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How to Communicate with an IT Person

 

Communicate with IT peopleAs a business professional, have you ever experienced frustration when communicating with an IT person?  The chances are that the answer is a resounding “YES!”   This problem has been around for a few decades now and it is very common.  It is possible to communicate with an IT person, but you have to understand why it doesn’t work and decide what to do about it.  

Why it Doesn’t Work

There are three factors that are working against you when you try to communicate with an IT person:

  1. their talents
  2. their development
  3. their focus

Talents

IT people come from a specific pool of individuals.  Most people who work in IT have chosen to do so because IT plays to their strengths.  These individuals are highly talented problem solvers and analytical thinkers.  They grew up tinkering with equipment and software.  They may well have known more about computers by the time they were twelve than you ever will in your entire life.  Their talents are focused on these technical areas.  In general, this is not the same group of people who are naturally eloquent speakers, superb listeners and master communicators.  That’s ok; we all have our talents and weaknesses.  Surely the IT professionals have recognized this and worked on their communication skills.

communicate with IT professionalDevelopment

Unfortunately, many IT people do not focus on developing these areas of weakness.  Why not?  Are they developing other skills?  The truth is that most IT people are just trying to keep up with technology.  It’s a fulltime job.  We have a massive rate of change in IT and those professionals who don’t invest time in keeping up to date get left behind.  This means that they don’t have time to keep up with technology and develop some stronger communication skills.  Given the choice, most focus on technology to maintain their employability.

Focus

IT people are focused on IT solutions.  They know all of the features of the solutions they work with.  They spend hours investigating and learning about IT solutions.  When you try to communicate your business issue to them, they instantly start evaluating IT solutions that can solve your problem.  The IT person is solution-focused.  Unfortunately, they are jumping the gun.  In reality, the IT person should be working to develop a strong understanding of your business need.  The IT person is not doing enough investigation into your business issue.  They don’t have the talent or development to do so.  Skipping this step will result in the IT person recommending the best solution their limited understanding of your business issue.  You will likely be disappointed in the result.

What Can You Do?

Now that you know where this problem comes from, you can do something about it.  Usually the first thing that comes to mind is “I need to learn more about IT so that I can communicate with these people on their level.”  Will that really help?

Learn About IT

how to communicate about ITYou decide to solve this problem on your end.  You invest in developing some IT knowledge.  You can take an introductory course, visit websites and blogs and read magazines.  What kind of knowledge do you expect to gain?  Generally, these sources are all going to provide with information about one thing: IT solutions.  You will learn about the latest trends and technologies in the industry.  This will help you to foster some goodwill with your IT people.  Unfortunately, it’s not going to solve the communication issue.  By learning about IT solutions, all that you have done is made yourself be part of the group that is focused on solutions.  What you really need is someone to be focused on requirements.

Find the Right IT Person

Do you really know what your requirements are?  Most people cannot state their IT requirements in clear terms.  Others fall into the trap of solutionizing their requirements and consider the solution before the problem is well defined.  How do you communicate with an IT person?  You find the right one.  You find the IT person who has some natural talent for communication, who works to develop his or her communication skills and who has the right focus: your business requirements.  The person that you are looking for is not a developer, technician, or database administrator.  You need a business analyst.  Business analysts have all three things you are looking for: talent, development and focus.  They derive their satisfaction from clearly understanding you and being able to communicate your requirements to the technical team.  A BA is an IT communicator.  If you want to communicate with an IT person, go and find a business analyst.

Getting Stuff Done with Administration and Technology. whitepaper

 

Comments

Hello, I like this post it really helps me as a marketer grow and understand the people who I work with and try to speak to every day. So thanks for the great read, I will come back to look for more!
Posted @ Thursday, June 14, 2012 4:40 PM by Daniel Buckle
Please do not paint us as socially inept, savants. True there are some of us who have more technical knowledge than social. Keeping up with the technology that is piled on top of us to support is what is the biggest obsticle. Management will often just offer new tech to the employees and then turn around to us and say, "support it" or "make it work" when we have never used it ourselves.
Posted @ Wednesday, September 26, 2012 7:11 AM by Jeromy Canon
@Jeromy, thanks for your comments. This article is not meant to insult technical professionals. Rather to high-lite to business stakeholders that maintaining technical competency is a challenging and time-consuming activity. As you said, keeping up with technology is the biggest obstacle to focusing our development on communication skills. I respect both technical and business professionals and hope that this article alleviates some of the communications challenges that have plagued these two groups.
Posted @ Wednesday, September 26, 2012 7:23 AM by Jonathan Nituch
Great weblog. Cheers regarding revealing. You should keep placing this type of a new facts towards ways. 
Posted @ Saturday, November 08, 2014 5:14 AM by Gander Mountain Coupons
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