Tag Archives: process

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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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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IT Reset: How to Re-Prioritize IT Initiatives During COVID-19

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CIOs have had their work cut out for them over the last few months. The sudden shift to remote work has put pressure on IT to create solutions for remote workers using technology that perhaps was older or less capable, support overworked and stressed out IT technicians, and, in general, keep the business moving through the use of technology.

The priority at this time must be ensuring that technology supports essential business processes. But that doesn’t mean IT leaders should freeze any other initiatives until after COVID-19 has passed.

In fact, the worst thing any leader can do right now is “freeze” and wait until life “returns to normal.” There will be no return to the normal as businesses knew it before the pandemic. Even after the immediate threat has passed and businesses can resume working in offices, the way we work will be forever changed because of this situation.

There will be an expectation for the business to provide flexible work environments, more self-service options, tighter security, and better contingency plans for addressing future disruptions like this one.

All of these shifts provide IT with a rare opportunity to hit pause, take a step back, and reassess priorities. Adobe’s CIO Cynthia Stoddard advises, “CIOs now have to rethink priorities, or at least reorder them, and we must reinvent ourselves now as virtual leaders.”

Here are a few ways you can reset your priorities and identify what initiatives you should take on right now.

Cybersecurity

One of the first priorities should be your level of protection against cyber threats. Security is imperative for continuing essential business operations but this unique situation has increased the risk of cyber threats. “Zoom bombing” became a trend over the last few weeks as uninvited guests crashed virtual meetings and get-togethers, often disrupting the session with violent rhetoric. While Zoom quickly adapted to protect its users, this may be just the beginning of more frequent cyber-attacks and threats. As more of the world moves online, hackers will most likely increase the intensity and sophistication of their attacks. CIOs should review their cybersecurity protocols and ensure the proper procedures are being followed.

Productive Remote Work Environments

In addition to cybersecurity, CIOs need to make sure that every person in the organization is equipped to do their job remotely. This might mean you need to more heavily invest or leverage self-service technology or AI. Large investments or initiatives around new technology may have been on the back burner but now is an ideal time to reassess whether you need to make those investments now.

It’s also not just about providing technology. You may need to equip your team to handle and manage it. Are your knowledge bases relevant and up to date? Knowledge bases may not be seen as high priority, but techs will no longer be able to just walk down to an office to troubleshoot a problem. More of the organization could be turning to knowledge bases to navigate technology while they work from home.

Service Delivery

Another area to review is your service delivery processes. There are many facets of connectivity that are out of your team’s hands right now, including different hardware and software being used by team members with different levels of connectivity. Like I mentioned earlier, a service technician can’t simply walk down to an office to troubleshoot an issue. If there were any gaps in your service delivery processes before COVID-19, they are likely more apparent and problematic now. Take this time now to address those important issues.

Refocusing priorities will allow you to emerge from this situation more efficient and capable than you were. This will enable you to refocus on those more urgent tasks.

I mentioned in a previous blog post that CIOs and IT leaders need to focus on enabling outcomes instead of simply delivering outputs. Even though the way we work is rapidly shifting, this is a perfect time to reassess how IT can drive outcomes. We’ll never go back to work as before. So, instead of looking at this situation as a blow to current initiatives, look at it as the perfect time to re-prioritize and prepare for the new future.

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5 Signs You’re Not Ready for AI

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We’re inundated with headlines about the power of artificial intelligence (AI) these days. AI is everywhere and most businesses know they will need to adopt it soon, if they haven’t already. A recent study from Gartner shows that 37% of organizations have implemented AI in some form. That’s a 270% increase in the past four years!

I suspect that there are many CIOs feeling the pressure from their boards or C-suite peers to implement AI-related technologies. But even with the increase in the number of companies implementing AI doesn’t mean that every organization should hop aboard the AI train right now.

AI isn’t something that you can just pop out of the box and have it work effectively. Like most technologies, it requires a little preparation. Trying to implement AI in an organization that isn’t ready is a disaster waiting to happen.

How do you know if your organization isn’t ready for AI? Look for these signs.

 

5 signs you're not ready for AI

Your processes are undocumented or unclear

You can’t just “turn on” AI and expect it to magically – and instantly – solve problems or take on those tedious, repetitive manual tasks in your organization. The algorithms that power AI can only do what they’re told to do. This means that AI needs processes – and not just any processes. Your processes need to be clear, well-defined, and well-documented.

