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A New CIO’s Guide to Mapping Experiences

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Delivering and enabling business value is a large part of IT’s job.  As such, the CIO must track how value flows, not only within IT, but across the organization. 

It may sound easier than it actually is. Because value is tricky. For one thing, it’s not always well-defined. And it often gets lost in day-to-day operations as the business evolves.  This often leaves end users wondering what happened to the value that they were expecting. 

One of the first tasks of new CIOs is to determine what’s driving value, what’s not, and how improved value can be delivered to all stakeholders. But how can you do that? Where do you start? 

In order to answer that question, we need to stop talking only about value. Instead, we need to include talking about the experiences of the customer, the user, and the employee. 

Customer experience

As defined by Hubspot, customer experience is “the impression your customers have of your brand as a whole throughout all aspects of the buyer’s journey.” The customer experience factors into a customer’s view of your brand and it can impact the bottom line. A strong customer experience can increase customer retention, which will reduce marketing and advertising costs. And loyal customers often spend more than new ones as one study found that if a business increases customer retention by 5%, profits can increase by up to 95%. Additionally, according to a survey by Info Quest CRM, a totally satisfied customer contributes 2.6 times more revenue than a somewhat satisfied customer.

User experience

The user experience is very similar to customer experience but it is directly related to the product, application or service. User experience refers to the journey a user takes when they interface with a system whether that is an application, a digital service, a website or a product. In today’s digital world, user experience matters. 88% of consumers are unlikely to return to a site after a bad experience and a recent study found that a well-designed user interface could increase conversion rates by 200%. 

 Employee experience

According to Gallup, the employee experience is the journey an employee takes with your organization and is made up of all the interactions that employees have during their tenure at the organization. The employee experience matters because research shows that companies with actively engaged employees outperform competitors by 147% in earnings per share and happy employees are up to 20% more productive at work. Improving the employee experience can earn your company money. 

The experience matters

Each of these experiences contributes to the overall value that stakeholders derive from an organization and all of these experiences directly impact the bottom line. If an experience is bad, there is no realized value from that experience. Therefore each of these experiences is very important to CIOs because better experiences means better value. 

Luckily, there is a tried and true approach for enabling more value through creating better experiences.  It starts with mapping the current experiences.

Whether you are mapping customer journeys or employee journeys, every mapping exercise will include the same steps. My recommendation is to choose one experience to map and improve before addressing the others. You’ll be able to use the lessons learned from mapping that one experience as guidance when mapping each of the other two.  Also, you can iterate faster when only focused on one experience at a time.

1. Include all stakeholders

This is the first and most important step you can take when mapping experiences — get all stakeholders involved. These stakeholders will want to work with you if they understand how improving experiences will benefit them, so communicate those potential wins. For example, if you chose to map the employee experience, you can explain to HR that mapping and improving this experience can improve the onboarding experience, decrease employee turnover, and increase employee engagement — thus helping HR to hit their departmental objectives.

2. Map the value streams

How is value flowing through these experiences? For example, how does a user realize value from first touch with your website through purchase? What are the steps and who is responsible for each? Mapping the value streams that enable experiences will identify where responsibilities lie, what parts of the organization are involved,  and where there may be gaps or bottlenecks.  

3. Audit workflows 

Once you have the team on the same page, review and audit the processes that underpin the value streams that underpin an experience. What’s going on under the hood of that experience? Approach these audits with an open minded curiosity, and don’t be afraid to ask why a workflow is designed the way it is.  Let your team know that this is a discovery and learning exercise, not a blame exercise, and that you are simply building a clear picture of how work is being completed. Workflows, no matter how well they were designed, have a tendency to ‘drift’ over time. 

4. Embed continual improvement  

Where is the experience falling short or encountering friction?  

This is the most critical question a CIO must be able to answer when it comes to experience.  And it’s a question that the answer is continually changing, due to continual changes in marketplaces, stakeholders, technology, and more. This is why embedding continual improvement within the experience is so important. 

New CIOs have a big opportunity to establish a mindset of continual improvement right from the start. Regularly survey end-users regarding improvement suggestions and feedback.  Develop and maintain a continual improvement log for capturing, prioritizing, and publicizing improvement suggestions. Establish a regular cadence for designing and implementing improvements. Market the successes and lessons learned from continual improvement. Why?  Because continually improving the experience continually improves value realization.

Applying the above four steps will provide great insight into each of the three experiences that are driving value within your organization. Even though the focus of each experience is different, the process of mapping these experiences is the same because they all revolve around people, processes, and technology, and how well each of these factors are working with the others. 

What has been your experience with mapping experiences?  I’d enjoy hearing about your discoveries and successes with experience mapping. 

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Is the CIO the Continual Improvement Officer?

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The CIO is often wearing many hats. They have to be tech whizzes and also strategic visionaries. And in my opinion, they now have to be the Continual Improvement Officer for their teams, their organizations, and in their careers.

Continual improvement is about improving the quality of products and services by learning from past successes and failures and making incremental changes over time. It helps IT align and realign its products, services, and activities to meet ever-changing business needs.  Continual improvement can be the key to large-scale growth. 

When done correctly, continual improvement can improve product and service quality, boost productivity and creativity, increase teamwork and create a competitive advantage. 

It sounds simple, doesn’t it? We should learn from the mistakes – and the successes –  we have. But, in a business environment, it’s never that simple. Why? Because many leaders don’t want to admit to mistakes. They don’t want to explore why things aren’t working as well as they should.  They settle for “good enough”.  They don’t want to examine what could be done better because they want to plunge ahead into that next project and hope that people forget about whatever mistakes were made or problems that were encountered. 

