The number one focus of IT teams is enabling employees to be productive, they can do this by providing the technology and tech support needed to create the most impact.
An organisation can align its our IT team with one of two models in order to to make this happen: linear or circular.
Linear model theory
The overwhelming majority operates within a linear model: IT teams identify, prioritize and solve problems based on their own intuition, one at a time.
For example, you might roll out a new software tool and decide your top priority is to create a knowledge article about it for employees. To decide if the knowledge article is effective, you might assign an expert on the team to determine whether it’s digestible and effective. But despite your best efforts, these one-off, linear projects rarely move the needle when it comes to increasing employee productivity.
To avoid this pitfall, your IT team needs to use a circular model.
Circular model theory
Circular IT is a strategy based on data and feedback from end users — that is, from employees themselves. Instead of ad hoc projects that get actioned and then forgotten, circular IT teams ‘continuously assess’ which issues are slowing down productivity the most, using real-time data.
Although it requires a mindset shift from the traditional, linear approach, it’s the only way your IT team can stay focused on the big picture, while saving a significant amount of time in the process.
There are just two main considerations to build out your circular IT strategy:
#1 Data collection & analysis
To best support employees, your IT team needs a single view of ‘every individual request’ submitted to the service desk, in real time — whether it arrives via email, portal, form, or the #ask-IT Slack channel. This alone is a nontrivial challenge for many companies, given the silos that often form between various tools and teams.
With consolidated reporting, you can start to ask the questions at the core of the circular IT model: Which issues are the most common across each department and region? What’s the average amount of time to resolve each issue? Which issues have the greatest impact on productivity for end users?
IT Teams are realizing that the challenge in doing this really comes down to understanding the language of employees’ issues — which requires translating thousands of employee requests.
So, as an IT leader, how do you make this happen? To get the big picture, the best IT teams are implementing technologies like language understanding, machine learning and automation to break down employee issues and understand trends that require their attention.
Once you know which issues are creating the biggest impact across your business, you can take action based on priority issues. This could be creating an FAQ or rolling out a new tool, for instance. But to truly implement the cyclical model, you need a constant stream of feedback to know if these solutions are successful.
#2 Solution feedback & iteration
A linear model generates significant waste if your IT team doesn’t have visibility into the effectiveness of the solutions you’re putting in place. For example, if your team creates a step-by-step guide for VPN troubleshooting but you have no idea how many employees have referenced it or even found it useful, then you have no real way of measuring its effectiveness.
To avoid this, your IT team needs an automated way of collecting feedback every time a resource or solution is used. Once the feedback is collected, you can ask several questions to understand exactly where your efforts are paying off, and where you need to invest more time.
These include: How many employees were able to solve their issue without human intervention? How many employees still filed a ticket after consuming the resource?
How many employees rated the resource as “helpful”?
To do this, your IT team needs a way to consolidate and analyze this feedback at a large scale.
Similarly, technologies like NLU, AI and machine learning work together to break this data down and turn it into actionable insights. This creates a clear path of improvement for your IT team, and a more effective support experience for your employees.
Ultimately, a circular approach works backwards from the needs of the end users. By first understanding which issues are plaguing employees most – and which solutions are most effective – your IT team will create a support experience that only improves over time.
Rahul Kayala is principal product manager at Moveworks, a California-headquartered company which offers an employee experience platform that uses AI to solve issues and prevent problems at work.