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Are You and IT on the Same Page?

Your relationship with your IT department or IT provider may be one of the most difficult business relationships you have. Often times you may feel you are speaking two entirely different languages. Effectively communicating is crucial to the success of your business and your bottom line. Those in the IT industry are generally pretty good at working with those who don’t necessarily know IT lingo but problems often arise around time and budgetary expectations. The business owner or decision maker will say I want this or that done and the IT person may not communicate what all will be needed to accomplish the goal. These misunderstandings can be all but eliminated with a couple key discussion points: the desired outcomes, what will it take, what happens if the plan derails and what’s next.

The first step in making sure you and IT are on the same page is to thoroughly discuss what you want to accomplish. If you tell someone that you’d like a new server and they don’t ask why before giving you a quote you should be skeptical of their motives and their knowledge. A seasoned IT professional is going to want to know what you are looking to accomplish and how it fits into your current infrastructure. They should be providing you with additional suggestions as needed, not necessarily to sell you more, but to make sure the end result works exactly the way you want it to.

Next you need to talk about time and money, which to a decision maker are essentially the same thing. What is the estimate for the hardware and software required to complete the project? How many man hours does the IT professional need to complete the job? Will you have to lose productivity during normal business hours? Does your staff need to be trained on the new technology?

Arguably the most important discussion is timeline and potential speed bumps. You must agree on an acceptable timeframe for the project to be accomplished and how to handle speed bumps. If possible, get it in writing. Any project is going to run into some form of speed bump regardless of how well it is scoped. Product pricing sometimes changes between the time of quote and purchase. A project could be in the final stages and it’s discovered that some software is not compatible. Your IT professional gets called away on an emergency. The list goes on and they can all happen. How do you want the IT professional to communicate with you or your designated staff member? Do you only want updates on milestones? Are you only okay with a 10% margin of change on the price quote?

Once all of this is covered you should have a couple more questions about the future. How long will this new system be relevant? Is there any ongoing maintenance costs that you need to include on your annual budget? What does the next step up look like? A seasoned IT professional should be able to answer every single one of these questions and provide you with references on past projects.

The last thing you want to figure out when you’re half way through the project is that your hired the wrong person for the job. Follow these steps, do your own research and you’ll soon have the desired outcome you’ve been waiting for.

Written by Stefani Laszko

Mythos Technology is an IT consulting and management firm. For more information, please visit www.mythostech.com or call (951) 813-2672.

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