Techies often fall into the trap of isolating themselves from the rest of their business. Successful companies cultivate a culture that proactively breaks down these walls and coach technology team members to ‘think business’ and ‘talk business’. Why is this important?
Businesses are constantly on the lookout for technology solutions that help them delight customers with easy-to-use solutions (which accelerate revenue growth) and also to run their businesses efficiently (which increase profit margins). Costly mistakes can be made if the business doesn’t effectively communicate their needs - more importantly, the customer’s needs - to the technology teams. Likewise, mistakes are possible if the technology teams don’t clearly communicate the value of their solutions and other concerns or risks to the rest of the business.
The Increasing Relevance of Technology in Business
Technology organizations have to balance different aspects of the business while also trying to get the maximum ROI for every dollar spent. A technology organization is usually responsible for (but not limited to) the following areas:
- Ensuring enterprise (and data) security
- Developing solutions for the customer based on the company strategy and road map
- Identifying internal systems that allow for other departments to fulfill their goals
- Enhancing employee productivity
- Ensuring compliance for various applicable industry standards
The technology team is in direct contact with all the other parts of the business (HR, marketing, finance, sales and product management). Due to the critical nature of the above listed responsibilities, breakdowns in communication can make a negative impact.
Enterprise security is a good example. The technology team is constantly on the lookout for new vulnerabilities and unidentified risks. They ought to be communicating any possible impact to the business with the right stakeholders in business terms (instead of technology terms) for decision making to be quick and effective. If organizational communication is not timely and effective, enterprise security may be compromised.
Technology Projects Are Business Projects
Projects spearheaded by the technology team are often viewed as technology initiatives instead of business enablers. A database, search engine or cloud upgrade might be viewed a siloed effort that the rest of the business does not need to care about. Technology leaders (CIOs, CTOs, CDOs, etc.) have the responsibility to communicate the impact of any technology initiatives on the rest of the business.
Technology leaders should be careful not to pursue projects that only benefit the technology team. All projects should have a business impact that translates to measurable benefits like customer retention, enterprise security or profitability. This has to be clearly communicated by the technology leaders to the entire organization, and especially to the rest of the leadership team.
Highly effective tech teams do not happen by accident. Emphasis has to be placed on creating a culture that enables tech team members to think like business people.Naveen Rajkumar, CIO, Onvia
6 Tips for Improving Communication and Culture
Here are six tips for improving communication and culture between information technology teams and the rest of the business organization.
Eliminate technical jargon from business presentations
Explain the ‘why’ behind the technology choice - hopefully it is not just because the technology is cool or everyone else is doing it. You need to explain the business benefit. You also must explain the opportunity cost of not executing the project.
Ensure that the tech team members attend all company meetings
Techies might prefer to write code all day long and might have no desire to attend company meetings or social events. Communicate why this is important to ensure organization alignment and how it helps them advance their technology careers.
Discuss company financials with your technology teams
Technology leaders have to be comfortable talking about company goals and financials - techies tend to listen to people they can relate to. Discuss revenue and profitability numbers, encourage them to ask questions and have an open dialog.
Encourage tech team members to push back
Encourage the team to speak up about projects or work items that they believe do not add value to the business.
Ensure each member on the team knows how their work impacts the business
For example, is it impacting revenue? Customer or employee satisfaction? Operational efficiency? Security?
Enable direct communication
Create a direct line between the project sponsor (product, marketing, HR, finance) and the tech team. Don’t have middle management try to interpret.
In conclusion, organizations that ignore coaching their technology teams to ‘think business’ and ‘talk business’ often don’t realize what they’re missing until it’s too late. Proactive planning and culture building is key for organizations to succeed in this critical area.
If this sounds like the kind of agile, business-oriented technology team that you would like to work for, or if you enjoy writing code and doing cool things with massive datasets and modern digital products, then you’re in luck. We are looking to hire talented, driven and creative developers at Onvia. Click on the link below to learn more and apply.