A Guide to Asking Your IT Team for Help

We’ve all been through technology crises at one time or another. From phone and server disruptions to computer and printer crashes, troubleshooting these issues is often a source of anxiety and stress, especially for those who are not so “tech inclined.” Luckily, IT teams are there to save the day. They are the unsung heroes of business, constantly making sure critical technology is up and running smoothly, day in and day out. However, when you run into technology issues, it’s easy to let frustration and confusion take over. This generally takes the form of SOS emails to IT, which only adds to the list of the never-ending problems they have to solve. In order to help smooth out communication with IT team members, here’s a brief list of three common technology issues and the best practices for asking for your IT team’s help.

Urgent Emergencies

Immediate emergencies probably cause the most stress for IT teams. When a server fails and Internet access cuts off suddenly, websites goes down and there’s a tendency to let panic mode set it. While failing business-critical systems are never good, it’s important to communicate these issues to IT teams with clarity and a level head. It helps to consider the problem from the perspective of an IT team member: Imagine if you already have two or three projects with tight deadlines, and suddenly, five or even 10 other employees reach out to you with “SOS!” While the strong reactions may be justified, imagine the overwhelming anxiety if everyone was coming to you with questions and demanding immediate answers for a solution. Before involving the IT team, make sure the problem is repeatable, consistent across users and critical for getting work done. Then, after assessing if the situation really is “life or death,” prepare a detailed list of what went wrong, when it went wrong and where. By formulating your message with as much detail as possible, you can be a tremendous help to your IT team. They’ll definitely appreciate a calm, flushed out message, as opposed to a panicked SOS.

Last-Minute Requests

Last-minute requests are common, especially when trying to meet deadlines. However, there’s a right and wrong way to approach IT with these types of requests. The key point is to remember that IT probably already has a backlogged to-do list. Instead of expecting IT to drop everything and immediately address your concerns, it’s best to ask how much time IT needs to get something done. If it’s not feasible to address by the deadline, it’s helpful to know upfront so you can communicate any setbacks as early as possible. Similar to asking for help in an emergency, try exhausting all your options before turning to IT.

Communicating Big Ideas or Changes

Sometimes, a new perspective or idea can help a website, email program or process be as effective as possible. Insights as an outsider can, occasionally, be just what is needed to refresh a strategy or brand.  However, keep in mind that a complete overhaul or revolution of a system or process can be taken negatively by those who work with it day to day. Think of conscientious ways to present a pitch to the IT team and flesh out the details such as the why, the what and the costs. You can also ask how to help on a smaller scale such as be a beta tester or lend the team some research time to test your hypothesis. Any way you can lessen the load will be received with much more enthusiasm than a long-form email or presentation explaining why IT has been doing it wrong all this time.

Whether you have an IT emergency or an idea you think will benefit the company as a whole, communicating with IT boils down to one idea: be conscientious of IT’s time, workload and capacity. IT teams work hard behind the scenes to keep everything running as smoothly as possible, so the last thing anyone wants is to burden them with frantic SOS messages and ideas that will overhaul their current processes.