As Director of Managed Services here at Simplus, I really enjoy the challenge of improving operations. I love the concept of looking at a problem or inefficiency and figuring out a way to improve it or make it more streamlined. When all goes smoothly, and you see the results of your labor, it can be a very satisfying and rewarding endeavor.
But, alas, things aren’t always sunshine and rainbows in operations. Changes in business processes can (and will) eventually elicit the need for tweaks in the system. It’s when the issue flies under the radar, only to be found by a flustered or oblivious end user, when the grievances can begin. How many times have you heard lines like these:
“I have a meeting on Monday. I need this report now,” says an end user on a Friday afternoon just as you were planning to walk out the door for the weekend.
“Can we switch the charts in the dashboard? Oh, and by the way, this is the highest priority thing you should be working on.”
“I think it would be low-hanging fruit if we just automated this entire process. That’s easy, right?”
In situations like these, you might want to throw your hands up in frustration. “End users just don’t understand software development!” Or, maybe, “How is it that a person can think everything is a high priority?” I too find myself thinking this from time to time, but maybe I’ll address that in a future blog post.
In the meantime, there is some good news. We have tips as to how we can operate more efficiently while minimizing end user frustration. Here are just a few practices my team and I use to ensure our end users are happy and best equipped to provide exceptional services to our clients.
Align your success to company metrics
As frustrating as it can be, in operations we live to help the company produce results, which means that customers (through your end users) are more important than efficiency gained. Don’t think about how reactive your team can be, but rather how proactive you can be.
Stop reporting on the time it takes to close or resolve a ticket. Stop reporting on a 5% decrease in backlog last quarter. Instead, help the company decrease the time it takes to acquire a new customer and then report on that and how the ops team played a role in achieving that metric.
Related: Doubling down on user adoption
Offer suggestions about problems the ops team can solve
Now that you are aligning your success to the company’s metrics, you can—through the power of observation—begin to see potential improvements that can help achieve the company’s goals. You know the company’s systems and processes better than anyone, and you also know how end users can solve problems and the types of problems you can solve with process and technology.
Being in front of potential operational fires is the best defense that you and your team have. As mentioned above, being actively involved in the day-to-day matters of the business will afford you an acute understanding of your surroundings, allowing you to extinguish end user problems before they happen.
Ask for a seat at the table
It’s easily forgotten that end users are really the reason operations exist. We do not exist to say “NO” or to just streamline processes for the sake of efficiency. We exist to help the company achieve results and stay healthy. Managing end user requests are one of the ways we do that, and it’s usually the most important.
The easiest way for you to accomplish that is to be a present member of the organization. Don’t wait for a request to come to the Ops team. Participate in planning sessions and quarterly reviews. Take notes on what is important to the business and how that coincides with what you can provide for the users. This middle ground is how you are going to best strike a balance between the needs of the business and the needs of the customer.
You’ll find that aligning to business results, staying in front of potential issues, and getting yourself a seat at the table when it comes to the company’s overall strategy are the best and sometimes fastest ways to solve big problems. Not to mention it’ll keep those pesky end users off your back at 4:30 on a Friday. (Just kidding, we love our end users!)
Ready for Simplus Managed Services to transform your processes? Reach out today.