Home > Communication, Process Management, resources > IT and Streaming Media – Part II

IT and Streaming Media – Part II

The first post got a bit long, so I’ll continue here for those who want this in more digestible chunks.

Situation 3: Let’s Webcast, everybody!

In this common situation, someone gets the bright idea to offer a new service or communication method without quite understanding it and without explaining themselves to the underlings who have to make it happen.

Our fictional VP of Marketing decides that the organization needs to start webcasting based on hearing the term at a seminar.  The competition is webcasting, so we have to as well.  A kickoff meeting is held with senior representatives of multiple business departments and IT and the VP lays out this grand vision of webcasting everything from CEO presentations to the annual company picnic.  The execs leave the meeting with an action plan of assigning people lower down the food chain to realize this vision.

So the IT PM and the Marketing manager sit down in a room together with the notes of the meeting, and proceed to have a fruitless discussion where the answer to virtually every question is “I don’t know”

  • What do we mean by webcasting?  A webex kind of thing or a video kind of thing?
    • IDK
  • Do they want interactivity for the viewers or just one way communication?
    • IDK
  • Is this for internal users or external audiences?
    • IDK
  • Are we trying to track participation or not?
    • IDK
  • When does this need to be done
    • Yesterday

Pretty much everyone is up a creek here without a paddle.  IT can’t proceed because the business hasn’t provided them with the basics they need to develop a requirements document.  Without those requirements nobody knows when the project has completed, or if it has succeeded.  The business suffers because this opportunity to communicate with their audience is delayed at best, or lost completely.

The culprit here is more poor planning than it is communication, though that’s clearly at fault as well.  It’s impossible to implement a project when you can’t define it clearly enough for anyone to execute.  The partnership between the two sides depends on clear goals, clear roles, and well defined tasks.  It’s up to someone, no matter how delicate or political it needs to be, to reign in the VP here and make him explain what he wants.  Provide him with the options, translate his vague ideas into formal requirements, and save everyone the hassle of false starts and dead ends.

Some final thoughts.

  1. IT needs to get it, but they don’t have to understand every last detail.  At the end of it all, they don’t have to buy into the business vision (although it’s great if they do), as long as they are willing to participate to get the job done.  They need to understand that it’s important to the organization, how it fits in with the overall IT efforts, and what it will take to accomplish.
  2. Business needs to understand that they only see the surface of what IT does.  Most often that means the fire brigade when something breaks, or the security secret police keeping them from posting off-color videos to their co-workers.  Each business unit has its own software and hardware needs, and usually there’s one overstretched IT department responsible for managing all those needs.
  3. It doesn’t end when the product is deployed; in many cases it’s only beginning.  Both sides need to remember the ongoing maintenance issues, especially for internal deployments.  Help Desk is one big area – are they ready to support the new tool, and do they have what they need to help end users with it?
  4. Communication again is critical – neither side speaks the others’ language perfectly well, and a lot of patience will be needed to ensure everyone’s on the same page.
  5. Remember you’re all in this together – pulling together means success for the organization, and that’s what everyone should be after.
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