Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Communicating with your Business

A challenge that most people face no matter what line of business you are in is the ability to communicate effectively. There are countless books, articles and experts who will profess ways to improve upon the delivery of messages to an audience. My simple advice is to personally connect with the audience wherever you can.

From a service management perspective a common challenge is ensuring that we communicate in a consistent way with language that ensures that the business community we are informing gets the most value for the message we are sharing.

Two of the most common message types are that of incident and change notification. The downside of this is that we are communicating that something is not working and we are trying to fix it, or that we are trying to maintain something so it doesn’t break. Quite often these may be a set in a template so that we can ensure that the format if nothing else is consistent. When in email form these messages also are often sent from the service desk or a mailbox type source. In other cases these might be alerts which are posted on a self-service portal or intranet site. In other words these are very sanitized communications.

The challenge is that while the majority of our communications are set up this way we may have other teams who have been handling communications directly for a period of time building a relationship and level of trust with their audience. An example of this would be an applications sustainment person or in its simplest form some type of business relationship manager.

Because organizationally we strive to have a consistent process to provide communications, whether you are IT or HR or what have you, we will look to have these “communications rebels” conform to the standards which have been established. The risk, in my opinion, is that we in effect break down a personal touch with the business which once broken are so hard to get back. The question you need to ask yourselves is their more value in having a communication method which is consistent or to have an understood method that still embraces that established relationship while still adhering to the policy to communicate for outages scheduled or not.

What may need to happen is to learn from the more personal connection method of communicating and where applicable work to establish similar lines of communication. Granted this might not work for company wide or large department outages, however once you are in a position to really relate with the business in terms that matter most to them (outages as a result of an issue or as a result of scheduled work) you may also find that details about the delivery of the services you are providing which were once hard to come by are more easily shared.

It all starts with talking with your business.

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