Wednesday, November 28, 2007

IT Manager: Evaluating 3rd Party Solutions

3rd party solutions are always an option to take/recommend if:
1. The company needs the solution right away.
2. Developing it in-house would take time.
3. The cost to develop such solution will be higher than buying one.

Below are several factors to consider in evaluating 3rd party solutions:
1. Fit - always do a gap analysis between what the process needs versus what the solution can do. How customizable is the solution to adjust to some business specific requirements?

2. Cost - consider the overall cost of the solution. From the consultants, servers, technical and user trainings, and the solution itself. Check with the higher management if they are willing to sacrifice short term returns for long term gains.

3. Support - maintenance and support is always the key for a solution to work well. After-sales and implementation support has to be included and evaluated well before buying.

4. Compatibility - consider how compatible is the technology used by the 3rd party solution to the current technology you have? How long does it take learn it? Always take into account this compatibility factors since it can create additional cost and technical problems in the future if it's not handled well.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

IT Manager : Motivation (Getting the job done)

How do you make people do things you want done? How do you make them shine and get the most out of them? Often times we face productivity issue in our workplace. Projects are not done on time, qualities of their output are low, processes are not being followed, Tardiness are prevalent and policies are taken for granted.

The challenge of having a Team is to maintain their passion in works that they do best while at the same time have fun doing so.

Below are several things to do to keep the fire burning:

1. Do talk to your staff, hear what they have to say. - this is very important for you to take the general feel of the situation. Take note on issues that affects everyone. Convey what you feel and you think is the right thing to do. Be open to any concerns that affects you as a leader.

2. Formulate a plan of action - With the intelligence you gather, To do's has to be created in order to address the issues and concerns that was raised. It may also help if you seek some guidandce from HR team or other departments if there are issues that affects them.

3. Share the plan of action with your staff - This is very important because team members also has to agree on the actions that will be taken, have them involved by getting their feedbacks and inputs.

4. Implement the plan of action - Implement and monitor the progress of each members, get their constant feedback and send them updates. The plan of action is agreed as a department so they deserve to know the progress they're making.

5. Reward you staff - Night out, Movie weekends, Beach Days, Gift Certificates, Pizza Trips, Salary Increases. Nothing beats recognition especially if people know that they deserved it and they are part of the solution.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Multi-Channel CRM: It's in Your Future by Allen Bonde (article from

As organizations become increasingly enamored with online support and other self-service applications (and yes, I’ve been happily helping folks up onto the bandwagon over the past couple of years), the question of “how much is enough” starts to come to mind. After your IT help desk moves frequently asked questions, software downloads and low-value-add support requests like password resets to self-service, should they stop there? On your customer-facing sites, what level of user adoption or successfully resolved cases or online orders should be your target? And assuming you have not fallen into some of the common self-service traps (see Can Self-Service Deliver Better Service?), once your self-service applications are up and running, how much call deflection is considered a success?

Eliminating phone calls or driving call deflection has been a central goal for self-service initiatives since the first intranets and support portals went live. But is there anyone who truly expects their call volume to drop to zero? Like any new media or interaction channel, the Web has found its role, and in some industries—think travel or real estate or certain high tech products—the majority of interactions and transactions are likely to occur online, with little assistance from traditional intermediaries like travel agents, brokers or sales reps. But when it comes to tech support and customer service, despite numerous success stories, Web self-service will just be one of the channels you will need to support, along with voice response, text chat, email, SMS, etc.

For many, the challenge is finding the right role for each channel, and the right mix of options for each user that you support. Equally important is to know what to measure across all of your service and support channels so that you can balance the mix of benefits for IT, the business and the end user. Understanding your customer and educating them about how to get help, where to find answers or experts, and indeed when to call is critical. If you do this well, when they call, there’s an awful good chance that it will be worth answering!

