I sent out a short survey a few days ago. I am running a course very shortly about taking technology into operational environments – think first responders, emergency management, security, and military.
I sent the survey out because I wanted to make sure that the Technology In OPS Elite Training course I am running shortly is covering the right things – and at the right level of depth.
It was a very short survey – 2 questions actually. Literally.
I asked this small selected group of people to provide 2 questions that they want answered.
Well, that and what time of day works best for the webinars (the course is provided via live webinars, video-based training, workbooks, and email interaction). The answer were split between afternoon (2-3:30pm EST) and mid-evening (7-9:30) largely.
Sure – if you have two burning questions that you want answered for a course about taking technology into operational environments. The speed of response was impressive.
The responses came in lightning fast (kudos and thanks if you are one of the awesome people that responded).
The range was impressive too and this article provides a summarized version (with some quotes) of the questions that people are asking.
Before I go into the questions I’ll admit that I am really impressed. The questions were hard-hitting and pretty much all of them fall into the course – but they caused me to re-arrange a few things. Some topic areas will go deeper than planned, and others will be moved out of webinars into self-paced video training – the webinars are for the hard-core interactive questions.
There was also a nice surprise.
I have already shared with my community that I was thoroughly impressed that there was far less focus on the sales process for technology processes than I had thought there would be. You see, I ran the course by a number of trusted advisors and they all loved the content and feel that the course is incredibly value. But the one section that a small group wanted to go deeper into was sales for technology projects. Things like ensuring that the client understands what you can provide well in advance of a request for proposals (influencing the process – ethically of cours), how to respond to an RFP, how to present your response, pricing, etc.
You see I’m not a sales-y kind of guy.
I certainly find and win amazing projects, but the process I go through isn’t hard-core sales.
To me the whole process is all about the client’s needs, the story of what we can do together, and how my team and I can help meet and exceed the client’s expectations. I cover that approach off in the course but the feedback I got from my close colleagues was that they wanted to see more – more about the sales and business development process. I was certainly prepared to do that, but hadn’t gone that deep. Now – some of those advisors are a bit more So when I went through the questions and was expecting a bunch of questions about sales and how to increase them.
And not one came in. Nada.
I am thoroughly impressed. I mean, I cover the basics in the course, but it means that the sales process part of the framework can be done in a video not a dedicated webinar. The webinars are intended for hard-hitting topics that really need that more personal and interactive approach. We’ll cover some sales aspects but the focus won’t be there for the deep interactive sessions.
OK – I went off on a tangent there – back to the summary of the results. The results came in and there are really about 6 or 7 topic areas that they fall into. I’ll cover them off in short form – a paragraph or so per topic and a quote or two from the long list of questions that came in. I’m only dealing with the main themes here.
Requirements, Prioritization, and Buy-In
There were a lot of questions that focused in on making sure that the deep requirements of a project are well understood, and agreed on. Further the questions addressed a huge concern area that the course covers – making sure that you get the buy-in from all key players in a project (sponsor, operators, contracting, and your own technology team).
“How do you manage a development program to solve a problem when the program requirements are not well defined up front?”
I’ll admit that this topic area surprised me – I didn’t expect to get as many questions about it. I suppose that was silly given that I have been working on multi-agency/multi-national projects for the past 18 or so years. The principles of maintaining interoperability are certainly part of the Technology In OPS framework. Interoperability is so key that it weaves itself throughout the course. I’ve added a special video-based training module that goes deep.
“What is the best procurement strategy to make sure the product will truly be interoperable”
“Developing broad-based inter-agency semantic interoperable systems?”
The whole reason that I created the Technology In OPS framework and the Elite Training is that we all know that operations needs help to scale out and meet their needs. Technology is a huge part of how you can increase operational capabilities and capacities. The thing is – how do you know when you should and shouldn’t make the push for innovation?
“What will be the net step in technology innovation that should be considered in the process of the project?”
“How to bring innovation into a program when there is an incumbent solution…?”
Project Recovery & Kickoff
Too many projects go off the rails. Lots of questions about this area – and how you can avoid it (hint: the Kickoff is the single most important piece here). This is a heavy focus area of the course – both interactive webinar and video-based training are used here.
“When the project goes off target, what process is in place to identify the challenge and help create a solution to get the project back on target?”
“How to detect when a project is derailing?”
Even if a technology project is perfectly aligned with Operational need if you don’t get adoption by Operators then you have a major problem. The course and framework weave adoption into the process at all stages – from inception to closeout. The technology, process, and people must all align.
“How to identify where the application of technology will deliver the greatest increase in operational effectiveness and capabilities for your organization?”
Technology projects get complex. Some of the complexity is unavoidable but much of it isn’t. The problem is that if you don’t actively monitor and remove complexity it creeps in and impacts everything. What started simple becomes frustratingly complex. Cutting into this Gordian knot is scary – so I teach you how to minimize complexity.
“What is best way to manage this [complexity] when having tools introduced/configured?”
Fitting Technology Into Operations (and NOT the converse)
Don’t expect Operations to Change for Technology. All too often a group will purchase technology to solve a problem and then realize that they need to change everything that they do to be able to use the technology effectively. This is a tail-wagging-the-dog approach and never (rarely) ever works. We’ll be going into this area throughout the whole Elite Training program – it is another fundamental theme of my Technology In OPS framework. CAVEAT: Sometimes it makes sense to change/adapt Operations because technology has fundamentally changed the capabilities or capacities of Operations. We cover this too.
“How to make technology work for the client rather than have the client work for the technology?”
OK – that is one long article – hopefully you stuck with me. I only provided a sampling of the responses but I think you get the gist of it. There are a lot of questions that we’ll be answering and providing transformational capabilities for the course alumni. Now – back to my client projects and finalizing the Technology In OPS Elite Training.
Happy Black Friday BTW!
PS – one question that came out related to Black Friday – and no, the course isn’t being offered for Black Friday. I do have a pretty smoking deal going on the Technology In OPS Digital Audio course though – I’m throwing in a bunch of bonuses. This is one smokin’ deal (from a non-smoker naturally)! Oh – and that’s about as sales-y as I get!