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Promoting Global Collaboration with VMware, Part 4: Simplifying Processes

In Part 1 of this blog series, we provided a high-level view of the challenges and opportunities available to companies related to collaboration. Especially as workforces become more and more distributed due to globalization and other forces, effective tools, processes, and cultures of collaboration become extremely important to the livelihood of modern companies. VMware tools and services can help promote the type of collaboration so crucial to companies today.

In Part 2, we focused on how to build a collaborative culture. Culture trumps strategy everyday, as Nilofer Merchant famously said, and for good reason. Having a set of norms and expectations that help drive change is extremely important when the expectation is an organizational transformation.

In Part 3, we discussed how to determine the tools necessary to promote a collaborative culture. In so many of the firms I’ve worked with, it was clear to see that many collaboration-focused or other tools had been put into place without any idea of how they’d be operated, consumed, or promoted. For this reason, it was important to talk about building a culture, first and foremost, where the implementation of such tools had a chance to be successful.

In our penultimate discussion on promoting global collaboration (check out parts 1, 2 and 3, if you haven’t already), we’ll focus on how to put processes in place that increase speed, promote agility, and ensure a collaborative implementation method. Why leave process for last? Well, it’s the most derivative of the others. If you have the right culture and the right tools, processes often flow naturally. Still, it’s important to plan and fully comprehend both your existing and future processes to quickly adapt to changes.

Simplifying IT Processes

Having worked with many customers on IT tools and processes, often the biggest difficulty is fully grasping how business gets done today. If you don’t understand the current situation, you won’t be able to enact any change. I’ve worked with companies where no one person is fully aware of how a certain business or IT process works from end-to-end: “It just happens.”

How I’ve approached this with customers is to get as many of the process’ stakeholders together and perform a whiteboard exercise (physical or virtual based on current health guidance). The whiteboard should consist of a step-by-step flowchart with swimlanes that indicate different groups and teams at your company. Plot out every step in the current process, and try to be as detailed as possible.

Once you have a good feeling for the current flow, it may be pretty obvious where there is room for improvement. As long as you’ve garnered a good contingent of stakeholders for this process, it should flow pretty smoothly.  Walk through each step in the workflow and interview your stakeholders along the way.  How does this step work?  When do failures happen?  Are people incentivized to uphold our cultural principles?  Highlight areas where automation (with your brand new collaboration tools) could simplify the picture. Remember, simplicity and automation are the ultimate goals. People should understand how things get done.

Just a quick word of warning. When simplifying processes, you may cause discomfort with some of the stakeholders in the meeting. People may feel uncomfortable with their roles being “automated away.” My solution for this issue is to engage the highest-ranking person possible prior to the whiteboard session and have them address these concerns head-on. In my experience, the goal is almost never to reduce the size of the workforce; it’s to get people working on more value-added tasks.

What kinds of processes should you be outlining? Odds are you already know the troublesome flows at your company that are time-consuming and confusing. If not, speak to as many line-of-business owners as possible and try to understand what frustrates them day-to-day. It may be daunting, but people will be thanking the team for years after simplifying what has likely been a thorn in many employees’ sides for years.

A Note About RACI Charts

You might be wondering why we haven’t talked about RACI charts yet. After all, they are one of the most powerful tools for outlining corporate and IT processes.

The reason I covered flow diagrams first is that I find them a more valuable tool for diagnosing and fixing process issues than a RACI. Flow diagrams make it easier to visualize handoffs, overly manual steps, etc. That being said, when developing your new, improved, simplified processes, I strongly recommend putting a RACI in place as a supplement to the flow diagram. It is important who is responsible, accountable, consulted, and informed both at the macro (process) level and micro (step) level.

Next Steps

Still need help deciding how to drive collaboration in your organization using Workspace ONE? VMware Professional Services offers services to help you get started. Please contact your VMware sales representative for more information.

References

  1. Collaboration: How Leaders Avoid the Traps, Create Unity, and Reap Big Results by Morten T. Hansen, 2009.
  2. Yakin, Boaz, director. Remember the Titans. Distributed by Buena Vista Home Entertainment, 2000.
  3. Merchant, Nilofer. Culture Trumps Strategy, Every Time. https://hbr.org/2011/03/culture-trumps-strategy-every

About the Author

Roy D. McCord is a Staff Architect with VMware’s Professional Services Engineering team.  He is responsible for architecting, building, and maintaining VMware’s End User Computing global portfolio of professional services offerings.  Roy has previously worked as a team leader within the Workspace ONE consulting team and helped to build the practice from the ground up.  He holds BS, MS, and MBA degrees from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, GA.  Roy resides in Alpharetta, Georgia

 

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