Towards Better IT Communications

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  • How people see IT – gatekeepers not partnersQuotes from people that use IT services – have you heard …. IT is hard to work with, changes happen and we didn’t hear about then, no chance for feedback, language is too technical, no chance for discussion…?
  • Who is in the audience today? Users – people from other departments, i.e. internal usersClients – outsiders who request a service, i.e. facultyHow do they view IT services? What would they like to change about IT service? How would they like users to see them?
  • Communications – not an after thought; integrated from the beginningVision for better communications - moving from an “us vs. them” or gatekeeper mentality to a partnership with users. How can we achieve this vision?WHY it is important to change a negative vision of IT within the organization Beyond alignment – communicating value to users and the larger organizationUSERSKnowing your audienceDemystifying IT servicesRelationship building
  • Let’s clarify before we start:Communications is NOT marketing, communications IS:Conversation – two way communication between multiple people; exchange of ideas, but - like a good, lively conversation - has a common thread/purpose/desired outcomeBoth speaking and listeningA process, but one that is constantly evolving alongside the content
  • Help people – we are in the business of providing new services, support for users, and creativityCOMMUNICATE VALUE - Spread the word about our products/services/staff/processes, etc. Increase usage. Build capacity within users.Make new connections and build bridges – clients, users, other departments, universities, professional community.If we don’t talk about it, it stays hidden.
  • VisionWhy communicate?Move from gatekeeper mentality to partnership – goal statementWhy this image shift is important to ITSupport from the research – how good comms positively impacts service level and client satisfactionKPIs
  • EnvironmentWho are your users? External (clients) vs internal (team, affiliated resources)User-driven service delivery – no matter who the user is (internal/external).Do you have your users at the forefront of every interaction/service delivery?What about non-users?What changes/services/etc help your users the most? Ask them.
  • Make a planMoving towards a model of integrated communications resources within IT (i.e.part of the development team)Integrated into the development process, end to end. Not coming in at the end for roll out only.Create a communications plan/workflow and identify your communications resourcesWork together to create the plan – consult all team members, get feedback, revise. Talk to clients and users. Talk to other communications resources within the organization.
  • Your communications person will drive the process, but the team needs to be aware of:#1 - Key messages:Consult everyone.Take time to build these; you will use them continually and all communications will be based on these messages. Everyone on the team should be very familiar with the key messages. Continually reinforce the messages, through collateral, general conversation, conversations with team, etc. Repetition is very necessary here!!#2 - Opportunities for feedback are everywhere, so never miss an opportunity.#3 – Everyone is a brand ambassador – from the users perspective, they only see one united front, not different levels of staff or responsibilities.
  • Your communications person will drive the process, but the team needs to be aware of:#1 - Key messages:Consult everyone.Take time to build these; you will use them continually and all communications will be based on these messages. Everyone on the team should be very familiar with the key messages. Continually reinforce the messages, through collateral, general conversation, conversations with team, etc. Repetition is very necessary here!!#2 - Opportunities for feedback are everywhere, so never miss an opportunity.#3 – Everyone is a brand ambassador – from the users perspective, they only see one united front, not different levels of staff or responsibilities.
  • Work the plan:Again, two way conversation. This is ongoing through the process.Enable the userThe conversation happens through the tactics and accompanying collateralRemember to:Frame the conversation around the key messagesTech translation - Discover how much does the audienceknows about your product/team/service/etc. and tailor your communications as needed (i.e. speaking to clients who are developers requires different language that speaking with students who are end users of your product)Always avoid jargon
  • Using feedback to action evidenced-based, iterative design and content modifications (not wild guessing at what the client and/or user wants). Never miss an opportunity for feedback. Respond to feedback – make sure users know when they will get a response.DocumentManage expectations – what can we realistically do in terms of communicating better? Need to set the foundation and build from there.Failing is an opportunity to learn and do better the next time
  • How was the planning process?Did we achieve the desired results? If not, why and how can we do it differently next time?What do we need to make a stronger presence/team/product?Strive towards continual improvement with every iteration of plan/product/process/team/whatever
  • Assessment may reveal need for capacity building:Staff training – comms training, tech translation, messagingBuilding a stronger communications presence – finding and cultivating leads and contacts, defining goals, refining messages, working within the environmentSolidifying good channels of promotion – what works and what doesn’t; not one size fits all
  • Examples:From a user perspective:More promotion of products and servicesOpportunities for feedbackDemystify department, staff, servicesFrom a communications perspective:Be present early in the process; be a part of the teamsBe a part of the conversation – change management, new developments, future planningBe a point person for the deptBe open to feedback and collaboration
  • Within your department / with other departmentsFor your projectWith your teamDo you have a better understanding of communications and how it can help your department reach your users and clients? Has your impression of communications/IT changed from this presentation?Allow time for feedback
  • AccessibilityDeveloping communications with accessibility in mindAccessible content for all collateral, alongside accessible digital contentIntegrationWorking with other departments Sharing best practices and applicable resourcesOverview of presentation and what we learned togetherThoughts for moving forwardWhat will you take away from this presentation? What can you integrate into your workflows that will produce some immediate/long term results?
  • Towards Better IT Communications

    1. 1. TOWARDS BETTER IT COMMUNICATIONS Lisa Gayhart Digital Communications Services Librarian Information Technology Services University of Toronto Libraries lisa.gayhart@utoronto.ca
    2. 2. Who is here today? • • • • • IT staff IT managers Users Clients Other?
    3. 3. Why are we here today? Vision Partnership Focus on users
    4. 4. What do we mean by “communications”? Two-way conversation
    5. 5. Why communicate? • Help people • Spread the word • Build connections
    6. 6. Communications Planning Have a vision Review Work the plan Know your environment Make the plan
    7. 7. It’s good to have goals • Have a vision • Let your vision inform all of your actions
    8. 8. Know your audience • Who is your user? • What does the user want/expect/need? • User-driven service delivery
    9. 9. Make a plan Create a fully integrated and actionable communications plan, tailored to the needs of a specific product or service.
    10. 10. What's in a plan? • • • • • • Be at the table Know your audience Set your goal Build key messages Select objective and tactics Set timelines
    11. 11. What’s in a plan? • Produce collateral • Perform rollout • Receive feedback • Perform assessment
    12. 12. The conversation • User first • Tech translation • Avoid jargon • Focus on benefits
    13. 13. The conversation • Be open to feedback • Keep a record • Manage those expectations! • Don’t be afraid to fail
    14. 14. Assess Can we be better? How did we do? Achiev e desired results
    15. 15. Building capacity • Training • Finding and cultivating communications leads • Promotion
    16. 16. Case Study – early results • University of Toronto Libraries ITS department • Changing perception of department • Changing perception of communications
    17. 17. What do you think? Do you see an opportunity for better communications?
    18. 18. Where do we go from here? • Opportunities for the future • Accessibility training • Integration
    19. 19. Lisa Gayhart Digital Communications Services Librarian Information Technology Services University of Toronto Libraries lisa.gayhart@utoronto.ca | 416-946-0959

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