Modern Middle Manager
Primarily my musings on the practical application of technology and management principles at a financial services company.
Politics in Practice

Monday, January 13, 2003  

Perhaps the biggest cross-department conflicts I have are between my department and sales. The crux of the problem, as I see it, is that we have a department that desires, perhaps even requires, sophisticated systems to help them track prospects and sales. They use a CRM to input sales & contacts, a PDA to track appointments and phone numbers and laptops to create and demonstrate presentations. The irony is that the sales staff is also the least comfortable, knowledgeable or patient to use the very technology they think they need to rely on. This causes conflict and conflict brings on the political games.

A typical example of conflict has very small consequences, such as today. We set up a salesperson with a mailer program that he uses to e-mail professionals that subscribe to his newsletter. Only after four tries, he still can't figure out the program. Even with documentation, written by my department specifically for him. So he wants my department to run the program for him and send out the e-mails. My solution? Sales has a support person -- let's get her trained to support him if he absolutely, positively can't figure this out. Unfortunately this decision leads to a mini-pissing match between the COO and EVP. Sigh.

Here's my take on the matter. If you're a CPA, you learn to use and master Excel. If you're an executive assistant, you learn and master Word. If you are a salesperson, you learn and master the tools you're provided to do your job. That may be a CRM, a spreadsheet, a PDA. No matter. Learn to use it. Master it. Make yourself better with it. The standard retort is that, "Salespeople should be selling, not learning software." I could just as easily say that Information Services should be creating solutions, not playing with computers. Got the distinction? Computers are a tool, even to the Information Services department. Although part of the service we provide is to make applications available to the end-user, it isn't to actually run the programs for them. That's like providing a driver and scribe for each salesperson because they drive and fill out forms. That's my position and I'm sticking to it. Until I'm told to change it.

posted by Henry Jenkins | 1/13/2003 10:19:00 PM

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