In the last article, I explored the idea of the diverse groups of people who are the consumers of the services that are provided by an internal technology group, whether an IT or Digital team (or any of the many variants in between.
This time around I’ll start to explore a few of those different groups. I will start to think about the jobs that those different people might have to do.
By using the Value Proposition Canvas tool, I’ll then think a bit about the ways in which those people might experience pains when they are trying to get those jobs done, and the gains that they can achieve when they successfully complete their jobs.
This isn’t a comprehensive mapping exercise – every organisation will have subtle (or not so subtle) differences and so I’m going to run through things merely as an illustration of how it might work. In the next article I’ll then talk about the services that an internal technology team might need to provide to relieve the pains and maximise the gains.
I identified nine different distinct user groups last time around, which are illustrated in the diagram below:
We’ll take a couple from the inside group, and one from the outside group to illustrate the process.
Internal end users of technology
The people who use the technology that is provided, from devices to operating systems, standard office applications to bespoke business systems, become a big focus of an internal technology team. It’s also a supergroup of the other internal user groups (and there is a Venn diagram’s worth of intersections between these groups. I can be a Senior executive, a manager who is commissioning new technology, a People Manager, work in another support function like finance or HR, and be an end user.
It’s easy for an internal team, however, to fixate on just the technology. The systems and devices are undoubtedly important, but they aren’t the only thing that an end user might need to get their jobs done.
We are going to focus on the right-hand side of the diagram in this section – where a customer is described in terms of their jobs to be done, and gains (of getting their jobs done) and pains (in trying to get their jobs done or in failing to do so).
So what do Jobs to be Done look like for an end user?
Here are half a dozen suggestions…
Use technology that helps me get my role done
As a general user of technology in a business, I want to have access to tools and services that are enabling me to get my job done, not fighting against me.
Use tech that helps me do corporate activities
Alongside the day job, there is also a stack of activities when working in a business that I have to do for corporate hygiene. This will include things like raising holiday requests, claiming expenses or completing compliance training. All of these are activities that these days are done via technology.
Get access to the right data at the right time
Another broad need for most people in knowledge work is to have access to the right information at the time when it is needed. Technology can make this happen. It can also become a huge blocker.
Gain the skills that I need to use the technology
Alongside using the technology that I know as a general user, I also need to find ways to learn the skills I need to make the most of new systems and services.
Work without fear of issues of security
In our increasingly connected and cyber-attacked times, I want to be able to work without fear that the services I am using are inherently putting me and my organisation at risk of some sort of security breach.
Be able to resolve tech issues
Finally, in this example set, I also want to be able to have ways of resolving issues with the technology when they occur.
Keep in mind that all of this in informed guesswork – you would want to use primary research to understand the specific needs of groups within your own organisation. As we are all users of technology, it’s also important for this group in particular to remember that you are not all users. Technology professionals have a different perspective on end user experiences because of the knowledge we have (or maybe sometimes think we have) about the tech that we use.
Pains and Gains for an end user
The next two sections we’ll look at for the Value Proposition Canvas are the pains and the gains – the negative impact of services delivered badly and the positive of services delivered well.
Gains for the end user from a high-performing technology team
Again, this is educated guesswork and not exhaustive, and would need research to properly discover…
Do my role securely – if the technology services are delivered well, end users should have confidence that the technology won’t breach trust or information, and indeed that the way the technology is designed will help users to maintain information securely.
Do my role in a timely way – the technology enables a user to work effectively and quickly, and if problems that interrupt work occur they are resolved quickly.
Get admin work done efficiently – the administrative work that sits alongside the day job can be sone quickly and effectively.
Do my role successfully – that the technology services provided help people to achieve their goals and outcomes.
Feel confident in what I do – that the technology services provided bolster people’s self-confidence.
Be knowledgeable in my role – that systems and data can enhance someone in their role through knowledge.
These gains can form part of the pitch to “sell” the technology team to this user group.
Pains for the end user from a poorly-performing technology team
To an extent, these pains are mirrors of the gains:
Reveal information to the wrong people – badly secured services or badly designed services can lead to people avoidably or accidentally leaking information. Whilst the systems may be part of the problem, the individual can still face consequences.
Take too long to get my work done – fighting against the systems or the data can mean that people can’t complete their work activities in the time they have available.
Not complete my admin tasks – badly designed services can result in people being unable to complete admin tasks successfully. It can also have a knock-on effect on people’s ability to complete their day job.
Lack confidence in my abilities – poor technology services, inadequate training and poor support mechanisms can leave people feeling that it’s all their own fault.
Not be successful in my role – poor technology services can also directly impact on an individual’s ability to achieve their own goals and objectives.
Be uninformed in what I am doing – poor data and poor access to data can impact the ability of people to work effective, drive successful outcomes and maintain confidence in what they do.
These pains can also be used as a pitch for change in the way in which technology services are delivered within an organisation.
The Technology Team Value proposition for Senior Executives
I won’t go into the same level of detail for the other groups, but we will look at the differences. Remember that Senior Executives themselves also are end users of services, which can sometimes lead them to believe that their own issues are universal (or more important). By thinking separately about their leadership needs, one can separate out some of those cross-overs (even if the people themselves might struggle sometimes to differentiate).
The Jobs to be Done specifically for Senior Executives will be quite different: for example, wanting to have an understanding of the impact of investment that is made on performance or productivity would be a common need. Or the financial management of technology needing to be appropriately controlled. Or, indeed, being able to use technology as a lever for change within the organisation.
A particular business strategy might also have specific needs to be met for this group by the technology team; for example, integration of systems and processes for a business that is acquisition hungry will put a very different set of needs into a technology team than a business that is growing through selling more products and services.
The pains and gains for executives will be both personal and corporate – often their own success will be linked to the success of their parts of the organisation in ways that isn’t the case lower down in organisational hierarchies.
The Technology Team Value proposition for External Regulators
Every organisation is subject to regulation, whether in terms of finance and accounting, data protection and privacy, human resources legislation or industry-specific rules. Thinking of external regulators as a separate user group for the technology team helps to understand how to meet their needs, and also explore the potential for conflict within the service proposition when meeting the needs of different users.
If we take the UK Information Commissioner’s Office as an example, there are jobs to be done particularly relating to the providing of information to members of the public and the reporting of security incidents where the technology team often have to provide people and systems resource to be compliant. That compliance also can sometimes conflict with specific needs of other groups within the organisation (for example performance improvements not being possible because of the regulatory impact that, say, sharing personally identifiable information might have).
Hopefully that’s started to illustrate how the technique can start to uncover and document the value that different groups might be seeking to gain from having an internal technology function.
In the next article I will look at how we can use those high-level needs to think about how the whole of a technology department’s service is designed, and the skills and capabilities it might require to deliver value to its organisation.
I’d love to hear what you think about these articles, and also whether you think that the approach could be applicable in your own context. Leave a comment here, or drop me a line on Twitter.