"Don't fix what's not broke" may be true to an extent, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't be evolving our processes to ensure we're delivering exceptional results-based outcomes and value.

by Delcia Marrs
Date Published December 4, 2023 - Last Updated 84 Days, 12 Hours, 56 Minutes ago

As a service management specialist, I’m always looking for ways to improve, regardless of how small and what roadblocks lie ahead. Many people shy away from change, because, well, that’s the way they’ve always done it and leaving their comfort zone is daunting. They don’t want to introduce anything that disrupts their comfort level. The old adage “Don’t fix what’s not broke” may be true to some extent, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't be evolving our processes to achieve maximum efficiency. 

Demand will always be there. We're constantly evolving, changing our behaviors to reduce manual work and repetition, make processes more timely and effective, make communication a three-letter word (FUN), and use the skills and strengths of your teams to deliver exceptional results-based outcomes and value. But if it's structure you're after, ITIL's Create, Deliver, and Support module will set you up for success.

Plan It Out!

Without a plan, you'll constantly be chasing your tail and any successes will be few and far between. Whatever the improvement or innovation, your plan will likely be dynamic as you move into the different phases. You need a baseline, and working on the following areas is a great starting point:

  • Organizational Structure – The days of micromanagement and strict hierarchical structures have been anything but effective in employee satisfaction. Granting staff the flexibility to meet business demands was a mere passing thought. Providing team members with the responsibility and empowerment to immerse themselves in the organization’s vision and values takes work, dedication and understanding how your teams communicate and contribute on a daily basis. Bring in resources from various parts of the organization that can be easily reallocated.
  • Collaboration – Is trusting that everyone is on the same page, sharing the same goals. If you are geographically dispersed, it can be even more challenging. Incorporate tools that help internal and external resources come together seamlessly that gives them the ability to work holistically and be clear on what needs to be done, how it needs to be done and giving them the space to brainstorm solutions and promote heuristic work.
  • Skills, Roles, Capabilities, and Competencies – Align your resource’s competencies to get the maximum productivity and output. Having a competency profile model helps with a combination of skills and expertise allocation to successfully complete those activities and create time, cost and resource efficiencies.

Build It Out!

The Culture

There is so much diversity in an organization, with different backgrounds, views and principles. Your organization should be clear and transparent on the goals, objectives, vision and values. The top level culture is the foundation for instilling respectful behavior and interactions amongst employees at the department and team levels. Show your positive commitment to working as a team and provide avenues for improvement. Expectations need to be clear for harmonious collaboration.

Continual Improvement

This should be baked into everything we do. Our organizational environment is continually evolving. It’s imperative support is initiated at the very top level. Leading by example and building trust instills a comfortable environment where everyone is encouraged to open up, make suggestions and try new ideas. Your continual improvement process should celebrate the wins (small, medium, large) and advertise them to the entire organization. Remember…success is infectious.

Customer-Oriented Mindset

We are all customers. Sometimes we know what we want, other times, not so much. Put yourself in their shoes. Look at your service outcomes. You want your customers to trust what you have put together and are delivering what they want and need.

Ensure teams are working collaboratively and don’t start to run off with a silo mentality. All team members should be empowered to reach the end goal together - without their contribution, there may be gaps or bottlenecks that start to form. It’s always a good idea to include and have resources on your team who portray customer empathy and communication skills with the ability to problem-solve whatever is presented to them. Here is where involving your customers throughout the journey is crucial. Consult and inform them at each relevant transaction. The feedback loop is vital. This allows for minimal resistance, and, results in the delivery of your products and services as a realized value accomplishment.

Employee Satisfaction and Team Collaboration

Engagement and morale amongst team members should be monitored continually. You can perform these by asking them to complete anonymous surveys, confidentially one-on-one, via daily/weekly/monthly meetings, have staff drive and submit their own ‘morale indicators’ on a regular basis. What do you do with all this information? Provide feedback in a timely manner – good and bad. If satisfaction is dwindling, the key is to be objective. Everyone’s in the same boat in the same ocean. Provide facts and include examples on why their negativity is hindering outcomes. As a leader, being constructive and positive, asking them how they can get back on track (without repercussions) injects a greater respect and trust. They will be more inclined to approach you if anything comes up, as opposed to having it fester inside.

As much as you need to get the job done, take time out of social interactions. Getting to know your team on a personal level will give leaders a better understanding on how they can improve on supporting and motivating their team in a more conducive way. Promote and encourage ongoing learning. Provide opportunities for staff to upskill and add value in areas where resources are deficient. Giving your employees the tools to set them up for success will establish a more motivated and engaged working environment.

Communication

There are many channels of communication. Work collaboratively to ascertain the best communication method. Here is where your Coordinator/Communication competency person is at the helm with guidance from leadership. You will likely have communication methods for team members and another for your customers and stakeholders. Don’t forget your third party resources. You may also have a combination of physical, remote or hybrid workers. Whatever method is chosen, it should be effective, unbiased, positive, and catered to your audience. Acknowledge that everyone has a different perspective. Grammar and wording matters. Using acronyms or technical jargon in a message to stakeholders is likely not going to win you any brownie points. They want it in layman’s terms. Your communication should achieve the desired objective. Do some homework to understand your audience segments.

Workforce Planning

The delivery of products and services relies on workforce and talent management. It’s an area where organizations that have traditionally had a single Human Resources department are now acknowledging, and, are working more closely in identifying specific workforce strategies for recruiting, retaining, developing and managing their employees. The products and services end-to-end lifecycle relies on staff that have the skills, knowledge and abilities to successfully execute requirements at every level. From development, to testing, release and deployment, transitioning into operations and finally the all-important support. Understand the competencies that each person brings to the table and where they can be best deployed.

Measuring and Reporting

These can be done at various levels and from various sources. From the outset, make your staff aware of which measurements and metrics will be captured.

At the employee and team level, work on a results-based approach. Measurements should be objective, appropriate based on the skills and abilities required to complete their work. They should motivate when individuals need to improve their skills, and allow staff who are meeting their goals to work autonomously. It’s important to look at these metrics not only from the perspective of whether the work is being done, but the quality of work. Metrics may include a training component. Always question the metrics. Effective measurements and metrics in place allows you to make the necessary changes and adjust goals that will improve the delivery and support of products and services. Ask yourself ‘what is it we are trying to achieve?

At the customer/end user level, are you connecting with your customers? Using leading (a measure of an activity) and lagging (measure of outcomes) metric indicators, along with qualitative and quantitative indicators, provides a holistic view on whether you are meeting the business goals and the customer experience objectives. If metrics are not carefully balanced, you run the risk of making improvement changes that are tainted thus costing you time, money, resources and reputation. Good business decisions equals good customer and user experiences.

Tag(s): supportworld, ITIL, IT service management, process management, process-improvement

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