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Make It Work: the #heweb13 edition

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A Primer on the Client Services Approach in Higher Ed. Presented at HighEdWeb 2013. …

A Primer on the Client Services Approach in Higher Ed. Presented at HighEdWeb 2013.

Charge back? What’s the charge-back model? Much of higher education’s web work is done on a client-services basis, where departments do not know the actual cost of their wish list. What’s more, they don’t know how the work (and providers) are impacted when they miss deadlines, ignore requests, or change their ever-loving minds 20 times in the process. This presentation will focus on how to make your stakeholders realize what their behaviors truly mean to the bottom line. We’ll talk about establishing a process for engaging client-services providers and how to make your work have real value in stakeholders’ eyes. We’ll also talk about establishing real-life consequences that won’t leave you sputtering or without a job. You’ll emerge with a new approach to problem solving in higher education. And greater sanity. You’ll learn how to make it work for your stakeholders – and you first.

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  • 1. http://www.time.com/time/photoessays/10questions/0,30255,1821049,00.html Make it work... A  primer on  the  client services  approach in  higher  ed Tonya Oaks Smith#heweb13 #MPD1
  • 2. Shari Erwin,Aaron Rester, and Tonya Oaks Smith So it started... #heweb13 #MPD1 So  it  started… Much  like  any  normal  old  day.  Puttering  around;  doing  my  work.  Getting  it  done.  
  • 3. Shari Erwin,Aaron Rester, and Tonya Oaks Smith When suddenly... http://www.flickr.com/photos/sazeod/131421682/#heweb13 #MPD1 When  suddenly,  the  unthinkable  happened.  Well,  not  really  unthinkable.  Too  often  thinkable  honestly.  Someone  came  to  me  with  an  urgent   project  that  needed  to  be  completed  yesterday.  Luckily  the  project  could  be  construed  as  vaguely  strategic.
  • 4. Shari Erwin,Aaron Rester, and Tonya Oaks Smith Down to business... http://www.flickr.com/photos/83551695@N00/1454499110/#heweb13 #MPD1 So  I  stopped  what  I  was  doing  and  got  busy.  Frankly  it  was  a  small  project.  Teensy  weensy.  Updating  the  text  on  a  brochure  for  one  of  our  clinics   at  the  law  school.  I  already  had  it  in  my  Iiles.  Simple,  right?  Print  it  out,  mark  it  up,  make  changes  and  get  back  to  the  important  business  at   hand.   We  even  thought  of  ways  to  restructure  the  architecture  on  that  part  of  the  website  to  make  it  simpler  for  clients  in  the  clinic  -­‐  many  of  whom   have  literacy  issues  -­‐  to  use.   We  put  a  plan  in  place  that  would  satisfy  all  the  strategic  demands  of  this  clinic  –  bring  in  more  clients,  make  them  familiar  with  the  process  of   mediation,  help  them  prepare  for  the  process,  and  increase  their  satisfaction  with  us.
  • 5. But the best- laid plans... #heweb13 #MPD1 How ever …
  • 6. Shari Erwin,Aaron Rester, and Tonya Oaks Smith #OMGWTFBBQ http://www.flickr.com/laurel714/8439541937/#heweb13 #MPD1 Four  weeks  later… Still  no  completed  printed  brochure.  No  web  updates  to  match.  No  brilliant  online  application  process  that  was  so  integral  to  the  plan  of   bringing  in  more  clients  for  our  students  to  work  with  in  mediation  clinic.
  • 7. What had happened was... #heweb13 #MPD1 What  had   happened?
  • 8. Shari Erwin,Aaron Rester, and Tonya Oaks Smith Embarrassed much? #heweb13 #MPD1 http://www.flickr.com/photos/greencolander/7177515 What  had  happened  was…  I  failed  one  of  the  most  basic  tenets  of  being  a  solo  practitioner  in  higher  education  communications  –  set   expectations  early  and  then  make  sure  your  clients  live  up  to  them.   Well,  and  make  sure  you  live  up  to  expectations  as  well.  That’s  an  important  part  of  making  this  thing  called  client  services  work.
  • 9. Shari Erwin,Aaron Rester, and Tonya Oaks Smith Make it work was birthed... #heweb13 #MPD1 Also,  this  idea  about  work  was  born.  Out  a  sense  of  total  frustration  at  my  colleagues’  inability  to  understand  how  the  real  world  works.  You   see,  I  provide  a  nice  cushion  between  them  and  freelancers,  vendors,  etc.  
  • 10. There’s Life Beyond the Four-Year University Shari Erwin,Aaron Rester, and Tonya Oaks Smith Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward. - KurtVonnegut #heweb13 #MPD1 They  have  no  idea  what  something  costs,  how  long  it  takes,  and  the  pain  that’s  involved  in  delivering  a  brochure,  a  website,  a  strategic  plan,  a   whatever.     Because  those  folks  have  never  had  to  face  the  consequences,  they  had  no  idea  what  their  inability  to  plan  ahead  was  doing  to  my  ofIice.