For continual improvement to have success, it has to be embedded into the culture of an organization. It has to be accepted – and driven – from the top-down so that everyone is empowered to look at failed initiatives and missed KPIs as learning and improvement opportunities. 

How can the CIO become the Continual Improvement Officer and build a culture that supports this?

Continual Improvement in IT

If a CIO wants to become the Continual Improvement Officer, she has to start with her own teams. One of the most important things a CIO can do then is allocate the time for continual improvement. IT is often (usually?) inundated with day-to-day work. They often are putting out fires or working to meet aggressive delivery deadlines and objectives. There is rarely-if ever- time for that “be back” work that inevitably comes up. 

It’s up to the CIO to ensure continual improvement becomes a standard mode of operation and allocate adequate time to address continual improvement. How? It could be frequent projects or sprints with an objective to reduce technical debt. Perhaps it is establishing a cadence of regular meetings or time to discuss and implement continual improvement initiatives.  Or it could be requiring that teams take the time to reflect on completed projects and initiatives and identify gaps, issues, and what could have been done differently. 

Make these efforts inclusive by encouraging team members to bring their ideas to the table — and then identify opportunities to implement those ideas. Companies with a strong culture of continual improvement implement about 80% of their employees’ improvement ideas, according to KaiNexus.  By implementing the improvement ideas from those that do the work establishes a mindset of continual improvement and encourages the team to identify and suggest further improvements.  It’s a win-win for both the team and the organization. 

Continual Improvement in the Rest of the Organization

IT is only one piece of the improvement puzzle though. To really build a culture of continual improvement, the CIO has to be the continual improvement champion within the rest of the organization and that requires communicating with and motivating other leaders

CIOs can share their own continual improvement learnings and lessons. CIOs must be open about the setbacks and the growth from continual improvement activities, and when able, connect how continual improvement enhanced another department’s initiatives. Invite other executives to your continual improvement meetings to demonstrate how building a culture of continual improvement within IT is working.  Offer to provide coaching and the expertise to help those leaders establish continual improvement efforts within their teams. 

Continual Improvement as a CIO

I think the CIO needs to be the Continual Improvement Officer because it will not only improve their organization, but it is a critical skillset and approach that will benefit the CIO’s career. 

Unfortunately, the CIO role has one of the highest turnover rates among the C-suite. According to TechTarget, the average CIO tenure hovers around 4 years. That means CIOs are frequently moving into new environments and navigating new work cultures. The best thing any CIO can do when they first step into a role is to bring an attitude of continual improvement.  Not just for the new organization, but for their own individual actions.

It’s a powerful move to reflect on what could have been done differently in a  past role as you move into a new role. This will help you embody the culture of continual improvement that you want your team to adapt as well. Be willing to address and share your own opportunities for improvement with your team as you begin implementing new initiatives.

What continual improvement successes have you had within your organization? What advice would you give to other leaders working toward a culture of continual improvement? Share your thoughts with me on LinkedIn

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How to Master the Art of IT Partnerships

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As businesses continue to become more reliant on technology, more and more organizations have formed partnership ecosystems. Bringing in and working with multiple partners is a smart way to deliver better experiences with optimized costs and capabilities. 

While there are many pros to working with partners — there are some drawbacks as well. Operations become increasingly complex as a partnership ecosystem grows. Regardless, end users will still expect a seamless experience, and the more partners you work with, the harder it could become to maintain that smooth experience. 

This article will address how CIOs can effectively manage those IT partnerships and set up their organizations for success in a partnership ecosystem.   

Partners vs. Suppliers and Vendors

You’ll notice that I refer to “partners” and not “suppliers” or “vendors”. That’s intentional verbiage. In order to succeed in this new paradigm, CIOs need to evolve from working with vendors and suppliers in a strictly transactional sense. Strategic partners are vendors that have go above and beyond effective delivery of systems and services – they commit to helping the CIO achieve the organizational goals of the company. 

The difference between “partner” and “supplier” has become increasingly noticeable due to COVID-19. Many CIOs saw partners be more proactive in their relationships by reaching out to see how they could better assist organizations during the pandemic. 

The best partners recognize that a business relationship is about more than making a sale. It’s about building a relationship where they understand the customer’s business models and the inner workings of the company. They don’t just execute on the customer’s demands, they work with the customer to find mutually beneficial solutions. 

When Badly Managed Partnerships Happen to Good Organizations

Why should you care about managing your partnerships? When does a vendor need to be a partner? 

Silo mentality has been a frequent roadblock within many organizations –  and IT is no stranger to them. Internal silos can wreak havoc on workflows and efficiencies. When IT isn’t looped into the full scope of projects and how the rest of the organization is driving value, they are often left to catch up — and end-users always suffer. And that’s just with internal silos! 

Compound that with the fact that more organizations are reducing staffing yet increasing demand for technology. This means more outsourcing and external support.  But without a shared and agreed approach to delivering that support, IT organizations could easily find themselves in a chaotic situation.  

Finding the Right Partners

Of course, there are many vendors simply parading as partners –  so how do you know what to look for in a partner? The most important thing is not to rush into a relationship or make a decision based solely on price. Yes, it can be time-consuming to get referrals and do your due diligence when evaluating potential partners. Start off with your trusted circle of IT leaders. Other leaders are often the best source of knowledge of who is a great partner and who simply delivers a product. 

Once you have your shortlist of partners from your own research and recommendations from peers, it’s time to start establishing connections. Remember that the right partner doesn’t start the conversation about themselves or their product – they will want to first talk about your goals and objectives.

Perhaps more importantly though, you have to view a potential partnership for what it is — a partnership, not a vendor-client relationship. It’s important to not view the potential partner as just a fulfiller of work. During those initial discussions, you have the responsibility of clearly defining expectations, challenges, organizational dynamics, and the goals of your organization. Don’t limit your conversations to specifically IT or the initiatives for a particular tool or product. IT is crucial to the success of any business so any IT partner needs to have a clear picture of that business. 

