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Gaining acceptance for IT projects

Ensuring users to involve in the process

Satisfaction and acceptance from users are crucial when new software is being introduced. What looks like a good idea to everyone at the beginning often disappoints once it´s transferred into reality. Yet so many IT solutions promise to simplify significantly work process. The IT Service Management Steinbeis Consulting Center runs workshops to introduce methods for project managers involving users in IT project design. They can even try these methods out for themselves.

Studies on software introductions confirm a number of ways to make them more efficient by early involving users in project planning. But as time is a valuable resource, so to work, the aim of using certain methods and the appropriate instruments must be clearly defined. The participation needs the right tools to work out solutions as a team. Moreover, people have to be trained with the right skills to make things happen. Whatever the approach, individual users have to get a real chance to influence the functions to be provided – and this gains buy-in. By using the right methods, control mechanisms can be determined during the design phase and integrated into concept development. People involved in projects start to play an active role exactly at the point where they will be affected by the new system. Customized solutions are not necessarily at crosspurposes with set frameworks for an IT project, but they do need to be incorporated into the planning process right from the beginning. Working along these lines significantly reduces the risks associated with solution introductions. By gaining broad acceptance, sustainability is guaranteed without the need for continuous intervention. A workshop will be held on all of these issues on September 19/20 in the “Haus der Wirtschaft” in Stuttgart. The Center is happy to welcome everybody interested in these issues.

Does work-life balance equal happier people?

Twelfth Steinbeis Consultant Forum

The results of the latest Steinbeis Consulting Study (page 16) – in which almost 1800 members of Junior Chamber International Baden-Württemberg were surveyed about their expectations and attitudes for future management – were the focal point of the Twelfth Steinbeis Consulting Forum. The participants examined whether a work-life balance makes people happier. 

Following keynote speeches from Prof. Dr. Dr. Sabine Meck (Steinbeis Transfer Institute of Financial Behavior and Ethics) and Dr. Sabine Horst (Steinbeis Consulting Center for Skills, Communication and Cultures) on work-life balance and the current state of happiness research, Prof. Dr. Konrad Zerr (Steinbeis Consulting Center for Marketing, Intelligence and Consulting) introduced the key findings of the study. As well as Steinbeis consultants, members of the Baden- Württemberg Junior Chamber (WJ BW) were also invited to the exclusive presentation of survey results.

During the final panel discussion, a lively debate emerged concerning the status quo within businesses as well as possible changes that managers and employees can actually implement in the work environment to achieve the ideal work-life balance.

Consultation even before the start-up

EXI start-up vouchers

Steinbeis has the authority of the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Finance and Economy to offer prestart- up consultation services under the European Social Fund (ESF). The “EXI start-up vouchers” are aimed at expanding the use of consultation services by founders of new businesses.

The objective of the program is to expand the provision of consultation services before start-ups actually get off the ground and to give professional advice to more (potential) entrepreneurs than in the past – as they start preparing for business. The program should also result in more intensive consultation for start-ups targeting future growth. The project is scheduled to end in September 2014. The service includes a free short consulting session up to 8 hours and up to 10 days of intensive consultation with a subsidy of 80%.

Effectively organized processes

Process optimization

The Steinbeis Consulting Center for Economic Corporate Management has successfully supported reorganize office processes in a large tax and auditing company, enhancing the efficiency of office routine organization and matching them to future requirements. The benefits of the project – in terms of economy, speed, flexibility, identification with tasks and motivation far exceed management expectations.

Uniform, effective processes, flexibility in administration, smooth cooperation within key areas of overlap – these are just some of the terms mentioned in the project assignment by the tax and auditing practice. Several independent sites were to be merged, each had its own organizational structures and management procedures. The project involved setting up project teams with team members from each site. Their aim was to identify best practice solutions, independent of existing process terms. This already meant that the new organization received strong acceptance from staff in all sites, laying a foundation for successful implementation and the sustainability of new operational sequences. The company paved the way for future success and obtain the benefits of an active continual improvement process (CIP), just one innovative idea struck upon during the project.

More freedom for bosses!

Delegating responsibility effectively

“Nothing gets done if I’m not involved.” Bosses who work this way are doing something wrong, or so Ute Villing strongly believes. She is a consultant in organizational and HR development at the Steinbeis Consulting Center for Company Management. Elisabeth Steiner, a client of Ute Villing, runs a laboratory for calibration technology and asked for a consultation.

Ten people work for Elisabeth Steiner at SFP, her laboratory services provider. This includes staff without any formal qualifications and women with training in other fields. Although Elisabeth Steiner gave all employees training on the intricate task of calibrating measuring instruments, for a long time, nothing got done without the boss getting involved – even though she was keen to delegate more responsibility to staff. She called in Ute Villing for some expert advice. Villing put all internal processes under the microscope and helped make procedures more streamlined and efficient. The project not only impressed Elisabeth Steiner, her employees liked what they saw as well. They now have more family-friendly working hours, feel they are taken more seriously, and feel more supported and appreciated. The customers of the calibration laboratory are impressed too. Ultimately, safeguarding customer satisfaction is core to the company values written jointly by Ute Villing, Elisabeth Steiner and her employees. Superwomen to the rescue!

The laboratory now has regular employee appraisals as part of the company philosophy, as well as training on technical issues, running meetings, managing conflict anddealing with complaints. “And the best bit,” enthuses Elisabeth Steiner, “is that it’s freed me up so much, I’ve even got time for my bachelor’s degree at Alb- Schwarzwald Business School, which is part of Steinbeis University Berlin.” 

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