Advocacy for your IT team and the work you do is not optional in today’s environment. Management often does not see IT as a valued business partner, but rather as a support system for other departments. Advocacy for your department can be a game changer not just for you and your team, but for the organization as a whole.
When you advocate for the work your IT team does, you improve the visibility of what you bring to the enterprise and gain a seat at the strategic table. You can facilitate collaboration which will support company growth and allow people to do the same amount of work in less time by utilizing stronger, more versatile applications. The benefits are huge.
In spite of the benefits of advocacy, the idea of advocating can be a little intimidating. Many people look at it as something that only happens when something goes wrong. An advocate is someone sent into talk to management when an application blows up or a serious bug is discovered.
However, there is a better way to approach advocacy. Fumbles on the field grab the attention of management and bring focus to IT, but you want to begin advocating for your department long before that. You don’t want the conversation to be started when tensions are high and management is not only upset, but second guessing the applications and technology that they perceive to be the root an issue.
Bugs happen to the best of us. As a true IT professional, you have built applications that are sturdy, reliable, and of industrial strength. They operate as they should, keeping the business moving until that stray bug appears. These issues are the exception not the rule and it’s the periods of time between events that you will find the best opportunities to begin positive and effective dialogue.
So instead of being intimidated by advocacy, here is a simple, positive approach that you can take.
Start by assessing your organization. How are your applications working for the users across your enterprise? Are there any pain points that management or very visible departments are experiencing? If there are, these are your golden ticket, the low hanging fruit waiting for you to pick.
Choose one pain point that is easy to tackle but has high visibility and take the initiative to build a solution. Once that is done, go to management and tell them about the fix. Avoid lofty tech terms and just let them know a solution is now in place. This opens the door to positive dialogue while also shining a spotlight on the IT department in a good way.
Once that critical channel of communication is open, there is a real opportunity for you to shift the perspective of management. You will be able to highlight what you and your team are working on, the value you provide to the company, and the ROI tied to your applications. Show them what is happening when they aren’t looking, the robust software that is driving their business, and pull up a chair to a collaborative conversation. When you have a seat at the table, you will learn all kinds of ways that you can support the company through IT solutions. In turn, management will begin to see software as a way to make their business goals reality. The door is open and the perspective begins to shift towards seeing IT as a valued business partner.
So I encourage you – don’t wait for that bug to wreak havoc to begin advocating for your company. Fortune favors the bold and the go-getter, so find that pain point, create the solution, and step into the role of IT advocate.