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Building an IT Communication Plan

I’ve heard the complaint so many times from the business. IT doesn’t communicate what we are doing. Or we don’t do it right. Or not fast enough. Or not often enough. A plan for communicating with your customers is essential for any company, large or small. More times than not, IT Communications don’t fall into the lap of a Communications Director. Though it often takes a back burner, we own it.

When Do You Communicate

Before you focus on anything else, your first question should be when do you communicate? From an Operations perspective, you can narrow down notifications to Planned Maintenance, Emergency Maintenance, Unplanned Outage and Email Outage.

Your notifications may be different depending on your business. If ops can be narrowed down to four types, covering Network, Applications, Datacenter and Telecom, you should be able to keep your notification types down to half a dozen or less regardless of your business.

How Do You Communicate

What channels do you have to communicate with your business/customers?

Start with creating a matrix. List notifications that you send out and how you send them. After reviewing it in this view, you may find that you quickly change your plan.

Note that AMG Alerts is a mass alert tool that can be used to send out text messages to corporate cell phones to let them know about an outage (especially useful for email outages). Some additional channels that you may use could be newsletters, twitter – or god forbid – Facebook. It really just depends on your business and what methods make it easy to reach your customers.

Who Do You Communicate With

Be sure to keep potential growth in mind when defining communication groups to use for your distribution lists. Your goal, if you are not already there should be for your lists to be maintenance free. Your users/customers should be able to “opt-in” and edit their own information. We should always know who our customers are and what they want to see.

Large Corporation

Small Business

Define your distribution lists

For Tier 1 & Tier 2 Applications

By Product/Services

How are your lists updated?

Company site or 3rd party site for internal users (AMG Alerts, etc.)

Join Mailing list from company site

Link on all messages to edit preferences

Link on all messages to edit preferences

What Do You Say?

Standardize your templates. The templates should use identical branding and design. A template should be created for each notification type listed in your communication matrix and the structure should be the same for each message.

Don’t Waste Their Time. When sending out a notification to your business customer, ask yourself what you are trying to say and why they care. Don’t bore them with unnecessary details – give them the information they need and a link to details.

Give Them a Voice. All messages should include contact information. Whether it be the number to your Service Desk, your email address or a comment section on your blog. Don’t make them feel that they cannot reach out to you.

What We’ve Learned

Know when you communicate, how you communicate, who you communicate with and what to say. Listen to your customers. Find out what they care about and when they want to hear from you.

Remember there is a fine line between not communicating enough and spamming your business/customers.