them recognised by the users.
  • A network manager would be severely handicapped in the execution of the role without the ability to initiate disciplinary proceedings against users who continuously and flagrantly flout the network regulations and usage policy. It is vital therefore that the network manager has the full understanding and support of the management structure and the empowerment to act in the best interests of the network.
  • Right to expect to be consulted by management regularly (and sadly often no hope of it what-so-ever).


The network manager that has not spent any significant time in the area of user support before taking up the role, as manager of the entire network, is likely to hold a number of seemingly logical but ultimately unreasonable expectations.

The network manager not used to dealing with users might expect that said users would act in a manor that the network manager might consider to be normal and sensible. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Users logging off correctly
  • Users knowing what they are doing or at the very least being sufficiently competent to be able to use a PC
  • Users following good passwords policies such as:
  • Not emailing ones own password to anyone else
  • Not leaving a machines unattended while logged on
  • Not letting another "borrow" ones login ID
  • Not using passwords that any fool can guess within sixty seconds

The network manager might expect the users to treat equipment with respect and to take system security seriously. This same manager might also expect curtsey and commonsense from the users.

What the network manager will actually get is a shocking disappointment. An experienced network manager will quickly realise that along with all the rights and responsibilities that the role entails - one should expect to organise regular and frequent user training sessions, if only for the sake of personal sanity.

A good network manager will realise that users can not be expected to behave in a manor suited to today's networked work-place unless the user is trained in the relevant policies and regulations of the work-place. The network manager who realises this must therefore expect training to be an ongoing and continuous expectation of the day-to-day running of the network.


The reason why network managers have such far-reaching rights is tied in part to the depth of responsibility that they have. The network manager is personally responsible for the network. This includes the content of users personal space and the software installed on every individual node on the network (PCs in the main).

The network manager has a responsibility to the user to ensure that resources (network connectivity, world wide web access etc) are constantly available and to ensure that all reasonable action has been taken to protect the user, the users data and the users privacy. This is made all the harder because of the user.

The network manager is required to provide freedom from undesirable events such as malicious and accidental misuse from other users or outside entities.

Under the Data Protection Act 1984, the company has a responsibility to manage and control the data it holds about individuals. The company must ensure that the data is accurate, secure and relevant. These tasks fall to the network manager. Trojan 

Under the Computer Misuse Act 1990, the network manager gained the added responsibility of ensuring that the network was not used and as far as is possible could not be used for unauthorised access to computer material, unauthorised access with intent to commit or facilitate commission of further offences, unauthorised modification of computer material. With access to the World Wide Web being seen as a must on modern networks it falls again to the network manager to clean up after the users.

Given network managers are held to be legally responsible for the content of the network a breach of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 could lead to the network manager being prosecuted. It is unsurprising then that network managers take such a dim view of users "only downloading" MP3s / Napster / Kaza / Cracks / Copies / games and all the other paraphernalia that those who know just a little too much feel they should be allowed to make use of.

The network manager's role can be broken down into four separate sections

User management

Full unrestricted access including:

  • Access to user accounts
  • Access all user files
  • Power to create, suspend and reset accounts

Software management

Given the personal implications of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 and the regular inspections that larger networks tend to have network managers are unsurprisingly keen to ensure that computers on the network have only the designated software installed.

  • New Licenses must be purchased as the network grows
  • New software must be accounted for in new budgets.
  • Virus Scan definitions must be kept up to date.
  • Keeping up to date with security patches.

Hardware management

Other management jobs

  • Authority to implement and enforce network policies
  • Password policies
  • Acceptable use
  • Restrictions of access to unauthorised personnel


With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

Clearly then, the network manager is in a position of substantial power yet the responsibilities that go with that power are equally great. The network manager must not only ensure that the network is functionally sound but that the users and the usage are equally compliant. The network manager must balance the requirements of law, the demands of the users, the direction of management and the dictates of an often very limited budget.

See Also: Network User and An introductory guide to networks
This write-up is based on UK law only and does not necessarily reflect the laws of other countries although it is considered that they will be similar.
This write-up was originally part of a much larger work by the author, written for an undergraduate assessment.
Thanks Brontosaurus for the patches head-up
  • (Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988)
  • (Computer Misuse Act)
  • (Data Protection Act 1984)

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