Measure what Matters

Peter Drucker wrote that you can’t manage what you don’t measure. But it’s not as simple as that. In the Digital Workplace, the question isn’t whether you measure, but what you measure. And, of course, who cares.

Perspective is everything

For decades, we in IT have been measuring what we care about, and trying to find a way to make that matter. Too often, the response from our business partners is “so what?!”. We say we’ve hit over 96% uptime, or less than 1% packet loss on our conferencing tool; the business will say we just lost them a sale because it was too hard to use.

You’ll hear comments like my team is frustrated, confused, slowed down, and so on. Highly qualitative, highly emotive, but not always quantified into a hard metric. From our perspective, they’re just complaining. From their perspective, IT just doesn’t get it. So how do we bridge the gap?

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Three Steps to Success

  1. Try to put yourself in the shoes of your business partner: empathise. Listen to what matters to them. Speak in their language.
  2. Ask, listen to & learn from their employees. Use tools like IT Pulse Surveys and Employee Personas to gather sentiment data and anecdotal responses in volume so that you can get data in context.
  3. Share this data with the business every quarter and demonstrate that you have listened and can set targets around what matters to them.

As in every relationship, listening is critical. Our business partners need to be listened to. Capturing the metrics that matter to them is a vital first step towards powering the Digital Workplace.

Look Inside to Strike Gold

Last week we talked about where Escalations & Interventions come from. They come from an organisation that only looks up or out for inspiration. Looking inward can help you unlock the organisational treasure chest.

Often, as a leader, you expect to (or feel you are expected to) know everything there is to know about your area. You got promoted because of it. Stands to reason then that if you don’t have the answer, it can only be discovered by looking up (to more senior leaders) or out (to consultants). Many leaders and organisation do that, and do just fine.

Imagine, just for a minute or two, that you are the CEO. The top banana. You spent a ton of money to hire a lot of really smart people to do things that you can’t do. If those smart people only look upwards for answers, they’re missing something. They’re signalling that they associate intelligence with seniority, effectively inhibiting Organisation Intelligence.

As CEO you don’t want that, and maybe you start to lose confidence in your team and direct them to look outward. You get the Consultants in. Consultants know a lot about business, but not much about your business. To their credit, they’re really smart, work really hard, and will do the research. If they don’t know the answer then maybe it’s just unknowable.

So who does know about your business? The people who actually operate it. The thousands of people you pay to show up 50 hours a week to go the extra mile for the company. The people who actually bring in the money, day after day, year after year. They speak to customers. They build the products. They keep the lights on.

What I’m saying here is that the people who are best positioned to help you improve and grow your business are already on the payroll, just waiting to be asked the right questions in the right way. I don’t mean the annual Employee Engagement survey, or even something like an Exit Survey (good data point, but too late). Yes, those are critical data sources for any organisation but they’re not truly People Focussed.

When you ask people who don’t normally get asked to tell you what they care about in a way that puts them at the centre, then treasures await. You unlock Organisational Wisdom. If you can do that in a systematic way, greatness awaits.

Then, when you look outward for validation, look to other organisations and their people. Because no-one knows their business better than they do. And no-one knows the industry better than all the people who work in it. Listen. Learn. Change. Repeat. And then, maybe, run it by your friendly local Consultant. Chances are they will be more interested in listening to what you have to share than telling you what you already know. That’s when the magic happens.

Escalations & Interventions

The IT Pain Threshold is the point where ticket volumes start to grow exponentially. If tickets continue to grow without being resolved, you get escalations and, worse, CEO interventions. How can you avoid this?

In my first article, The Trouble with Tickets, I introduced the concept of the IT Pain Threshold, which is the amount of pain an end user needs to suffer before opening a trouble ticket. Unless this threshold is exceeded there is a gap (the IT Experience Gap) between what IT can measure, and what is really happening.

