There’s more to IT than Computer Science
Process Improvement is the heart of IT
6 min read
Do you think IT is just about fixing Karen’s Printer and Running Updates?
At the root of Information Technology is the desire to help people and/or businesses with technology. It may start at a younger age with helping fiends and family members fix their broken computer after they clicked on something they should have, or coming over to setup a new printer for your Uncle Joe. There’s a lot more to IT than meets the eye.
Common IT Roles
- Help Desk Tech
- Network Tech
- Workstation/Desktop Tech
- Server Administration
- Cyber Security
- IT Technician
How do businesses view IT?
When you work in internal IT for a company, more often than not you will find yourself getting calls, texts, emails, or tickets for pretty much everything. I’ve received tickets about fire sprinklers not working, door lock issues, helping people with their personal equipment, and even to change the channel on the MP3 player. For some reason, businesses view their IT department as the support personnel for pretty much everything that goes wrong. In most cases, I’ve acted as the liaison for contacting another vendor to resolve the issue based on my experience.
How do I view IT?
I have a different perspective on IT. I see It as the Process Improvement Department. The IT department uses what some would refer to as magic to solve business problems. Businesses adopted technology over 50 years ago because they saw it as something that could improve their business, save on labor, and allow their businesses to operate more efficiently and effectively. Without computers in the business industry it would be a vastly different world .
If we go back to why businesses adopted computers in the first place, we can see what businesses owners intended to do. The problem is not with the businesses, but with the rate at which technology has evolved in the last 5 decades. There are more technology solutions then their are cars on the roads and it can be incredibly difficult to find the write product for your business. This is where the Information Technology department comes into play. The information technology department should understand your business as much as the leadership team. The IT department is an integral member of the team and should be a part of all business strategy plans to align core businesses processes and technology.
Listen to he staff performing the job
One of my favorite parts of consulting with businesses is talking to the people who do the work. I see them as the most important stakeholder since whichever solution is chosen, they will be the ones you have to win support and buy-in from. They are the ones who will ultimately decide if the implementation is successful by whether they agree with the changes and see how it will value them and their jobs.
The key principal with Process Improvement is to review the current processes in place. Before I can make any suggestions to a business, I sit and spend a day with the people on the front lines dong the work. By simply observing and having conversations with staff, you can start to get a feel for where the staff spend most of their time and what problems they encounter when performing their jobs. Sometimes staff have no idea that the work they are doing can be simplified or even automated to some degree which opens their time to focus on more important business matters.
Examples of Process Improvement
Sending mass emails
I recently worked with a business that was looking for some process improvement but they weren’t sure where to begin. I sat with a staff member for a few hours and learned that one of her jobs was to sort through a stack of 400+ pages with 3-5 clients per page in which the business needed information. To obtain this information the staff member would look up the client file, review the information needed, and then send an email to the client requesting the information. This consumed the majority of the 40-hour work week simply sending out emails. I suggested that this process could be automated by understanding how the information ended up on the printed report, then used that to create a query of the database to conditionally pull the client details and contact information. I then created a script to automatically send the notice for information for each client and set it to run quarterly. This saved the client over 120 hours a year of staff labor spent simply typing and sending emails and had a huge success in clients sending in the required information.
Scanning and faxing
I worked with a client regarding a documentation scanning workflow. In this workflow, the staff members needed to move information from one system into another. I spent some time working with the staff to understand their workflow. What I observed was the staff printing out client information and then feeding it through a desktop scanner to move it from one application into another. This got my attention since it seemed like a huge waste to be printing out a document, scanning it right back to the same computer, and then shredding the document. After further analysis I worked on educating the staff about working with the documents digitally on the computer and moving them from one application into another without wasting time, money, and consumable supplies with printing documents. Sometimes the staff just needs a bit of education.
Medical Patient Experience
I worked with a large medical office to review how their patient experience could be upgraded to streamline the patient intake with the idea of a paperless solution. I spent a week sitting with various members of the company from the front office to the back office and learned how the current systems in place operated. This let me get a set of requirements that were needed and areas where significant improvement could be made. I started searching for vendors that provided paperless medical software as a service (SaaS) solutions and was able to locate a perfect fit that aligned with business objectives and existing software. It took 6 months to plan, educate, and train the staff on how this new product would not only make their jobs easier, it would significantly improve the patient experience and several reduce the amount of work required of all staff members.
If you are currently working in IT or considering a career in the field, start thinking about how you can improve business processes and functions using your IT knowledge. There is more to IT than fixing printers, installing drivers, and replacing someone’s mouse. I have found this approach to add a lot more satisfaction to my career and working with businesses.
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