You know that your IT department is staffed by competent, qualified and hard-working employees. But the perception held by the rest of the organization may be the opposite.
IT departments, like other essential service departments within organizations, are often guilty of failing to market themselves effectively internally. They often work on the assumption that other departments all understand their role within the company and the value that they add.
Without understanding what goes on behind the scenes, or the different technical impositions and restrictions that your department has to work with constantly, people from non-technical jobs can feel they are constantly hindered by IT failures and system down-time.
In many organizations the IT department has a reputation that it is “the department of no” and actively resists assisting other teams with innovative projects that need customized IT solutions. Even though the reality might be because of system constraints or security fears, the perception can be that IT is inflexible and creates obstacles.
According to a survey of 275 business professionals and 375 technology professionals from CompTIA, 52 per cent of business managers reported having “a good relationship” with their company’s IT department.
In some organizations, even when IT departments are maintained in-house, there can be a definite “silo” and the department will have an outsider reputation. IT professionals see themselves as IT professionals, and not necessarily part of the industry that your company operates in.
IT departments are sometimes hidden away in parts of a building where they aren’t sitting with the rest of your staff, and can seem like they aren’t always “part of the team”.
If you want to improve your IT department’s reputation and image within your company, you need to market it effectively to other employees. There are simple measures you can put in place that will easily give your team the boost that it needs.
Always start with a plan. The IT department should have a business plan that sets out objectives, KPIs, benchmarks and other performance goals.
Ideally your plan will have been developed in conjunction with, or following consultation with, key internal stakeholders. Getting other teams involved at this level can help sew the seeds among other employees about the important role the IT department plays.
2. Internal market research
You might hear things you don’t want to hear, but it’s best to rip the Band Aid off and get on with it. Ask your employees for feedback on what is working and what isn’t working when it comes to the service that they receive from the IT department.
Also ask what else they would like to see. Don’t be afraid to innovate and to think outside the box. There is no rule that says your IT department has to be exactly like every other IT department in every other company. Take the opportunity to work with your organization to come up with custom solutions to support the work that it does.
3. Promote the work that you do
What internal communications channels are used by your organization to share information and good news among employees? Are you regularly using these to share the IT news? If not, you should be.
This can include sharing information when you have successfully completed a new project, recognizing employees who have gone above and beyond, letting people know about policy and procedure changes or even about updates to software and hardware that will help make their jobs easier.
Meet regularly with internal line managers to “sell” your department and what it does and how it can help them.
4. Communicate better with other teams
Information sharing isn’t just about self-promotion. Communication is important for collaboration and knowledge-sharing, and to ensure that teams can work together effectively and efficiently as a cohesive unit.
When you don’t communicate well with other parts of the organization, information silos can develop, people don’t have the information they need to do their jobs well, mistakes can be made, productivity can decrease and overall your company isn’t performing at its optimum. If you think of your company as a machine, communication is what keeps it well-oiled.
There are a range of measures IT departments can take to communicate better. One of these is using DeskAlerts to send pop-up notifications about security and systems information to all employees.
When you know there is planned maintenance scheduled, for example, you can send notifications in advance so people can be prepared and arrange to do other forms of work while the system is down. Or if something unforeseen happens you can send everyone a message letting them know what the status is and the estimated restoration time, taking pressure off your IT help desk.
DeskAlerts customers are reporting that this tool is helping to improve the reputation of the IT department in their companies. And with its built in measurement metrics, recalcitrant staff can no longer give the excuse that they “didn’t hear” about an IT outage that affected their individual work performance. The back-end of the DeskAlerts software has a powerful measurement tool that shows statistics about who has seen messages.
5. Get regular feedback
You can’t improve if you don’t know what the problem is. Getting regular feedback can help to determine which areas need more work and where you are going well.
There are different ways to do this – it can be asking for feedback following the completion of a job and asking the client to rate the service that they received. Or you can send out surveys more widely to all employees asking how they feel about your department’s functions and what can be done to improve.
You can do both of these things with DeskAlerts’ survey tool, sending pop-up notifications to staff, either targeted to individuals or sent widely to the entire organization.
It’s important to gauge your department’s usability and whether the other teams in your company perceive that it adds value to the work that they do.