  • 11. Shari Erwin,Aaron Rester, and Tonya Oaks Smith Mea culpa http://www.flickr.com/photos/franciscanuniversity/5833602194/#heweb13 #MPD1 In  essence,  it  was  my  fault.  In  sheltering  my  coworkers  from  information  that  was  essential  to  accomplishing  their  goals  –  and  keeping  me   sane  –  I  was  not  helping  them  make  an  informed  decision  and  behave  in  a  responsible  manner.
  • 12. Shari Erwin,Aaron Rester, and Tonya Oaks Smith What makes it work today? http://www.flickr.com/photos/29364131@N07/4296197021/ #heweb13 #MPD1 So  what  makes  it  work  for  all  of  us  today?  That’s  one  thing  we’re  going  to  talk  about  today  -­‐  some  lessons  from  my  life...  and  some  lessons  from   Project  Runway  plots.  I’ll  start  by  introducing  myself  and  Iinding  out  a  little  more  about  all  y’all.  Next,  we’ll  talk  about  the  differences  between  a   client  services  model  and  a  cost-­‐back  model.  Then,  if  you’re  stuck  in  client  services,  we’ll  talk  about  how  to  make  the  road  smoother.   Frankly,  I  hope  y’all  have  some  suggestions,  cause  I  don’t  have  this  down  by  any  means.
  • 13. @marleysmom by @radiofreegeorgy @marleysmom @bowenlaw @higheredsolo @higheredlive @highedweb @iabcarkansas @youthhomeinc #shoes #positivity #behuman #heweb13 #MPD1 So  let’s  start.  I’m  Tonya  Oaks   Smith.
  • 14. Who are you? http://www.flickr.com/photos/highedweb/2922852848/in/photostream#heweb13 #MPD1 Who  are  you? Technical  or  marketing/communication?  Both? Main  campus  or  specialty  school? Community  colleges  or  special  schools? More  to  the  point  of  this  presentation  –  does  anyone  have  a  chargeback  model  in  place?  
  • 15. And why are you here? http://www.flickr.com/photos/highedweb/5090342543/in/photostream#heweb13 #MPD1 Why  are  you  here?  What  do  you  hope  to  learn?   Well,  Iirst  off,  I’m  not  going  to  tell  you  that  I  think  the  chargeback  model  is  better  for  people  who  provide  services  to  other  parts  of  a  campus.   Although  I  do  think  that.  
  • 16. Where do you work? http://www.flickr.com/photos/howzey/5284908211/#heweb13 #MPD1 I  think  it  makes  people  appreciate  what  we  do  in  a  more  concrete  way.  Monetizing  something  tends  to  do  that.  It  makes  people  buckle  down   and  get  serious  about  how  they’re  using  your  time. But  we  can’t  always  decide  what  form  our  workplaces  take.   So  this  presentation  is  designed  to  help  you  maintain  your  sanity  while  working  in  an  environment  based  on  the  client  services  model.  It’s  ok  to   be  in  that  space,  and  you  can  survive  it.  But  we  have  to  work  with  our  internal  clients  in  order  to  use  your  and  their  time  more  wisely.
  • 17. There’s Life Beyond the Four-Year University Shari Erwin,Aaron Rester, and Tonya Oaks Smith Is this making sense to you? - Professor Julien Mirivel #heweb13 #MPD1 Make   sense?
  • 18. Client services means... http://www.flickr.com/photos/swiftconsult/3903355617/#heweb13 #MPD1 First  off,  let’s  Iigure  out  the  difference  between  client  services  and  chargeback  models.   For  our  purposes  today,  we’re  going  to  say  client  services  equals  doing  things  for  an  internal  customer.  For  instance,  when  we  write  copy  for  a   website  for  the  dean  but  don’t  get  paid  for  it.  Or  when  we  use  a  staff  photographer  to  cover  an  event.  You  provide  a  service  to  a  client,  but  that   service  is  covered  in  your  salary.
  • 19. #OMGWTFBBQ redux http://diane-mckay.livejournal.com/54670.html#heweb13 #MPD1 I  call  this  the  space  where  “other  duties  as  assigned”,  you  know,  that  nebulous  section  in  your  job  description,  where  everything  goes  awry.
  • 20. Chargeback means... #heweb13 #MPD1 Then…  there’s  the  chargeback  model.  The  place  where  the  dollar  rules.  The  place  where  you  can  say,  “If  you  want  this,  you  have  to  give  me   more  money.”  It’s  my  happy  imaginary  place,  and  it’s  Iilled  with  unicorns  and  rainbows.  How  many  of  you  actually  live  in  this  happy,  cheerful   place  where  you  can  say,  “that’ll  cost  more”?
  • 21. I didn’t think so http://www.flickr.com/photos/50798929@N05/4776217226/#heweb13 #MPD1 Yeah,  me   neither.  
