b2ap3_thumbnail_8020Productivity400.jpgIt’s the goal of almost everyone to improve themselves – both at home and at work as a new year begins! Traditionally, IT teams concentrated on programming, infrastructure management and building applications from the ground up. Today, successful IT teams are the ones with a deep knowledge of how to take that expertise to drive the business forward. Every IT organization has the ability to make this transformation. Below are some of the critical issues and questions that a CIO may want to think about in 2016:

Meetings Should Have a Purpose
Let’s face it: Meetings are a necessary part of business. As the IT manager, you probably plan weekly or department meetings on a regular basis. There are ways, however, to make meetings more efficient and productive.

The first way to improve your meetings is by making sure that your agenda matches the time allotted. Too often, a topic that will take 25 minutes to discuss is scheduled for an hour meeting, because it’s easier to schedule for an hour or ‘just in case’. Those types of meetings generally take the full hour, regardless of whether the topic required the full 60 minutes.

That doesn’t mean you can have a laugh or a joke during the meeting. In fact, there are times when a short anecdote is what the meeting needs to boost creativity. You just need to balance time needed vs. time allotted.

Make Note of Good, But Random Ideas
So, you might think that entertaining random ideas might be counterproductive to keeping a meeting on track, but there is a difference between getting off-track and an idea that is just out-of-scope for this topic. There are times when you’re in the middle of a brainstorming session and you or a team member comes up with a great idea that doesn’t quite fit the project at hand. You think ‘That’s a good idea, we’ll have to remember it.’

By making a note of those ideas, you have two opportunities to increase your team’s productivity. The first is already having an idea in development for a future venture. Secondly, giving an idea credence will strengthen your team’s collaborative efforts through acknowledgement of these good, but random ideas. Decreasing hesitation to share and offer more creative and outside-of-the-box ideas is valuable.

Remember, It’s Always About the Customer
You and your team’s focus must remain on the customer. It might feel as though your clients are computer users in billing or customer service, but the reality is that isn’t the truth. As frustrating as it can be to get a support ticket for a computer that isn’t plugged in or teaching your company’s resistant users to be aware of network security best practices, your real function is to make technology work so that customers are satisfied. Keeping that in mind may make it easier for you and your team to focus on keeping current technology functioning and developing innovative solutions for the future.

Create a Solid FAQ and Customer Service Database
“You’re only as strong as your weakest link.” may be a cliche, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Creating a database of answers for your team will give them a definitive advantage when it comes to individual and group performance. Is there a line of business application that is a definite thorn in IT’s side? How about a department who requires special software whenever you are setting up a PC or a workstation? Or maybe even some details about a particular workstation that has been known to have a support issue every Thursday around 4 o’clock in the afternoon. This internal document may even include the storage location of procedural documents, such as what steps the department needs to take during a power outage or an emergency phone tree, should be made easy to find. Technology can be tricky and unpredictable. Do what you can to make it easier for the individual’s performance and you’ll see a boost in productivity as a whole.

Take Advantage of UCC
Unified Communication and Collaboration has taken over the business world by storm and, really, there is no question about the possibilities a well working UCC system has to offer. Over the past few years, conference calls have turned into web-based conferences that allow face-to-face meetings between a group of people scattered around the world using software like Skype or GoTo Meeting, with real-time collaboration on documents or projects using Google Apps or Microsoft Office 365. Really, all you need is access to the internet and there are no limits to the possibilities. Many companies are going toward having an increasing amount of remote employees, making a UCC system a necessity. For an IT manager, making your enterprises UCC a part of everyday life will improve the overall quality of technology and collaboration for the entire company.

Set Long Term and Short Term Goals – AND MAKE THEM CLEAR!
“I’d like to see a 10% reduction in resolution time for support tickets in 2016.” That’s an admirable goal to set for yourself and your team – but telling them about it in a meeting and expecting results 6 months later can really put a damper on your department’s morale. You’d be surprised how quickly it’s possible to forget something mentioned to you just once or twice.

Instead, help your department keep track of their progress by making your department a sheet of goals, that is kept in sight all the time and is made reference to. Why do you think fundraisers are constantly tracking their goals? Out of sight is out of mind. Set short goals that can be attained easier and give rewards for them when appropriate.

There are many steps that CIOs can take to make themselves, and their teams more happily productive in 2016! What measures do you plan to take?

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