When running an IT department, one thing you do not want is other departments giving you credit for bad performance or loss of business. But considering IT is central in any business, its shortcomings are easily pointed out when anyone searches for reasons for not achieving goals.
Of course, all systems have history and an easy answer is to blame it on predecessors, their misunderstanding or outdated/bad development. But this only reinforces a negative vision of company IT and distracts from taking the lead in changing collaborator mindset. So, a few basic rules:
The first step is to accept and say “thank you for telling me this”. Take the bullet. This might not be the first thing that comes to mind but it does have an immediate positive impact:
- You are strong. Business people like Darwin’s phrase “Survival for the fittest”. To be respected you have to play hard and take the bullet when needed.
- You are open. People will feel they can come and talk to you. In the future they will know they can raise issues earlier because you have shown openness to criticism. This reinforces your position. When other departments have problems, they should come and talk with you as early as possible.
- The discussion has started. This is a necessary step towards resolution. And you already are in the process.
With acceptance cleared out of the way, there are no more bullets to shoot so your partnership can get down to work.
Bad IT is most of the time due to misunderstanding. You need to figure out the business and most of all understand what it is sales really want. This is a whole other issue we will not develop here. It’s a subject of its own.
- Discuss it. Understand the needs. Go into details. Take the time.
- They came with complains, you are listening to them. Once again communication reinforces your position. Openness. IT experts often lack communication skills. Real communication with others, people exchanging views. Where can we go from here? What could be an ideal solution for you? What are your needs? How is the current system not delivering properly? What do you expect from an excellent IT? How can we help increase your business, make it easier, faster?
Once you exchanged and everyone expressed what’s in their heart, you can define new business rules together (in stone of course).
Change request management 101. Definition. We are not talking about NPD (New Product Development) or Agile Development or Extreme Programming. This is fixing, you need clear, written operating procedures to formulate clear requests to IT.
Again this is also a whole story of its own, fight for definition. Facilitate it, pay someone to do it, do it if needed.
Then make sure the procedure is understood and validated by the business side. They need to agree on all parts. This includes timeframe and cost.
Do not do anything until this is clear.
This is your job. Deliver the improvement. Make the changes. Make it work within timeframe and cost.
This is when you really start to act on the company’s culture. Business had a problem. You solved it.
You are now part of the performance, you deliver stuff you all agreed was needed and business can now deliver, thanks to IT.
Talk about it. Manager meeting. Internal IT Blog. Personally go at their desk to ask about the change. Is it good? Does it work? is it helping?
Thank everyone for their precise input that helped you make the system work. Ask them for more whenever they feel more can be done.
You are now an effective partner the business people can count on to deliver.
You liked this? You did not? Tell me about it below.