How Schwab Transformed its On-Call Support: Page 3

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The last change was to bring in more project work that appealed to the developers. “We currently have a pilot project using AJAX, which is a challenging very visible project to take advantage of the team’s true talents,” says Lavine.

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So they have reduced the support load, allowed more workplace flexibility, established a good process, and provided challenging projects that will boost employees’ careers. Sounds like a winning formula. I asked Lavine where other managers who are stuck in support hell should start if they want to make these kinds of changes.

Her first suggestion was building a statement of vision for upper management. “Be clear on the problem you are trying to solve and the impact to the business,” says Lavine. “Talk about the potentially positive results, such as better SLA, less turnover, and cost reduction from improved productivity. It never hurts to outline what’s in it for senior management, and then delve into solutions. In our case we stabilized the CMS platform and dealt with a morale problem that would have otherwise ended up on the doorstep of upper management.”

Second, she suggests a high level case plan that specifically describes how to obtain a more stable environment, reduce turnover, and deliver high degree of quality applications. “Try to keep all this to one page, just touching the high level points, and be clear on the business implications of what will happen if these changes are not made,” says Lavine.

Finally, she said that before you deliver your vision and plan, spend some time with your business partners. “If you go to IT upper management with a plan that the business side has already bought into, you will have a better chance at securing their approval,” says Lavine.

There you have it folks – some real world guidance on how to create your own escape from on-call hell.

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