Marshall Field & Company, a Chicago based retailing giant of the last century, built its reputation on the slogan, “Give the Lady What She Wants.” More than 100 years later, that’s an applicable business strategy for any IT department. I am Bob Kress, and in this blog post I will discuss how to implement a customer-focused approach that will enable your IT department to run like a business and enrich your entire enterprise.
Creating a managed services approach for your IT department depends on maintaining a strong dialogue with your internal customers; their business needs should be reflected in the services and products that your department offers. Your job is to design a menu of IT products and services with service levels and product price points that your customers desire and that meet their business needs. And with ongoing dialogue, you can update your menu to meet changing customer needs. By using this strategy, you are essentially making the customer the boss of IT, a stark change from the conventional IT provisioning model. It will also enhance IT’s role as a value center, which I addressed in my previous post.
This categorical shift of thinking may take time for your IT department to accept, but at Accenture our customers quickly embraced the control given to them by the managed services approach. A few years ago, we confronted the rising cost of providing desk-side, face-to-face technology support. Our leading service was in-person support at $75 per incident, an expensive solution compared with $25 to resolve an incident via a service desk and $5-6 for a self-service online technology support website. To cut costs and still provide excellent service, we kept all three service modes but educated our customers about the cost differential and then charged them accordingly. In 2001, 65 percent of the solutions came from in-person help. By 2011, aided by evolving technology, 60 percent of tech support was being provided via a self-service online technology support website. Not only is the online technology support website cheaper, but it’s available on the customer’s terms – anytime and anywhere. Customer satisfaction increased at the same time as IT delivery costs decreased – a win-win.
Your organization can adopt a similar method to address problem areas by asking some salient questions. What can you do to eliminate the help desk call? Can you focus on problem prevention? How can you implement less costly but still highly effective alternatives for technology support? It’s a never-ending examination. At Accenture we continued to seek expense reduction options, eventually moving our help desk support to lower-cost offshore locations. You can read more about our managed services approach in my book, Running IT like a Business: Accenture’s Step-by-Step Guide.
Managed services will give your IT department clear objective measures to evaluate the cost and benefits of given solutions as you determine the business value generated by IT tools. In time, technologists will use this information to determine which technology solutions to retire or grow, as you strengthen your business acumen.
Write me back and let me know how your IT department solves cost/benefit dilemmas.