Organizations that are ready for AI have already identified and eliminated any convoluted parts of their processes. They’ve discovered and corrected gaps in process definitions. They’ve addressed process issues that caused human intervention and eliminated any waste or bottlenecks. They’ve already documented and polished their processes so that when they are ready to automate it, that automation can be implemented easily and quickly.

Your data is a mess

AI-related technologies rely on having data – lots and lots of data. And not just any data but accurate, reliable, relevant, and trustworthy data. One of the ways that the use of AI can be effective is that the algorithms that power AI have relevant and accurate data, in the proper context, on which to take action. If your company has taken a blasé approach to data capture and quality, this is a big red flag for AI adoption. Bad data is one of the main reasons that many AI projects fail.

It’s crucial that an organization has a robust approach to data capture, management, and quality before implementing AI. CIOs and IT leaders should investigate what data they already have, why and how the data is collected, and how that data is maintained.

Like any other technology-related initiative, bad data provided to AI only means bad data – and actions – out. Trying to adopt AI using unreliable data will only result in bad outcomes – only those bad outcomes will happen almost immediately.

Your team is resistant

Even though AI is all the rage, there are many IT professionals who are fearful that AI will automate them right out of a job. Implementing AI is an initiative that requires a purposeful approach to organizational change. If one member of the IT organization is resistant, the entire implementation could be at risk.

Leaders must help their teams understand that implementing AI does not indicate loss of jobs, but that some of the tedious, repetitive work done by people are better suited for AI – freeing up people to do the things that people do best – innovate, create, think, and plan. Associates should be provided with training to grow their skillsets for use in an AI-enabled world.

Communication and transparency across all levels are key for successful AI adoption. It’s important that those who will be working with AI are involved in the implementation process as early as possible. Team members will be more likely to engage and support the initiative when they have all the information upfront about how AI will be used.

There’s no business case for AI

The use of AI is trendy and exciting, but as I’ve pointed out already, AI is not a magic bullet.

It requires an investment of time and money. For an organization to realize the value in AI and for it to be implemented and managed correctly, AI implementation must solve problems that result in improved business outcomes. This is the only way AI is going to provide any ROI.

Yes, there are some eye-catching headlines around the use of AI out there. Don’t chase them. Look for the problems and opportunities in your company where AI use would help. Look for cases where the use of AI meets a need of your business or enables the achievement of a valuable business outcome. No, it may not be the most exciting use of AI – but it will be the most valuable.

You’re afraid to experiment

This is a real fear, especially among IT teams. You are too afraid of failing, so afraid of costing the business money and being unable to show any ROI, that you are paralyzed from experimenting with making AI work in your organization.

There are going to be stumbles and pitfalls along the way with AI adoption. They are unavoidable and inevitable, just like with any new or emerging technology. The key is to fail fast and learn so you can innovate, evolve and continue moving forward. You have to experiment to determine the right data infrastructure, the volume, and quality of the data, and getting the right people into the right roles. Adjustments will be necessary. AI will evolve and your business will evolve with it. Bottom line: be prepared to make those mistakes, find the learning opportunities and share those learnings across the rest of the business.

AI is not a passing fad. It’s only going to become more embedded in our world. So while there may be pressure to begin implementing AI right now, don’t make the mistake of getting in a race you’re not prepared for – it’s the fastest way to lose.

It’s not about being one of the first organizations to use AI. It’s about using AI correctly for your organization. Look for these signs to see if you are ready for AI and fix the foundation before you zoom off into an AI future. By starting from a strong foundation, you’ll be assured of success with AI.

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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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5 Ways Processes Make SMBs More Agile

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“Processes” often sound like a dirty word for small and medium-size businesses (SMBs). When you’re working in a small organization, your team has no choice but to work together to ensure maximum productivity.  Many SMBs worry that processes will actually hurt productivity.

The common concern goes something like this:

  • Having a process will just slow down projects by requiring approvals and meetings 
  • Once a process is in place, the organization will need to pivot or focus in another direction because they must be nimble – and processes will only get in the way of pivoting
  • Defining and implementing a process takes too much time and most people don’t stick to it – so why bother implementing it?

These worries result from badly implemented and poorly designed processes. Good processes won’t cause the above problems. In fact, good processes make your company more agile. 