This will give the partner the opportunity to create a better strategy for delivering the right products and services for helping you achieve your goals. 

How to Better Manage Your Partners 

The best partnerships happen because they’re built on trust, respect, and mutual understanding. So there is a level of “people-work” that has to go into any of these relationships. But there are some ways you can better structure your organization so your partnerships will be more successful. 

  • Keep the lines of communication open. 

 

Far too often, supplier check-ins are just quick reviews of operational metrics or updates on the tasks completed during a timeframe. These types of communications aren’t sufficient in a partner relationship – in fact, this is a disadvantage to you and your partners! You want your team to be actively communicating with your partners about what’s happening in your organization so they can continue to get a clear vision of the overall picture of your organization.

 

  • Establish transparent workflows for all your partners.

 

This might be difficult because your partners likely have their own workflows. But working with them to establish a shared process that all partners follow makes for a smoother experience for your entire organization. Again, this might be a difficult ask and could take some time to develop, but the right partners will be willing to engage in defining workflows that work for your organization.

 

  • Get your internal teams and stakeholders to see partners as part of the team

 

Silo mentality doesn’t work — even when those silos are made up of full-time employees and contractors. Your internal departments and teams should feel empowered to be a part of the partner-IT relationship. You want everyone in your organization to know and trust your partners. This might mean bringing other departments to meetings with external partners or looping your external partners into existing initiatives with other departments.  

Introducing Service Integration and Management 

If you are looking for a better way to integrate your partnerships, Service Integration and Management (SIAM) might be the best option for you. SIAM is a management methodology that is growing in popularity. SIAM will provide an organization with governance, coordination, assurance, and integration for working with outside partners by introducing a “service integrator” role. If you’re working with multiple vendors, suppliers, and partners, SIAM can enhance the experience for everyone within your organization and for suppliers and partners working with your organization.  

If you’re curious about introducing SIAM or improving your partner relationships, I’d love to discuss how to prepare your organization to thrive in a multi-partner ecosystem.

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CEOs, are you making your CIO sick?

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Here’s a scenario that might sound familiar:

The CEO of a mid-sized organization calls in the CIO because times are desperate. The company needs to deploy new technology to increase revenue — quickly. The organization has already invested in a variety of tools and technology… but it’s not getting the job done. Now the CEO wants the CIO to find the right tool, the one that will help the organization, and it needs to be cheap and it needs to show results quickly. The CIO — who up until this point, has had little opportunity, much less been invited, to interact with other departments to identify needs and pain points with the current toolset. In fact, beyond any initial training and implementation of the current tools, the CIO has been relegated to sitting on the sidelines. But the CEO is convinced that new technology is the answer, and expects the CIO to get it done to get the organization back into the black … and the clock is ticking.

Scenarios similar to this one happen all the time in organizations. The pressure is constantly on the CIO, but she is often not enabled to be proactive or even part of the larger conversations with the business.

For CIOs, it often feels like they’re being given a teaspoon of gas and asked to get the company through the end of the cross-country road trip. They’re being asked enormous tasks with little budget or agency over previous decisions. They’re damned if they do — and damned if they don’t.

And this happens over and over! The CIO constantly jumps through hoops… only to land and then have to run back around to jump through it all over again. It’s no wonder that CIO position has one of the highest turnover rates among the C-suite, with an average tenure of just 4 years, according to TechTarget.

The relationship between the CIO and CEO has been fraught in the past and unfortunately in some organizations, that hasn’t improved. Even as the CIO becomes more influential and valued within the organization, many CEOs are still stressing out their CIOs!

For many organizations, there’s a gap in what the CEO expects and what the CIOs need to be able to deliver on those expectations. The CEO is the one with the power to bridge the gap. Let’s address those CEO expectations and how CEOs can give CIOs what they need to meet them.

CEO Expectations and CIO Needs

CEO Expectation: Business perspective.
The CEO expects the CIO to be the bridge between technology and the rest of the company. The CIO needs to look ahead and align technical benefit with the initiatives of the company and tailoring systems to meet business needs. This is absolutely critical for success in any business. Every business needs to use technology to its fullest potential and the CIO is the only person who can ensure that is happening. If the CIO and CEO are unable to fully enable the organization with technology, the organization is at risk of losing business to the competition.

CIO Need: Business enablement
In order for the CIO to have a business perspective, the CEO needs to recognize the role the CIO and IT play in business enablement. The CEO must ensure that their CIO is part of developing business strategies and plans. The CIO’s voice in business matters should be just as important as the voices of other leadership roles. That means the CIO has to be involved from the beginning of strategy conversations, instead of at the end of them.


CEO Expectation: Leadership
CEOs expect CIOs to be self-starters. The CIO needs to be able to motivate their teams and get buy-in from the rest of the organization. Because they often work closely with other members of the organization, the CIO needs to be viewed as an influential member of the organization who can lead the way.

CIO Need: Sponsorship
The CEO can strengthen the CIO’s credibility with peers by providing strategic support. Whether it’s inviting CIOs to strategic meetings or voicing their support of a CIO’s decision, the CEO can help the CIO attain the needed credibility to influence the organization. The CEO can also help the CIO form partnerships with external partners by starting introductions or including the CIO in communications.


CEO Expectation: Vision
The CIOs need to see the big picture of the business. CEOs want CIOs to be visionaries who are constantly moving toward the future vision of the business. The CIO has to buy-in to the CEOs vision and help the CEO turn the vision into a reality.

