by Hillary Chambers
“How do you find a happy medium for delivering value to your stakeholders when you’re needed for production support?”
Prioritization & Time Management – When meeting on a project, always be very upfront about the time commitment and when the project will fit in. Set aside time for the projects on your calendar, turn off notifications, and try not to look at emails during those times so you can remain focused. Be clear about the trade-offs and be sure to return to the issue put on hold.
Divide time to handle the most critical production support items and make sure to ask as many questions as possible to understand the issue(s). From there, you will be well equipped to jump right in to help resolve the issue(s). If there is an SLA, try to abide by that. Plan your priorities, keep track of the product or service backlog and work through them accordingly.
Preparation – Preparation for handing off production support (at least at some level) needs to start early in the planning process. If possible, be fully available for support during a defined stabilization period that is used to train functional areas to provide first level support. If you can train staff to handle 90% of the questions but support them as needed, it creates that “happy medium.” It does require more effort to train others to support, but in the long run, it allows time to transition to other projects. Careful documentation is critical; when staff comes to you for the 10% they can’t answer, it will be the most challenging issues and you will need to re-engage to handle it.
Communication – It all boils down to communication. Stay in active communication and be transparent. Continue to build the relationship by sending updates, even if status quo, and offer notes from a monitoring standpoint. Highlight small accomplishments during the process and share successes along the way.
- Let stakeholders know that, like them, you have many competing projects.
- Try to keep stakeholders informed of your progress.
- Prioritize your projects.
- Keep your manager informed of your progress.
- Ask your manager to step in when projects get re-prioritized or if there is a new production issue.
A special thank you to our contributors:
Abhimitra Alampalli, University of Colorado
Jessica Holler, DePaul University
James Holloway, University of Maryland Global Campus
Gina Mangiamele, Arizona State University
Yvonne Martini, California State University, Chico
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