Selling IT’s value to the rest of the firm

Probably every business function feels it gets short shrift from the others in an organization. And in their respective associations, through their trade events, and in blogs and online forums, the leaders of each discipline – marketing, human resources, finance, IT, what have you – call on each other to do a better job of making the value they bring better known to others in their respective organizations.

Recently, three IT executives shared how information technology leaders can spread the good news to their peers about what they do in a report carried by Network World U.S.

For Gene Berry, vice president and CIO of OneAmerica Financial Partners, one problem is technologists just aren’t marketers. They’re too busy keeping the IT house in order to worry about telling others how important their job is.

For Berry’s part, he says his department is making an effort to collect and disseminate their success stories. “I’ve asked my direct reports to send stories, events and items of significance to me, which I share internally with executive management as appropriate.”

Berry has even started a quarterly newsletter with an editorial team made up of cross-functional representatives from IT. The publication shares stories about what’s happening in IT, a column by Berry and cartoons to lighten the tone.

“IT has suffered from a lack of credibility, and I plan to focus more on marketing efforts this year to turn this perception of IT around by increasing awareness of how much value we provide on a daily basis,” Berry says.

Chandra Dhandapani, senior vice president of Financial Services IT at Capital One (Nasdaq: COF), believes maintaining a daily visible presence helps cement IT’s value. IT is a daily presence in financial services anyway, and Dhandapani notes that IT’s presence is heightened by the cross-functional teams that work together on agile software development projects.

“I stress to my team that communication is critical; it’s how we build our brand,” Dhandapani says. “By communicating via email or in person and conveying what we want to say quickly and frequently, we constantly show the value that IT brings. We’re also proponents of using visual management centers (whether physical or virtual) to display performance metrics.”

Visuals are key for Mark Carbrey, CIO of Agero. “Our company is metrics- and goal-based, so instead of just providing status updates, I focus on providing measurements that show where we stack up against our target metrics, and I design and distribute information about what IT does in a way that makes it easy to understand.”

Information about IT projects is distributed as a single chart or page for immediate impact, Carbrey says. Two years ago IT created a quality index that consists of 20 key quality parameters that go into a single index.

“Since the index was created, our quality score has increased every month,” Carbrey says. “The idea is to communicate basic information in a way that allows people to readily understand it – and rally around it – and that enables IT to be visible and transparent.”

Read the full story here

Andrew Brooks
Andrew Brooks
Andrew Brooks is managing editor of IT World Canada. He has been a technology journalist and editor for 20 years, including stints at Technology in Government, Computing Canada and other publications.

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