Three reasons why the voice of IT gets ignored
May 13, 2009, 1:49pm PDT | Length: 00:05:58
IT leaders sometimes feel like their voice gets ignored, which leads to failed projects and technology problems that IT ultimately gets blamed for. This episode of Sanity Savers for IT executives looks at three ways you can communicate effectively with your fellow company leaders and establish yourself as the authority in the IT decision-making process.
Jason Hiner: Do you sometimes feel like your business colleagues don't really listen to you? Maybe you advise against adopting a particular application, but a business unit leader goes against your advice. And then when the application falls short of expectations, IT gets blamed for the failure. So how can you support your fellow company leaders if they won't listen to you?
I'm Jason Hiner, and today on Sanity Savers for IT Executives, we'll look at three ways you can communicate effectively with your fellow company leaders and establish yourself as the authority in the IT decision-making process.
Communication problems between IT and the business are common in organizations of all sizes, but they usually boil down to the same three issues:
- Lack of business knowledge
- Using the wrong language, and
- Lack of assertiveness
If your opinions are being ignored, this is the place to start. Addressing these issues will help you build your credibility and status within the organization. Let's consider each of these issues in turn.
Number one: Lack of business knowledge
In many organizations, projects are proposed -- and often initiated and executed -- by IT departments without much consideration for the current economic climate, the state of their organization's industry, or the needs and priorities of the company. This may be one of the key reasons why so many CIOs play second fiddle to the rest of the C-level executive team.
If you want your words to be taken seriously, you need to be able to converse on business topics, demonstrate your knowledge and appreciation of current business challenges, and be able to introduce ideas that are relevant, exciting, and profitable. If you do, you will establish your credibility and people will start listening to what you say.
Number two: Using the wrong language
You have every right to be concerned over the lack of transactional integrity in the vendor's application. But if you voice your concerns to your business counterparts using terms like "transactional integrity," their eyes will glaze over. They may nod politely and even appear concerned, but your language won't convey your message with the sense of importance and urgency it deserves.
If you want your words to make an impact, you'll have to translate them into business language. For example, you might say:
My concern is that the application does not prevent incomplete transactions. Our customers may receive goods they haven't paid for or we may fail to ship equipment that has been paid for, jeopardizing our service levels and opening the door to contract penalties. And we will never know for sure how much inventory we have on hand.
Now, all of a sudden, your message can be understood, this kind of a nightmare is easy to visualize from a business point of view and that will make business leaders want to avoid these potential problems just as much as you do.
Number three: Lack of assertiveness
Management sometimes forgets who the trusted IT authority within the organization is. You would never tell the marketing head how to run advertising campaigns -- so why have so many IT departments become order-takers, being told what solution to implement and which vendor to select?
You must act assertively if your words are to have any weight. You should collaboratively work with business unit leaders to address problems and opportunities with technology solutions. And you must educate your business counterparts on the latest tech developments and then explore the potential business impact of those developments together.
Don't allow solutions to be foisted on you. It devalues your department and compromises its status within the organization. Above all, it leads to misguided projects and missed business opportunities.
These three factors -- lack of business knowledge, using the wrong language, and lack of assertiveness -- can almost always be effectively remedied. And as you turn things around, you'll start generating positive momentum for IT projects, revitalizing the IT department itself, and delivering great value to your organization.
I'm Jason Hiner and this has been an episode of Sanity Savers for IT Executives. For more, go to sanity.techrepublic.com. And if you have questions or your own sanity savings tips, e-mail them to us at email@example.com. For those of you on Twitter, you can find me at twitter.com/jasonhiner. Thanks for watching. See you next time.