I never cease to be amazed by how little corporate IT departments fail to understand their users.
Note: This also applies to Government IT as well.
5 home truths for corporate IT people to remember about their users:
- They don’t want to use your services, they have to use them. So make them as efficient as you can. Focus on simplifying common actions, remove all unnecessary steps and respect the users time.
- They don’t care about your new portal. Users do not want to spend time finding what they want and wading through navigation windows. Fix search instead.
- They hate internal corporate apps. Make it accessible via a browser. No installs, no upgrades, no java runtime junk, no horrible machine instability and incompatibility. Work on what devices they want to use [meaning no flash].
- They don’t care about open source. You might, they don’t. Just get the services working. They don’t care about what it runs on. Don’t waste time telling them about your technology. No one cares what Google, Facebook, Pinterest or Amazon run on. They just use the services.
- They see you as a burden. To most users, you add little value, cost too much, take too long, are outdated make their life more complex. User satisfaction will be highest if they never contact you, never see you and never hear from you. Stopping someone working (and possibly risking their job) will destroy your credibility for ever. If you launch something, make sure it works. TEST, TEST and TEST again.
Too many IT departments see themselves as a core part of the business; a vital pillar, essential to organisational survival …
Reality check: Whilst this may be true [to a point] users see you as akin to a garbage collection service – a necessary part of the business, a function that they know is needed, but have no desire to interact with. They want it to happen, but the less interaction the better.
The good news is that you can have poor and excellent garbage collection services. You should be aiming to be the best, but even when you are, don’t expect anyone to care.
So how can this understanding help corporate IT departments?
If you accept that the list is even partially accurate, then before your plan, propose, budget for any investment in technology, you should have a very clear answer to the following question:
How does this improve life for our users?
If the answer to this is not at the top of your proposal, then start again.
This does not negate the need for corporate governance investment, but these can still be expressed in user centric terms: as security failures lose customer credibility, attract regulatory fines and ultimately cost jobs …
The core principle remains though.
A simple check list for any investment:
- Do users understand this?
- Do users agree that this is worth spending money on?
- Given the investment cash, is this what they would spend it on?
If you don’t get three ticks, then fix the proposal, or scrap it and do what users want you to fix.