Recently I found myself in a team meeting with some key executives in our company. I was happy to be included in a discussion regarding how we can all communicate better in regards to a particular project. During these economic times we are all focused on creating efficiency, moving our brand forward and doing the best we can to be tougher than the climate while continuing to build for a bright future.
The task at hand, for me anyway, was not that difficult. It involved creating a team site, branding it, turning on features like calendars, tasks, contacts, doc & image libraries and content approval. Put in some custom metadata, apply our governance rules, define security and off you go.
However, as I sat in the meeting it struck me yet again what an opportunity we have as technologists to be critical to the business mission of our respective companies. Whether an in house employee or a consultant we have chance to bring something important to the table. Here are a few points that I've found useful in these situations:
1. Listen - Executives and business managers know what they want and need to be successful. You can't have any good ideas until you've thoroughly listened to their ideas. They are sitting across from you because they have created success. I do my best to respect that.
2. Save the Techno-Babble for the IT Conf. Room - These people are interested in solving business challenges not the upgrade path to SharePoint 2010 or software futures. They did not even require great customizations or legacy integration. What they needed was business process engineering, superior project management, a high degree of responsiveness to their needs and a simple but greatly desired team site.
3. Simplicity is Your Friend: While in business meetings of this nature it is easy for the group to get off track on obscure details or grand ideas. Lately, I find it useful to say, "That's a great idea, but lets get the basics done first." After the fact I am often thanked for being a voice of focus and reason. Then, I use my Project Manager / Producer background to help the team agree on what those deliverables are.
4. Focus on User Adoption: Staying focused aids me in gaining user adoption. I can give people basic functions that they can use every day and then wow them with more complicated features later. This approach helps me to keep increasing my ability to deliver more well received projects. In my role as a Solution Architect you can never stop striving to be better at these things.
5. Be Open to Criticism: Realize that you are representing a large (or sometimes not so large) group of people who aren't in the room. Not everyone may have the best opinion of their IT departments. In every meeting we have an opportunity to be a positive agent of change and increase the trust between pure business professionals and those of us in the IT field. They don't have to believe you can do it - YOU DO and then you have to deliver.
I am always seeking to increase my professionalism, ability to deliver 100% of what was requested and for greater quality assurance and governance in my SharePoint projects. There are lots of ways to approach this and I'm sure I will continue to learn more ways to leverage my expertise. That, after all, is the fun for me!
Now the team site is up and the true fun begins. I get a further opportunity to assist in streamlining the business process and aid people in communicating. And that is why I'm an Enthusiast! I love this work!
Here's to more good projects!