In most surveys of IT executives, aligning IT with company business goals is always a top priority. One way to approach this task is through a top-down approach. Learn what the company’s business goals are and make sure your staff knows what it has to do to meet those objectives and needs.
Another, complementary way to align IT with business goals is to find out from end users if they’re getting from IT what they need to push these goals through. To get this information, IT must establish some kind of regular feedback mechanism and use the information garnered to adjust IT staff behavior and/or available technical resources.
Carla Flaim, IT manager for Health Care for the Homeless, Inc., sent us a sample survey she uses to initiate feedback from the end users in her organization.
“The feedback helps us get a handle on the training needs of our staff and design an IT structure that will meet the needs of end users. Our agency is beginning a five-year strategic plan that will incorporate a lot of the stuff we got from the surveys,” Flaim said.
Part of the survey is made up of 10 multiple-choice statements. Then there is a more open-ended section where users can offer suggestions for future IT endeavors that would make their lives easier. You can download this sample survey here.
Some of the questions on the survey are geared toward discerning how IT staff members are doing—as in how quickly IT addresses computer problems and how helpful the staff is. Feedback from this area can tell you if your staff’s behavior is conducive or counter to the needs and objectives of a performing business. If opinion of your IT staff is positive, then you can present the results to senior management as proof that IT is supporting business goals. If the opinion is negative, you can make adjustments based on the feedback and improve the reputation and value of your staff to the rest of the company.
The questions also attempt to determine if users’ business needs are being met by the kind of equipment and applications they have access to. One section in particular drills down on what applications and features are currently being used and how often they’re being used. This is followed up with an opportunity for the user to list additional applications, reports, or databases that they want access to. This type of information is invaluable to IT managers who are planning the IT budget.
Flaim says that the fact that those who fill out the survey don’t have to give their names helped IT get a great response, and also an honest one.
This survey is one small step in determining how end users view IT behavior and endeavors. You can use the feedback gleaned from the survey to change the way your staff approaches initiatives, challenges, goals, communication, performance, and change. It can also better define IT’s role in the organization.
Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.