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Walk A Mile In Their Shoes

I had a conversation on Twitter recently regarding IT professionals spending time in other business units to spark innovation and the resolution of business challenges.

Twitter Karen FerrisA SaaStr article that said everybody in a SaaS company had to do 2+ hours in customer support once a quarter sparked the conversation. The tweets included suggestions that the CIO and IT managers should spend time on the Service Desk; everyone in Service Management should spend time on the Service Desk; and Service Desk staff should spend 2 hours per qu+arter shadowing someone in a business unit.

I don’t disagree with any of those suggestions.

I wrote a blog entitled ‘Walk A Mile In Their Shoes’ last year, which described some customer experience programmes for IT employees.

I don’t intend to repeat that content here, but rather augment it on the back of this recent conversation.

I think that a customer experience programme has two perspectives – that of the external customer experience and that of the internal customer experience.

External Customer

When was the last time you went on to your company website to see how easy it was to undertake a transaction whether that be to make a purchase or find the right person to contact to ask for further information?

As per the article that triggered the Twitter conversation, when was the last time you used your company’s app to see how easy it was to use?

These interactions (or observations) of the external customer are often called ‘customer immersion’ programmes and undertaken by the executives of the organization whereby they experience their business from a customer point of view.

However there is no reason why IT staff cannot partake in a similar experience particularly where the external customer is utilizing a product or service that can be directly impacted by IT. For example, IT may not directly impact the customer experience when they purchase a tin of beans in a retail outlet, but they can directly impact the customer when they are using a website or app that has been designed by IT and is managed and maintained by IT.

Of course, IT can ‘indirectly’ impact the customer experience when buying a tin of beans if the EPTPOS is not available or back office systems fail due to IT error. However, for the purposes of this blog, I have included that as an internal customer experience where IT is directly impacting the ability of the retail line-of-business (internal) from delivering to the external customer.

IT should establish formal programmes for IT staff to observe and undertake the external customer experience, which could include time spent on the customer service desk or in the call center to understand the issues that customers are having.

There need to be formal channels to enable feedback from employees that will get responded to and action taken as appropriate.

It is in this way that IT staff begin to understand the impact that IT can have (positively and negatively) on the external customer experience.

Internal Customer

The same formal approach ought to be taken for internal business units. IT staff should regularly spend time in other business units to understand the business being conducted and see how easy or hard it is for internal customers to undertake their work and how IT is hindering or assisting them in meeting their business outcomes.

If the organization has a physical presence as well as an online presence e.g. retail outlets, distribution centers, warehouses etc. there should be a programme whereby the IT employee spends time in these locations to understand how the various lines of business operate and the frustrations they may incur with their use of IT.

Again, there needs to be formal channels for feedback and suggestions with appropriate responses.

Organizations often engage external service providers to undertake research on employee satisfaction or even satisfaction with IT. The results of the research get presented but there is rarely a blinding flash of light during a PowerPoint presentation. However, 30 minutes spent sitting alongside a business person using the CRM system can crystallize issues very quickly.

IT staff should also rotate around IT itself. The CIO should spend time on the Service Desk, the Service Desk should spend time in Operations, Service Management staff should spend time in Development and so on. This again goes towards breaking down the silos and furnishing each area with a better understanding of the challenges and frustrations other areas experience. It should foster more collaboration and co-working to help each area help the other to remove some of the inhibitors to effective working.

Benefits

This sort of activity is key in breaking down silos and truly enabling IT staff to understand the business they are supporting and how the failure of IT to deliver what the business needs impacts the business units ability to conduct their work effectively and efficiently.

It also helps to foster a culture of collaboration and cross-silo working within IT itself.

It can also help in building or re-establishing a trust between IT and the other business units but only if the feedback from the business units and the IT employees are acted upon and change and improvement is delivered. It can also help remove the stigma that IT are out of touch with the business.

The larger the organization becomes the less customer facing many parts of the business, including IT, become as they get further and further removed from the customer experience.  A well-crafted customer experience programme can create customer-focused thinking within IT from top to bottom.

Execution

I just mentioned ‘well-crafted’ and this is an important point. The programme needs to be carefully designed and managed. The last thing a business unit needs is to be bombarded with IT people asking them ‘what do you think of IT?’

The participants in the programme need to be equipped with the knowledge to get the most out of the experience. They should know what they are looking for, the sort of questions to be asked, and what is expected of them as an outcome.

Co-ordination and scheduling of the programme will also be critical to its success. This might be an area in which you do want to get external expertise to assist – at least in the initial design stages.

Everyone and Forever

As the Twitter chat implied, this programme applies to everyone in IT. It applies to the CIO, project management teams, service management teams, operational teams etc. without exception.

The frequency and degree of participation in the programme may apply differently to different roles within the company but nobody should be exempt from understanding the customer / business experience.