This is important to know because IT Organisations typically learn about end user issues through two means:

  1. Tickets (OK)
  2. Escalations (not OK)

People open trouble tickets once their individual IT pain threshold has been exceeded. This is usually when they are unable to do something that is critical for their role, for example connecting to the network from outside the office to access a file or application.

Individual cases of these are called incidents. Systemic cases are called problems. Incidents lead to tickets, but problems lead to escalations, typically once the organisation crosses the Escalation Threshold.

In today’s “flat” corporate world, anyone can escalate IT problems to the CIO, particularly if they are in mission critical roles like Sales, Customer Support or Engineering. Often IT will respond to this with some helpful communications or a project, but if the problem continues unresolved you could end up with a CEO Intervention. This is when your beloved and usually-friendly CEO becomes personally interested and sends a very brief and unambiguous email along the lines of “Fix this NOW”. Never a good day.

Because everyone in your organisation has a different IT pain threshold, it can be difficult to anticipate every possible issue, particularly in very large organisations. So, for efficiency and manageability, we tend to steer towards “vanilla”, one-size-fits-all solutions. The reality, though, is that one size fits none, and this leads to escalations from different lines of business whose needs are far from vanilla.

But, there is hope. While individuals are different, groups of individuals are often similar: similar roles, similar responsibilities, similar behaviours, similar pain thresholds. Your organisation can be segmented into groups, cohorts, or what marketing would call Personas.

Personas help you break down the organisation into manageable units, and you can build your IT strategy around those. By addressing the specific needs of those Personas, you can anticipate changing business needs, and avoid escalations. Even more, you can start to lead the business through change and become a trusted business advisor. This way you can actively drive employee effectiveness, value, and revenue opportunities, and thereby attract more investment in IT.

Traditional IT was constrained on cost. Modern IT drives value. The best IT departments use Active Listening to anticipate and respond to changing business needs, and move beyond being the break-fix guys to become trusted business advisors.

Steve Fleming is the founder & CEO of voxxify.com 

Contact Steve to find out more about how you can use active listening from Voxxifyto generate better business insights and become a trusted business advisor.

The Trouble with Tickets

Many corporate IT departments offer support to business end users via a ticketing system. But, beware – the metrics you track may not tell the full story.

After more than 20 years working in corporate IT departments, I’ve seen how the machine works from the inside. As a user experience leader, I’ve also seen it from the outside. Often there is a gap between what IT can measure and what the business is experiencing. I call this the IT Experience Gap. But what is it, and how can we close it?

Large corporate IT departments support tens of thousands of incidents and requests per month. To maintain quality standards, a survey is sent out after each ticket is closed, and the result is a Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) score. In the best IT departments this Transactional CSAT score can be more than 95%. Pretty good, right?

Not necessarily.

Firstly, that 95% score represents the average of all tickets that are closed. Typically, the bulk of these tickets are simple requests such as password resets, so this number can mask the trickier issues such as blue screens, connectivity, conferencing audio quality, and so on.

Secondly, tickets do not represent all of the issues business end users are having with IT, such as usability. There is an IT Pain Threshold that needs to be exceeded before many end users will open tickets. Tickets and transactional CSAT do not tell the full story.

To get the full story, consider gathering a regular IT Experience Score from your business end users. I know: as IT professionals you’re already over worked (and under resourced), so it seems like this is just asking for more work.

But, put yourself in the end user’s shoes for a moment. If your laptop is slow starting up in front of a customer, who do you tell? When it takes 2-3 attempts to connect to VPN each day, who do you go to? on those days when your payroll app is slow to refresh, do you open a ticket? What if IT reached out every now and then to ask, “How are you getting on? What’s good, and what could be better?”

Traditional IT was measured on cost. Modern IT is measured more and more on experience. The best IT departments use Active Listening to anticipate and respond to changing business needs, and move beyond being the break-fix guys to become trusted business advisors.

Steve Fleming is the founder & CEO of voxxify.com 

Contact Steve to find out more about how you can use active listening from Voxxify to generate better business insights and become a trusted business advisor.