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How to Keep an IT Professional Happy

by Alex Salicrup

It’s 6:00AM; my alarm clock just went off.  Another day started in a hotel bed hundreds of miles away from home and family. As a consultant, I do this half of the week most weeks, working with my customers. And, my team’s experience is very similar to mine.

We meet this morning, all traveling from every corner of the U.S., to discuss several challenges that two of our clients are facing while making the cultural transition from traditional IT to service providers. Both clients are two of the largest, everyday brands we consume worldwide; both strive to achieve similar outcomes.

The mood in our conference room is passionate, yet full of humor and laughter. Sometimes we have tough days, but as innovators, we are always motivated by the answer yet to be formulated—we are IT explorers. We all believe in what we do and have seen the success that each of us uniquely brings to the problem-solving process.

As a strategist, I could likely secure a lucrative position within a major IT department. I receive emails every week for consultant-, director-, even executive-level roles. I pay no attention to them. Yes,  I endure long separations from my family and heavy travel. However, it’s difficult for me to contemplate leaving a job environment where I get to collaborate with amazing and motivated individuals and have a positive influence on so many organizations. To me there is no greater satisfaction than seeing my customers increase their skills and develop their capabilities to morph into a culture that uses a lot more of their annual budget innovating rather than reacting.

Why do I use myself as an example? Because I am the outcome of a well-aligned service provider. Because my attitude is likely to mirror any employee’s within your IT organization. All IT professionals would love to forge new routes, develop plans, and create innovative ways to forecast and meet or exceed business needs. No one is satisfied with reacting to repetitive requests and remediation.  These tasks still need attention, and there are more effective ways to address them. For many IT organizations, there just isn’t time or in-house experience to change status quo.

Unfortunately, most IT resources are still dedicated to reactive tasks. Many of the IT organizations I work with have tried to move away from this behavior but without the best practices to achieve service-driven ambitions, many stall in spite of their efforts. In the end, I believe the skill to execute is what’s lacking. Few IT organizations systematically tackle transforming their operations by subscribing to a roadmap that embraces the key pillars of a successful service provider.

Three key pillars of a successful service provider include:

  1. A proactive service culture,
  2. Robust processes that drive automation as well as using technical tools and,
  3. The technical skills required to operate the new environment.

Many organizations try, but find it hard to do it on their own. They may be so immersed in their culture that they can’t see the opportunities change will bring. The motivation may also be lacking to get them to the finish line.  This can change with the right focus and, possibly, the right help.

In my experience, it’s a fact that IT employees who embrace and subsequently become part of a service-driven culture enjoy their jobs significantly better—and like me, increase their productivity through efficiency. Over time, they find it hard to let go of those opportunities to innovate. Everyone loves it when a plan comes together! They learn new skills that are less tactical and more strategic. And the attrition rate among service-driven IT organizations is much lower than traditional ones.

I partner with clients to understand their goals and act as a shepherd to guide them in developing these results by constructing long-term road maps with game-changing milestones throughout their journey.  With the right direction and tools, the short-term wins soon amass to reach the organization’s end-state goals.

Alex Salicrup is an IT transformation strategist with VMware Accelerate Advisory Services.