Here are 5 ways that good processes will improve your organization.

1. Processes increase transparency within organizations

Even in SMBs, there can be silos and lack of communication on goals and initiatives because everyone is so focused on their individual roles. A proper process ensures effective collaboration between everyone. When everyone is clear on process and more importantly, the reasons for a process, they are more likely to support that process from their respective position.

But that’s not all.  This second part is especially important for SMBs. Often, team members understand what everyone else is doing but not necessarily why they are doing it or how it drives business. A process breaks down those communication barriers so that everyone is confident in each role and the projects that are driving the company forward. 

2. Greater accountability 

Usually in SMBs, everyone wears many hats. Your marketing person may also be in charge of sales and web development and your HR person could also be in charge of customer service.

This can be a great thing and it can make your company extremely agile — sometimes.  But when people handle many different responsibilities, it can be difficult to see who is really doing what. 

Generally, when a small group of people are doing many different things and the processes aren’t clear, projects can get dropped or mistakes are made. With so many overlapping responsibilities, it’s easy to point blame on everyone or no one. You may often hear: “I have so much going on that I didn’t realize that project was on my plate” or “I just assumed So-and-So was handling that.”

Processes eliminate this problem because they make everyone’s responsibilities very clear. With a process, no one can say “I didn’t realize that activity was on my plate to do” because they – and everyone else – will know exactly what falls under their roles and responsibilities.

3. No More Throwing Spaghetti at The Wall

A common problem among SMBs is that employees often feel there is no time to actually find long-term solutions to issues.  As a result,  they’re constantly forced to fix things quickly and making it work “for now.”

But, the “for-now” approach actually leads to lost time and less productivity because you are constantly having to go back to fix that same problem over and over again. In short, you’re just throwing spaghetti at the wall just hoping one of these solutions will stick.

Processes create clear paths to reliable and repeatable long-term solutions. When you create a process that efficiently creates a long-term solution, this results in your team having the time to take care of their other projects and responsibilities.

4. Your budget will go farther

SMBs have limited budgets – everyone knows this. Processes help you to do things more efficiently and effectively, with more of a focus and connection to the bottom line.

When you have haphazard projects, you’re “throwing spaghetti at the wall”.  There is no accountability, and it is very easy for your team to be working on things that don’t connect to the bottom line.  

This means your team is working hard – they might even be overworked – but you’re not actually growing your business. 

What then happens is one of two things: your team feels overworked and under-appreciated and their work starts to decline or you hire more people to get more work done, even if it’s for projects that don’t necessarily provide value to the organization. 

Either way, you are paying for a company that might not be delivering as much value as it could.

Developing efficient and effective processes helps ensure every project connects to the bottom line. This way your team won’t be wasting their time or energy, and you won’t be wasting money paying for work that doesn’t actually grow your business!

5. You can be continuously improving

In an SMB, many owners and team members are often just trying to stay afloat and put out fires as they come up. They are finding quick fixes, squeezing by on tight budgets and just trying to stay ahead of the competition. 

It can be hard to see much growth or understand how the business is actually growing. With a process, you can establish a baseline from which to measure improvements. You’ll be able to say “This is where we started and this is where ended up and here’s what went right and what went wrong.”

Defined processes give your business a chance to improve. You’ll have a clearer picture of what decisions you as the business owner need to make.  You will enable your team members to feel empowered about what they are able to accomplish and it provides a greater sense of responsibility and contribution to the company’s success.

The point of this is: the right process can help your organization accomplish more and grow faster. So instead of questioning the value of processes or avoiding them all together, take the time to establish the right processes or improve the ones that you already have. By defining processes, you actually become more agile – you can quickly and confidently identify and implement the operational changes required to quickly respond to changes in the market and keep you ahead of your competition.

Looking for more support?

Tedder Consulting’s new Process Improvement Workshop can help you quickly and effectively improve your processes in your organization! Learn more about it here!

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4 Surprising Reasons ITSM Really is for SMBs

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There is a nasty rumor going around the IT world about ITSM. Some professionals and organizations think that ITSM is nothing more than a bureaucratic mess of processes that only inhibits productivity and can only be effectively implemented by large organizations.

But we’re going to let you in on a secret: Good ITSM is every SMBs secret weapon.

