Getting IT respect

IT professionals may not be the Rodney Dangerfields of the corporate world, but they don't always hold the sway they deserve. There are myriad theories: CXOs just don't understand technology. IT pros are "nerds." Everyone has a PC at home, how hard can IT be? IT has a huge budget, why do I still have trouble accessing the 'Net from my office? The list goes on and on.

Here are some suggestions from IT professionals for their put-upon brethren, who have to battle assumptions and misinformation daily.

* Start with a viable strategic plan. Funny how most everything comes back to planning. If you need money for a new intrusion- detection system, for example, don't meet with the CEO and, "We need an IDS because of security concerns." Bring it into a language he or she can understand - cash. "If we do not deploy an IDS and there is a security breach in our network, the net could be down for up to eight hours. Our sales reps would not have access to the product information or ordering software they need, which could cost us $106,000 over that eight-hour span." Include in our plan measurable, realistic goals, and a roadmap to achieving them. Stating your business case like - or better than - any other department will yield great credibility. Plus, it gives you an opportunity to map out your plan, making your life a little easier, too.

* Earn trust. This ties back to the first tip. If you state your cases with thought-out, detailed plans, you're going to win the trust of the organization. If the CEO trusts you and your judgement, he or she is less likely to be swayed by IT's mortal enemy - the CXO being wooed by a vendor. If vendors can't impress the IT department with their products, they often will hit up the nontechnical CXO and try to dazzle him or her.

This, in turn, can lead to the CXO giving the green-light to the purchase of a product that IT knows is useless or a piece of junk. However, with the trust of the CEO, the CXO can trump IT.

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