Random thoughts on being service-oriented

Currently, I work in a support group in the IT department of my company. Our group assists other IT teams by scheduling, assessing impact and coordinating deployments to our production systems. In essence, these are the services we provide. For the purposes of this posting, this is my frame of reference when I say service-oriented.
Random thoughts on improving your customers' experience:

  1. Think about things from the perspective of your customers. Perspective is everything after all.
  2. Take your own medicine - go through the process yourself. Have you ever come across a user interface where you wondered, "What were they (the developers) thinking?!"
  3. Don't be a cold heartless bureaucrat. It's important to your customer; make sure they know it's important to you.
  4. Do things which provide benefit and value, not because you're following a checklist.
  5. The process you steward can be a part of a much larger one. Never forget it. When someone asks for help but it's in another area, make sure you explain to them how the larger process works and your piece in it.
  6. When you need to pass a client onto another service team, do it personally if possible. Make sure the transition goes smoothly.
  7. Acknowledge the requests you've received and set expectations for completion.
  8. Provide updates when you're running late and won't be able to meet the expectation.
  9. Follow-up afterwards and ask for feedback.
  10. People shouldn't use your services because they have to. Don't tell them that. People should use your services because they want to! Be ready to market the benefits in a tangible way.

Webinar: Trace requirements to business intent

Compuware is providing a webinar on July 26 @ 2:00pm EDT. You can register following this link.

Practical techniques: Trace operational and other non-functional requirements to business intent
More and more there is increased pressure to develop applications that are closely tuned to business processes and yet can be changed on a moment’s notice to reflect new priorities.

Achieving balance between business goals and the associated operational requirements set has been a challenge. Too often different stakeholders are defining the business (domain experts) and operational (technical experts) perspectives. This can lead to disconnects in the systems delivered, requiring expensive rework either late in the development cycle or in post-production maintenance releases.

WIIFM - What's In It For Me

I remember sitting through some of my directors' presentations listening to them talk about, What's In It For Me, or WIIFM for short (not to be confused with the Nintendo Wii - which I play but suck at.) The basic idea was while you worked hard on projects you were also learning, developing new skills and getting new experiences. WIIFM for everyone!

In a few of my blog posts I've written about how important it is to adjust your presentation and communication to your audience. In effect, you were telling them, What's In It For Them. It's all about creating a relevant experience to sell an idea, product or concept.

Now let's step back and examine this WIIFM concept applied to another situation. Have you ever worked on a project where you have an idea on how more success can be achieved if the project team were to work more collaboratively with other project teams and personnel? In my experience the typical project manager response is, "It's not my problem," or, "It's outside of my scope," or, "It's someone else's problem." Then you step back and watch the car crash in slow motion; the problem manifests itself and severely impact the project and company as a whole.

I liken this to Adam Smith's (the Father of Economics) "invisible hand."

As every individual, therefore, endeavors as much as he can both to employ his capital in the support of domestic industry, and so to direct that industry that its produce may be of the greatest value; every individual necessarily labors to render the annual value of society as great as he can. He generally, indeed, neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. By referring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry, he intends only his
own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. Nor is it always the worse for the society that it was no part of it. By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good. It is an affectation, indeed, not very common among merchants, and very few words need be employed in dissuading them from it. (Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations)
Basically, this means each individual acting in his (or her) own self-interest will lead to a better outcome for the society as a whole; or WIIFM but on a project-scale. The problem with this is simple. No one ever builds roads and the infrastructure to connect things because it's in no specific person's best self-interest; but that's not my problem. Is it?

I'm not saying expand a project's scope, merely understand how a project fits in with the big picture.