How to avoid the "IT black hole"
Going all the way back to my days as an association staffer (more than 30 years ago) I've encountered what I call the "IT black hole." The IT black hole is where technology issues go to die. Perhaps you've experienced this. You report an issue to your technology staff and you never hear another word about it.
My clients often compliment me on my responsiveness and I've come to realize that this is partly because they've all lived with the IT black hole.
So for those of you in IT (or anyone who receives "issue reports" from others), here is my simple three-step process for avoiding the IT black hole:
- Acknowledge receipt of the issue. You would be amazed how far a simple email saying "Confirming receipt" goes!
- Tell the person submitting the issue what will happen next. Be as specific as possible, e.g., "I'll review this issue and get back to you within the next three days with a solution or next steps."
- FOLLOW THROUGH on your promise! If you've promised a response in three days, provide a response within three days! Even if the response is "I haven't had a chance to review this yet," or "We've looked at this and we're going to need more time to dig deeper and learn more."
I'd estimate that 80% of the complaints about an IT department's ability to do their job are related to the black hole issue. When staff doesn't know what the IT department is doing with their issues, they'll likely assume the worst. Communicating what you're doing will help to avoid that.
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