ITSM doesn’t have to be complicated. After all, ITSM is simply a set of defined practices for implementing, managing and delivering IT services that meet the needs of the organization.

Good ITSM looks like:

  • Reliable, consistent and relatable services from IT to the customer
  • A measurable contribution to business value from IT
  • Efficient, data-driven, defined and documented processes

Now, that doesn’t exactly sound like something that is is only beneficial for large companies, does it?

While many people recognize the benefits of great ITSM, let’s talk specifically why ITSM is great for  SMBs.

1. Customer Experience

Customer expectations have drastically changed over the last few years due in part to new technologies. Customers expect real-time responses, personalized journeys and continual innovation from businesses. 

Let’s take Amazon as an example. You may think that customers shop at Amazon simply because it’s Amazon. While that may be the case now; originally, customers started shopping with Amazon because Amazon made it convenient to shop with them. Amazon started doing things like offering personalized shopping requests, providing immediate shipping notifications and maintaining a responsive customer service. An “Amazon experience” is now the customer expectation with every business.

Of course, most small businesses run with limited staff, so “Amazon-like” expectations may be difficult for SMBs to meet. 

That’s where ITSM comes in. ITSM helps SMBs provide faster and more reliable services without requiring extra manpower. In the end, it means a smoother, more cohesive customer experience without extra overhead from a bigger staff. 

2. Agility 

The business world is incredibly competitive. Technology has enabled every business to move faster and grow quicker. If you’re not ahead of the curve, you’re already falling behind – so agility is an absolute requirement for SMBs. 

ITSM helps organizations to structure their workflows so the most pressing and important needs are handled quickly. ITSM helps eliminate distractions and nagging problems that constantly need to be fixed and it helps teams stay focused on the outcomes that help the business get ahead and stay ahead. 

3. ITSM can be easier to implement at SMBs

As we addressed above, SMBs must be agile and nimble in order to keep up with their competition. SMBs must focus on the projects and services that will drive revenue and grow the business bottomline.

Because of this, SMBs are uniquely suited to see wins from ITSM faster than larger companies do. In an SMB, teams are smaller and they must work together more frequently on the most valuable and important projects. They often see the results of their efforts more directly than those working in large organizations.

Therefore, there are fewer people to convince to support ITSM implementation, fewer instances of siloed-thinking to overcome, and a greater understanding of how everyone works together.

4. Your budget will take you further.

Contrary to many myths, ITSM is not about the newest and greatest tool. It is about creating process and workflows so that the entire organization works better to enable a seamless customer experience.

Creating efficient processes and well-defined services ensures that your business is growing at a healthy scale. When you have the right processes and clear services, you can rest assured your team is focused on driving business. So that when it becomes time for you to grow and hire more team members, it will be because the business is growing, not because your team is too busy and stressed out but not actually driving business.     

Additionally, great ITSM doesn’t start with the tool. It starts with focusing first on business needs and then identifying and defining the needed processes, services and workflows to meet those business needs. By starting from this perspective, you will avoid wasting money on tools that will never support your business. You will know that when you do invest in a tool, it will work within the processes you’ve already defined and it will be used correctly 

How to Start to Implement ITSM In Your SMB?

If you are ready to begin implementing ITSM, it’s important that you start by answering some questions. This will help you have a clear understanding of how ITSM can fit into your business. 

Remember what we mentioned above, ITSM is not about buying the latest and greatest tool! Avoid diving straight in with purchasing a fancy tool – start with the defining service and the needed processes! 

Avoid the common mistake of messing up ITSM before you even get started with it! The answers to these questions will help you much more than any expensive tool will at this stage of your ITSM journey.

  • Identify how does your business utilize or depend upon technology? 
  • What are common activities that your team performs in supporting your business in its use of technology?
  • Are you able to measure the contribution that technology brings to your business?  Are you able to measure and discuss how your IT team contributes to business success – in business-relevant terms?
  • What could be done differently in how IT contributes to business success?
  • What small improvements could result in big wins for your company? 

Once you have answered these questions, it’s time to start learning about the different ITSM frameworks and how you can get started with it. Attend webinars and user group meetings to learn what good ITSM can do for your business, talk to experts, or read blogs and white papers about the best way to get started with ITSM.

It’s the beginning of the year and many SMBs are still bright-eyed with big goals and exciting plans and timelines, so now is the time to get ahead of your timeline and ensure that you hit every goal you have this year!