Know Your Customer

As discussed in prior columns, segmenting customers is essential to providing both a compelling, tailored online experience and having a chance at optimizing your various interaction channels. This includes doing surveys or focus groups, defining categories or groups of users, mapping their entitlements (recall that a call can only be considered deflected if the customers was allowed to call you), and ideally identifying each group of customers’ preferred channel for various tasks, e.g., they want to share tips with other users and get upgrades online, receive service alerts via e-mail and have the ability to call if they have warranty issues.

Remember that not everyone wants self-service. And even the most Web-savvy users will encounter situations when they need to send an e-mail or will want to chat with an agent or even send a fax. From a business perspective, there are also times when you want users to call.

In situations such as a product recall where there is an issue of safety, or when there appears to be a good, old-fashioned sales opportunity, we can’t forget that a live interaction may be the most effective option.

It’s a Multi-Channel World

In a research study published by Yankee Group in 2006, analysts point out that customers often choose self-service as the way they interact with companies, and that Web-based service channels will grow the most (compared to other options), with an expected increase of 86 percent from 2006 to 2008. Meanwhile, live-agent calls are projected to decline by an average of 18 percent during the same period. Yet, the same study shows that even after this shift, Web self-service interactions will still account for less than 15 percent of all interactions, with chat and e-mail accounting for another 30 percent.

So, yes, as eVergance and others have predicted, self-service has taken off. But the phone (or e-mail for that matter) is not going away. And just to complicate things further, more and more interactions span multiple channels before they are completed. A request that starts by searching in an online knowledge base may lead to a chat session, which escalates to a call, and then is confirmed via an e-mail message. In fact, Yankee estimates that 60 percent of interactions between customers and organizations are cross-channel and span the entire customer lifecycle.

Are You Ready?

This complexity puts a premium on having a CRM optimization strategy that is truly multi-channel and supports all of the “old” (phone, IVR, e-mail) and “new” (chat and IM, forums, wikis, RSS) channels. Despite the emergence of open source components and the appeal of a best of breed approach, it also may swing the pendulum a bit back to suite vendors—and especially those that offer a multi-channel framework approach that provides the flexibility of best-of-breed, with the simplicity and scale of pre-integrated solutions.

If customer service channels behave like media channels, the latest approaches will continue to provide new capabilities (think Web 2.0) and take “share” from existing channels, but will never completely replace them. This is similar to the historical impact of broadcast television on radio, or what online media (and eBay!) initially did to newspapers. We can do things we never dreamed of online, yet despite their challenges, newspapers or broadcast radio stations aren’t going away anytime soon.

At the same time, we are all becoming more specific about how and when we consume media—and what experience we want on each channel. Just as I listen to the radio on my drive to the office and to streaming audio on my PC late at night, I want to be able to call JetBlue or Verizon or BMW if I have product questions or want to confirm an order or service appointment even though my first preference is to interact online. Each of those companies has been an innovator with Web self-service, and for the most part provides a consistent (and satisfying) experience across all of their interaction channels. But most importantly, they know me, and certainly know that if I’m calling it must be important.

Allen Bonde is Senior Vice President and CMO at eVergance, an independent subsidiary of KANA Software which delivers strategic consulting services focused on CRM optimization and knowledge management. Prior to joining eVergance, Allen was the founder of strategic advisory firm ABG, Inc., a practice expert at McKinsey, the director of management consulting at Extraprise, and an analyst at the Yankee Group. An authority on Web self-service trends and applications, he started his career in corporate R&D at a leading telecommunications company.

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Tuesday, November 6, 2007

IT Manager: Innovation in the workplace

We all hear different ideas from our IT staff, whether internal business process improvements, code optimizations to radical concepts. Listening to them gives you glimpse of their potential and what they can do as an individual or in a team. Knowing their approaches gives you insight and intelligence on who you can assign where on a some particular issue that needs some degree of specialization.

In my IT team, we organize ”TechTalk” and “iOpen” day wherein Team Members get to code, research on their ideas for ‘proof of concept’ every Friday so they can present it during “TechTalk” every Wednesday. These events are on top of their current project they are handling. Having these events made the staff more creative on their projects. They are also more productive since products, services and solutions are made before a real demand for such emerge.