Seven Conversations You Need to Have With IT—and One to Avoid

1 - Seven Conversations You Need to Have With IT—and One to Avoid
2 - ‘Let Me Tell You What We’re Doing as a Business’
3 - ‘Do We Have an App for That?’
4 - ‘Here’s What Drives Me Mad—Every Day’
5 - ‘Can You Shadow Me for a Day?’
6 - ‘What Are Your Top Three Wins, and How Can I Get on That List?’
7 - ‘What Does Success Look Like for You?’
8 - ‘How Can I Make Your Life Easier?’
9 - One Conversation You Should Definitely Not Have With IT
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Seven Conversations You Need to Have With IT—and One to Avoid

When is the last time you talked to your IT department outside of a red alert situation? Most people treat their IT department like an ER. When something breaks, you burst through the doors, get it fixed and don’t go back until the next thing breaks. But your IT team can do a lot more for you than that. Think of it less as an ER and more like a robotics shop. Sure, they can suture a wound, but they can also fit you with a bionic arm. They are always learning about the newest applications and hardware. It’s what they love, and as technology becomes a bigger part of every business, you need to make the best use of their expertise. This eWEEK slide show, based on industry information from Sid Suri, vice president of IT market strategy at Atlassian, presents seven conversations you should have with your IT team to maximize your workplace technology.

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‘Let Me Tell You What We’re Doing as a Business’

If your IT guys aren’t suggesting better ways to meet your company goals, it’s probably because you haven’t included them in the conversation. The gap between business and IT is well-documented, and it’s preventing you from tapping into a wealth of knowledge. Get your IT staff up to speed on your strategic goals. If they know you’re about to ramp up a revenue-generating project, they may have valuable insights and contributions, and even be able to help by reprioritizing projects on their end to help you better meet your goals. Bringing them into the business conversation will give them a sense of ownership, which will invariably lead to better results.

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‘Do We Have an App for That?’

Even if you work at a smaller company, you probably don’t know all the tools your colleagues are using. If you need an application for something, chances are someone in the organization has already researched the problem—and IT may even have extra software licenses you can use. This not only saves you money, but also the hassle of researching a new tech solution yourself, getting it approved and waiting for IT to install it. Your IT team will love you if you ask for advice instead of adding to the long list of tools they already have to manage. Before you dive in, find out if your company really needs another new app.

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‘Here’s What Drives Me Mad—Every Day’

You probably take your biggest technology headache for granted, but have you shared it with anyone? It’s likely no one even knows you spend countless hours uploading and formatting blogs to an antiquated Wordpress system when there are 17 tools that could do the job much better. You don’t need to have all the answers to approach IT. Just tell them, “I spend too many hours formatting things and I want to focus on the writing.” You may be pleasantly surprised. Most IT teams want to help, but they can’t if they don’t know what’s bothering you.

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‘Can You Shadow Me for a Day?’

If you only meet with your IT team once a quarter, it’s impossible to remember in that moment all the things you struggled with over the previous months. Ask your IT person to sit with you for a day and watch you work. As you pull up that report, he or she will be able to see that you waste an hour formatting data before you can do five minutes of useful work. Maybe you have the wrong tool. Maybe it needs to be customized. Companies that are highly tech-driven sometimes embed an IT person within a department for a few weeks. When IT feels the pain of what you do and lives it alongside you, they can help you much better.

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‘What Are Your Top Three Wins, and How Can I Get on That List?’

This is a big one. You get as much out of IT as you put into it. Somewhere in your company, someone has taken the initiative to engage the IT department on a big project, and now they’re reaping the benefits. Ask your IT team what they’ve been working on lately that they’re proud of. Get them to do a weekly show-and-tell. Tell them you’d like to engage them more in the future. How do big projects get approved? What criteria need to be met? They want wins as much as you do. Be part of your IT department’s next great success.

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‘What Does Success Look Like for You?’

IT isn’t some isolated group that sits apart from the company. You’re on the same team, and you have a stake in each other’s success. Take time to understand what success for them looks like. Winning is a two-way street, and your IT department will serve you better if you can align your goals. Tell them what you need, but also ask how they measure their own success. That way everyone gets better results.

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‘How Can I Make Your Life Easier?’

OK, you needed that new app because it’s better than the one the folks over in marketing have. But now that you’ve secured the tool you need, try to make it more palatable for the people who have to implement and support you. Ask how you can make their lives easier. “Sure, you have another tool to manage; what can I do to make it less painful?”

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One Conversation You Should Definitely Not Have With IT

“Can you help figure out why my daughter’s Instagram photos aren’t showing up in her Facebook feed?” C’mon, they have a job to do. They might be nice enough to help, but these non-work requests waste everybody’s time. Just Google it.