Be a translator. Every function needs to do this, but it is an even bigger necessity for IT because you use language that no one else understands. If marketing people talk about marketing programs instead of profit growth, no one cares. If sales talks about needing more sales reps, instead of proving the business case for them no one cares. And if IT talks about technology, no one understands it, and then no one cares. Here are some examples of how you can translate:
Trouble ticket = Get help with a problem.
Oracle database support = order entry is too slow at the end of the month.
SAP contractors = reduce supply chain cost in South East Asia.
Maintenance upgrade = Optimize systems for better support of mobile devices in the field.
Look at all your communications, especially your IT plans and budget, and translate all of them into business vocabulary when you communicate external to IT.
What Is Your Job?
Any business leader of any function or line of business needs to see their job like this:
1) Manage my function internally to deliver on current commitments.
2) Increase the capability and reduce the cost of my function over time – optimize, educate,
3) Keep my function centered on understanding and serving the needs of the business.
4) Demonstrate the value of my function to the business.
If you are spending all of your energy on No.1, you are not doing your job as an executive. Yes, it may be more challenging for IT, because the deck is stacked higher against you; you have a bigger gap and more to translate, but you are certainly not alone in needing to do this. Successful executives make sure to address all four to excel and keep their jobs.
Patty Azzarello became the youngest general manager ever at HP at the age of 33. She ran HP’s $1B OpenView software business at the age of 35, and was the CEO of an IT software company, Euclid Software at the age of 38. She has been working with IT executives to build their careers and put their IT strategies into action for many years. Today Patty is the CEO of Azzarello Group, a unique services organization that helps companies develop and motivate their top performers, execute their strategies, and grow their business, through talent management programs, leadership workshops, online products & public speaking.