I’m tired of feeling like an order taker for the business group I support. How do I get them to ask me what’s needed, not just tell me what to do and what reports to build?
The short answer to your question is to begin moving toward being an internal consultant, rather than simply a technical resource. The long answer to your question is the remainder of this blog.
My advice to you is to be proactive with your business users, not just reactive. That is to say, slowly move toward suggesting innovative business solutions related to the technology you provide. Then, over time, as your business users begin to appreciate the value of your suggestions, they will begin to come to you as a problem solver, not as just a solution provider.
Moving to a proactive role and being seen as such, by its nature, is not an easy task. To make this transformation, consider the following steps:
1. Gain a deep understanding of the work performed by the group you support. a. What do they do? b. How do they do it? c. Why do they do it that way? d. What issues do they have that could potentially be solved using technology? e. How comfortable are they with using technology? f. What challenges and issues exist related to change? g. How do other companies in your industry perform similar tasks? 2. Understand what processes, support, and project work your group (not just you personally) is currently providing to your user group. 3. Ask yourself what technology exists within your company that could be used in innovative ways to help your business users. For example, the Agile/Scrum Software Methodology can be used in many ways, far beyond simply software development. That said, are your business users performing any tasks and/or projects that could take advantage of the Agile/Scrum related processes? As a second example, let’s say that you support the Customer Service group and one of your peers just implemented a new Customer Resource Management (CRM) system for the Sales group. Could your Client Service users also take advantage of this system? 4. Ask yourself if there are there any technologies not currently at your company, but used within your industry, that would be of value to your users? 5. Ask yourself if there are any technologies used within other industries that would be of value to your users? 6. With this understanding of your business users, the technologies currently being provided, and other technologies inside and outside your industry, ask yourself what you and your department can do to help your users solve existing business issues and/or exploit new business opportunities. 7. Prioritize your ideas based on Return on Investment (ROI), likelihood of success, business priorities, and other factors. 8. Slowly, consistently, and strategically suggest your prioritized ideas to your manager and business users. 9. Learn from their feedback and, if needed, adjust your approach and prioritization before suggesting your next idea. 10. If one of your suggestions is accepted, follow through to assure your suggestion(s) is successfully implemented.
Back to your original question, over time, following these ten steps and making appropriate adjustments as needed, will help position you not only as a thought leader to your business users, but also potentially for promotion within your IT organization.
If you have any questions about your career in IT, please email me at eric@ManagerMechanics.com or find me on Twitter at @EricPBloom.
Until next time, work hard, work smart, and continue to grow.
Read more of Eric Bloom's Your IT Career blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Eric on Twitter at @EricPBloom. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.