Becoming a zero in an IT organization is easy. There are so many predictable ways to screw up that you would think there was a mandatory course in them when people work toward an information technology degree. In fact, CIO ran an article called 15 Ways to Screw Up an IT Project.
It may be an eye-catching title, but you could also take that concept and turn it onto its head. Instead of considering what you could do to go wrong in a project, think about what you could do overall that would make you a hero.
Negotiate well-defined goals and set expectations
One of the classic problems in IT is to work at odds to the rest of the organization. There is often poor communication, with business people and technologists using their own vocabularies and not understanding each other. To become an IT hero, you have to move beyond this limitation. A way to enable communication is to focus on where technology and business intersect. Discuss goals — both the business goals that need support and the related IT goals that are necessary to enable the business goals. Make sure people understand what IT must accomplish to let the business also reach its goal. In addition, set expectations. Don’t promise what can’t be delivered; even though it may make you temporarily unpopular, there is nothing like disappointing people on what you promised was possible to really cause a problem.
Get support from management
Nothing happens in a business without ultimate support from management. In this case, both IT and business line management have to support the goals and intents. Develop relationships outside of the department that you can use to build the practical support necessary to accomplish anything. The more credibility you build inside and outside of the department, the more easily you can obtain the necessary support from management.
Fit solutions to the problems
It’s easy to get excited about what the company needs, but be realistic and practical. Don’t always build a massive infrastructure to solve a problem. Find the type and scale of solution that lend themselves to the projects at hand. More than choosing technology, it also means to work within the business culture and existing processes to get things done.
Communication is key within an organization. If you want any undertaking to work, you have to cooperate and communicate with the other related parts of the company. Avoid the bad IT habit of keeping information close as a way to keep a sense of power. You gain nothing from keeping things to yourself. You only get somewhere when you give all that information away. Doing so will encourage others to do the same. With good communications, the chances of your being successful rocket upward.
Learn from mistakes
Avoid the temptation to be perfect. No one ever is. The sooner you admit mistakes and learn from them, the sooner you improve, gain respect from other parts of the company, and increase your effectiveness.