CIO Need: Vision and Strategic Consistency
However, for the CIO to become this visionary, the CEO needs to formally articulate the vision and mission for the company. The CIO will need to interpret how that vision fits into technology strategy, but that vision has to start from the top. Additionally, the CIO needs consistency and clarity in that vision. If the vision or strategy is constantly changing, the CIO won’t be able to create systems or initiatives to sustain it.


CEO Expectation: Innovation
Turning any vision into reality needs an innovative leader. The CIO should be on the cutting edge of all the trends and continually looking for new and better ways to leverage technology to propel the business. But the CIO also needs to be able to balance innovation and risk. She has to be able to explain the cost trade-offs with every innovative initiative.

CIO Need: Challenge
If the CEO wants an innovative CIO, they need to give the CIO those opportunities to be innovative. Challenge the CIO to use her talents on things that matter to the bottom line of the business. Don’t use her as a task rabbit who can simply pull the business over the finish line. Incorporate their expertise at the start of business challenges.


CEO Expectation: ROI
Finally, the CEO expects — and needs — the CIO to enhance ROI margins and profits. The CIO must contribute to the bottom line these days. Technology is inextricably linked to the success of any business today, so the CIO has to think in terms of ROI.

CIO Needs: Flexibility
The CIO can contribute to ROI, but she needs the CEO to understand the challenges of deploying and managing technology – at least at a high level. The CEO needs to give the CIO the chance to explain the complexities and challenges they face and demystify the technology. Then they need to allow them the flexibility to develop different approaches to solving problems. The CEO needs to understand that some IT investments take time to deliver their full potential value and allow the CIO that space to ensure that value is delivered.

In Conclusion

Now, I don’t think CEOs should give CIOs any kind of “favored status” or special accommodations within the C-suite. The CIO doesn’t need to have her hand held, but CEOs do need to consider the impact of their own actions when they review how the CIO is operating. If there is high turnover in the CIO role, perhaps the first place to look is to determine if there are gaps between the CEO expectations and the CIO needs.

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Where Is IT On Your Customer Journey Map?

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In today’s digital world, it’s imperative that organizations create and deliver world-class customer experiences. The Amazons and Zappos of the world have changed how customers want and expect to interact with organizations, especially online. Customers expect continual updates, easy to use self-service options, and streamlined processes, from start to finish.

This means organizations must research, understand and optimize every part of their customer’s journey. This process of documenting a customer’s journey was once thought to be a job for externally-facing departments, such as marketing or customer service.

But this siloed style of operations won’t work today. Today the modern C-suite must work together to create customer journey maps and, most importantly, IT must include themselves on those maps. The good news is that the door is wide open for CIOs to grab this opportunity.

What are Customer Journey Maps?

Before IT can make sure they’re properly included on customer journey maps, let’s address what we are referring to when we discuss these maps.

Customer journey maps are documents that help organizations visualize and understand how they attract and retain customers, and how customers interact with the organization. These documents depict each touchpoint a prospective customer may have with an organization. Touchpoints include interactions like a customer visiting their website, placing an order, contacting customer support, and leaving a review. Customer journey mapping provides a 360-degree view of a customer’s wants and needs.

Why are Customer Journey Maps important?

As I pointed out earlier, customers expect world-class experiences from every organization they interact with, no matter how large or small. According to Oracle’s Customer Experience Impact Report, 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a better experience with a brand. They expect a seamless purchase experience and if they don’t find it with your organization, they will quickly go find it somewhere else. The internet has limitless options for today’s consumers, so the best way to win is to provide a flawless experience.

Additionally, we live in an interconnected world, and a bad customer experience often doesn’t stop as soon as the person hits “cancel order.” Many customers will take to social media and review sites to broadcast about the experience, which could negatively impact future sales with other potential customers. According to Temkin, 30% of consumers tell the company after a bad experience. But 50% of those consumers tell their friends, and 15% of those consumers provide feedback online. It’s easy to see how a single bad customer experience doesn’t just impact one customer.

A customer journey map can also reduce the number of assumptions that your organization is likely making about your customers. It’s natural for certain biases to exist when it comes to how your audience interacts with your organization. It’s important to look at the data instead of trusting the beliefs or views of internal teams.

Why does IT need to play a role?

Perhaps a decade ago, it was unlikely that IT would have been a part of these customer journey mapping experiences. But today, IT has to be a part of the exercise because technology is a key component in delivering a seamless customer experience.

For example, one of the leading trends in customer experience is personalization. 80% of consumers are more likely to purchase from brands that offer a personalized experience. To create a personalized experience, like offering relevant product suggestions or targeted ads, requires the use of technology to track and store data about a consumer’s behavior. Even though this may sound like a marketing task, it will be IT that will be implementing the technology and managing the data. Therefore, IT must understand why this technology is necessary and have a role in how it should be implemented and leveraged.

What Should IT Do to Be Involved?

Creating a customer journey map is a collaborative project. The best first step any CIO can take to be a part of this project is to break down any silos or any competing goals that may exist with other departments. No single department can “own” the customer journey map. Either everyone is on board and in consensus or you have a flawed map.

The actual creation of the map requires both quantitative and qualitative data. Since CIOs and IT rarely directly interacts with consumers, they won’t have much qualitative data. However, they will have quantitative data found within the systems of engagement and systems of record. The CIO should deliver whatever data they may have about the customer experience, whether that is customer analytics or website data.

Finally, it’s important to remember the overall goal of this experience: it’s to delight the customer in every phase of their journey with you. IT can often hold preconceived notions of what’s the best technology or tool or they can have doubts over whether technology is necessary. These beliefs will only put up roadblocks in the process. Let the needs of the customer drive this process. As Steve Jobs once said back in 1995, “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back to the technology — not the other way around.” For CIOs to succeed they must open their eyes to the journey the customer is on and then work to support it.

