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How do I improve communication between different IT teams

By vincent_mcguire ·
I have a dilema at the moment in trying to improve communication bewteen site IT people and regional engineers that support them. In my current role I am part of a technology team that is responsible for the support/direction of IT within numerouse sites in Europe. On a bi-weekly basis we, the regional team, have setup a 1hr con call to improve communications with site IT staff so that we can work closely together on projects and help solution problems they may have. The dilema I have is that hardly anybody from the site IT staff attend these calls. In order to overcome any cultural/language problems we decided to start 1-1 calls instead of the open bi-weekly's we had with all sites at the same time. Each week a site engineer personally receives a call from a regional engineer and is asked some questions from a predefined template that we use to document issues. In some cases this has helped build relationships but in other cases the same people that did not attend the bi-weekly calls do not participate in the 1-1 calls. Do you guys/gals have any ideas on how I can improve communication from site to region, while minimising the 1-1 calls as this takes up a lot of time when you have 17 sites to support. Keep in mind the communication is a 2 way street and both parties have to actively participate in order to be effective.

Thanks

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Management Issue

by BFilmFan In reply to How do I improve communic ...

If they are failing to attend a meeting that has been scheduled, that is an issue for management to rectify. The management person responsible for supervising these folks needs to be made aware of the issue. Have your manager speak to their manager.

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enhance relevance, relationships and respect

by fultonwilcox In reply to How do I improve communic ...

People almost universally complainis a near-universal about the proliferation of meeting and conference calls, exception if the people involved sense that those meetings are directly relevant to succeeding at the job. The content not only needs to be relevant, it needs to seem relevant.

Calls are not very good for building new relationships. Also, what is critical is to define inter-team roles that are meaningful and realistic, as well as having a reward system (not necessarily money) for those who successfully build relationships.

We are all familiar with the "go to" person phenomenon - people respect and want to talk to the "go to" person (or people) relative to a given topic or problem. The effective communications paths within a team and between teams is not necessarily official. Are you leveraging natural lines of communication? Have these distant teams through previous experience even established "go to" relationships.

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Management

by house In reply to How do I improve communic ...

It is most definitely a management issue. If someone in our organization refuses to attend a weekly meeting, then they are dealt with accordingly. It is very important for everyone to be on the same page whether or not their job titles are similar.

The department has to move as one entity or it will be anarchy. Enforce some new corporate policies and make this communication manditory. There is someone who is above both parties in question.

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There's a human here!!!

by awfernald In reply to How do I improve communic ...

One of the major issues that I have had to deal with in working in international environments is that the people on each end of the phone don't "realize" that there is a live human being on the other end of the phone.

To the regional support, there's a problem at site 6, rather than "Jim in London is having a problem".

To the people at the local sites, it's "some guy from regional is supposed to be able to help if you can ever get hold of him", rather than "Pedro at the central office is going to help us work through this problem."

There are several ways to work around this problem:

1. Teleconferencing - Not a super plan, but at least you can see the people on the other end.

2. Regional meeting(s) - You can either:
a. Have regional support personnel who are active in providing support to the local sites, and send them at LEAST once a year to each site. This works unless you only have one or two regional support personnel.
b. Sponsor a regional conference where the regional IT management will finance each site to send 1 local manager and 1 TECHNICIAN to a 3 or 4 day regional conference. The purpose of this conference is to have each local site present what /how they are implementing regional polices/products and how they have worked around specific issues, and also for the regional managers to get the local site managers/technicians informed about what new systems/technologies are in the pipeline.

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It's harder than it seems

by Hockeyist In reply to There's a human here!!!

International teams are hard to manage. I have had first hand experience and had similar results as you. The best thing that you can do is get the commitment from their supervisor/manager. Recalcitrants should be dealt with swiftly to stop the team falling apart. By "dealt with" I don't mean sacking etc.. just react appropriately and effectively to resolve the issue. There are plenty of books on the subject. Show some "wins" from the meetings, maybe others will be more eager to participate.

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Building Relationships

by lindahatton In reply to How do I improve communic ...

Hi Vincent,

If you can change the situation yourself it comes off a lot better in the end, rather than involving management to force the issue. The old saying you get more with honey than vinegar stands true in this situation. Of course keep your communication open with management so to keep them informed of the situation.

Put a face to the voice, ask your manager to purchase a digital camera for the group and take pictures of each of your team members and post them on your intranet site, so the individuals offshore can follow suit.

I am currently writing a thesis on communication management strategy and there are three main points why projects are successful:
1) Executive Support
2) Buiding Lasting Relationships
3) Using the right media for communication.

I would always suggest creating a communication plan, and you can find some great articles on the subject at techrepublic, cio, and gantthead websites.

I wish you happy communicating on your project.

Linda Hatton

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site verses site

by jdclyde In reply to How do I improve communic ...

I have seen there is always a form of rivalry between departments, shifts, locations.

If it is seen as the regional is looking over the locals shoulder because they can't do it alone is condensending and insulting to the locals and they will resent this.

You need to get people from both locations to "buy into" the idea and find a way to make it work.

The way I would approach this would be to (in person if possible) meet with the leaders at each location and ask them the following:

1) how can the other location help?
2) how do you get that help?
3) how often do you get that help?
4) is the help given as an equal or as the hero rushing in to save the day because the local tech couldn't hack it?

Get their feedback and ask them how you can help rather than telling them how you can help.

They will feel more a part of the team and doing something because they want to, not because someone at the end of a phone told them to.

Good luck.

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Champion leaders

by achin77 In reply to site verses site

Well I can suggest following solutions:

a) Make atleast one person responsible at each location - as champions leaders. It would be easy for this champion to communicate with the local people and since it will be his/her responsibility/kra - he will make sure they listen to you.

b) The other alternative is to have a net meeting - this will also sensitize them to a great extent.

c) The last option could be a stick approach if the things are getting out of control and there is no other option.

I think there is no single solution to this and you have to use a combination of the above.

Achin

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How do I improve communication between different IT teams

by IanR41 In reply to How do I improve communic ...

Vincent, this is always a challenge. I am the Group Consultant EBusiness/IT for the Vedior group, and my role is to facilitate communication, on a global basis. I also come into daily contact with our CIO's and I think there are some issues that are common.
First of all, the issue of language. I think having multilingual people on your team is essential. Second, is create bonding sessions, that is, bring leaders together for a couple of days...to hammer out issues and gain their buy-in. Third, is to use all the collaboration tools at your disposal. We have recently started to use Skype. Its great, free, and reliable. Fourth, make sure each member of the team has clear cut responsibilities. In our group it has taken some 4 years of effort to create the collaboration and understanding - and though far from perfect, it is working. We are also lucky in having the buyin of the company executive team. I live and work in Australia, but report to my boss in UK, and we are all members of a Dutch company. Virtual teams do work, but they take work.

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what worked for me

by mengel In reply to How do I improve communic ...

first of all know where people are coming from, what are motive to respond in a manner that they do. especially learining what they can loose by changes/cooperations. of course this is hard to get if you have little time.
this is interesting to know for you, so you can play the game of politics better, totally not interesting for the others concerned as you are the one to achieve a deadline/goal.

Secondly forget about e-mail, use e-mail for information and meetings/teleconference for communication. Make sure yhe meetings/teleconference have an agenda with discussion point and needed goals. Using the information you have learned in the first issue, you can better work on finding a compromise or mutual benefits for the parties concerned.

good luck

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