5 Ways to Make IT Work with IC
Generate buy-in from the IT department for your next internal comms initiative.
Many organizations expect their internal communicators to be strategists, with impressive stats to back up their actions. They’re expecting significant results but ask their communicators to wear too many hats.
As an internal communicator, you’re the informant for every department, the C-Suite interpreter, culture architect, and facilitator of the classic “two-way conversation” in your organization.
When you finally have a moment to develop a new initiative or find an innovative new tool you’re ecstatic to run with, you reach out to “Jeff in IT” for implementation. Then, he pushes back or even shuts it down. You find yourself trying to resuscitate your project before it even has a chance, and it’s incredibly frustrating.
With a little help from an undisclosed source, Cerkl’s very own “Jeff in IT,” we’ll help you jump over this hurdle and show you how to develop a strong relationship with your tech team for future projects.
Maybe you can even collaborate on a blog piece together someday ;).
1. Think empathetically and establish connections
If you want a beneficial partnership, you need to take the time to connect with your IT people.
They don’t usually have normal conversations outside of their department, just people telling them something else is broken. They want to be treated like people, not just problem-solvers. Ask about their kids or talk about a new tv show they just started when you walk past them in the hallway or in the breakroom.
Like internal communicators, tech teams face similar never-ending to-do lists. With their time split up between providing and updating network security, data backup, cloud confusion, integrations, and more, the stress of adding another task can be overwhelming.
Instead of thinking about shifting priorities and splitting the work amongst team members, “Jeff in IT” might say, “I don’t see how this delivers enough value to make it worth our team taking it on.”
It’s essential to meet face-to-face with your IT liaisons. Take them out to coffee or lunch once a month. “Jeff in IT” and I are big fans of the local taco joint down the road.
If your tech team is out of town, allocate travel expenses as part of your annual budget. I know it’s a digital age, but leaving your communications to email and video conferencing is not going to establish the connection that you’ll need to cultivate a true partnership.
2. Problem-solve the pain together
As we all know, IT department’s resources are constrained, and they can’t afford to take on things that don’t bring immediate value.
So take a moment, and ask yourself: how early in the process can I involve my tech team?
Instead of dropping a project request in their inbox, schedule an initial ideation meeting with your go-to tech person. Presenting the problem that your organization is facing and opening the floor to discussing a possible remedy will create buy-in. Now, you’re a team working together towards a roadmap.
I asked my anonymous techy for an example of a time where teams who spoke with us were a united front. “There are orgs that push out emails, and because they don’t have real-time analytics, IT has to run a report for them. For basic email metrics like open rate, it would take a day to pull,” says “Jeff from IT.” “Then, they’d come back a day later and ask them for updated metrics.”
How can you solve that unnecessary pain for their department? By establishing a new request system? Updating your tools? Either way, aligning with each other about potential solutions is vital.
3. Provide them with the resources they need
Your teams are now one problem-solving task force. There are no more drive-by task assignments; you’re working together to solve the pains of your organizations. It may seem more comfortable, but don’t revert to planning by yourself, you’re in this together.
If you’re working with an outside company – when you’re implementing a new tool, for example – make sure that you’re making those connections. Your IT department doesn’t want to be thrown when they have to integrate with the new platform. My IT source said it’s a common pain amongst implementers.
“It’s hard to ask the right questions and gauge an accurate project timeline if we can’t ask our technical questions in the beginning. Connecting with a software company’s customer service and tech team is essential to implementation,” says “Jeff in IT.”
When you’re beginning your vetting process, make sure that you are asking your potential vendor about technology supplements. This is a great way to keep IT in mind while providing value to their department. For example, we have our own site for our API integrations made specifically for the IT department of our partners during onboarding. We’ve found that it cuts down on integration time, creates transparency, and has made our communicators seem like strategic team players.
4. Give credit where credit is due
Cross-departmental collaboration in large organizations can be challenging. Often, departments feel siloed or are physically separated by states. But, your task force created something together, and that deserves celebration.
Send out a message and thank you gifts. Shout it from the rooftops if you’d like to! “Without our innovative tech team to guide and help us, we wouldn’t have [fill in the blank].”
Showing some love now will both make you a great colleague and help you with your next initiative.
5. Embrace the process
Ultimately, the best way to make IT work with IC is by practicing empathy and collaborating. I know they’re game-changing concepts.
Though simple in theory, they can be difficult in practice. We both want the best for our organizations and departments, but sometimes we forget that by aligning, we’re forging a roadmap for success together. Instead of being irritated with the process, discuss your shared visions and how to advocate for one another.
We promise they align with each other more than you’d expect.
Your friendly neighborhood Comms and IT Squad