Competency as Defined by Customer

Many IT organizations think they are pretty competent at what they do.

They keep the servers up. They keep the networks up. They staff the service desk, so X% or better of calls get answered with 30 seconds.

Yet, they find it difficult to have the strategic conversations with their customers. They cannot seem to get the seat at the table to discuss and contribute to the bigger picture.

Perhaps one problem is to recognize who defines the word “competency.”

Competency is subjective.

Being competent at what you do or (even better) the best is determined, not by you but, by your customer.

If you are not “competent” at the very things that your customers care about, your customers will not likely consider you competent.

If you do well at the things your customers truly care about, you will appear to be competent and start accruing trust and creditability. On those rare occasions where we stink at something, our customers will tell themselves the story that stuff happens and quickly move on.

It is a harsh truth, but we as human beings are all biased in one way or another.

Service Desk in the IT Competency Equation

One visible way to score big on the IT competency front is to have a capable service desk.

Being competent in running a service desk means getting the basics taken care of.

Fulfill service requests with courteous professionals and helpful communications.

Assign tickets to the proper support group who can resolve the incidents and without undue delay.

Maintain solid records and history on tickets, so the customers will get timely and accurate updates about their request for help at any time.

Tightly monitor the tickets and work closely with the field and data center teams to ensure things do not fall through the cracks.

Doing well in all these areas are no trivial efforts. It takes a disciplined and well-trained team of professionals who are committed to providing the best experience possible every time they answer the phone.

Many organizations often do not see service desk as an asset for the IT team. Rather, they treat it as a commodity and the first cost line item to outsource or eliminate whenever possible.

Getting the service desk in shape will not cure all ills in an under-performing IT organization. The service desk is the most visible part of an IT organization. Paying the proper attention and get things right with service desk will help the IT organization by buying the time to fix everything else.

Mission and Competency

Many organization I have worked for or with touted the critical importance of being strategically aligned. Certainly, many doctrines and frameworks in IT also emphasize the importance of strategy.

People would say it is critical for IT to be strategically and tactically aligned to the business. To succeed an organization must take care of both tracks simultaneously.

Instead of thinking strategy and tactic as parallel, I am a believer of that they are sequential for the most part.

Another word, you need to be tactically competent before you can meaningfully discuss mission alignment.

Competency means getting the basics taken care of. Fulfill service requests with helpful communications and without undue delay. Meet the availability and capacity service levels. Deliver the project on-time, within budget, and with the planned deliverables.

Delivering the basic competencies above will help accumulate trust from the customer and build permission for future alignment discussions.

To consistently deliver the basics but without the mission alignment, not optimal but at least the customer received some value. To discuss strategic alignment without the pre-requisite trust and permission, it presents no value to the customer.

Mastering the competency means at least the business and operations will continue. For many organizations that are too politically fragment and siloed, they just want to focus on keeping the joint operating. For those organization, discussing anything about strategy alignment for IT probably is just a luxury anyway.

Before you can achieve mission-alignment, you need to achieve tactical-competency.