It’s a bit ironic to think that IT professionals pride themselves on their ability to remain on the cutting edge of new technological developments and future emerging technology trends. And yet, they seem to be completely oblivious about what’s going on within their own organization and the overall strategic direction of the company.
Access to resources are tight, and it’s every departmental head’s job to highlight the value of their contributions by emphasizing the value that they provide to the organization. Since IT is a cost-center, it’s very tempting to cut IT budgets in a time of financial difficulty.
And an important part of the IT manager’s job is to defend the role and the contributions of IT when it comes under attack.
Of course, you understand the critical importance that technology has to the health of the organization. But if you can’t properly communicate your position in a way that’s convincing to others, all of this means nothing.
That’s why you need to take a proactive role in guiding corporate strategy, and ensuring that the role of IT is clearly understood within this vision.
It’s a dangerous career mistake for IT to operate as an isolated bubble within the organization.
In addition to developing their technical skills, today’s proactive IT managers need to constantly working on their softer business and interpersonal skills.
IT managers and CIOs need to brush up on the company’s corporate strategy. This means attending meetings, reading annual reports, and learning as much as you can.
It also means that you should set up meetings with other departmental heads with the aim of learning about their own strategic outlook, and how IT can play a role in helping them meet these objectives.
And this should not be a one-time event. You need to constantly communicate with other departmental heads while also continuously be monitoring and adjusting your efforts accordingly. Likewise, you should also be constantly monitoring the objectives of the organization and potential changes in priorities or direction.
Rather than simply a function of the organization, IT should be seen as an indispensible team member. The roots of ITs efforts should sink deep into plans and objectives of other departments. And more importantly, these departmental heads need to have a clear understanding of ITs positive contributions to their operations.
This open communication can also help guide IT strategy by providing greater insight into the “big picture” of how IT efforts contribute value to the organization. This can help improve efficiency and reduce costs by allowing you to focus more energy on highly-contributing IT activities and putting aside less critical time-consuming tasks.
When times get tough and difficult choices need to be made, people will be less eager to attack IT if they believe that it may have negative effects on their own departments. And if IT does become the target of an attack, you’ll be able to capitalize on those relationships to rally other stakeholders to your defense.
It’s not enough to be hard-working and technically proficient. Above all, an IT manager needs to act as a leader who reminds others within the organization of Its contribution to revenue and productivity. And at the same time, an IT manager must also be an important team member that others rely on in order to achieve their goals.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how good you are if others don’t understand or appreciate the value you contribute. Forget this advice at your own peril.