Thursday, February 13, 2014

What is IT+?

Many CIO's I talk to are 100% confident that they have an awesome IT department. Sometimes though when you talk to their users you get a different story. I don't think CIO's are wrong to think they have a really good team, I mean we all like to think we are the cream of the crop but here is a hypothetical scenario I want you to think about.

Imagine, if you will, that your company just re-branded and now you have all these new templates you want to get people to start using. A user calls into the service desk (or emails if that's more believable for you) and asks where to get it.

A good IT department will have a service desk that says "You can get the updated templates from the marketing site at http://marketingsite/, obviously substituting the URL for the right one.

A really good IT department will then follow up the next day and ask if they got it OK, needed any help installing it or using it, and maybe even offer training if the user seems confused.

An IT+ department will do all of that, but then go to the administrators and see if there is a way to automatically install these templates globally to everyone so that users everywhere can automatically see them when they chose to create a new template.

Often times, and what the gold star service is, would be an IT department that is so in tune with the business that the marketing team and IT already thought about this and had the new material lined up and ready to go because IT thinks about what they business needs and the business knows IT will help and brings the into the loop early. Ideally this conversation happens at all levels of the business, not just the CIO and CMO level.

Take a minute and think about how your service desk would respond. Would they even respond? If not you need to address that pretty soon. Build a metrics report showing SLA's around response time and make sure you, the CIO, review them every day and get rid of people who don't get it.

Would they ask "What's powerpoint?" If so I'd suggest training. A lot of training actually. Your service desk is the fact of IT and you need them to be on top of their game all the time. Make them the early adopters (at least some of them). Show them it's OK to learn new things and get them to be innovators. Just because they are helpdesk not architects doesn't mean they don't have great ideas.

Are they good? Congratulations. Do you want them to be great? Then let them know it's OK to suggest solutions to the real problem. Closing the ticket is not the same as fixing the problem. Let them know that you expect them to do both, and then make sure your admins understand that message too. You want to encourage them to work together to solve issues.

And if you want the gold star, make sure you encourage your team to talk to their peers in the business. It's OK to sit in the caf and have a cup of coffee with the marketing team. I mean clearly if the network is done that's not the right time, but let them know part of their job is relationships.

My previous CIO gave me the goal that 30% of my time should be spent internal networking. It was probably the best advice I've gotten. Once you meet people on a personal level and become friends, you become more than IT, you become "Rich who works in IT' and it's much harder to blame or dislike a person than a department or title. Plus you get rid of business alignment problems that plague most of our industry.

That's my suggestion for a cold, snowy Maine day. I'd love any feedback or comments.