Why won’t management listen to us?

How many times have you heard or said these phrases:

“Management won’t hear us until something fails”

“Outages are good”

Being part of the IT industry we are usually not heard of when things are running well, but we are on the chopping block or in high demand when something fails. Similar to many other industries like A/C repair people, plumbers, roofers etc.

This scenario needs to be changed so that all departments and management understand the reality of their systems and what we do. We can communicate this value of the IT systems to management before we have to go into “React” mode. We can explain what the system does, give reports of the usage and explain what is happening with trends of the data we provide to management and the businesses. However, this is not a one time communication. How many times have you told people that “storage is not free”.  So many time when things start to slow down or fail, the amount of storage on a system may be a contributing factor.  We need to keep reminding people that there is a cost to storage and that their budget needs to include costs for upgrades and additions to storage and systems.

Another way to help communicate this is to integrate the corporate objectives into the discussion. This brings the whole organization together as IT is an integral part of corporate objectives. However, I have heard people ask, “How does the IT departments goals integrate to corporate objectives?”.  If we look at the scenario above when something fails, there is a cost to that.  What is the cost of the financial system being down for 20 minutes due to a shared drive that ran out of space and the system locked up? That financial impact will be seen by many people and that cost affects the bottom line of the organization, not just IT or the finance department. IT’s objective of maintaining reliable systems is critical to the financial stability or the corporation.  Look at the Target security breach and the cost that had on the organization. Lawsuits are expensive and loss of customers is even more expensive.

One other consideration to communicate to management is how IT looks to the business. Many times other departments see IT as just another cost. We as technical professionals along with our management need to clarify the fact that our maintenance of critical systems is a necessary factor in their departments functionality. The cost that department may pay for IT support pays for itself in preventative knowledge and proactive responses to scenarios non-IT professionals may not recognize. being proactive in clearing drive space before a system locks up or knowing that a room is very hot and a critical system will shut down when a temperature reaches a certain temperature is important.

These scenarios are just a few items that need to be communicated to management and other departments so “management will listen to us”. The value of IT and the IT  knowledge are valuable factors that needs to be communicated in a way that shows the value for the business.

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2 thoughts on “Why won’t management listen to us?

  1. Great article, Bob. Unfortunately, way too many corporations are still viewing IT as a Cost Center. The corporations that are moving forward & progressing to bigger, better, & greater things are the ones who’ve long-since abandoned this idea & are viewing their IT departments & staffs as strategic partners to meet their goals. In these corporations, IT management & staff are sought out to help propel business objectives forward & IT is brought in on each project to engage the objectives from the start to ensure the success of the company! From marketing to accounting to HR to engineering, it behooves companies to stop viewing IT as just “the cost of doing business” & start asking how IT can contribute to the success of the company. I’ve worked for many International firms & many times am much embarrassed by the state of the IT affairs within these companies. It is especially sad & disheartening when you work for a technology company & you are being asked to support customers’ systems that are far superior to the technology in your own company. It’s time that CEO’s start asking CIO’s how to turn their IT departments around & integrate them further into the company. Those that do not, depending on their size, can be assured death — either slowly or by technological progress of smaller, nimbler organizations!

  2. One of the thing that many IT people fail to do is plan change management. I see it all the time. Especially MSP’s and consultants. As part of the on-boarding process it’s very important that you set the expectations around technological development. This is getting easier as younger managers make it up the ranks and realize that MTBF cycles aren’t necessarily the best way to govern a chance management strategy, and the implications that has on operational performance while it bleeds competitive advantage. IT is still largely viewed through an industrial lens in many places, where running equipment into the ground is acceptable.

    A large part of the blame falls on us as professionals, as we’re largely not trained to think and operate as business units with concerns for operational performance and reporting, but instead as more of an electronic facilities management team. It’s okay to know how to turn something on and deploy the newest tech, but if you don’t understand user work-flow and if aren’t looking for ways to demonstrably enhance it, then you’ll always fall behind the 8-ball and be resentful which allows the self-sabotage you speak of to crop up.

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