Customer journey mapping is an important exercise that every organization should do and IT shouldn’t miss out on the opportunity to help shape the experience for the customer. By bringing the right data, clarifying the needs and understanding the wants, IT can deliver the technology that will enable fantastic customer experiences and support the company in their business goals.

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The New Role of The ITSM Professional

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What makes ITSM successful? There are many answers for this question but I am staunchly in the camp that ITSM success has less to do with strategy, processes, or even technology. It comes down to people.

There might be some argument about this belief within the industry, especially as we become more automated. There is a very real fear among many ITSM professionals that embracing AI means that they will soon be replaced by machines. My unpopular opinion on this is that while some ITSM professionals will be automated out of a job, it doesn’t mean that their ITSM careers are done. I believe that there will be new roles that will emerge for those professionals.

ITSM is evolving. We have new technologies and new methodologies – so it’s time that we look at a new way of defining the ITSM professional. As we enter this new decade in 2020, I’d argue that we must redefine the role of the ITSM professional. I see the role coming down to two crucial parts.

The Business of the Business

The first part of this new ITSM professional role is the importance of understanding “the business of the business.”

In other words, how does the business co-create value? What do end-users and customers want and expect from the business? Many ITSM professionals understand how processes and technology work, but often fail to see the bigger picture of how those processes and technology support the value streams across the business and, ultimately, the bottom line.

ITSM professionals have a unique opportunity. While many within the organization may understand the business of the business, few understand the relationships between value streams and technologies, and how technology supports the business of the business.

By working with their teams to understand the business and its bottom line – and the role of technology and service management – CIOs can enable their team members to become so valuable that they can’t be automated out of a job.

AI and machine learning are only as good as the data they are given. If the ITSM professional understands the value streams that flow through the business – that is, the business of the business – then they can ensure that good service management underpins the flow of that data used to make those business decisions that impact the bottom line.

The Soft Skills of the ITSM Professional

The second piece of the new ITSM professional is soft skills. Don’t be fooled by the phrase. Soft skills are crucial for success and there is nothing “soft” about them. In the new ITSM role, the professional must effectively communicate with others, work with the rest of the organization, and have an understanding of what each department contributes to the bottom line.

Silo mentality can no longer be tolerated. A “culture of no” won’t last in this new paradigm. Communication and collaboration are “must-haves”. If your team is feeling resistant about the necessity of working with the rest of the organization, encourage them to recognize that in order to be seen as an integral part of the organization and not a back-office support team then they must step out from behind their computers and collaborate with the rest of the organization.

With the right mindset, a focus on communication and collaboration, and an understanding of the business, this new ITSM professional will thrive in any organization. Yes, even in a world with automation, bots, and machine learning.

Focus on Service

If this shift feels overwhelming or uncomfortable, I encourage IT, leaders, to emphasize the meaning of the word “service” with their teams. We define and create what are called “services”, but too many ITSM professionals think of services in terms of processes, methodologies, and technologies.

The word service can be defined as “the action of a person (or organization) helping or doing work for someone else.” Services are more about people, about working together and helping others than they are about technology and methodologies.

These shifts, whether you view them as large or small, are unavoidable. IT can’t afford to duck their heads behind their computers and hope their knowledge of technology and methodologies will be enough to keep them relevant. They must see the larger picture and work with the rest of the organization to achieve that larger picture.

It’s time to raise the bar.

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The Curious Case of the Wasted IT Investment

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There’s no doubt that if you want to be an efficient IT organization, you need efficient tools. Some might say that you need the best tools.

But when happens when those tool investments fail? And perhaps, more importantly, how do you prevent poor investments from ever happening again?

Here’s a story that might sound familiar to you of a (fictional) company who made an investment in a tool and then failed to see any return for it – and what they did to improve.

The Curious Case of the Wasted IT Investment

Dwight is a CIO for a mid-sized organization. He recently convinced his boss, the CEO, Lynn, that they needed to make a significant investment in a service management tool.

Lynn, recognizing that technology was more important than ever and there were increasingly more demands on the IT organization, agreed that IT needed the best tool on the market. They agreed that they needed a tool that would grow as that demand grew. They needed a tool that would help IT drive consistency and repeatability in process execution, but at the same time, facilitate innovation as new business drivers emerged. And while they had only developed and implemented a few service management practices, they anticipated that they would need the capability to support additional service management capabilities as the organization continued to digitize its operations. It wouldn’t be too long before the organization would need to leverage capabilities like automation, process orchestration, and chatbots. And frankly, their current service management tool had seen its better days – it was time to get a modern service management tool. Perhaps even a tool that could be used within other parts of the organization!

They decided to invest in the most expensive, fully featured service management tool on the market. It truly could do anything that they wanted to do…and more!

Dwight, Lynn and the entire team were delighted with their choice! The tool can do everything. It will undoubtedly solve all of their service management issues.

But a few weeks go by, then a few months… and both Dwight and Lynn are noticing that things aren’t improving. Even with the fancy new tool, Dwight can’t get all of the information he needs to present his updates to Lynn, who wants to see that improvement and consistent performance from the use of this tool. The IT organization still isn’t doing things in a repeatable way and many team members are still performing tasks manually. Processes are still disjointed and information does not flow well from process to process – and automation is nowhere close to becoming a reality for the IT organization. Dwight consistently ends up scrambling to gather data for the management reporting needed by Lynn.

Lynn is beginning to wonder why they decided to invest in modernizing the IT organization with this tool. Meanwhile, Dwight is worried that they failed in their modernization. He is seeing other departments prove their ROI and he is fearful that he blew their budget and won’t be able to convince Lynn ever again to invest in tools.

