Four tactics to get the most value out of teamwork
How service providers and client teams can help clients get the most value out of a blended team – in four steps.
When my oldest son graduated from high school, he was reluctant to make a commitment to a major college and all that comes with it (direction, degree and so forth). Instead, he went to junior college for a year; then he took a job and some time to figure out what he cared about.
In 2014, he started at Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles with a mindset conducive to success. He recognizes why the “project” of college matters, and that has led to engagement—and, I’m sure, ultimate success at Loyola.
We all know that a student plowing his way through the periodic table or “Hamlet” needs to be engaged to be successful. By the same token, your internal project team needs to be fully informed of a project’s strategic significance so that they will take pride – and fully engage – in working collaboratively to bring it to fruition. Though that ramp-up time can cause angst, for CIOs and parents alike, it’s crucial to ensuring ROI.
In my previous posts, I’ve talked about techniques for building effective teams and perseverance as key elements of teamwork. In this blog post, I’d like to talk about service providers and client teams, and how clients can get the most value out of a blended team. I’ll touch on four tactics:
While outside resources are often instrumental to success, ultimately, it’s the client company’s project, and it’s the CIO’s role to ensure success.
To get full value from a service provider, the most important move a CIO can make is to invest his own resources in the relationship—the right people with the right technical and soft skills. The service provider can help identify the required skills.
The internal resources also need to be made accountable for project success, not just during the actual implementation but also well into the future.
The next crucial step on the ladder to project success is naming an internal resource on the team as the point of contact for all team activities. This moves the client’s commitment from engagement to management, an important distinction.
It’s all good when the client’s internal resources are engaged, but the team also needs a strong manager for whom success is a make-or-break proposition, whose individual success is tied to team success. Depending on the project, this could be a delivery manager or an application administrator.
The point of contact’s role is easy to define, if less easy to perform. This demanding job requires the point of contact to be on top of all team activities and collaborate with the service provider’s project manager on conducting regular meetings, addressing challenges and communicating progress within the team and to the client company’s management, especially the next person up the ladder of command: the project champion.
Having a project champion in place moves the level of engagement from management to ownership. While not involved in the team’s day-to-day activities, the champion keeps the team on track to accelerate high-cadence, short-term value pops (every 90 days) that keep the solution reaping ROI. Working with the point of contact, the champion maintains close contact with the service provider experts, who can guide the organization to its next steps on the value staircase.
As the team’s liaison with senior management, the champion needs to communicate effectively so that the project remains top of mind for senior management, especially when it comes to the ROI it has delivered. The champion is also responsible for celebrating success and recognizing the contributions of team members.
I often see clients who assume a software solution is self-sufficient—that it requires no investment from the client to manage or own it. The student analogy fits here, too, because user adoption is all about education and training. The team needs to be educated on solution maintenance.
Users of all stripes need to understand why the solution—and the changes it brings—will be good for them and the company. Finally, all users must be trained on the solution interface to ensure that they actually adopt it.
A large financial client of CA Technologies is undergoing a major transition in its approach to security. The new tools affect everyone, including bank tellers, so tellers receive training that enables them to use the solution on their own and reduce help desk calls. This frees up help desk reps to work on higher-value issues.
If you’re like most CIOs, your eye is on improving the top line, efficiency and the bottom line. Software that drives those goals gives clients the value they’ve signed up for and paid for, not to mention the ability to make better business decisions and remove unnecessary steps from their processes.
Just like my son needed to be engaged to realize why the “project” of college matters, no solution, technological or otherwise, is so simple that you just turn it on and watch the benefits accrue.
To achieve an outcome they can be proud of, effective CIOs know that this proposition takes more than money—it takes lots of hard work. CIOs who follow these tips will make their job that much easier.
For more, please see the following links: