While change and transformation continue to drive business decision-making, ICT is still sometimes viewed as a ‘break-fix’ responsive service whose function is to simply keep the lights on; it’s only when things start to go wrong that people sit up and listen. It’s therefore important to be on the front foot and be thinking towards the future to stay ahead of the curve and to assure good governance and viability within your organisation moving forward.
Many housing providers still don’t engage with their ICT teams in ways that enable them to get the most out of this important service. A lot of people talk about ICT being an enabler for business change, but in the real world and behind closed doors, that’s not always the case.
I often talk to senior housing executives who want to make changes but don’t know where to start when it comes to the perceived ‘dark art’ of ICT service delivery. This can be due to a knowledge gap or that they think things are going well based on what they’re being told. With that in mind, here are a few things to consider when designing your future delivery approach (FDA) for your ICT.
The delivery of ICT services is no longer about technology and fixing things. It’s about identifying the business problems that you need specialist expertise and help to solve. Start with analysing your key business issues and work backwards, from the problem through to the required outcomes.
This approach will help to identify solutions and benefits as well as support the business case for your FDA. When designing your approach, it’s crucial to understand the day-to-day challenges that ICT can help to address; this will help to clarify the available options for your FDA.
A fundamental part of any FDA design and its implementation is consultation and ongoing engagement with colleagues. Often when designing new ICT models, organisations ‘do to’ colleagues rather than ‘do with’ them; collaborating with the people affected by change enables them to be part of the journey.
It’s important to talk to people – get their views on what works well, what could be improved and share any ideas that might enhance the ICT experience. This approach builds trust and loyalty, helping to embed new ways of working and ‘gel’ teams together.
We often see organisations dive straight into technology to solve problems and then get bogged down with escalating costs, wasted effort, inadequate solutions and an ICT service that doesn’t or can’t deliver what is needed. Furthermore, people often get slotted into roles because of their technical ability or previous experience, rather than their personality, approach and willingness to learn new things. However, it’s easier to teach the technical side of a job than it is to change attitudes and behaviours.
When designing your FDA, play to the strengths of your people. Have functions, roles and processes that enable the right people to make a difference, identify shining stars and develop plans that allow them to thrive through collaboration with colleagues across the organisation. Build your approach to enable continuous personal development, succession planning and remove single points of failure.
Create an ICT strategy and action plan that provide a golden thread back to your organisation’s operational delivery plans, corporate risk strategy and overarching business strategy. Tell people what the organisation’s priorities are so that there is clarity for everyone.
This approach will inform the skills, knowledge and experience needed to align and deliver effective ICT services alongside your business priorities. It will ensure that you can design an approach that will deliver what the business needs rather than having an ICT service that ‘thinks’ it knows what the business needs are.
Have an approach that enables quality to be reviewed continually. Identify service inter-dependencies and design processes that follow good practices (n.b. these should be simple and easy to understand and carry out).
Often ICT delivery becomes complicated because of unnecessary bureaucracy, preventing the job from getting done and resulting in all-round frustration. Create simple, flexible controls and measures that enable you to know how your ICT service is performing and use those insights to continually refresh your service approach.
The role of ICT takes many forms but in simple terms, it’s all about the experiences of people who deliver the service and the people who use the service on a daily basis; happy, motivated people will deliver great outcomes.
Customer service should therefore be the focal point for any FDA, and core to this is maintaining great relationships and building trust. This can be achieved through business partnering, speed of response, setting expectations and keeping people informed. Any FDA design should consider these key components along with the metrics and feedback needed to provide the insights for continually refining your service approach.
One Consulting has supported many organisations to review and improve their approaches to ICT service delivery; if you would like to know more, please contact us.
Stephen Repton is the CEO of One Consulting.