Approximately two months ago, I was approached by the Research Department at Info-Tech to assist in a Research cycle, which lasts seven weeks. As a Business Analyst in a busy IT Department I was skeptical to join. Would I have the time? Will the employees like me? Will I have the knowledge to make contributions? These were a few of the concerns that I had when asked.
I decided to accept the offer to better understand the processes, look for improvements and gain a deeper understanding of a research topic, which happened to be on Diversity in the Workplace. I look forward to posting this set in an upcoming blog post!
I spent approximately five to ten hours per week researching the topic, attending morning scrums, meetings and displaying results in PowerPoint. I learned how the team used SharePoint as well as Video Conferencing tools. It was interesting to have the opportunity to observe and look for possible areas of improvement from an IT perspective. Over this time, I noticed many improvements emerging as a result of my involvement with the department:
- Communication – I had a more visible presence with the staff;
- Deeper Appreciation – I Gained an understanding of the due diligence the Research Department takes to ensure quality and an effective solution for the client; and
- Engagement – Over the seven weeks, I had a mental break from the day-to-day IT jargon and enjoyed the challenge of learning a new skill set.
A challenge many IT Departments face is aligning their strategies and goals to those of the organization. Improving communication through cross-training of departments can help address this issue.
An effective first step for many IT Departments is to start cross-training within their own department. It is human nature for employees to gravitate towards work they are most competent and comfortable with. However, there is long-term risk with this approach as their knowledge is not transferred to other employees. Furthermore, as employees leave, IT Departments scramble to train employees or hire an expensive replacement.
The culture has to enable employees to learn new skills and focus on the “big picture” and not short-term solutions. There has to be support for those employees being cross-trained. If cross-training only adds to the employee’s current workload, it will not be embraced by the staff. Lastly, there has to be feedback for the managers to drive continuous improvement. For example, my perspective as an IT employee in the Research Department spurred many IT initiatives to further improve IT’s support of the Research department.
I would welcome the opportunity to discuss my experience in more detail. Please contact me at email@example.com.