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The IT Agenda: Consultants: Make IT Services a Custom Fit

Tailored IT

Let's say your IT organization provides excellent engineering and support services, and you're pushing out new technology like there's no tomorrow--everybody's propellers are a-whirlin'. What's more, your team's collective compensation for any given project costs the company half the amount a consultant would charge--maybe even less. So how do you explain why managers and users seem less and less appreciative of your efforts--or why you're hearing rumors that the company may outsource some of your proposed projects?

Chances are you're not tailoring your technology rollouts and support services to your users' needs, so the benefits of your hard work are being taken for granted. The good news: It just takes a little fine-tuning to solve the problem.

• Get input. You don't need business managers and users involved in basic tactical decisions, like which print server to make your standard or what kind of PC to lease, but decisions about strategic initiatives that affect most or all users benefit from their input--for example, is an ERP system a worthwhile investment for the company, or is it time to implement voice over IP? Explain the technology under consideration in lay terms, and encourage users to weigh in. By addressing their concerns, you'll build goodwill and minimize resistance.

• Keep the customer satisfied. When it comes to the helpdesk and other services that demand one-on-one interaction between IT staff and business users, be sure it's clear that the users are your top priority--you're there to serve them, not to wank around with the gadget of the week. And give users choices--if you're planning some downtime for nonurgent maintenance, ask what day and time would interfere least with their work. You may not always be able to accommodate them, but at least they'll know you tried.

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