The programme should also be constant. It is not a one-off experience. It should run forever. It needs to become embedded into the company’s systems and processes and not just an add-on to them.

bootsA Mile is Not Far Enough

Truly understanding the customer experience is not about ‘walking a mile in their shoes’. It is about ‘walking their walk’ continually.

Although I have written this blog from an IT perspective, this sort of programme should ideally be an organizational wide one and not confined to IT.

However, if one doesn’t currently exist, IT can lead the way in establishing one, demonstrating the benefits and encourage uptake by the wider organization.

 

Posted in IT Service Mgmt.

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Why is a business case important and how it can deliver an optimum outcome?

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A business case often provides decision makers, stakeholders and the public with a management tool for evidence based and transparent decision making. It is a framework for delivery and performance monitoring of the subsequent policy, strategy or project to follow thereafter.

The resultant project will only be successful if they have been planned realistically, with a clear focus after detailed consideration of the associated risks. It is a business case that clearly presents the risks, opportunities and threats involved putting them in perspective of the investment involved there in. Thus a business case is not just a record of the Return on Investment from a financial perspective but will present a summary of all the benefits delivered.

The Five Case Model, which is the UK government’s best practice approach to planning spending proposals and enabling effective business decision, goes beyond the financial dimension. The Five Case Model is a framework for “thinking” to help answer three basic questions of, ‘Where are we now?’ ‘Where do we want to be?’ And, ‘How are we going to get there?’

These are never easy questions to answer and often change as more information comes to light. For significant projects the business case is developed through three iterations. These are the Strategic Outline Case (SOC), the Outline Business Case (OBC) and the Full or Final Business Case (FBC).

Continued…

Posted in Exams, Project Mgmt, Qualifications.

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Seven Reminders Why We Need ITSM

Mindful ITSM LogoA recent article in itnews.com.au called ‘Seven Reminders the World Runs on IT’ illustrated how IT systems have become so ingrained in every aspect of our day-to-day lives and the impact that failure can have. When I read the article my mind re titled it to ‘Seven Reminders Why We Need ITSM’. I suggest you read the itnews.com.au article in conjunction with this post. Here is my take on their 7 reminders. Continued…

Posted in Change Management, IT Service Mgmt, Mindful ITSM, Project Mgmt.

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Who’s This Project Sponsored By?

The 2014 edition of Best Practices in (Organizational) Change Management from Prosci highlights in its 8th consecutive study, that active and visible sponsorship is once again the greatest contributor to organizational change success.

The greatest obstacle to success was identified as ‘Ineffective Change Management sponsorship’.

By a two to one margin, the top suggestion from the study’s participants in regards to what to do differently on the next project was ‘to more effectively engage sponsors by involving them early and ensuring they are active and visible throughout the project’.

Experienced practitioners participating in the study identified four challenges or hurdles to organizational change management, with the top one being ‘ineffective sponsorship’. Continued…

Posted in Change Management.

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APMG UK Showcase 2014 – Overview

APMG UK Showcase 2014 – the flagship event for knowledge sharing and networking took place on a sweltering hot day in July.

Thanks to everyone who joined us at this year’s UK APMG Showcase to make it a memorable event. From the onset the QEII in Westminster was brimming with attendees – resulting in avid networking, polite conversation and bacon consumption.

We enjoyed a full-house as the event kicked off with an amusing, thought-provoking keynote speech from world-renowned behavioral economist and award-winning Financial Times columnist, Tim Harford.

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Opening keynote with Tim Harford

Tim discussed why it’s important to make mistakes in business – explaining that it’s only by learning from our mistakes that we can continue to learn and grow, and deliver innovation.

After Tim’s presentation delegates chose from an array of interesting Birds of a Feather (BoF) roundtable discussions, which took place throughout the event.  The BoF hosts did an exceptional job of immersing people in their subject matter – tables were surrounded by people fully engaged in discussion.

Each table was equipped with an iPad – allowing people to express their thoughts on discussions via a live feed displayed in the main showroom.

Continued…

Posted in Agile, AgilePM, Change Management, Events, Project Mgmt, Qualifications.

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Are You Getting The Most From Your Service Desk Career?

 

Life after certification

Are you a Service Desk Professional looking to progress your career?

Are you interested in training but not sure where to turn?

If you have answered yes to the above – then APMG International’s Service Desk Institute Certification could help you. Our comprehensive FAQ’s section has helped many candidates and training providers. If you still have any questions or would like to speak to a local training provider about becoming certified, then please click on the find a training provider button on the Service Desk Institute Certification page.

Delivering exceptional, fun and inspirational experiences for everyone working in IT support, SDI is here to support you in making your service desk be the best it can possibly be. If you are a Service Desk professional looking to progress your career or if you want to prove your ability in your current role, then Service Desk Institute certification could be just what you need.

Posted in IT Service Mgmt, Qualifications.

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Showcase BoF Session: How to gain 8% productivity by better use of information and related technology

Did you know that your organization probably loses 7.6% productivity due to IT problems? And that almost half of it is due to ineffective and inefficient use of information systems?

