DO, a deer, Oh dear. Get the Whole Story on Your IT Needs

And other things you say when you don’t get the full story up front.

I like to think myself a quality musician.  I aspire to someday be a professional musician.  I am of the garden band geek variety: tuba.  I am also trying to expand my coolness through electric and upright bass.  In my pursuit of becoming a professional musician, I try to do the right things.  I practice several times a week, hopefully daily.  I run exercises to strengthen not only my playing ability, but to sight read music.

If you do not sight read music, sight reading is somewhat akin to reading ahead in a book or reading a recipe ahead while cooking.  It is the process of reading notes ahead of playing them.  As you get stronger in your sight reading skills, you read further ahead in the music and play from memory.  To me, an important part of sight reading is to review the music prior to playing.  Before I play a piece, I like to circle all of the important structural parts of the music: key signatures (especially changes), repeats (including signs and codas), large changes in volume (especially loud to soft) , etc.  I also like to review passages that may be difficult.  These things together give me a road map of the music and I can add additional visual queues to make the most of piece when I rehearse or perform.

Besides having many other life implications, I think this is also extremely important in the IT profession.  If we take the time to understand the road map, we can make smarter decisions about the different steps we take to get to the end goal.  Too often we are given pieces of information, but not the whole map.  Too many times business leaders think it unnecessary to involve IT in discussions of major business systems and process changes that affect systems.  I would go a step further and suggest that a good IT professional can not only provide valuable insight to system related issues, but also business and business process discussions.  IT professionals are engineers.  They take in information and devise solutions to problems.  There is no need for a system solution to every business challenge, but the method of analyzing information brought to the team by a IT professional can assist in finding the proper solution to the business challenge, whether process or system.

Over the years, we have had clients that have had us work on many different projects without giving us the whole story about what they are trying to do as a whole.  We had one client in particular that will pick systems to integrate and pick a different one a year or two later with the same purpose.  Many of these systems have different integration strategies, so much of the work must be redone.  It was only after we were included in more conversations about all of their business system challenges and priorities were we able to come up with a clear roadmap for phased implementation of different technologies that meet their longer term needs.

I realize that we (IT professionals) have caused some of this exclusion from the higher level business conversations, but we need to work on hearing and LISTENING to the whole problem before turning on our laser focus to fix the minute problem and focus on the larger picture.  Ask the bigger questions like “What is our bigger goal?” and “What are we trying to do?”  Once you ask the question, shut your pie hole and listen to the response.  Try not to be thinking of solutions while you listen to the response….so that you can truly LISTEN. Ask follow-up questions to understand the response.

As we continue to listen and ask the necessary questions, we prove to business leaders that IT professionals are important participants in the strategic business conversation.  At least that is one of my daily goals: participate in the conversation.   It’s important to understand where you’re going when playing a little DO-RE-MI.

And now that the hills are alive with the sound of … something … you may be ready to start talking (or singing) about your system integration strategies. Sight read the music so you know where you’re going, sing the whole song, and sing it to the people who need to hear it. That’s us! We’re your IT pros when it comes to electronic health records and integrating it with lab devices, other systems, and more.