Reactive IT is like playing whack-a-mole. HelpDesk fixes one issue just to have the issue pop-up again somewhere else. Stop whacking moles, and use data to figure out where your computer environment's issues lie, and fix them proactively.
The majority of resources used to maintain a workstation environment are unlikely to improve anything. It feels like playing Whack-a-Mole. The moment you hit one, there’s another popping up elsewhere.
You end up running in place, or worse; oftentimes we end up backsliding into an even worse situation.
Devices and installations become obsolete, defects increase, work stagnates and employees suffer.
In the end, you give up and replace everything: new laptops, operating systems, and so on. Everything should be fixed now.
In the beginning, of course, people will whine and complain that one thing or the other doesn’t work.
One can’t know, test or remember everything. Understandable?
One can’t know everything, but more often than not, better knowledge about your starting point could do away with quite a few expensive and embarrassing mistakes.
For example, the fact that in practice new laptops have too little memory to run the company’s most important applications. Something that could have been figured out beforehand. Instead of ending up having to explain why a scooter was purchased for a thousand employees instead of a motorcycle.
Management may not find the fact that you weren’t aware of something that you could have been aware of totally understandable.
But let's get back to day-to-day life.
Biggest issues get resolved and people get used to the smaller ones.
Then comes a period of calm. We spent some (a ton of) money, but the equipment is working.
Or so we think.
Except that nothing has changed. Devices and installations become obsolete, defects increase, work stagnates and in the end it’s the employees who suffer.
Support is still just putting out fires.
In fact, studies show that half of issues (even the more serious ones) go unreported. They would rather suffer with the issue or just avoid it than deal with support. Minor issues are reported even less.
The digital employee experience, that is, how computers and applications work and serve employees, improves momentarily, but soon drops to a familiar, grey level, about as dreary as the late fall.
The problem cannot be solved with money. And it doesn’t require new resources. In fact, the solution is simpler and “more radical” than you might think.
1. Get the biggest improvements to IT employee experience from fixing small issues
If you want to genuinely improve your IT employee experience, you should focus your attention on the issues that are a bother to many, rather than just the problems reported to support.
As a rule, problems that prevent or substantially interfere use are reported to support, but small, disruptive issues that slow things down are usually left unreported. We can’t fix what we don’t know about.
However, for example, if computer startup time is slow and affects a couple of hundred users, the effects can easily cost around 5,000 euros per month in lost working time! That’s 60 grand per year. In three years, nearly 200 thousand. So that couple of minutes really adds up.
The first thing is to gain visibility in the workstation environment. That is, to understand what we have, how they’re used, and how they work, or don’t work.
2. Tiny improvements lead to great successes
Support often feels like playing a game of Whack-a-Mole. The moment you whack one mole, another one is popping up somewhere else. No matter how you try, the game can’t be won.
You can make real progress by focusing on the issues that affect many users, as described above. That is, the issues support is all too often not aware of.
It may seem that one improvement does not bring about massive change. And well, it doesn’t.
But when you make these smaller improvements (that affect many users), the overall situation develops over a period of months to become quite different than it would have if you had just continued doing what you were doing.
James Clear illustrates the concept in his popular book, “Atomic Habits”:
So if you make a 1% improvement every day, you will have raised the level by 3118%!
But, if you decrease by 1% every day, you end up falling from 100% to 3%.
We don’t have quite so many working days, but James Clear's article is still worth reading: https://jamesclear.com/marginal-gains
In the article, James Clear discusses how Great Britain went from a B-class nation in cycling to a great power in the sport.
In a hundred years, the British had only managed to win one Olympic gold, and had never won the Tour de France.
Bike manufacturers didn’t even want to sell them bikes as it would have hampered sales. Who wants to buy the bicycle brand of the underdog?
So, a new coach set about enacting change starting with tiny improvements in every detail, even in the massage creams being used by the team.
In the end, the change was dramatic.
At the London Olympics, the British practically dominated the podium and the British have claimed TdF victory for years now.
Without proper visibility into the workstation environment, you misallocate resources and end up playing a whack-a-mole support game that you just can’t win.
Devices and installations become obsolete, defects increase, work progress slows down and employees suffer.
In spite of the work you’re putting in, employee experience seems to be getting worse and worse.
With the continuously up-to-date visibility, you can see a lot of what you don't see in support request statistics. Problems that affect many users become visible, and even if they seem small, such as slow computer startup times, continuous small improvement can be transformative in terms of improving employees’ user experience. And in the end, they’ll notice it, too.