Productivity within IT, and ServiceWorks

Posted by ewilliamson on August 18, 2015

Yet again, the news in recent months has been all about how Britain’s productivity is down on our continental cousins, with the average British worker delivering 30% lower productivity than workers in Germany and France. Even the average Italian worker delivers 10% more than the average British worker. Ignoring my stereotyping of Italian workers here, British workers work some of the longest hours in the world so how can it be we achieve relatively so much less than our global colleagues? I don’t know about you, but I get a little insulted at being told by the media we as a nation are not productive?
Before we continue what is productivity? our good friends at Google state productivity broadly speaking is “the effectiveness of productive effort, especially in industry, as measured in terms of the rate of output per unit of input”, so broadly speaking the amount in hours each person works in comparison to the output they deliver.

So why is productivity so low in the UK? Well this is where industry tends to agree on three main influences that make Britain lag behind; Technology, Management and Education. In short, we fail to embrace change and technology, we don’t manage the resources effectively and the resources we have are under educated. Sounds horribly like the British car industry of the 1980s.

So what does this have to do with IT and Project Management? I see these three overarching reasons for lack of British productivity also as key reasons for project failures. As a metaphor, this has parallels with project delivery; let’s imagine an IT team reluctant to embrace new systems, a set of resources not primed or motivated for the implementation accordingly and potentially a set of users and administrators  not able to take advantage of the systems due to lack of knowledge. Sound familiar? Well unfortunately, it does to me.

So with the project management principles of CDW, now a CDW Company, and my role in our ServiceWorks practice is there anything we can do to increase productivity. Well certainly a technically focused Project Manager engaged to capture and plan items appropriately, combined with an ability to communicate effectively, with the experience to ensure solutions are designed correctly and then ensure resources are effectively managed will increase the productivity of the average project.

But what about post project? Lets address these points of Technology, Management and Education with my core focus of CDW’s ServiceWorks systems.

First of all Technology; IT is changing, changing rapidly, probably more fast pace now than ever before. Super converged hybrid stacks, on OpEx models, with IT now supplied as a service not an investment. Although many are taking the leap in this direction not all our customers easily embrace this change fluently.

Secondly Management; We do still here concerns from customers that moving to cloud means lack of control and ownership, and I get this, but adopting the core principles of cloud frees up the IT teams of our customers to moreover focus on IT Service Delivery, rather than the historically the jack of all mentality of IT departments, a mentality where IT staff are expected to be hardware, network, facilities, and Application specialists additionally to the many other random requests around unrelated items. Taking away the burden of the IT facilities from IT teams and allowing IT teams  to focus on the IT service delivery, means IT teams are typically more focused these days on delivery of services to the users.

And finally Education; The need to educate staff is vitally important, but how many times have we all heard of colleagues attending training that appears completely unrelated to the function they perform? Clearly with a cloud adoption, the requirements for IT service delivery can be more focused, meaning the need for the previously mentioned jack of all trades mentality is reduced.

However, may I be as bold however to suggest a fourth controversial reason for the lower productivity in Britain, and that being the British culture. Our global cousins have a different approach to work, work is a place they go to work, after work is a time to socialise, exercise, relax and enjoy time with those held precious. Having worked in various countries, I see this very different cultural approach.

In summary, I’m not saying that CDW’s Project Management disciplines and ServiceWorks platforms are able to make IT departments more productive, but I am saying that a good project delivery combined with willingness to adopt change may facilitate increased productivity in IT functions and ultimately the end users. However, I’m not really sure how we address the British office culture? I’ll leave this to you to decide.

Author: Kevin Wright

Kevin Wright is the ServiceWorks Program Manager at CDW. His responsibility is managing the on boarding of customers into our cloud, as well as managing internal ServiceWorks projects and enhancements. He's been with CDW since 2010, having working in the IT Service Delivery industry since graduating from the University of Central England in 1997 and delivering projects into customers since 2005. Married with three young kids, and living in rural North Warwickshire, he is a self-confessed geek, petrol head and Aston Villa fan.

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