Daily Archives: February 7, 2011

IT clients, , , 17 types you must work with

As an IT manager, you deal with all types. Your clients can be very different in many ways, , , being able to work with them can be challenging, even frustrating at times.

Let’s take a “fun” look at the type of clients you must deal with. This list is probably not a complete list, , , so if you have others you want to add, , , make a comment to this post and let us know. You can use this list to describe almost any group, , , employees, people, friends, etc.

“Client” as I define an IT client are two groups, , , possibly three.
Group 1 – Senior managers, , , CEO, CFO, COO, President, etc.
Group 2 – Department managers of your company and their organizations.
Group 3 – External clients your IT organization supports. 90% of all IT organizations do not have these. They are very similar to Group 2 clients.

OK, let’s get to the list of client types and see if you relate to any of them.

1.  Happy –  Our favorite, , , this client is happy with IT services and likes what we do.

2.  Unhappy –  An opportunity when we learn what makes this client unhappy and address his issues.

3.  Ray of sunshine –  Always happy and positive, , , this client likes everyone and everything.

4.  Tuned out –  This client isn’t listening to anything you have to say, , , they have you and others “tuned out”.

5.  Cool –  Some clients simply ooze with cool. This client will be one of the top dressers and appears to have his act together.

6.  Hidden agenda –  You may have a client who acts happy but in reality has another agenda, , , CAUTION.

7.  Worried –  Some clients worry about everything. They are skeptical of change and easily scared by the slightest problem.

8.  Second guesser –  This client second guesses everything you do and often challenges how you do things.

9.  No clue –  Some people you work with have no clue as to what is going on, , , they are in the dark on most things.

10.  Green with envy –  These guys don’t like IT or anyone outside their own organization getting credit for anything.

11.  Fighter –  Some clients seem to always be looking for a fight and are easy to get into disagreements with.

12.  Angry –  An angry client can seem unreasonable and likes to call you bad names. Don’t take it personal, , , fix it.

13.  Crazy –  Some people, clients included, have crazy ideas about what IT should be doing. BE CAREFUL with these.

14.  Bent out of shape –  Between angry and unhappy, , , pay attention to these before they get worse.

15.  Confused –  Confused clients have difficulty becoming happy. Clear up their confusion by speaking their language.

16.  Professor –  Some clients think they know technology better than you. Try to embrace them, don’t alienate them.

17.  Sleeper –  Some clients are asleep at the wheel, , , they tend to be lazy and lack focus in their organizations.

Recognize any of these in your company?

Each type has unique characteristics and creates different challenges in working with them, , , another reason why your IT management role can be such a challenge.

Got additional types worth mentioning? Add a comment below and share your thoughts.

IT managers can put a cost on anything

One of the difficulties we have as IT managers is in communicating with business managers.

–  We are technical, , ,  they are not.
–  We speak in technical terms, , , they do not.
–  We understand the technology, , , they do not.
–  They discuss things in financial terms, , , we do not.
–  They understand their business, , , we do not.

It’s material for a big gap to develop and prevent us from getting on the same page with our client.

One of the things we can do is learn to discuss things in financial terms. Are you aware, it’s possible for you to put a cost on virtually anything? Well you can, , , and you need to. Here’s why.

Business managers speak in financial terms, , , especially senior managers like your CEO and CFO. They mentally convert most things they hear into either business value, business cost, or business risk. All three of these have financial implications.

Let’s look at typical examples:

  1. Cost of downtime  –  Downtime is certainly a risk and a cost to your company. Are you aware you can literally identify the cost impact of a printer going down, a router failing, or a server crashing? Need to upgrade your infrastructure? Conveying your strategy in “cost of downtime” can be a big help when you discuss this with your senior manager. CLICK HERE to learn how easy this is and use a tool I developed for this purpose.
  2. Cost of losing a client  –  Here, I’m talking about your company losing a paying client, , , someone who buys your company’s products or services. Any good marketing or sales manager can tell you what losing a client is worth, , , in financial terms. If you have an IT initiative targeted to help your internal marketing or sales client improve client satisfaction, , , they should be able to help you identify what your work value will be in helping “keep clients”. It’s always cheaper to keep a client than to lose one and have to replace him.
  3. Business opportunities – Projects that help the company sell more widgets or services, , , or add clients have a definite financial value. Your marketing and sales teams always forecasts future sales, , , seek their help in identifying worthwhile projects that help them succeed and in outlining the opportunity value your IT project work adds to the mix.
  4. Cost avoidance  –  Doing a project now can avoid costs down the road. Don’t forget to include this aspect when looking at the financial value of your project.
  5. Productivity savings  –  Improving productivity of the company’s workforce can be a big financial value. Improved productivity lets a department do more work without hiring more staff or the ability to reduce staff to do the same amount of work. The department managers and their bosses can help you determine the financial value of improving productivity. For example, in one company every time we developed a data interface from a hospital system into our systems we knew it would be the equivalent of one full-time equivalent (FTE). As a result, our operations people wanted as many interfaces programmed as possible because it eliminated clerical workers having to key in data and handle paper, , ,  big help in improving their financial position. Identifying the financial value in this case is simply the cost of a clerical worker in salary and benefits.

Talk in financial terms and business managers hear you, , , speak in technical terms and use all the acronyms we like to throw around in the IT world and they not only do not hear you, , , they don’t want to meet with you because they simply can’t understand what you are saying.

Make your discussions conversational and put things into financial perspectives and see what a difference it makes with senior managers.