Discuss the textbook’s recommendations for improving business-IT communication. Provide examples from your own experience to support your ideas.
- Your answer must be substantive, which usually requires 300 words or more
- Your answer must be well written and well organized
- Your answer must include one properly formatted APA in-text citation to a scholarly reference. The full reference must be provided at the end of your answer with a link if one is available.
Post two replies to your classmates
- Your replies should be meaningful, which means they should engage your classmate in discussion focused on the forum questions. Usually this requires 150 words or more.
ImpRovinG Business–it CommuniCation
The focus group managers were the first to admit that much more needs to be done in their own organizations to improve communication between IT and the business at all levels. However, they were also implementing a number of practices that they believed would promote the development of good communication skills among their staff and also as an IT function. Their recommendations included the following:
Make the importance of effective communication visible.
It is well accepted that if you want people to pay attention to something, you need to measure and incentiv- ize for it. Several managers felt that good communication skills should be expected of every IT staff member. “These are now baseline expectations for us,” said one. A key way to get staff to pay attention is to incorporate communication skills into performance appraisals. One company makes it clear that specialized “niche” skills are more likely to be outsourced and that those who understand and can work with the business are more likely to have a long-term career in its organization.
Work with HR to develop new skills expectations and roles.
Several firms are incorporating specific communication competencies into staff role descriptions. One is even trying to create jobs that have titles which reflect the types of com- petencies needed, such as “senior business consultant,” “technology relationship manager,” and “business technology specialist.” Another is trying to make it easier for IT staff to transfer laterally into the business for a period of time.
Develop communication skills both formally and informally.
To support these new expectations, some firms offer formal training in communication skills in areas such as making presentations, communication styles, and negotiations. Incorporating com- munication skills into personal development plans is one way some managers tailor formal skills development for personal needs. However, the effectiveness of formal training is “mixed,” said many managers, and some firms don’t offer it at all, or only as part of management development. More informal approaches include mentoring, lunch-and-learn sessions, and self-assessment tools.
Increase the nature and frequency of communication.
Although not an ini- tiative of any of the focus groups, the research is clear that creating a “virtuous communication cycle” starts with creating shared knowledge between the two groups all levels. There are few “quick fixes” to the communication problem, but the importance of regular communication between IT and business at all levels cannot be overemphasized (Reich and Benbasat 2000). Wherever possible, prior- ity should be given to informal communication and social interaction as these are the best ways to build up shared language and understanding (Burton et al.; 2008;
Chapter 5 • Communicating with Business Managers 61
Dunne 2002). These types of interactions are particularly important when face-to- face communication is irregular or impossible (Greenberg et al. 2007). Recognizing this, one company that makes extensive use of global, virtual teams encourages socialization, and even virtual parties, through its social networking technologies.
Spend more time on communication.
Most important, IT leaders at all levels need to spend more time on communication—not only in what and how they communicate personally but, rather, in learning how their staff and organizations communicate. They need to seek out and remove obstacles to communication, coach their staff, become sensitized to their organization’s communication processes (both formal and informal), and do whatever it takes to develop a shared understanding and language with the business. Although the initial investment of time may be high, it is certain to pay off in terms of an improved relationship with business and greater perceptions of IT value.
“What we have here is a failure to commu- nicate” is a famous (and sarcastic) movie quote that is nevertheless an extraordinarily accurate description of the business–IT rela- tionship. Although many words and docu- ments may flow between the two groups, it is fair to say that often little true commu- nication is occurring. This has resulted in misunderstandings, dysfunctional behavior, and, above all, a failure to deliver value to the organization. This chapter has examined the difficult and complex challenges facing IT leaders as they attempt to improve their function’s communication with the business. It demonstrated that good communication has both social and organizational dimen- sions, both of which need to be appropri- ately managed. It also showed that there is a “virtuous circle” of communication, which is associated with improved IT performance
Anonymous. “The Tone of Communication.” CIO Magazine (July 8, 2005).
Basselier, G., and I. Benbasat. “Business Competence of Information Technology Professionals: Conceptual Development and Influence on
and perceptions of IT value. In short, good communication is important to the success- ful implementation of IT in business, and developing it is therefore worth more time and attention than most managers currently pay to it. This chapter has focused on the IT side of the communication equation—since it is usually held to be the culprit in the sometimes nasty war of words that ranges back and forth between the two groups. There is much that can be done within IT to improve communication skills—without los- ing technology capabilities—but it neverthe- less behooves business managers to explore ways in which they can assist IT in doing this. Most important, they can make the time and effort to ensure that IT staff are well edu- cated in how their business works. If they do, business leaders just might find that many of IT’s “communication problems” disappear.