User-Centered IT: An Evolving Approach

As companies scale and evaluate their IT strategies, it’s crucial to take a multi-faceted approach that takes all aspects of the business into account. Through extensive research, communication, and interaction with all business units, the IT department can synthesize problems and opportunities that result in process, service, and design improvements across the business. Throughout this journey, the IT department can gain an extensive understanding of its customers and develop stronger partnerships with various business units within a company.

Our internal IT audit resulted in adoption of a user-focused approach to delivering IT services. Similar to the way user-centered design seeks to optimize a product based on feedback and observation of its intended audience, our user-centered approach to delivering IT services seeks to learn from research and user engagement. The rollout of this strategy has resulted in improved employee productivity, flexibility, and increased business velocity.

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How It Worked For Us

We have always maintained a policy of invite, listen, and inform to stay in tune with both our external and internal customers and understand how we can best serve them. While productivity increases from programs like BYOD have a huge impact on how employees work — we’ve gained 7 million hours in the past three years — there are other immediate cost-savings that we identified after executing a user-centered strategy. For example, by deploying a user-focused approach to improving our internal purchase order (PO) system, we discovered ways to streamline the process and consolidate eight disparate systems into one, resulting in a 50% reduction in PO creation time.

How to Make It Work For You

A user-centered IT approach supports the business in myriad ways. So taking the controlled method of inviting, listening, and informing users is the ideal place to start. Seek out potential early adopters within your organization and invite them to help you pilot products and services. Listen to the wants and needs of your customers and actively seek out their input — one of the best ways to counteract shadow IT is ensuring problems are heard and addressed as quickly as possible. Finally, keep your customers informed. Embrace transparency within your IT department and the relationship building intrinsic to good customer service. Your customers can be your greatest advocates if you keep them educated on greater IT strategy.

The fundamental shift to a user-centered IT strategy allowed us to further discover ways we can understand and meet our internal customers’ needs. Not only does the strategy mitigate some immediate problems, it opens the door to unlimited engagement with employees that will drive the next iteration of our IT programs, and unearth opportunities down the road. If you’ve been feeling a disconnect and can’t recall the last time you invited customer feedback, start soliciting their input today. It’s never too late to make amends with your users.

For the full report on our journey to embrace the user, please read “User-Centered IT: Best Practices.” And to join in the social conversation, follow @IntelITCenter, and be sure to use #ITCenter.