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Why Your Process Isn’t Working “As Designed”

Share twitterlinkedinmailAlmost everything in an organization is a sequence of tasks. In fact, many people describe a business as the “sum of all its processes.” This is why many IT leaders and consultants focus on process design.

However, many IT organizations find that their processes rarely work “as designed.” No matter how flawless the design or how much time they spent designing the process, many IT leaders find that their processes just aren’t delivering the expected results.

When addressing why your processes are working “as is” instead of “as designed”, there are some red flags that might appear. Avoiding these could save your process.

1. No ownership

Ownership and accountability may be the most important piece of process design. IT leaders need to not only own the process but require their teams to own their roles in the process as well.
Without clear ownership and defined roles, your team will find it easy to blame others or blame the process itself. Lack of ownership creates a blame culture where team members are too busy pointing fingers than actually dealing with the issues that need to be addressed.

2. No documentation

Clearly defined processes may seem like they hinder productivity but they can actually help improve productivity. Documenting a process offers several benefits. It solves the above problem of no ownership and gets everyone on the “same page.” Documenting your process also lays the basis for cost-justifiable and continual improvement.

In addition to have a thoroughly detailed process, it should be easy for anyone in the organization to locate this documented process. It should be stored in an easy to access place and easy to read through so that everyone can learn the process and utilize it.

3. No communication

It is not enough to have defined processes, processes must be communicated consistently inside and outside of IT. IT leaders can easily communicate processes through having clear documentation..

The C-suite and rest of the organization should understand each process but also, why each process is important to the overall effectiveness of the organization. If other departments understand how a process makes their jobs easier, they will be more likely to adopt the process and incorporate it in their workflows.

4. Silo mentality

Proper communication should reduce the silo mentality but it’s essential that leaders work to eliminate silo mentality in the organization. When departments are out of the loop on what each other is working on, the entire company fails.

IT leaders need to work with other leaders to share data and information and encourage teams to work together.

Incentives must be aligned when it comes to processes. For example, why does it pay for the sales team to pay attention and integrate with the IT team’s processes? How does the entire organization improve because of a process? When other departments are clear on the benefits and incentives of their processes, they will be more willing to adapt to that process.

5. Complacency

Processes have a lifespan and cannot be designed to last forever. Your business is constantly evolving and changing, and your process designs must change and evolve as well. If you and your team simply accept a process or worse, begin to ignore it, then the process will no longer deliver the results that it was initially designed to do.

Teams should adopt a continual improvement attitude and regularly ask “Is this process still working?” Teams should identify which parts aren’t working and play a role in improving and adjusting the process so it works “as designed.”

As an added bonus, including teams in continual process improvement, empowers them to create processes that they will want to implement and use.

What can IT organizations do to ensure that processes work “as designed”?

For a process to work as designed, it should be part of the culture. Just like anything else in business, the process should fit the culture.

If your culture is broken, no process will fix it. Your organizational culture must encourage communication and collaboration for any process to work correctly. By working with other leaders to encourage interdepartmental collaboration and empowering teams to take control of their processes, you can begin to improve the culture so that every process works as designed.

If you are truly not sure if your processes are working as designed, then a process audit will show you how to evaluate your processes. This is the first step to addressing your processes “as is” state and identifying gaps in your process or your culture.

Start improving your team’s effectiveness – download our free Process Rescue Kit to start improving your process designs with your team.Share twitterlinkedinmail

Warning: You Might Be Already Disappointing Your Customers

Share twitterlinkedinmailWe have bad news for some IT organizations. You might already be disappointing your customers. The Fourth Industrial Revolution has already occurred and customer expectations are higher than ever.

Most of these increased customer expectations are due to new technologies. Customers expect and want innovation from the brands they do business with and they are more informed than ever about the different options available to them. They want more and if they can’t get it from a certain brand, they will go to a competitor. 76% of customers now report it’s easier than ever to take their business elsewhere.

This means that brands and specifically, IT teams, need rethink how they manage their services and technologies. IT teams need to act more efficiently and be more in sync with the rest of the organization. Above all, they need to understand their customers’ expectations.

There are four things customers expect now that every organization needs to address.

1. Connected Processes

Customers see a connected brand, not an individual department. This is why connected processes are crucial and why every part of the organization must work together and technology must seamlessly link every piece of the customer’s journey.

