Saying no to impossible IT

on 21 September 2015

Judging by how many times you are asked to do it, you would think that by now 'delivering the impossible regularly, and under budget' would part of the job description for every IT vacancy. Executives who know, or think they know, what it is they want often don't even bother to consider the logistics behind their demands.

A major part of the problem is that many of those outside of the IT department will often have a little knowledge on a variety of tech subjects but won't be an expert on any. For example, they will understand the concept of cloud computing, they will throw about the phrase big data and tell everyone about it's potential, but that is often as far as it goes. When the time comes to implement a new product or service they just don't get that many projects do not fall into the category of “drop everything  you're doing and do this now”. They often don't consider that results won't go the roof immediately either, so here are a few tips for when this situation next rears its ugly head.

How to say no tactfully

One of the hardest things for an IT pro to do is try and find  a way of telling their boss “I'm sorry but this can't be done”. It can be frustrating enough having to say it to a user but to the people who have complete control over your career it can actually feel almost dangerous! So here are our tips on not only how to say no to the boss but also to make them understand why you have uttered the dreaded 2 letter word.

“Okay, but..”

The easiest way to say no without actually saying no. Point out the pitfalls of what they have asked you to do in easy to understand terminology. Explain why it isn't the right way to go, the extra resources need, the disappointing results it will yield, etc etc etc. You get the picture. This can go a few ways. They could change their minds, give you the support you have said you need to be able to do it of the biggest prize of all; a funded project of your own to make it happen.

Is it just new, or is it really great?

If you have an exec at your shoulder banging on about the latest and greatest thing you should be doing it's time to gently remind him or her that most of these ideas tend to be new rather than great. If you aren't aware of whatever it is they want you to do point out that this is as yet untried and untested in the real world and just because some geek is making it out to be the greatest thing since cut bread doesn't necessarily mean it is. Alternatively, you could just tell them you aren't aware of any benefits it will actually bring your company and want to do your research first to ensure you are doing, as always, something that is in the best interests of the company.

Offer alternatives

More often than not when an exec wants you to produce, use, develop a new service or product they are looking for the great results they have read about somewhere. What they probably haven't grasped it what is involved with getting those results or that they can get them from alternative means. Explain simply, but not in a patronising way, that while this new whatever will yield results they may not be the best for your company. Have the alternatives ready here, as humming and haaing won't cut the mustard.

Explain that while certain products or services may deliver great results for some customers, but there may be better ways to get those results – without also getting several features that may never be used.

All in all, remember, you know IT better than anyone in the building so offer solutions to business problems, don’t create a problem with an IT ‘solution’ 


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