If you purchase the most capable tool, then how do things go wrong? The problem was never in the tool. The problem was before the tool and therefore, the tool can’t fix the problem. It’s like trying to build a house on quicksand. No matter what materials you use to build the house, it’s not going to stop it from sinking until you deal with the quicksand problem.

Let’s start with where Lynn and Dwight made their mistakes.
The first mistake is thinking a tool investment was the key to modernizing IT. A tool should never be your first investment. Are tools important? Absolutely! But a tool-first mentality ignores the most important part of your organization: the people using that tool.

Let’s start with the members of IT and how they need to be a part of modernization.

Lynn and Dwight should have asked themselves:

  • Do the members of IT understand why we’re investing in this tool?
  • Do they understand what role the tool will play in their everyday work?
  • Do they know how the tool will improve their work?
  • Have they been properly trained to use every part of the tool?

The mindset and buy-in from the team is important above all because these are the individuals who will be using the tool and ensuring it’s providing maximum return. When they feel they are part of the decision-making process, they will be more invested in learning and working with the tool. If everyone in the organization is invested in working with the tool, they’ll take the time to learn it and master it so that they are actually seeing all of the benefits of its many features.

The next thing Dwight should have addressed is the organization’s processes. Dwight should have ensured his processes were clearly defined, documented and adaptable. Then he should have identified how the tool will enable those processes, and communicate the processes and the tool’s role across departments and within the IT organization.

Defining (or redefining) processes will remove any ambiguity in service delivery. It ensures that there is transparency within IT. And Dwight and Lynn will have a clear idea of how the tool is working – and how well IT is able to contribute to business outcomes.
These steps seem simple, don’t they? But Dwight and Lynn skipped them because they were so certain that investing in the premium tool would instantly (and easily) fix all of their problems. Instead, they ended up in the exact same place they were before they purchased the tool – only now they’re spending a boatload of cash, and not getting the return they had hoped. A curious case of a wasted IT investment.

The lesson for every CIO, CFO, and CEO?

Don’t invest in a tool thinking it will solve the problem. If your car wasn’t working properly, you wouldn’t just purchase a new engine and think it will do the trick. You’d pop open the hood and find out exactly what’s not working then find the part that will fix it. If there’s somewhere in your organization that isn’t operating efficiently, try popping open the hood and doing the work to find the problem before you invest in a high-price, fully-featured tool.

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The Ultimate Guide to Measuring IT Success in the Digital Age

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You’ve probably heard the old adage that “you can’t manage what you don’t measure.” While the saying is technically true, it can be misconstrued, especially in IT.

IT has no shortage of measurable tasks. Most IT organizations have been using the same metrics for decades. KPIs like cost per ticket, ticket close time, user self-service completion rate and technician resolution are popular metrics that many CIOs use to determine the success of their IT organization.

But do those rates tell the real story of what’s happening in IT? I’m going to argue that they do not. In order to succeed in the digital age, CIOs must identify new ways to measure success.

The Problem with the “Old Way”

IT is no longer just a support team. Now IT plays a critical role in delivering services to end-users (read “customers of the business”) and can be a driver of business growth within the organization.
Old metrics simply will not measure success in the digital world. Look at the examples of common IT metrics that I listed above: cost per ticket, ticket close time, user self-service completion rate and technician resolution. These are not bad metrics and there is value in measuring them but they certainly don’t give a holistic view of how IT is contributing to the business.

An IT organization could hit every one of those example metrics but still be seen as a cost center instead of a contributor.
While CIOs understand the importance of these metrics, business leaders like the CEO and the CFO may not understand the importance of them. It’s the CIO’s job to use these metrics to point to the bigger picture and demonstrate how those metrics increase business value.

IT metrics need to also tell the whole story, from historical data and into the future. Business leaders should be able to look at IT metrics and understand where the organization has been and what direction it must take to move forward.

Metrics in the Age of Digital Transformation

Metrics in the age of digital transformation can be summed up in one sentence:

Metrics should connect to end-users and the business.

This appears to be a struggle for many organizations. A Gartner study found that only 31% of organizations have IT metrics in place to improve business operations.

If you cannot connect a metric to the end-user, you will struggle to demonstrate business value. This often requires the CIO to take a step back and look at the bigger picture of the business so that they have an understanding of the entire business model.

Metrics should also lead to definable actions – and those actions may touch several different areas of the business. This is important to note because it is going to move IT organizations away from having a silo mentality. IT touches almost every part of the business. CIOs need to collaborate with other areas of the business to determine where IT plays a role and how IT can provide the necessary resources to produce results.

Once you begin working with other parts of the business to identify where IT drives business value, you can then begin to build actionable process and systems and identifying key metrics for success within each one.

The Future of Measuring IT Success

IT metrics shouldn’t just measure technology performance. They should:

  • Track and trend performance over time
  • Diagnose and understand the underlying drivers of performance gaps
  • Prescribe actions to improve performance
  • Establish performance goals for both technicians and IT support overall

Every organization will have unique metrics but there are some starting points you can use to determine your initial metrics to ensure you’re properly measuring IT success in the digital age.

1. Cost and revenue indicators

Digital transformation is changing operational costs and customer acquisition costs. As technology evolves, pay attention to where those costs are, what can potentially be reduced, and where new business models or revenue streams are generated through leveraging technology.

2. Utilization

IT is often seen as a cost center because of the constant need for tools and technology. It’s important to measure utilization of these different tools and the impact of IT tools on business goals.

3. User experience

Are the other employees in the organization engaged with the tools and processes you have made available to them? What is the general level of productivity and business efficiency in the organization? If the users are enjoying a seamless experience and are able to identify productivity in their jobs because of the tools, technology and processes you have defined then you are able to IT’s role in business growth.