70% of customers say connected processes, including seamless handoffs or contextualized engagement based on earlier interactions are very important to winning their business.

Device hopping is prevalent among most consumers. They jump from phone to tablet to computer and back to phone again. They expect to have the exact same experience with a brand, no matter how they are connecting with that brand. 60% of consumers change their contact channel depending on where they are and what they’re doing. So, if they have a conversation on Twitter with that brand, they expect the call center representative to know about it when they call in the next day.

For IT, that means they need to create connected processes that include every part of the organization.

2. Personalization

Personalization may be the most important customer expectation post-Fourth Industrial Revolution. Online, everything is personalized. Just look at the way Google personalizes search results! So, consumers expect their customer service experiences and buying experiences with a brand to be personalized as well.

84% of customers say being treated like a person and not a number is very important to winning their business. They expect personalized offers based on their purchase history, retargeted offers in ads or emails and user-generated content.

Companies now must design multiple personalized experiences for each single product or service. More importantly, organizations must end silo behaviors so that everyone in the organization has access to communication history, buying habits and customer preferences.

3. Innovation

If you’re not innovating, then you are already falling behind. 63% of customers expect companies to provide new products and services more frequently than before.

Just look at how expectations around cell phones have changed. The iPhone and Android competition have led consumers to expect constant innovation. If your phone is over a year old, it’s already considered “old”. If either one of these companies don’t put out a new model every year, they risk losing a huge chunk of the market. Customers expect new and better models all of the time. If you don’t meet customer expectation, you can bet that your competitors will.

For IT organizations, this means they must improve their processes so they can shorten product development cycles and complete projects faster than ever. This is not news for many CIOs as 65% of IT teams say innovation for competitive differentiation is a high priority.

4. Response Times

Social media revolutionized how buyers communicate with brands. Consumers are always on and always connected and they want to answers quickly. 77% of US consumers rank “Valuing My Time” as the most important part of online customer service.

Even when they can’t reach a call center using traditional means, customers are reaching out in different ways and they expect your customer service team to have all of the information about their customer journey and their needs. This, of course, brings us back to the importance of ending silo behavior and improving connected processes.

Customers also expect self-service options when it comes to their needs. They want self-checkouts and access to their data and accounts. IT organizations need to be prepared for the customer’s desire for data and provide the correct tools that consumers can use.

What can IT do to improve?

It’s clear that customers expect more. How can IT organizations change to support these new customer expectations? In a recent survey, 62% of execs said they had a management initiative or transformation program to make their business more digital.

Embracing VeriSM™ can help IT organizations lead their organizations into digital transformation. VeriSM™ stands for Value-Driven, Evolving, Responsive and Integrated Service Management. It’s a business-oriented approach to Service Management. It’s designed to keep the entire business connected and evolving so that it provides more value to the consumer.

VeriSM™ does away with the “one size fits all” approach and facilitates a tailored approach so the organization can focus on using the right practices that will fit the business’ needs. Not only will it keep the organization focused on business goals, but it will also help break down silos within the organization.

Whether you choose to embrace VeriSM™ or another service management approach, it’s clear that consumers are already in the digital age and IT organizations must keep up. IT leaders need to focus on faster project timelines, improved processes, better interdepartmental communication, and delivering a superior customer experience.Share twitterlinkedinmail

Are Processes Killing Your Productivity?

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Every IT organization knows that good processes are critical to the success of a company. The right processes can improve efficiency and create an organized workflow. However,when taken to the extreme, processes can kill productivity and ruin your team’s morale.

Let’s take a step back and talk about processes and why they matter.

Processes are a defined sequence of tasks that keep the organization running smoothly. Processes provide organizations with a way to measure progress and productivity, which can help a team feel more efficient and accountable for their work. Standard processes create a consistency of work and provide a foundation for continuous improvement. Lastly, defined processes enable automation, which helps IT become more responsive to business demands.

So we can all agree that processes are a good thing in business. Except for they when they get in the way or go out of control. Many studies are showing that processes are beginning to hinder productivity across the globe.

In a study of U.S. and European companies, The Boston Consulting Group found that “over the past fifteen years, the amount of procedures, vertical layers, interface structures, coordination bodies, and decision approvals needed…has increased by anywhere from 50 percent to 350 percent.”

