Communicating the Value of IT Rollouts

Author: Dana Dornbusch

Each of our IT service managers is responsible for operating their service, measuring its impact, managing its cost, and evolving the service over time. How the service evolves, or its “roadmap”, is based on changing user requirements, product evolution, technology changes, cost pressures, and industry trends. The service manager must stay informed and continuously question their assumptions as they develop their roadmaps. But almost as important as the ability to develop their roadmap is the need to communicate their roadmap. Explaining their roadmaps to others can be challenging. To help them focus, I recommend that they concentrate on three things:

Think of Yourself as the Customer. My husband used to work for a large credit card company. That phrase, “Think of yourself as the customer”, was written over every doorway. Literally. It appeared in thousands of places. And I’ve always liked it. It can be interpreted multiple ways. But in this case, I ask our service managers to step out of their role and think about things from a customer point of view. Meeting a new security standard or increasing availability are important but those aren’t new capabilities that resonate with users. Users want to know what new features will be available and how those features are going to change the way that they work day-to-day.

Forget the Geek Speak. Every specialty seems to have its own language – not just the engineers. Jargon. Acronyms. Buzzwords. Gibberish. We all use it (or should I say “utilize” it?). But unless the person that you are talking to is also fluent, forget it. As you extend beyond your area of specialty, the language must become the language of business, not technology. Your language needs to be plain and speak clearly to the business value at hand.

Less is More. Our service managers are passionate about their services. They live for the details. And when you are an expert, you want to share what you know. (Technologists tend to think the number of bullets in the presentation will demonstrate their effort and expertise, but I think that the number of bullets is often inversely proportional to quality.) Simple is good. Share your conclusions, but not every twist and turn you took to get there. Concentrate on the high-level value of your service changes, but not each detail. Keeping these three things in mind can help present plans to users in a way that they can understand, evaluate, and react to.

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