How to Overcome IT’s Credibility Challenges

Your helpdesk gives people a bad impression of YOU. The vast majority of people in your company form their entire impression of IT based on their experience with your help desk. If users have a terrible experience with the help desk, they may form the opinion that “IT, (or the CIO), is useless.” Your users experience with your helpdesk becomes what you are known for.

For this reason alone you need to view your helpdesk as much more than a helpdesk. It is your store front, and it defines and delivers your IT department’s brand. Define those experiences on purpose and market your services to the business through a consistent and responsive helpdesk interface.

There is always too much demand for IT services. You will never be able to do everything that everyone wants, when they want it. The existence of an IT backlog alone can add to the perception that IT is not performing effectively.

They don’t care that you have no budget for the things they want and they have no idea of all the things you are doing. But if all new requests are faced with an 18 month backlog, you don’t stand a chance of growing your credibility.

If this is you, create a process to wipe out backlog and set new priorities so that you can be seen as responsive to the business.

Business communications are not the habit of most IT organizations. The ability to communicate effectively continues to top the list of what is most important for CIOs in the latest benchmarks and studies. As a CIO, you understand this, but it is still not the natural tendency of most IT organizations. IT organizations grow up with a language and a vocabulary all their own that isolates them because no one else understands it.

Communication is critical to building credibility. If you are not communicating with business stakeholders in their vocabulary in a very purposeful way, you will not be able to build or maintain credibility.

It’s up to you. You’ll need to take the time to understand your unique business environment, the personalities, business challenges, and motivations of your peers and management, and their perceptions of IT. But, once you step back and get your specific credibility challenges into focus, you can develop a plan to address and overcome them.

You will need to find ways to communicate in their language and map IT initiatives, services, measures, and budgets to business initiatives that they already understand and are committed to. But it’s up to you to do it. Unfortunately your business colleagues have neither the inclination nor the ability to make the journey to figure out how they should value IT and support you in your role.

Editor’s Note: Each article in the rest of this series will address one of these issues in depth and provide practical ideas and insights for addressing it, building credibility, and increasing your political power.

At age 33, Patty Azzarello became the youngest general manager at HP. At age 35 she was running a $1B software business. Patty is now the founder and CEO of Azzarello Group, which delivers practical, experience-based tools to CIO’s and other business leaders through products and services including articles, online programs, executive coaching, public speaking & workshops.