The same report found that in larger and more complicated organizations, managers “spend 40 percent of their time writing reports and 30 percent to 60 percent of their time coordinating  meetings.”

This does not leave much time to actually accomplish the work that needs to be done.

How can you tell if your process is working or if it is killing your productivity? There are a few ways you can test your processes.

1. Does the process accommodate all projects?

Processes cannot take a narrowly-defined, “one size fits all” approach. l. As an IT organization, your team is most likely handling a wide variety of projects. Your processes have to accommodate the variety of projects while at the same time providing needed consistency.   

Agility is just as important as having a standard process. Today, new technologies are coming to market at lightning fast speeds.Businesses are adopting technologies quickly and demanding that the IT department keep up with supporting these new technologies.

IT needs to be able to react quickly to these needs. If a process was not designed for agility or to accommodate the variablity found within a specific project, IT cannot react quickly. When you insist the process stay exactly the same for every project, you are asking your employees to try to sprint while attached to a ball and chain.

Too many organizations fall into the “process for process sake” mindset. They insist on maintaining every aspect of a process for every project, even when it doesn’t make sense.

If you find that your process has worked really well for some projects but did not work well for other projects, we recommend examining where the process stopped working. Take a look at the areas where flexibilty or a different approach is needed. Don’t lose sight of the end-goal for the process and the goals of the projects.

2. Are you focusing more on the process than the people?

No matter what innovative technology exists, it’s the people who make your business run, not the technology. Process should enable people to take advantage of the technology, not inhibit the use of technology.

When leaders focus too much on the process and ignore the needs of their team, the team doesn’t feel empowered to do their job effectively.

It’s not empowering when individuals are given more responsibility yet still have to obtain a large number of approvals and sign-offs to get anything done. This signals a lack of trust to your team.

Leaders need to start relying on their team’s expertise and experience just as much as they rely on the process. When you start to do this, you can often improve your processes because your team feels empowered to do so.

It’s critical to empower with action, not with permission. When your team is empowered to take action to get the job done, they feel a greater sense of pride in their work, are more invested in the project and more appreciated by their bosses.

When jobs depend on meeting metrics or process approvals, the creativity and innovation of teams suffer. The last thing you want is a team who can’t – or won’t – find ways to innovate and improve.

3. Are you relying on tools too much?

We’ve seen it time and time again. Organizations invest in a very pricey tool. They implement it one way and create a process around it and then they try to force that tool and process onto every problem that arises in the business.

Tools are fantastic but they are not problem solvers. People are problem solvers and your tools and processes should be built around the people and the problem that needs to be solved.

Processes built around tools are doomed to fail but processes built around problems and supported by employee action will always work.

4. Do you have process silos?

Organizations that are siloed will always struggle with processes. For example, what happens when IT has a process for onboarding a new employee and HR has their own process for onboarding and they are completely separate? Undoubtedly, it causes unnecessary extra work and possibly, some confusion for the new member who is being onboarded.

This is where cross-departmental communication and collaboration must come into play. Linking processes across departments and achieving buy-in from team members in both departments will avoid wasted time and energy.

Again, this will rely on your process being agile (see the first point) as you may need to adjust several of your processes to become cross-functional with other departments.

Work with other department leaders to understand their processes and determine how you can combine the two into cross-functional processes. Then clearly define and document these processes so that there is no confusion across teams.

5. Have you avoided process audits?

If you’ve learned anything from this article, we hope you’ve learned that processes are ever-evolving. They are constantly shifting to adapt to the growth of the organization and the specific project at hand.

So it’s necessary to perform regular process audits to ensure your processes are working to the best of their ability and improving the productivity output of your team.

How do you perform a process audit? It’s best to start by looking for any drops in productivity during the process or where output slows down. Additionally, monitor for signs of unhappy teams. Do you see resistance from the team at any certain stage?

Look at your processes and determine if any piece of it does not add value. If you’re unsure, speak with your team on this. Since they are using the processes, they will know what are the most valuable and impactful parts of it.

Let’s be clear on one thing: I am an extremely big fan of having documented, well-defined processes in your organization.

But I want to encourage you as the business leader to always be monitoring processes and keeping your eyes on the end goal and the people implementing and using the processes.

Focus on people and improving communication and innovation so that you can solve business problems. The process will fit naturally and be more powerful when they are viewed as the means to a goal and not the goal itself.

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