Whether a long trip or short one the process of taking a journey is usually the same:
Step 1: Know the destination.
Step 2: Know the starting point.
Step 3: Build a roadmap that will get you successfully from the starting point to the destination in the most efficient, predictable, and practical way.
Believe it or not, these apply to your IT environment as well.
Roadmapping Your IT Strategy
Do you know the strategic goals of your organization? Do you know your company’s vision for the next one, three or five years? Do your daily tasks line up with your organization’s larger plan? Is your information technology group achieving what the business requires of it?
Before embarking on a new IT project, or when planning your department strategy, it’s imperative to understand how it fits in with your organization’s larger business goals, and how you plan to achieve and measure its success along the way.
A strategic roadmap should define the end goal (destination), the current state (starting point), and the appropriate path and timeline required. There can be a number of “via points” along the way, but the high-level conceptual view should be established in the roadmap itself, which will provide a foundation for the project ahead and ensure that everyone in the organization is on the same path to both short- and long-term success.
What a Roadmap Is and Is Not
A strategic roadmap is not a tactical project plan. Tactical project plans will be a key part of the roadmap, but it’s important to keep in mind that they’re the means to an end. Tactics are used to get from one point to another on the roadmap, but the roadmap itself should remain a looking glass for the larger business picture.
A strategic roadmap also is not a document that is chiseled into granite and then unwaveringly stuck to, no matter what is discovered during the journey. It must allow for change and be dynamic enough to welcome new and innovative ways of doing things.
No roadmap is perfect because there will inevitably be unforeseen challenges along the way. Perhaps in a particular project your budget will get cut, or you’ll find an issue integrating an ideal solution with current systems in your environment. When obstacles arise, you must stick to the overall plan, but be willing to adjust elements of the roadmap to best achieve your goals.
However, a roadmap should not be so dynamic that it changes with every new direction of the wind. The framework defined in the roadmap should be used to separate the noise from the good ideas.
In short: a strategic roadmap provides a high-level view of goals and objectives (for both the short and long term), and provides a starting point for the long journey to the realization of your organization’s vision and strategy.
Have you developed a strategic roadmap at your organization? What have you learned?
Jason Dell is a Converged Network Solution Consultant at MCPc, and is responsible for developing and programming custom solutions for clients. His expertise includes network security and security for mobile devices in the enterprise. Connect with Jason on LinkedIn.
It can be said that by the time you join the workforce, your attitude — your general outlook on life and how you present yourself — is relatively set. Attitude is one of those intrinsic qualities people have that goes along with a good work ethic and a high level of integrity. These are foundational traits ingrained in us during childhood and often quite difficult to teach (although not impossible to learn). As human beings, we use the examples of those around us — such as our families, friends, teachers and coaches — to form our personalities and moral compasses. These traits direct us through life and subsequently, we bring them with us on the job.
The Psychology of Attitude
Now, I’m no psychologist, but I remember from my college psychology classes that when you do a personality inventory on someone at age 18 and then again at age 40, there will typically be little change in terms of attitude. Attitude is one attribute that follows a person in life, and thus a key indicator used by human resource professionals to gauge how successful a person may be in a given position.
People with positive attitudes tend to be more desirable to companies, as they usually have better soft skills (for example, listening skills, respect and empathy) and are more adept at working with others to solve challenges. They become top performers because of their innate ability to discuss and accept challenges, and move forward in working toward optimal solutions, even the most difficult situations.
What Hiring Managers Want
When hiring managers discuss with me what they are looking for in a candidate, I overwhelmingly hear them describe a person who is going to show up to work with a great attitude. The manager feels that he or she can teach a new employee the rest, but an attitude that doesn’t “click” with the team just won’t work.
Think about it: Aren’t ideal employees those with the right mix of positive attitude, confidence, energy, team spirit and genuine caring? Many organizations, including MCPc, are willing to hire “green” candidates with great attitudes because we know that attitude is a soft skill nearly impossible to cultivate, and also key to building an effective, motivated workforce.
What Interviewers Look For
Interviewers look to determine early on in the hiring process whether or not a candidate has an attitude that will fit in well with the department and organization to which he or she is applying. This is almost always reflected in overall demeanor and energy level.
Positive attitudes shine through in the way candidates talk about their past experiences. Although some prior work experiences may have been verifiably difficult, poor attitudes about former employers don’t necessarily bode well for a candidate. Rather, an interviewer views an individual that can effectively describe how he or she overcame a challenge at a previous position much more favorably. Discussing previous experiences also says a lot about one’s attitude and overall character. A friendly smile, direct eye contact, attentive listening skills and the ability to look at past experiences with a sense of humor can demonstrate a desirable attitude.
One other common misconception is assuming that a “pessimistic viewpoint” translates to a bad attitude. Some of our best employees are pessimists (you know who you are), and just because they look at a glass as half-empty instead of half-full doesn’t mean they have a bad attitude or poor work ethic.
