Thursday, October 9, 2008

Folders and Wikis

Today I had the opportunity to listen to some exciting training happening and without realizing it, my co-workers were referring to Support Central functionality. Folders and Wikis .. my goal in the next week is to learn more about both so that I can:
  • Help implement critical process improvement in our document management needs (we need version control and global access since we have people globaly needing to access certian documents)
  • Help our training and reference materials become interactive and enhanced by all users (with some controls and assurance of accuracy)

I will be doing both of these things outside my current responsibilities and will have to hunt for some online training regarding both of these ... so I hope I can meet my self inflicted deadline.

So if anyone reading this would like to share their experience or wisdom on these two topics, please do! Specifically I am looking for:

  • Your opinion of the best training materials (send link via email if this is internal GE)
  • Have advice and/or example on how to use "folders" (not just the technical portion of it but how to best set up/administer the process)
  • Your opinion on best training material for wikis
  • Have advice, tips/tricks and/or example on how to use Wikis to set up SOP and training materials

Thanks .. I have no idea if anyone will be looking at this or if I should start a discussion in the Linkedin group??

Monday, August 4, 2008

Whiners ... "I can not find anything in SupporCentral"

“I can’t find anything in SupportCentral” whines the executive. I just cringe when I hear that said from anyone, but especially when it comes from someone who is in a leadership position making decisions on the purchase of expensive external software or mandating a new cumbersome labor-intensive process. I cringe when I hear myself whine the same thing when searching unsuccessfully for an answer to a SupporCentral question. The answer to my question is almost always in SupportCentral, its just where someone else put it, not where I was looking.

The beauty of SupportCentral is the freedom and flexibility for anybody to be able to create, post and save anything to a community they created (or that they are granted authority to). There is no need of IT dollars, business reviews, business requirements, IT developers, waiting for IT freezes to be over etc … BUT with this freedom also comes unlimited opportunities for anyone and everyone to clutter up SupporCentral with outdated documents, draft workflows, outdated dataforms, useless dashboards etc. etc. I as a prolific creator of communities, workflows, dataforms, surveys and dashboards have to admit (embarrassing since I am a LEAN leader) that I do not always clean up after myself in SupportCentral. I, along with hundreds of other creative facilitators, have cluttered up SupporCentral. Some of the communities and processes I have created are thriving years after me handing them over to others, but others should have been cleaned up or deleted years ago. I know I am not alone in this sloppiness. We get busy, we have other priorities and we change jobs. We sloppy facilitators are the ones giving ammunition to the non-believers out there, they find themselves in one of our draft communities or download an outdated document and distrust our communities as well as SupportCentral as a whole.

So, what am I going to do about it? First I need to clean up my own communities. There is a new feature in SupportCentral that has been really helpful in assisting me with this; an automated email informing me that a role in one of my processes is linked to a person who is no longer with the company. The emails are annoying enough to make me go into the process, take the 2 minutes to correct the role ending the annoying email reminder. While I am correcting the process, I force myself to take a few extra minutes to clean up and delete other outdated documents, forms, processes and communities.

What will I do after cleaning up all my communities and processes? I will set upon a crusade highlighting to all facilitators their flaws, convincing them to repent and share with them the steps on how to clean up SupportCentral. Just kidding … I know that I will not clean up all my sites and no one will listen to me on this topic. I, as well as most people, will not clean up our sites until forced and/or there is something in it for us. This sounds selfish and immature I know, but just being honest here .. it has not been a priority for GE and I doubt my boss wants me spending time on cleaning up sites I created in another GE business 5 years ago.

I think something can be done though … we need to create a culture in SupportCentral where Clean, Lean, User friendly communities are the norm not the exception. We need to have a culture that encourages and rewards SupportCentral facilitators to clean up our acts and make SupportCentral and GE a better place to work. We have ALL the tools to do this with SupporCentral itself!

First Idea: I think we should expand the metrics that SupportCentral already has for its communities (metrics already automatically show how many hits, how many users, how many downloads etc). The expanded metrics should also have rankings of peers (other facilitators) and customers (users of community). I am thinking about how movies, books, eBay vendors and many other online services are reviewed by users. These reviews could assist facilitators in being more responsible and keep their sites up to date and relevant. The ranking could include such categories as presentation (ease of use), age of data, usefulness of data, responsiveness of experts and faciltators, etc.

Second Idea: We need to encourage and reward contributors, best practices and team players in the SupportCentral world. There are hundreds of experts in SupportCentral at GE that could help/train and mentor each other, but we funnel our questions through limited SupportCentral staff. Most of us probably use fellow SupportCentral geeks to share knowledge and/or ask questions via emails or our own individual communities. I would love to see a more structured encouragement of knowledge sharing. I am not talking compensation or bonuses here (that would be nice though) but a formal recognition process or ranking of SupportCentral skills, discounted enhancements for communities that receive high rankings (idea 1), reduced training costs for experienced facilitators who co-train … I will stop here because training is going to be a whole other blog.

So … what do you think fellow SupportCentral geeks? Maybe I did not explain the ideas in detail enough .. so please ask questions and/or challenge the ideas. Please share your thoughts and opinions, your best practice on how you keep your sites clean or if you know of any SupportCentral functionalities that act as “cleaning tools“

Please keep your comments to specific SupportCentral functionality and general community ideas ... GE employees can NOT share any GE business related issues, topics or specific examples here … please remember this is an external GE site! I am soliciting input from all SupportCentral users (past, present and future) in and outside of GE.

Monday, July 21, 2008

100 LinkedIn Users within 7 days

Welcome to my SupportCentralEnthusiast blog. I am still unsure of where this blog will take us, but know that I need an outlet for my SupportCentral passion. You may ask why am I am not using SupportCentral to blog? Here are the reasons why:

  1. I need to respect GE Spirit and Letter and would feel uncomfortable blogging on company property (SupportCentral) and during company business hours.
  2. I want to keep in touch with SupportCentral buddies who have now left GE and make new contacts with SupportCentral users in companies outside of GE. If this in anyway promotes interest and assists GE in selling this great tool to more companies …. more power to all of us! (and no I am not in Sales, nor get any commission for selling the tool)
  3. Lastly and probably what really inspired me was the fact that the LinkedIn group that I set up less than 2 weeks ago has received over 100 requests for membership. I was tempted to ask each user why they wanted to join or what they were expecting out of the group … and thought a blog would be a non-intrusive way to communicate to this group.

I hope this blog becomes a way SupportCentral geeks like me can share best practices and brainstorm how to best utilize this great tool. If there is a better blog and/or a better way to get the SupportCentral LinkedIn group connected, please let me know!

Link to the LinkedIn group: