Focusing on the End Goal

frustrated-customer-small-300x200I’ve got a bit of a split personality. As an ITSM vendor, I get to talk to customers and ITSM practitioners, but then as an employee, I’m an end user – a recipient of IT service. And this time, I’m going to tell you something that happened to me recently as a end user.

Here at LANDESK, we recently shifted to a new version of some exciting new business technology. I was chatting with a member of our local IT team over a coffee and he was proudly describing how the release and roll out of the new version had been faultless, with very low impact on business working. All the same functions we had known before were unaffected, we could all continue to work as before, and IT had received an exceptionally low number of incidents at the Service Desk, before, during and after the migration to the new platforms and new versions. I agreed – it had been pretty smooth.

He then went on to describe all the exciting new capabilities that the new platform and product version gave us. Loads of new features and toys. Even whole new products that were previously not accessible or not available. Smiling broadly, he finished his coffee and strode away, happy in a job well done.

But I wasn’t smiling. Look at that story again. All those wonderful features, capabilities, even new products were there but… no one knew about them, and certainly no one knew how to use them to their advantage. We’re all so darn busy doing our jobs with the parts of the tools which have not-changed, that we don’t have any time to focus on the new stuff. There’s a quote I’ve used before where IT is ‘too busy fighting with bows and arrows to unpack the machine gun.’ In this case, the business didn’t even KNOW they now had a machine gun.

See the challenge? IT does a good job, migrates without impact, but the business is not actually IMPROVED. In fact, the migration is so smooth that it leaves everything the same as before. No productivity improvement.

It’s about Adoption. It’s a challenge to a software vendor. You can build great new features, but getting busy people to focus time and effort to understand and use those features is still a challenge. The same applies to IT rolling out new upgrades and new capabilities

The solution? Well. firstly, remember that communication is key, and the objective is not ‘to upgrade’ or ‘minimise disruption’ but to enable IMPROVEMENT. Greater business productivity is most likely the end goal. The upgrade and any disruption is the path you take to achieve that. So base your success on metrics of business productivity and usage, not achieving a low number of incidents.

Secondly, look at IT’s relationship with the business. Is it time for Business Productivity Teams to be reaching out from IT to COACH the business? Is it time for a IT Service Coach? Someone walking the floors, sitting next to individual end users, evangelizing the new features and value. Running workshops, guiding business managers in how best to understand and deploy new capabilities into the business.

You know that quote that, ‘if a tree falls in a forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound?’ Well, I’d also ask, ‘if a product or service has a new feature or capability, but no one uses it, does it have a value?’

Value comes from usage, not potential.