4. Customer experience

Finally, in the digital age, IT has a critically important role in providing the overall customer experience. IT can support the business in projects that improve the customer experience. CIOs need to inquire on how each project they play a role is impacting or enabling the right customer experience.

Pay attention to these four areas as you address new projects. If you begin to align your projects to support these areas, you will be able to identify relevant metrics that align with business success.

The Future is Here

The future of IT is already here. The bots have arrived, customer’s expectations have shifted, and the way we work has changed. So it’s time for your measures of success to do the same. If you are leading an IT organization, work with your peers to take a holistic view of business so you can begin to shift your IT metrics to reflect the success of the organization.

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Flipping the ESM Switch: Pressure Off, Ease On

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There’s a buzz around Enterprise Service Management (ESM) these days and with good reason! I see Enterprise Service Management as the future of Service Management. With the ever-increasing business reliance on the use of technology, more organizations will need to adopt Enterprise Service Management.

But what exactly does ESM do for your business and, more importantly, how can you start to implement it without complicating it?

At its core, ESM is applying IT Service Management concepts to the entire enterprise. It makes it easier to provide solutions to colleagues within your organization and to deliver value to customers outside of your organization.

While ESM is not about reinventing the wheel, it’s certainly not about force-fitting every department into established ITSM processes and workflows.

Implementing ESM is about leveraging what you have to make your tools, processes, and teams work better so that you can drive the same business value across the organization. It should flip the switch from pressure to ease.

Let’s look at some areas where ESM will ease the pressure within your organization.

Pressure:
“Other teams will insist on having it their way and using their tools and processes.”

Every department has its own defined set of processes, tools, and workflows. This can create a power struggle where each department is certain that their way is the best option. This can create difficulties during ESM implementation as each department could try to force others into adopting their processes or tools.

Ease:
“We are all working toward a common goal so there is no longer ‘my way’ and ‘your way’ – it’s now ‘our way’. “

The fundamental shift that must occur for ESM to be successful is to let go of the notion of independent goals and objectives. Every department, every team, every individual must be aligned with the overall goals of the organization. No matter your role in the organization: HR, accounting, marketing or IT, everyone is working to serve the customer. Department leaders and the C-suite must coach their teams to stay focused on these goals. If the organization is aligned on shared, common goals, it will be easier to adjust processes and workflows that work best to meet customer demands.

Pressure:
“My department is unappreciated and burnt out.”

Contrary to popular belief, it is not only members of the IT organization who often feel burnt out and unappreciated. In many organizations, every team member can feel as if their work goes unnoticed and unappreciated. When teams are focused on internal goals and not on organizational goals, teams fall into working in their own silo. One of the results of this silo mentality is that no one is clear on who is accomplishing what within the organization, which makes it difficult to understand how everyone contributes to organizational goals.

Ease:
“ESM results in clearly defined end-to-end processes, which means every part of the team will understand who contributes and how.”

Good ESM makes it easier to assign and see responsibility and accountability across each service or product. Not only does this hold everyone accountable for completing their piece of the process, but every team will be able to clearly be recognized for how they contribute. This can be the motivation that many team members need to keep contributing and to respect the other departments also involved in the delivery of services and products.

Pressure:
“Our department does its job and meets our part of the process – it’s other departments that drop the ball.”

Ease:
“Enterprise Service Management provides increased visibility and performance and helps management understand what has been achieved.”

Good ESM processes help provide insight into the value that each business function provides and communicates that value to customers and other business stakeholders. With Enterprise Service Management, no one can drop the ball because everyone knows who is in charge of what aspect of the process. There are clear communication channels and a high degree of visibility and transparency. Leaders must encourage their teams to embrace this as it will identify gaps, provide clear insight into contributions, and eliminates “blame” culture.

If you feel any of these pressures, then it may be time to introduce the ease of Enterprise Service Management. How can you start implementing it in your organization with ease instead of friction?

1. Justify Enterprise Service Management in business terms

ESM doesn’t always sell itself. Just like any change in an organization, the benefits need to be articulated in business terms. Explain the actual business benefits including revenue, competitive advantage or enhanced customer experience. Look at how many hours ESM can save from eliminating inefficiencies and miscommunications and how it can bring even more value to the organization.

2. Don’t treat ESM as ITSM

ESM cannot be an IT project. ESM is not about simply extending ITSM into the enterprise. It’s an organizational change that impacts every member of the team. Remember, ESM is about leveraging what you already have in place — and that includes every process and perhaps tools other departments use, as well. It must feel collaborative and inclusive to everyone in the organization

3. Respect the holdouts

It’s natural for some departments in your organization to fully embrace ESM and for others to be more resistant to this change. Instead of marginalizing the departments who are holding out on ESM, work with them to show how ESM can benefit their team. If ESM is going to be successful, every team needs to be willing to accept and try it. Forcing Enterprise Service Management on a department will only cause problems down the road. By continuing to emphasize the collaborative nature of ESM and the ability for every team member to be heard, you will be able to win over those holdouts.

4. IT- Focus on yourself first

IT can drive ESM, but there is no point extending sub-optimal service management practices outside of IT. If your ITSM processes are not meeting your needs, or if your own team is struggling with certain aspects of ITSM, focus on cleaning up in-house before trying to extend service management into the enterprise. If you are having successes from ITSM efforts, then your argument for ESM will be more impactful and you’ll have an easier time extending it throughout the enterprise.

ESM is not a passing fad. As more customers expect more personalization and self-service, the need for ESM is only going to increase. The best way to maintain a competitive advantage and keep your customers happy is to start implementing ESM in your organization today.

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What IT Organizations Can Learn From the Indy 500

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If you live or work in Indianapolis, then you know that May is all about the Indy 500.

