Can your IT shop compete?

Can your IT shop compete?

Summary: Last week, I decided I wanted a new Moto Razr cell phone. I could have taken my purchasing card down to the Cingular store and gotten one that night, but I decided I'd play by the rules.

TOPICS: Mobility

Last week, I decided I wanted a new Moto Razr cell phone. I could have taken my purchasing card down to the Cingular store and gotten one that night, but I decided I'd play by the rules. So, I went online to Brigham Young University's Cell Phone office page (part of the purchasing department) and sent them a note. Of course, that's where things starting going wrong. Here's a list:

  1. No one sent back an e-mail or called to confirm the order, so Monday I had to call them to make sure they got the order. "Oh yeah, we have that right here...we'll get right on it."
  2. I was told that the phone would take several days to get in.
  3. To their credit, I got an e-mail telling me the phone arrived (five days after I ordered it), but when I went to pick it up, I was informed that the guy who handles that is only in between 1pm and 4pm.

Now, this isn't a huge list.  After all, things could be worse and so I'll bet they think they're doing great. They have a Web order form, they're being responsive and letting people know when the phones come in. Unfortunately, in a world where I can go to the store and pick it up in 15 minutes, it's not good enough.

IT shops suffer from the same kinds of problems. We think we're doing great because it's so much better than what we were doing five years ago. Meanwhile business units can outsource it and get exactly what they want.

Here's a proposal for the Cell Phone office at BYU and by analogy, for your IT shop.

The Web page ought to state explicitly that you're welcome to go to the local phone store or get your new phone from the BYU Cell Phone office. There ought to also be an easy way for people to see the cost of the phone using the Cell Phone office so that they can comparison shop.

Next, BYU should pull data out of the financial system to measure the loss to BYU from people buying on their purchasing cards. Reward or punish the director of the office based on the size of that number.

In other words, BYU's Cell Phone office ought to compete for the business and the people who run it ought to be rewarded for winning business (and thus saving the University money) or punished for losing business. I don't think BYU will implement this plan anytime soon, but you could. Can your IT shop compete?  It should.

Topic: Mobility

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  • Huh?

    The last time I looked, BYU's main mission was to educate students and not make acquiring hip gadgets easy. If I'm paying tuition, it better be going towards paying quality professors and teaching facilities, not reinventing the cellphone retail outlet.

    Find a more appropriate example of IT services. Help Desk issues, online resource downtime, etc.
  • competition is not the highest priority

    You singled out a difficult product with which to measure competition. The cell phone business is a mess, prices are all over the map, and contract incentives make comparisons difficult. It's hard to believe anyone is making any money in the business.

    In any case, your IT department isn't there to compete, it's there to support. I think it's a LITTLE unfair to berate them about their performance on an issue that is likely not their main area of competence. Your recommendations do little more than make the group more inefficient and less focused on their main support role.

    Still, I guess it's nice to have a national forum to berate them on, eh what?
  • reply to Phil Windley post

    I agree with Mr. Windley - in my experience, IT departments are typically unresponsive and do internal users AND THEIR COMPANIES a great disservice. Why else would so many companies take to outsourcing a sizeable portion of their IT functions? IT has to learn to treat its users like they would have to treat external customers to stay in business. Consistency, quality, continual improvement, and enhancing customer satisfaction are required of every enterprise - companies can't afford to make an exception for IT.

    With regard to telecom devices, they're no different from computers now that many of them can communicate by voice, TM, and e-mail and can send and receive data. It makes sense for the company to set standards for all communication devices and for IT to maintain those standards. If the company's purchasing department cannot respond in competitive fashion, however, they're toast.
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  • What a waste.

    I think you need to remember that you are paid with and are spending public funds. Purchasing a Razr cell phone when much, much cheaper models are available is not a very diligent use of BYU students' tuition money.
    • BYU is a Public Institution?

      I may be wrong, but I thought that BYU was a private institution, run by the LDS. As such, no public funds were expended for the phone. If the purchasing department was willing to do the buy it must have met their internal criteria as a legitimate purchase.

      Given the cost of attendance (9k - 11k per year all-in for local students!) they must have one HECK of an endowment fund so I kind of doubt that very many tuition $$$ were wasted either...