A friend of mine hates the marketing folks in his office. Why?
“Because they give deadlines out of the blue and expect you to meet them.”
My friend is a programmer and his opinion is not uncommon. In the office, there is an ongoing rift between Marketing and IT. On the red corner is the Marketing folk. He understands customer needs very well but have no idea what is possible (or impossible). He commits features and deadlines to customers without consulting the IT guy.
On the blue corner is the IT folk. He knows the latest programming language, knows every configuration and the version of every piece of technology on the planet but has no idea what is useful and what is not to the customers.
The most common root of the problem is miscommunication. Just like the opening line in the Guns ‘N Roses song Civil War (I’m not sure), “what we got here is failure to communicate.”
Communication is not about exchanging emails, attending meetings, or putting everything in paper and making sure everybody has a copy. It is about understanding the situation of the other party and making sure the other party understands you. Confused? I hope not.
When a programmer says he can finish the project in 2 months she may mean done with the coding and testing. From a marketers point of view, done is when the customer has played a bit around with the product and a user manual with him. This simple variation of “done” causes a rift between the IT and Marketing folks.
Email is cool but we need to talk, really
If a colleague emailed the requirements to you, would you answer back through email? Or would you rather set a face-to-face meeting?
It’s funny but I once worked in a project where the guy in charge of customer requirements loves to do ALL discussions through email. Every time we ask him, he reminds us to email the question and wait for the answer. He would even approach and tell us he already sent the answer.
Email is very convenient but as much as possible discuss requirements and resolve issues face-to-face. If the IT and Marketing are just a few cubicles away, there is no excuse in not having regular conversations.
Relationships are very important
Regular conversations are useless and waste of time if no relationship exists. This issue is not isolated to IT and Marketing; every group in the company must have a good relationship with people they need to work with.
Some companies promote and fund relationship-building activities. Some reports the effectiveness of these activities while others doubt if these help. Whatever the case, it is imperative the company exerts efforts to build relationships among working groups.