Anna Frazzetto's Blog

Digital Innovations and Technology Solutions

HDI Conference Leaves Attendees with Extra Vigor

Harvey Nash Shares Help Desk and Sourcing Strategy Best Practices

I have to say, after 10 years of attending the HDI Annual Conference and Expo, the 2010 event left me with an extra pep in my step. The spring weather certainly helps in that regard, but the caliber of this conference and energy around sharing useful, valuable information in a non-biased fashion was truly invigorating. We've all left conferences feeling like it was "so-so." Not this time. HDI sets the industry standard for running a show, and together with the information I gathered throughout the conference, which by the way attracted more than 1,000 attendees--my colleagues should be warned, I came away armed with plenty of new ideas and best practices to put into action!

I was equally impressed by HDI's use of social media both for pre-conference promotion and during the event to drive attendance to featured sessions. Event organizers even convinced me to do a quick video clip promoting my first presentation--apparently I'm on YouTube! What a great example of maximizing social media tools to market an event.

Not only did I benefit from new techniques and lessons learned from industry experts, but I had the pleasure of presenting three topics: the Five Hallmarks of Help Desk Excellence, Successful Sourcing Strategy and Organizational Readiness with Pete McGarahan. Here's what I heard from attendees:

  • There are still challenges being experienced on how to efficiently set up a Help Desk from a people and process perspective
  • The all-important skill of listening when you are on the Help Desk is one that many folks have not yet mastered
  • Companies are challenged by coming up with the right solution
  • There is uncertainty about how to prepare for organizational changes
  • Change management from a people perspective--not a technology perspective, causes organizations to pause

After hearing all of these things, it truly was a pleasure to present and share Harvey Nash's insights. Many tips were shared and questions asked during my sessions, so I'd like to share highlights with you from the first two of my presentations at the HDI Annual Conference.

I will say, once I realized that I was about to present to my largest group yet at HDI--I knew that the material I presented better be good and my delivery spot-on! No pressure...

Presentation #1
Help Desk Excellence? It's all about sound, sight and sense

To get a gauge as to whether your Help Desk is operating effectively, stop and listen--do you hear the sounds of happy, satisfied clients? Look around--are you witnessing speedy and effective problem solving? Is there a feeling of competence and confidence in the room? As we discussed during the HDI presentation, if you answered yes to all three of these questions, then you can say with pretty good certainty that your Help Desk is doing its job!

So how do you get to the point where you can answer yes to the questions above? At Harvey Nash, we've found it's a result of following these five pillars of Help Desk Excellence.

  1. Passionate, Inspired Leadership. I'm not talking about leaders who just do a good job of telling their team what to do and how to achieve excellence. I'm talking about leaders who are doers, too. They set the tone and pace, working as hard or harder than any member of their team and have customer-service written all over their face. Passion is contagious; a leader who spreads passion also fosters innovation and inspires their team to be the best they can possibly be.

  2. Ongoing, Interactive Training. Invest in your team and the rewards will come. Not only will your team realize you believe in them, but your customers will benefit from a savvy Help Desk crew. Now in light of tight budgets, remember, training doesn't have to be offsite or expensive for that matter. Consider recycling old training programs, maximizing online opportunities, and implementing internal mentoring programs.

  3. Process Excellence and Adherence. And I'll add, sometimes breaking the rules! Processes are meant to be evaluated and continually modified to meet current needs. That's the key to process excellence--making sure the process is evaluated on an ongoing basis; and changed when necessary. Since keeping customers satisfied is the first priority--it's also important to give your key team members autonomy to make off-track decisions.

  4. Innovation and Advancement. IT is considered the channel to innovation. The Help Desk function must also embrace innovation and innovative thinking. To do so, encourage your team to share ideas, truly listen to those ideas--as well as others being shared informally. Make sure you implement appropriate ideas and give credit where credit is due. The more innovation witnessed by your team, the more ideas will come.

  5. Soaring Satisfaction. If you follow the first four hallmarks, this most important fifth one will come. We have found that when you measure satisfaction and communicate with your customers regularly, make them aware that you care about their experiences and are actively making changes to meet their expectations--customer satisfaction soars..

Together, these five pillars equal a world-class Help Desk that will result in excellence all around.

Presentation #2
IT Demand Rising: Time to Put Strategic Sourcing Steps in Place

It's time to get ready! With IT employment predicted to rise, now is a good time to get your systems in place and tuned-up to meet outsourcing demands before you're in a pinch. The biggest problem, as we talked about at the HDI presentation, is figuring out the right staffing compliment. What should be outsourced vs. kept in-house? Do you supplement your existing staff or try a combination? What I recommend for a successful outsourcing experience really boils down to five steps:

  • Step One: Evaluate business-IT needs. This step is really, really important to the success of any IT outsourcing combination. Where does your IT team stand in terms of your relationship with the business side? Are your needs in product development or maintenance; do you need to outsource core business or ancillary work? And a very important consideration--is the project being considered an innovation opportunity?

  • Step Two: Assess talent options. When considering the project at-hand, carefully evaluate the specific talent needs to successfully complete the project. Do you need to fill in for this project with a specific skill-set? Are you looking for a long-term hire who can add business value as well as certain IT skills? Once you determine your needs, you have four options: Outsourcing; Offshoring; Rightshoring; and In-House, Full-Time Hires.

  • Step Three: Identify the risks and rewards. Determining whether to go with in-house talent versus hiring for project-specific skills depends on many factors: budget constraints, talent needs, flexibility requirements and client expectations are primary. It's also important to weigh whether your organization is ready for an offshore experience or better-suited for an on-shore engagement.

  • Step Four: Create a strategy that allows for coverage and flexibility. Each component of the Strategic Outsourcing equation requires a strategy. The key here is accomplishing business/IT goals and objectives by securing right-fit talent, while staying within budget, determining with whom to partner to secure talent, taking client expectations and internal teams' interests into consideration, and finally managing IT performance and ability to meet demands as it more closely aligns with the business.

  • Step Five: Establish a process and timeline for reviewing providers and locations. There are nine steps that I think are important to assessing providers and making a selection:
    1. Carefully analyze their Statement of Work
    2. Study severity levels and resolution approaches
    3. Study documentation and reporting
    4. Analyze tools expertise
    5. Examine education priorities
    6. Look at recruitment and retention
    7. Check transition experience
    8. Insist upon account management excellence
    9. Look for extras: value-added service

Strategic outsourcing doesn't happen overnight. If a careful, informed strategy is developed up front, the long-term rewards are well worth the time and investment. Whether you attended the HDI Conference or just have a few Help Desk best practices to share, we'd love to learn from you. Your ideas are worth sharing!