A former New York Police Department commissioner’s novel approach to crime reduction gave one CIO the idea that led to improved IT communication throughout his company.

David Arellano, Director of IT & Professional Services for Telvista, knew that the days of the noncommunicating IT department were over. IT must be able to explain what it’s doing, why it’s doing it, the department’s value to the company, and why that value should be maintained. CIOs are developing strategies for communicating with users throughout the company. In other words, “The way IT organizations can show their true value is to really promote themselves,” said Arellano.

It was with that mindset that Arellano attended a conference last fall, where a colleague introduced him to the book, The Turnaround: How America’s Top Cop Reversed the Crime Epidemic, written jointly by former NYPD police commissioner William W. Bratton and Peter Knobler. “He (Bratton) and his team were the ones really responsible for the decrease in crime in New York,” Arellano said. “And one of the keys to his success was the implementation of CompStat.”

CompStat (“computerized statistics” or “comparative statistics”) is a way to track crimes precinct by precinct through a combination of computerized crime mapping and bureaucratic decentralization. Based on a Linder-Maple Group study, CompStat has been largely credited for New York City’s crime reduction and has been adopted by major cities across the country.

With nine years in the call-center business, it didn’t take long for Arellano to see a way to apply CompStat principles to IT communication at Telvista. Telstat was the result. When Telstat was implemented last December, employees were divided into groups that included their peers and some folks that were a level higher on the corporate ladder, including a desktop team, network operations team, reporting team, and project management team. Accountability for work and procedures was tracked and maintained via Telstat statistics.

Telstat identifies areas in which IT performance is measured. It tracks, not just that tickets were completed, but how those tickets were completed; or, as Arellano put it, “What is the end user’s perspective of how that ticket was resolved.” For instance, “You must show you are constantly and consistently driving down threats to network security,” Arellano explained.

Meetings are scheduled each Friday. Key individuals, including C-level personnel, attend periodically and offer valuable feedback. The meetings also provide the opportunity for feedback throughout the company. “This translates into better overall performance for the company,” Arellano explained.

Better communication achieves measurable results
The key to the Telstat system is communication between departments. Instead of seeing themselves as independent units, each department comes to realize that what happens in one department will affect what happens in another. For instance, Systems can explain how decisions made in the non-IT departments affects its ability to keep the network running smoothly. And likewise, the non-IT departments get a chance to let Systems know how IT decisions influence the way that they do their jobs.

The results have been impressive. Cycle time on tickets (how long it takes to complete them) is down 41 percent since Telstat first was implemented, Arellano said. As an example, he points to the solution Telstat turned up in Outlook password problems. When Telstat was first implemented, problems with Outlook passwords were the major ticket generator. “Week after week after week, this was our number-one ticket,” Arellano said. It wasn’t long before the reason behind this issue became clear during Telstat sessions: Users didn’t have the ability to reset their own passwords. The IT department decided to grant them this privilege and this type of ticket dropped from number one to number three.

Telstat was not difficult to implement, Arellano said. He recommends finding a good meeting area that will hold more than twenty people and to be ready to encourage follow-up meetings and help participants and their departments develop tactics and strategies. “It’s a very simple process,” he said. “It just takes effort, it takes courage. It requires you to make your IT department better than what it was and it requires you to ask everyone else to help you do it.”

The next article in this series will introduce you to four more CIOs who have revolutionized the communication strategies for their organizations.