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What if CIOs Managed Clients Like Restaurant Owners Do?

Posted on November 6, 2015 at 9:40 AM

CIOs are typically faced with demands from internal clients that far outstrip their information technology (IT) team's capacity to deliver. Successful CIOs manage their clients as effectively as they manage their own teams. What would IT look like if CIOs implemented these 10 client management practices successful restaurants use to manage their customers?

  1. Reservations - Reservations help restaurants shape their demand to match their capacity to supply it. They make customers commit ahead of time with their required needs and timing. If customers know there is a 3 month long waiting list, the smart ones will learn to book their needs 3 months ahead. If customer groups aren't ready when their slot does come up, they know they risk losing their slot. How much better, cheaper and faster could IT work if they could hold their clients to reservations?

  2. Reserve Capacity - Hot restaurants usually hold some capacity back to handle VIP clients who appear on short notice and can't be turned away. If no VIPs emerge, that capacity can be offered to the most valuable tipper, whether they just showed up or have been waiting in line for a long time. How much additional budget could IT get if they could charge premium amounts for last minute demands?

  3. No Ordering Off the Menu - Some restaurants have menus with a wide variety of items but only let customers order items exactly as they are listed on the menu, with no special instructions. By doing so, they can keep their kitchens focused on executing well-defined dishes perfectly and efficiently without distractions. How much better, cheaper and faster would IT be if it could eliminate unnecessary custom-build projects?

  4. Ratings Reactions - Restaurant managers care about the reviews of their services that are posted on social media. They address the word-of-mouth criticism about their team's work quickly, publicly offering remedies where appropriate or challenges where needed. What would IT morale look like if the CIO personally and publicly stood up for their team whenever they were unfairly criticized?

  5. Demand-Based Pricing - Restaurants that always have a waiting list learn to take advantage of that imbalance in supply and demand to increase prices. Some restaurants invest the additional revenue from higher prices to expand their capacity to be able to serve more demand. How much additional capacity could IT offer if they could grow budget by increasing prices?

  6. Scheduling Meetings Smartly - Many restaurants don't serve breakfast because they know how much early pre-work that requires. They don't want to force their staff to arrive at pre-dawn hours since they know dinner often keeps them there late the night before. How would IT morale improve if deliverables weren't arbitrarily scheduled to require night, weekend or holiday work?

  7. Seasonal Pricing - Restaurants know the demand patterns when they will be busy or in a lull. They use tools like "Restaurant Weeks" and "Early Bird Specials" to shift demand to times where they have spare capacity. Clients who are flexible and price-concious plan to go at those times. How could IT plan resources better if it could price differently based on demand patterns?

  8. Charge for Overhead - Much of the work that happens at a restaurant is behind the scenes - tasks like cleaning, maintenance, procurement, training. Even though customers don't see that work, great restaurants are able to charge prices high enough to pay to do those tasks well. How much better could IT build and maintain required infrastructure if they got appropriate budget allocations for their critical overhead expenses?

  9. Franchising Rules - If someone wants to get Big Macs in their own neighborhood, they can pay to open up a McDonalds restaurant of their own, but under a very strict franchising agreement. That agreement ensures that the work done at the local restaurant meets McDonald's quality standards, and even charges the franchise a fee to help ensure compliance and cover shared costs. What if IT could give clients a choice to do their own IT work but hold them accountable for quality and shared costs?

  10. I Wear My Own Flair - Because restaurant work requires a unique combination of process discipline, creative freedom, and physical exertion, it requires unique types of talent and style behind the scenes. Great restaurants figure out how to give their behind-the-scenes folks the freedom to dress and act differently than the people in front of customers. What if IT folks didn't have to worry about dress codes and other unimportant rules designed for other parts of the organization?

There are probably countless operational, political, historical and other reasons why your IT leadership can't manage internal clients like restaurants do. But wouldn't it be useful and entertaining to think about what work would look like if they could do these 10 things the leaders of great restaurants do?

 

 

Categories: Operational Excellence, Project Management, Information Technology