In our current blog series we advised you to take some cues on consistency and success from the San Antonio Spurs. Then in our last post, we laid out helpful tips and tricks for building your own ITSM dream team. Moving forward, a crucial aspect of keeping a great team going is to keep them constantly engaged and empowered. So today we’re going to lay out a path that you can follow!
Empower Your Team By Honoring Their Time
Every service desk operation tends to follow a certain pattern. There is a constant cycle of problem solving and real time analysis and that can be a very time consuming endeavour. The struggle boils down being able to accomplish the daily work volume - then finding enough time to tackle the longer form projects like audits or creating new training materials.
Thankfully, there are several ways in which you can automate some of the longer form projects. For example, if you incorporate certain discovery and network mapping tools into your operation you can free your team from having to throw their time into a lengthy manual audit.
Not sure how to measure the cost of automating this activity versus the cost of having someone do it manually?
- Start with your estimate on how many hours it will take to conduct one manual audit. You can save some money by assigning the task to interns or level 1 techs but keep in mind - it may go faster with more experienced people at the helm.
- Decide an audit frequency schedule for the rest of the year.
- Now factor in the per audit cost per hour based on the assigned staff for the project.
- Balance the yearly number against the estimated annual cost of an automated discovery tool.
Keep in mind that while your techs are engaged in a hardware or software audit, they’re going to have limited time to complete other tasks, so your overall team productivity may be impacted.
How The Cloud Has Changed The Game
The rise of SaaS and IaaS has started to pay dividends in the service management sphere. It has even gotten to a point now where it’s reasonable to consider the cloud for your mission critical business applications and infrastructure. In addition to the obvious boosts in efficiency (and the budgetary benefits), moving to the cloud can empower your IT staff by freeing them from the burden of physically running your IT operation.
Picture your IT folks with more available time. They can use those minutes (or hours) for ongoing education, documenting and transferring their knowledge, and sharpening their technical skill set. Or, consider a scenario where your service management team is free to spend their time just supporting your end users for a change!
Making a switch to the cloud may cause some heated internal discussions so make sure you have thought through the moving parts. For example:
- Measure your overall SLA performance after switching one or more of your critical apps to the cloud
Here at InvGate we made the decision to move some of our projects from a central repository, to a cloud based system instead, and the end result was a huge win for us both in terms of time and cost maintaining infrastructure.
Training & Knowledge Transfer
In order to have a solid foundation of engagement and empowerment with your ITSM Dream Team, you have got to incorporate training and a robust knowledge transfer system. There are a few schools of thought out there on the best way to do this but here’s what I would recommend.
Training programs are often somewhat academic in nature but that’s actually a good thing for this scenario. Start with these steps:
- Provide your team member with live lecture on the material
- Have your team member thoroughly read and study material along with their notes
- Test the team members retention of that material
- Identify gaps and repeat steps 1 through 3 until retention is established
- Progress to live lecture on new material
Have your training staff take their own notes in terms of how team members are responding and retaining the material. Review these notes after each round of training and identify any gaps hat may need to be filled before your next round of training.
Some people learn better through visual means. If you’re trying to train someone on a specific process with a software application, consider pre-recording your screen and your audio - then let them watch the video and practice at least 3 times before testing them.
Knowledge Transfer Systems
Many times, training and knowledge transfer get lumped into the same boat but they are actually pretty different activities. While technical knowledge can be transferred with the academic approach, skills knowledge is often transferred in a more hands on fashion. For example:
- Your level 2 and level 3 techs are a critical component when it comes to knowledge transfer. They are uniquely positioned to add weight and context to the academic training materials for your level 1 team members thanks to their “real life” experiences.
- They’ve already made the most common mistakes and they’re able to pass on the lessons they have learned.
- Knowledge Transfer is basically just a fancy term for something that has existed for thousands of years - the Master and Apprentice relationship. People naturally gravitate towards these types of relationships in the workplace, so make sure you bake that into your internal processes.
- As a team member demonstrates mastery of a particular skill or technique, have them mentor someone on the team who is weak in that particular area. This helps you shrink your internal skills gaps!
56% of new employees want a buddy or mentor, so start using a Buddy System! If you send one of your team members off to a conference to learn some new skills, have them buddy up and teach the core elements to the rest of the team - 1 person at a time. Now your entire organization has a chance to benefit from the knowledge.
We still have a lot of content to share on empowerment so we’re breaking this part of the series into two posts. In part 4, we’re going to further explore empowerment by examining some unique ITSM advantages that have come as a result of the mobile era. We’ll also give you some tips on using Agile to solve disagreements and promote team building.
To finish off this part of the series, we’ll get into mechanisms for identifying skills gaps and show you how to make sure your team has the skills they need to get the job done!