Do you believe that your users could get more value out of investments in IT? Do you think that they really understand the data in the systems and are not making costly mistakes based on misinterpretation? Is anybody monitoring how well the information systems are being used and if they’re proactively helping users?

How competent are they in specifying their IT needs and delegating it to IT? Would the IT department also benefit from the user organization becoming a better IT customer? Is the IT department in the business of building good cars or getting the drivers from A to B?

In this session you’ll have the opportunity to share your thoughts about these and other questions and learn from others how to develop competences on the ‘other side’ of the great Business-IT Divide. Where appropriate, guidance from frameworks such as BiSL, COBIT, BABOK and TOGAF will be referenced.

Continued…

Posted in IT Service Mgmt, Mindful ITSM.

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IT Asset Management – We have effective process in place…don’t we?

IAITAM best practice

When we think about how technology has changed, it is concerning that so many people do not fully appreciate how much personal and confidential information is stored on ‘losable’ assets; I’m sure many of us have clicked on the ‘save password’ option more than once on our phones for convenience. On laptops we save important documents to our C Drives to work on remotely because the main server is slower than we are willing to put up with.

But what happens if the hard drive is damaged or our phone is lost/stolen? Particularly if our role is in the public sector and this information may be called upon for future reference or even for, evidence.

Disastrous consequences can befall government and private organizations when key assets or data is destroyed or lost. Everyone screams conspiracy or stupidity particularly for sensitive or vital data; however could these IT Asset Management faux pas simply result from grossly inefficient IT Asset Disposition processes?

So, why is IT Asset Disposition a vital part of IT Asset Management important?

Today IT Asset Disposition is more than just another waste stream an organization is accountable for. There are now multiple options available to organizations. Equipment reuse, software redeployment and resale provide savings opportunities and possibly pay for or afford a positive cash flow for the ITAD process.

With these opportunities and savings there are inherent risks associated with mishandled, lost or stolen assets caused by improper oversight.  IT Asset Managers must ensure any private data is properly removed using software which meets government data erasure standards or accredited IT disposal contractors and that this process is properly documented for audit purposes.

At any step during the ITAD process, errors can and do occur and organizations can be subject to fines, penalties and public disgrace.  It is vital that IT Asset Managers and their teams understand how to mitigate the risks associated with improper disposal of IT assets and determine the appropriate path for their organization and the options available.

How IAITAM can help?

The concept of IAITAM started as far back as 1998 when a group of software and hardware asset managers began meeting to discuss the need for a centralized organization devoted to expanding and codifying information and knowledge within the IT Hardware & Software Asset Management fields.

 

Continued…

Posted in Cyber Security.

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Is Cyber Security training important? APMG International believes so

 

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APMG International believes in Cyber Security certification and training as key mechanisms in the battle to secure our nation’s ongoing security. We have been certifying professionals across the IT spectrum through an extensive range of IT Service Management, IT Governance and IT Asset Management qualifications.

Most recently APMG has been working in collaboration with CESG, the Information Security arm of GCHQ and the National Technical Authority for Information Assurance in the UK. Through this collaborative relationship we have helped to extend the CESG Certified Professional (CCP) certification scheme from the public to the private sector. CCP enables cyber security professionals to prove their abilities and gain the industry recognition they deserve.

Then early this year we announced we will be taking another step towards helping training providers demonstrate training excellence as we deliver the CESG Certified Training Scheme (CCT) in Summer/Autumn 2014. By using our rigorous accreditation, APMG will be able to assess cyber security qualifications delivered by training organizations to ascertain whether they meet the high standards expected by CESG.

To further enhance our cyber security portfolio, APMG is working with the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and its technology transfer company Ploughshare Innovations Ltd to deliver their new Cyber Defence Capability Assessment Tool.

The Cyber Defence Capability Assessment Tool (CDCAT®) is a way for businesses to assess their own cyber defense preparedness, understand where any gaps in defense capability may exist and what mitigation’s can be applied. For organizations of all sizes this could make the complex world of cyber security more accessible and easier to understand.

Posted in Cyber Security, Qualifications.

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SDI – Life After Certification

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So you have just completed your Service Desk Institute certification through one of APMG International’s global network of training providers, but what next?

There are 3 levels of certification available from APMG:

  • Service Desk Foundation
  • Service Desk Analyst
  • Service Desk Manager

Depending on which one you have completed you may want to consider one of the other levels.

‘But I am happy with the level I have chosen and I’m kept up to date with industry best practice?’

If this is the case then the Service Desk Institute (SDI) offers a comprehensive range of memberships to suit your requirements and help you develop your career.

SDI sets the internationally recognized best practice standards for service desks and service desk professionals. It is these standards which form the basis for the SDI professional qualifications programme and the service desk certification programme.

If you still have questions then our FAQ page can help or you can contact your training provider for more local advice and support.

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