How To Get Real Answers From My IT Department
Knowing how to communicate with your IT department can make all the difference when it comes to seeing results and getting the real answers you desire. This is especially true when you’re faced with a serious IT problem. It might seem simple enough, but many business owners and managers have a difficult time in this arena.
Have you ever asked IT support about an issue and received an answer you weren’t looking for? You’re not alone. This is fairly common in the IT world. Oftentimes, it leads to frustrating back and forth communication and wasted time. While it’s easy to blame the IT team, finding the best solution to most issues all comes down to asking the right questions.
Your IT specialists think very methodically. It’s a core part of the job and helps them approach problems from a technical compacity. So, if you ask broad questions about a particular issue, expect to receive a highly technical reply. To get real answers from your team or support person, you’re going to need to get a bit more specific.
Before we get into how you can get the answers you’re looking for from your IT department, let’s take a look at a couple of common interactions that upper-level managers often have.
Say, for example, that one of your servers goes down. It’s a critical system, such as your enterprise resource planning system or case management software. The server is important for everyday business. So, you get in contact with your IT support team and ask, “How did this happen.” Chances are, you’re going to get a long explanation about the specific thing that killed your server, such as an update.
With that one simple question, you were actually hoping to get back multiple answers. You should have asked the following:
- What process or processes do we have in place now?
- What process went wrong?
- How did we not realize that an update was needed sooner?
- How do we prevent this from happening again?
Those questions cover all the bases and give your IT people a better idea of what information you’re after.
Let’s take a look at another example. In this scenario, your IT support team approaches you and informs you that Windows 7 will no longer work, so multiple computers in your system will have to be replaced within a few months. For most managers, their gut reaction would be to ask, “How did this happen and why?” Your team would then explain to you that Microsoft is no longer supporting Windows 7 and the new operating system requires better hardware than what your current computers have.
Again, that answer doesn’t give you the information you need. It doesn’t offer any explanation as to why this is only coming up now or what is going to happen during the upgrade. The questions you should be asking include:
- How long did we know about this?
- What process do we have in place to replace the machines?
- What steps weren’t taken before to avoid a major replacement now?
- Why didn’t we foresee the end of Windows 7?
- What would happen if we didn’t replace the computer?
- How can we prevent this from happening again?
By breaking down your single basic question into multiple questions, you can get the exact information you need to make important decisions and find a proper resolution.
How to Get Real Answers
Communicating correctly with your employees is an art form all on its own. However, it’s the key to keeping things running smoothly, especially from an IT standpoint. Here are some tips on how to get the real answers you need the first time.
Be as Specific as Possible
As you can see from our examples above, the biggest mistake that business owners and managers make is being too vague. If the question is too broad, you won’t get exact information. Before you approach your IT person or send an email, jot down what you’re looking for.
Create a list of the information you want to learn about the particular issue and use it to formulate your questions.
Ask More Than One Question
Breaking your questions down into an easy-to-read list makes it easier for everyone. Not only can you organize your thoughts, but your team can present the information clearly. Don’t hesitate to ask as many questions as you need to. It’s better to ask more questions now than having to constantly go back and forth communicating with your team.
Inquire About the Past, Present, and Future
With virtually every IT problem, it’s important to understand how you got to this point. So, you need to ask about the past, present, future. For example:
- Past: Why and how did this happen?
- Present: What is being done about it right now?
- Future: What can we do to prevent this issue from reocurring
When it comes to communicating with IT, don’t be afraid to ask the real questions! Your specialists can only give you the real answers you need if you’re forthright. Breaking down those walls and being specific with your questions can save everyone time and headaches. This can help get the issue resolved quickly and smoothly.