5 Steps to Create a Meaningful Communication Strategy in Tech, Digital, and Data Departments

Technology, digital, and data organizations focus on delivering business impacts by improving customer experiences, increasing […]

Technology, digital, and data organizations focus on delivering business
impacts by improving customer experiences, increasing deployment
frequencies, developing machine learning models, and meeting service level
objectives. It’s a significant effort to align priorities, agree on
methodologies, and deliver capabilities that meet customer and business
stakeholder expectations.

Surrounding and enabling all the technical and collaboration activities are
management practices that often play second fiddle to technical activities.
One of these key practices is communications, and I find that it’s only the
larger enterprises that have IT communication practices in place – and often
because they can afford people with marketing and communication skills to
own these responsibilities.

Having a communication strategy can be the first line of offense and defense
for tech, data, and digital teams who are under pressure to always deliver
more today than they did the day before. Having a communication strategy in
place and executing to it saved my butt many times, and I tell several of
these stories in my upcoming book,
Digital Trailblazer.

What is meaningful communication for IT, data science, and digital orgs?

In this week’s 5 Minutes with @NYIke episode, I share
Five Key Communication Practices in Digital Transformation
and include four common mistakes. You can find the episode embedded at the
end of this post, and I hope you’ll watch it.

In the video, I share the common communication focus areas for tech,
digital, and data departments, including communications around releases and
incident management. But developing a communication strategy should focus
less on the what and more on the who and why. Below are my five steps to
creating a meaningful communication strategy – meaningful in the sense that
the audience consumes, cares, and responds to your communications.

What are the steps to create a meaningful communication strategy?

Even the smallest of departments should build a communications strategy,
and here are the five steps to get started.

1. Identify who are your audiences

Your audiences should include:

  • Executives who want to see KPI, OKRs, and other business-impacting
    information
  • Teams and people who consume technology, digital, and data services –
    broken down by business services and workflows
  • Teammates and stakeholders who often seek more detailed and frequent
    communications

2. Establish your audiences’ informational needs

The best way to do this is to interview them! Determine what information,
when to deliver it, and which communication formats are easiest for them to
use. Take this feedback as stakeholder requirements, but recognize and
expect conflicting information and requests that are hard to fulfill. Act as
an
agile product owner
and determine the priorities and key requirements.

3. Select optimal communication tools and formats

Communications don’t have to be manually created emails, documents,
presentations, or videos. Think about using tech to automate the
communications, including BI dashboards, reports, and alerts. You’ll want to
make sure that machine-generated communications are easy to consume with
titles, descriptions, and meaningfully-labeled charts. Select tools with the
options to annotate and highlight what audiences should pay attention to and
where they can infer insights.

4. Determine communication cadences

Once you have formats, now it’s time to determine when to send out
communications. Some will be event-triggered like incidents, but even these
communications should update audiences regularly. At what frequency? Well,
that depends on audience needs, but it’s important to set expectations.

For scheduled communications, time them for when audiences are more likely
to consume them. What day of the week and time of day? Also, consider
aligning the communications to business schedules, such as sending agile
program portfolio updates days before strategic leadership team meetings.

5. Create feedback mechanisms that foster meaningful relationships

Communications should be two-way, so anytime you define a communication
asset and schedule, consider how you’ll measure consumption and
ask for feedback. If consumption is low, think through improvements and changes. If you’re
not getting feedback, then ask for it and use the opportunity to develop
stronger relationships.

There’s a lot more in this week’s video!

 


The original article can be found at: Star CIO