Known as “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” the Indy 500 features 33 of the top racecar drivers racing for 200 laps to complete 500 miles at the fastest time.

It’s a fun event for everyone to witness. But for CIOs and IT leaders, it can also be a learning lesson in speed, agility, and teamwork.

How do race cars racing in a loop at speeds over 200 mph relate to IT organizations? While on the surface, it seems as though IT organizations and the Indy 500 have nothing in common. But, there are actually quite a few similarities between winning the Indy 500 and leading a highly efficient IT organization.

For most drivers, winning the Indy 500 will come down to the pit crew. The pit crew is a team of mechanics who work on the racecars during the “pit stops” of a race. Pit crews perform the work of refueling, changing tires, or any mechanical adjustments needed during the race.

The pit crew is a lot like the IT organization of a business. They might not be the face of the race team, but they do the heavy lifting that helps the driver win the race. Much like the IT team who implements and manages the technology that keeps businesses growing, winning customers, and enabling value.

Let’s look at some of the hallmarks of a great pit crew and how that compares to a great IT team.

A Great Pit Crew Will:

1. Work together to accomplish their goals
Everyone has a defined role on a pit team, and there is no room for a single superstar. No matter how fast one person is at completing their job, the driver can’t leave the pit until everyone has done their job. As Derrell Edwards, a jackman for NASCAR’s No. 27 Richard Childress Racing crew once said, “Pit crewing is like a symphony. Everything has to be in sync for it to sound good.”

A great IT organization must also put the goals of the business above any individual needs or preferences. They must abandon any silo mentality they may have and focus on the success of the team – the business – ahead of the success of individuals.

2. Have defined roles and processes
Speed is essential in a great pit crew, however, it’s just as essential for everyone to stay out of everyone else’s way. Imagine the pit crew member who is in charge of changing the tire somehow cutting off the one in charge of refueling. It would be pure chaos. Fantastic pit crews are a little like a ballet. Every member has their own timing and their own movements and they must understand how that timing and movement work around one another to create a masterpiece. They’re expected to perform their roles perfectly without getting in the way of anyone else who is doing their role.

Great IT organizations also have well-defined roles and clear processes. Everyone understands who is doing what, when, and how it contributes to the overall goals of the company. Members of excellent IT organizations also have a clear understanding of how every role works together in a process. As a result, everyone is empowered to complete their part of the process to the best of their ability.

3. Identify bottlenecks and weaknesses
Racing at the Indy 500 level isn’t about driving as fast as you can. It’s about eliminating as many mistakes as possible to shave off as many seconds as possible. Minor mistakes or bottlenecks can ruin races and pit crews are trained to continually identify and eliminate any bottlenecks.

IT organizations also have to be continually identifying areas for improvement and creating solutions that won’t slow down business growth. When IT organizations prioritize identifying and eliminating bottlenecks, no matter how small, they are able to optimize their speed and success in the long run.

4. They play by the rules
In elite racing, every pit stop is recorded and 8 officials review this footage to determine that everything was performed correctly and within race regulations. If the pit crew’s timing is even one second too early, their driver could be penalized. Pit crews are trained to understand the specific regulations that are in place and learn how to excel within those parameters.

Likewise, excellent IT organizations understand they must work inside business policies. To a certain degree, they must play “office politics”, as well as adhere to procedures that exist outside of the IT organization. They must do this in order to garner support from the other parts of the organization as well as the C-suite. If IT doesn’t understand or follow the rules of the business, they could be penalized by being excluded from strategy discussions or business projects.

5. They use data to drive decisions and create processes so they can stay consistent
This last point is something that many casual racing fans don’t understand about pit crews. It’s also an area where many IT organizations struggle.

In the heat of the race, pit crews don’t have the luxury of being able to figure out what actions to take when something goes wrong. In a sport where there are millions of “worst-case” scenarios, they must plan ahead and create processes for everything. Race crews are constantly monitoring everything about their cars, their drivers and race conditions. They have data on everything and they prepare their pit crews accordingly for various scenarios so that if for whatever reason, an unexpected pit stop occurs, the pit crew doesn’t have to stop to think about what needs to be done. They simply follow the protocol that’s already been set.

Smart IT organizations also use data to drive decisions and leverage defined processes. By doing this, these IT organizations are able to address problems quickly and efficiently, with minimum impact to the business.

How can you apply lessons of a great pit crew?

It’s important to note that no matter how fast race cars become or what technological advancements occur in the sport, winning races will still heavily rely on the success of a pit crew.

The same can be said for IT and the business. Technology will advance and more tools and trends will be introduced to the business. But much of the success of an IT organization will remain on these core tenants as exemplified by pit crews: the ability to work as a team, having well-defined roles, continual improvement, and leveraging data-driven, consistent processes.

This is why good ITSM still matters – and will always matter – for your business.

1.Map value streams
Understand who and what drives value within your business. Map how IT contributes to that value. Remember, each member of the pit crew understands how they contribute to winning a race. Your IT team should also feel the same way!

2. Identify services and define the service portfolio
Mapping value streams will allow you to start to identify services that enable the business to meet its goals. Define your services and include the cost of ownership, needed resources, and the business value of what IT accomplishes. This will help you understand the business of the business and how IT contributes so you can play within the defined rules of the organization.

3. Review current processes
Look for waste in your processes, such as bottlenecks or delays. Eliminate or improve any parts of processes that contribute to these delays. Also, review where a lack of defined processes is holding you back. Identify issues where ownership or roles were unclear and address why that situation occurred.

There is no single “race day” for IT teams, but IT has to always be race-ready. Take the steps now to start getting race-ready. Follow the lead of great pit teams and soon, you’ll be seeing the results of that effort as your business zooms ahead of the competition!

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