Developing relationships with your peers and stakeholders is a big step forward in developing a better understanding of IT throughout your organization. And the benefits of positive relationships are inversely proportional to stupid questions and obstacles.
But its worth doing this explicitly, as well. Create a list of the key business initiatives or priorities you take from conversations with your business counterparts. Then, when you present IT plans, budgets, or review progress, always map your discussion to something that has been defined and named by the business.
Using their names and vocabulary for business priorities when you talk about IT will put you leagues ahead in creating understanding for what you are doing. For example, the label PeopleSoft contractors in your budget will attract scrutiny and hassle where the label Grow Revenue in Eastern Europe will be understood and less likely to be questioned.
Deliver and Manage
IT delivers many services to the business, but many IT organizations lose the opportunity to get recognized for what they deliver either because they dont communicate about it, or because the business doesnt understand what they are saying. Let the business define and name the services and how you measure them.
For example, instead of a user coming to your help desk and finding SAP Database Support and a monthly application availability metric (which are IT definitions), call it Get Help with SAP Financials and report specifically on the performance of the order entry system at quarter endlike the business would do.
Finally, developing a communication plan is an important part of building relationships and credibility. Dont leave this to chance. Decide who your stakeholders are and develop and schedule a communication plan to keep them informed. This will likely be a done by a combination of emails, short reports, lunches, and in-person meetings. Have your team help you build the communications and have your assistant help you schedule the meetings. Manage it like any other program and keep it consistent.
IT is misunderstood and you cant change that. But you can improve your rate of success if you take it upon yourself to bridge the gap. The result is you will be able to get more done by removing the obstacles that come from poor credibility, and you will develop the political power necessary to get your seat at the table.
Editors Note: This is the first article in an eight-part series based on Pattys first CIOUpdate column How to Overcome ITs Credibility Challenges.
At age 33, Patty Azzarello became the youngest general manager at HP. At age 35 she was running a $1B software business. Patty is now the founder and CEO of Azzarello Group, which delivers practical, experience-based tools to CIOs and other business leaders through products and services including articles, online programs, executive coaching, public speaking & workshops.