In the first part of this series, I highlighted some of the ways in which IT professionals can make life easier on themselves and those around them. For this part, I’ll be focusing on what business leaders can do to make IT easier for themselves, their IT staff and their end-users.
A common problem in many businesses with the IT department, is that there can be a level of miscommunication between groups, which ultimately ends up with differences on what is being recommended by the IT staff and what the business leaders feel is necessary for their continued operations. It is not an uncommon situation for projects to hit the chopping block, despite the potential value add, because there was a fundamental misunderstanding between the key groups.
To avoid situations where a company is not getting its full value from the IT department, business leaders should use the tips below to help avoid some of the potential issues that can arise.
- Communicate the strategic vision
Business leaders need to ensure they are keeping the big picture in frame for their team members. This will help to keep departmental goals within scope and it will help to provide an idea around how projects fit in with these goals. Before starting a project make sure that the team is on board with the intended purpose of the project and how it aligns with the company’s strategic goals.
- Understand the company’s IT needs
Knowing the company’s IT needs will provide a great deal of clarity when budget time comes around. Oftentimes this department can be woefully understaffed, or severely overstaffed depending on the sway of those pushing for IT budgets. Having a clear concept around the company’s needs will create a better idea of what is required from the staff and where business leaders can trim the fat.
- Know when to ask questions
Most business leaders get to where they are because of their ability to know when they don’t know something. Having the ability to ascertain what is in their specific field of expertise and where they need some help will create more open communication between them and their staff. IT in particular can have some very specialized roles, knowledge, and skillsets, and having subject matter experts will require some trust on the part of the business leaders when asking questions.
- Listen to the answers when you ask questions
This sounds like a pretty obvious piece of advice, but when a business leader asks a question of their IT staff, the first answer they get (depending on the staff member) is likely going to be the most honest. If there is any apprehension the IT department’s ability to accommodate a request on the first ask, it’s likely a stretch. If they don’t understand IT, this is an even more important piece of advice. If someone is a part of the staff, there needs to be a level of trust to believe they have the company’s best interests at heart.
- Know the limits
This is an especially important item to understand if the IT department is working on a tight budget. It’s difficult to get a Mercedes on a Kia budget and having similar expectations of IT staff is a common problem. If the budget is tight and staff is stretched, it’s important to keep requests within the IT department’s skillset and scope. Asking for assistance with requests outside of their so-called wheelhouse, could cause some added stress for the team.
Communication is key in keeping a happy and efficient team and staff. The better a company communicates, the better it typically runs. Having a further understanding of how the staff runs and where there are deficiencies will add some added perspective for management and allow for better optimization of staff levels and goals.
For part three of this series, please check back later this week. If you have any stories or recommendations on for business leader in their dealings with IT, please hit the comment button at the top of this post, and as always, be sure to follow me on twitter @burked585.