A Business Technology Place

Getting IT outside the box

I think it’s safe to say that direct interaction between IT and Operations doesn’t happen enough. I’m talking about IT programmers, analysts, and project managers sitting with Operations and Manufacturing to understand their daily workflow with the intention of providing technology solutions to automate workflow and make it more efficient. Making that type of conversation happen isn’t easy. Team members are busy with tasks in their work areas. Many employees, by nature, seek solitude during the work day. Just look around your office and see how many of your co-workers eat lunch at their desk. (Are you one of them?)

It’s a good thing if the company IT group is close enough to the Manufacturing and Operations areas to make frequent interaction possible. Proximity provides opportunity, but it does not guarantee interaction among team members. Interaction requires initiative. Interaction requires boldness. Interaction requires an inquisitive nature. Interaction requires a desire to make the bigger whole succeed.

I recently organized a tour of the Operations Center with the VP of Operations for all new IT members. The objective was to show IT team members where and how their work output is consumed by the business. There’s only so much that we could cover in an hour, but I’d like to think that the participants found value in the hour. Many of them asked questions to the tour guide. A few of them made comments to me like “I never knew all this was here”.

But this tour isn’t enough. It needs to be the start of an ongoing communication and dialogue not just an event on the calendar. One of my objectives as a department leader is to bring people together to find solutions that benefit everyone. IT and Operations is one example. But the concept really applies to all cross-departmental relationships.

Note to self: Bring people together to find solutions to problems that make people successful and make the business successful at the same time.