I recently interviewed Teddy Abad-Perez, State of Colorado Division of Central Services, Department of Personnel & Administration- IDS Multi-Function Printer Program Manager and Brenda Berlin, State of Colorado Financial Services, Governor’s Office of Information Technology- Deputy Chief Information Officer, Chief Financial Officer. Teddy and Brenda agreed to further detail the “10-Step Plan for Working with IT” that they discussed in their IPMA conference session, “Working Smarter & Together with your IT Department.”
1. Engage IT early and often—deflect praise.
The first step that we would like you to take is to engage IT early and often. The importance of engaging IT is really to get their buy in on any IT project that you have associated with your in-plant, whether that’s a web solution or software solution. Generally, what we suggest you do is deflect the praise on “this is our idea.” This is a ‘together’; this is what we’re going to be doing together.
2. Absorb blame.
Choose to absorb blame. Do this because your IT department is the subject matter expert in IT. They might not agree with certain projects or a direction, but it’s very important to absorb blame. For instance, “We do not get the project architecture issue regarding the project. We are sorry that we didn’t get it to to you right away, but here are our ideas.”
3. Sweat the details.
It is very important to be detail oriented in any project you approach your IT department with. The IT department will generally rely on those details in terms of how they are going to envision your project going forward.
4. Involve IT early.
Number one is really engaging IT. You have to involve them early in project development. When it comes to a vendor show, and it would be very important to have their presence there with you so they can help you and guide you to the right solution.
5. Streamline process.
Five is a core word that should be used with both IT and a lot of strategic plans out there. It’s really how you streamline your business processes. Definitely talk about streamlining business processes and what that means with your IT group.
6. Always tell the reasons.
It’s important to include IT in the decision making process and the long term visions. Tell them the reason you’re going with the project, what the expected outcome is, what the measurements are for success, etc. so that they can feel like they are part of the process.
7. Never commit without IT.
As mentioned in numbers one and four, please include IT early and often. It’s worse to include IT at the end, because then they have to play catch-up on a project. It does not make for a smooth process.
8. Respect their time.
The IT shop is just as busy as everybody else. Be respectful of their time. Make sure meetings are scheduled and run on time, and that you’ve done good estimates on resource availability and what is necessary for implementing a physical project.
9. Be specific.
Be specific in the outcomes, what the long term goal is and the long term business needs. It will be difficult for IT to evaluate a project if they don’t have the specifics of what you’re looking for.
10. Trust them.
I know that’s a difficult thing for a business to hear, but trust your IT department. We really truly do want the best for the customer and the project, and we can give good advice and recommendations on solutions and direction about where the project needs to be. We’re not there to get in the way of the project or just be a burden. We’re truly there to help make the project successful, because we want a good outcome just as much as the business does. The State of Colorado’s Governor’s Office of Information Technology has published a playbook that defines the Governor’s Office of Information Technology (OIT’s) priorities and provides a strategic and operational road map to working with the department.
To hear more about the 10-step process, watch the full 23 minute “Working Smarter & Together with your IT Department” session video. To learn about IT Security, see the presentation “IT Security: What an In-Plant Needs to Know.”