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More effective communication?

Posted on 2014-01-15
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I'm writing an article on how IT managers can more effectively communicate with people in other departments and even align their actions with the goals of other departments to increase business. I was hoping some of you wouldn't mind chiming in on what you find are the biggest challenges you face in this area, problems you regularly encounter, etc. I'm also interested in stories of how you may have creatively resolved issues. Any help greatly appreciated. Thanks.
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Question by:MPPAshley
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Author Comment

by:MPPAshley
ID: 39783877
OK. If it isn't obvious, I'm new to EE. My impression was I could only post a question in 3 subject areas at once?
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Author Comment

by:MPPAshley
ID: 39785540
Thanks so much, padas. Will do :)
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m0tan earned 63 total points
ID: 39785647
I guess it sort of depends on what environment you're in.  For an IT Manager in a non-tech business, it's going to be more a vernacular and scope creep situation where people start talking about their printers because they have no idea what cloud computing means, or long informational discussions and presentations describing said technologies before even getting close to budgeting for them.

Also, many department managers will not understand the overall scope of what you're trying to do, so explaining the complexities of your operation when asking for specifics for your projects are sometimes a must.  You don't want to overwhelm your own people by trying to squeeze in a million different requests into one project when they can be pushed out, so try to find out what they need versus what they want and roll the projects out accordingly.  You also want to determine what YOU need versus what YOU want in that same respect.  Trying to achieve too much too quickly on either side will make projects appear rushed and you can lose the trust that you've already worked so hard to gain from those departments.
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Assisted Solution

by:Aaron Tomosky
Aaron Tomosky earned 63 total points
ID: 39785737
I find the hardest to be infrastructure projects that were minimally scoped at origin. For example you have a business project and buy them a server and all is happy. Then a few months go by and it ends up needing more storage and a larger backup. The original project is already closed and done and justifying backups is next to impossible because "it runs just fine now doesn't it?"

Even tougher are things that affect all projects like switches and routers and esxi licensing. I think the best way is to add padding to every project that can be pooled for those things but honestly it's something in still working on because our accounting doesn't work that way.
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by:Scott Pletcher
Scott Pletcher earned 62 total points
ID: 39785854
IT managers must get rid of the techno-speak and use business language when appropriate.  For example, "cloud" is meaningless.  You have to phrase it in "real" language that makes business sense.
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Assisted Solution

by:Rob
Rob earned 62 total points
ID: 39787357
I think ScottPletcher has hit the nail on the head.  You need to use their language, not yours.  I use analogies all the time using familiar everyday things like cars and houses.  They're not always perfect because a car isn't a computer (well most of it isn't haha) but they get the point across.

The biggest headaches I've come across is firstly justifying a process and then how long a process takes.  The Non techs (and management) will often assume that things can be done very quickly when it comes to IT.  I've had to break down how and why things take as long as they will but avoiding the use of any kind of tech speak.  I keep breaking down something until they can see the steps involved and the effort.

One fail-safe in communication is making sure they understand why you are changing or implementing certain infrastructure.  Often the non techs don't understand what's going on other than something is changing on them again.  Being able to explain your actions in terms of Profit, Costs and Efficiency will usually get the point across.
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Author Closing Comment

by:MPPAshley
ID: 39804198
Thanks so much for all your feedback. I hated to make you share the points and wish I could have given the full amount to each of you. Would any of you object to a direct quote for my article?
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Expert Comment

by:Scott Pletcher
ID: 39804441
I don't, minimal as what I said was :).
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Expert Comment

by:Rob
ID: 39804911
I don't mind either, quote away.  I'm sure you will but please link back to EE and include the EE domain :)
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by:Rob
ID: 39807884
Also when linking please link to the experts profiles as this question isn't public to everyone.
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