An organization needs multiple outlooks to build a well-rounded company that delivers quality solutions, ongoing flexibility and a high level of service to its customers.
Keeping Things Positive
Employers have a responsibility to provide a positive work environment as a means of fostering good attitudes among employees. Setting realistic goals and expectations, balancing workloads and providing open lines of communication all contribute to an employee’s positive attitude. And, employees themselves can foster positive attitudes among their co-workers by showing respect for them, refusing to take part in office gossip, and being as helpful and supportive as possible when they see someone in need of assistance.
Great companies are built on great people with great attitudes. How does your organization foster a positive working environment?
Beth Stec is VP of Corporate Communications and Human Resources at MCPc, and is responsible for the development and management of personnel programs and policies. Connect with Beth on LinkedIn.
Photo credit: where are the joneses
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If you are in need of a solution that will help your organization save money, look no further than an opportunity to reduce the cost of creating documents. When it comes to IT projects, updating your printing practices offers one of the easiest ways for you to reduce cost and look good to your boss at the same time. Why? Because printing isn’t very "cool," so it’s typical that no one pays much attention to it. Meaning it’s not in control.
To help get your arms around your imaging and printing costs, and get the data that you need to make recommendations and changes, you may consider starting with an assessment of your imaging and printing environment.
The Case for Imaging & Printing Assessments
Most organizations do not regularly spend the time to audit their imaging and printing costs. Printers tend to “just work,” copiers are serviced on a regular basis, fax machines last forever and no single department within the organizations is responsible for all of these.
Does your organization have the appropriate controls in place to accurately account for and reduce hard-copy spend? If not, consider an imaging and printing assessment, which can help your organization identify all of the costs to produce printed, copied and faxed pages. The assessment results, once validated, become your baseline, or current-state, costs.
Imaging and printing assessments are time-intensive projects and require input from multiple departments within your organization. Therefore, it is important to identify critical success factors, get stakeholder buy-in, and be clear about the purpose and payoff before launching an assessment. If you are the decision maker, prioritize the assessment and make sure that everyone on your team understands its importance.
I know, it sounds like a lot of work, but trust me — the payoff is significant. It's been estimated that organizations can save 10% -30% of their current state spend by understanding and actively managing their print environment.
Identify Critical Success Factors
It is important to align your imaging and printing assessment with your overall business objectives. For example, if your organization is adding a second shift, it’s probably a bad idea to downsize the printers in the production departments. Or, if your organization is going through a reorganization you can align the reduction of your imaging and printing costs with your new business structure. Without performing an assessment, you may end up with excess printing and copying capacity.
Every organization has unique critical success factors, however they all tend to center around reducing costs. Below are examples of critical success factors that I have worked with clients to achieve over the years:
- Balance the number of hardcopy devices based on departmental requirements.
- Reduce overall hardcopy cost X% by Y data.
- Reduce the physical footprint of hardcopy devices by X%.
- Increase the efficiency of the hardcopy devices in X departments.
- Reduce color printing costs while providing color access to more people.
- Restrict access to color and reduce the number of color capable devices.
- Identify workflow software, such as network faxing, that reduces cost and improves efficiency.
- Make sure there is zero downtime in critical areas.
- Reduce energy costs and create a greener workplace.
Get Stakeholder Buy-in
In order to keep your organization focused on completing the assessment, you need stakeholder buy-in. Therefore, you should identify some surface-level facts about your environment to help tell a story and make the case for an assessment. For example:
- There’s no easy way to calculate current state costs.
- You’re procuring from too many vendors, which complicates the management of your printer environment.
- You’re not leveraging overall spending power.
- There is too much toner sitting under desks, which is money wasted, particularly if the toner expires and is no longer useful.
- There are too many full paper-recycling bins.
- There is no central ownership of the supply chain activities.
By understanding how printing and imaging fits into the big picture, your organization will be able to streamline all of the supply chain and support activities required to maintain your devices. Often, this results in further cost savings.
Be Clear About the Purpose and Payoff
Make sure that you and your superiors clearly understand the purpose of your imaging and printing assessment. For example: “We need to perform the assessment to better understand our hardcopy costs. Then we can put a plan in place to rationalize and reduce these costs.”
Calculate the potential payoff, erring on the conservative side. Feel free to reach out for assistance with the purpose and payoff. Organizations that specialize in imaging and printing assessments can help you clarify this process, and may even offer additional suggestions that will make your assessment more successful.
Has your business ever performed an imaging and printing assessment? Was it what you expected? What were the results?
Jeffrey Goldstein is Senior Consultant at MCPc and is responsible for the delivery of hardcopy and value-added services within the Lifecycle Management Group. Connect with Jeff on LinkedIn.
Image Credits: http://www.flickr.com/photos/yospiff/2126043460/