  • 22. Call me... maybe? http://www.flickr.com/photos/arabarra/5171735748/#heweb13 #MPD1 So  how  do  we  make  working  within  this  paradigm  more  palatable?   I  believe  that  improving  our  communication  with  our  clients  can  help  out  tremendously.  We  work  for  educational  organizations,  but  we’re  so   obsessed  with  completing  tasks  and  planning,  and  complaining  about  how  others  don’t  appreciate  our  work,  that  we  don’t  take  time  to  explain  to   our  clients  why  their  behavior  doesn’t  help  us  help  them  accomplish  their  goals.  
  • 23. Good client? http://www.flickr.com/photos/hello_kosmos/3057629808/#heweb13 #MPD1 You  see,  when  we  follow  the  client-­‐services  model  of  providing  consultation  and  products,  the  immediate  costs  of  not  following  best  practices   are  not  apparent.  Our  work  doesn’t  cost,  so  we  have  no  carrot  or  stick  to  inIluence  the  behavior  of  the  individuals  we  help.  
  • 24. There’s Life Beyond the Four-Year University Shari Erwin,Aaron Rester, and Tonya Oaks Smith#heweb13 #MPD1 So  what  can  this  popular,  admittedly  at  times  vapid,  reality  show  teach  us? It  taught  me  a  problem  solving  technique  -­‐  that’s  what.
  • 25. In the beginning... http://www.impawards.com/tv/posters/project_runway_xlg.jpg#heweb13 #MPD1 In  the  beginning,  Heidi  and  Tim  come  in  and  give  the  competitors  a  job.  An  assignment.  A  task.   Very  much  like  our  clients  do.   The  contestants  aren’t  getting  paid.  They  don’t  have  a  well-­‐designed  frame  work  to  follow,  and  they  could  be  lost  at  sea  if  they  didn’t  have  a   plan  in  mind.
  • 26. Examine the problem #heweb13 #MPD1 They  look  at  the  problem  and  Iind  its  constraints.  Is  there  a  budgetary  or  fabric  restriction?  For  us,  are  we  working  with  folks  who  are  semi-­‐ literate  or  with  a  limited  amount  of  time?
  • 27. Assess the assets #heweb13 #MPD1 You  have  no  idea  how  difIicult  this  slide  was  to  type  out.  Without  cursing.   The  contestants  on  Project  Runway  look  at  all  the  assets  they  have  available.  That  can  go  beyond  their  fabrics  and  patterns  and  thread.  Assets   encompass  all  those  things  we  have  within  us  -­‐  knowledge  of  best  practices,  patience,  communication  skills,  and  more.  Frequently,  they’re   what  we  call  soft  skills,  but  they  certainly  make  it  easier  to  manage  a  client  services  environment.
  • 28. Put a plan into play #heweb13 #MPD1 The  designers  put  a  plan  into  place,  and  then  they  work  on  executing  it.  With  one  caveat  -­‐  they  listen  to  their  stakeholders  -­‐  their  clients  -­‐  to   Heidi  and  Tim  -­‐  when  the  mentors  come  in  with  good  suggestions.  
  • 29. Work it #heweb13 #MPD1 Finally,  these  designers  hustle.  They  work  it  -­‐  they  Iinish  the  job  and  then  they  defend  their  designs.   Sometimes  we  have  to  do  that  with  our  clients  -­‐  we  have  to  sell  what  we  have  come  up  with.  I  can  tell  you  more  times  than  one  that  I’ve  had  to   sell  the  idea  of  making  our  sites  and  content  more  accessible  for  users.  Sad,  but  true.
  • 30. Stay sane... and sanitary #heweb13 #MPD1 http://www.flickr.com/photos/bibbit/3240203131/ Let’s  talk  about  a  few  things  that  I’ve  found  –  when  I  take  time  to  implement  them  –  help  me  maintain  my  sanity  and  still  deliver  what  my   clients  need. These  best  practices  just  happen  to  be  employed  with  every  single  external  vendor  or  consultant  I  use.  What  can  we  learn  from  these   professionals  and  apply  to  our  own  work?
  • 31. Define your process... #heweb13 #MPD1 DeIine  a  process.   But  deIining  a  process  –  and  more  importantly  sharing  that  process  with  your  stakeholders  –  can  help  smooth  the  busy  days  somewhat.  It  also   makes  sense  for  many  of  us  because  we  don’t  have  the  ability  with  our  stakeholders  to  monetize  our  work. First,  it’s  important,  for  our  deans  and  directors  and  bosses  to  understand  that  our  time  equals  money.  Even  if  it  doesn’t  have  a  line  item.  Every   time  they  miss  a  deadline,  ignore  a  deadline  or  last-­‐call  for  revisions,  or  notify  us  of  an  event  at  the  last  minute  -­‐  that  takes  us  away  from  more   strategic  initiatives.  It’s  hard  enough  to  be  strategic,  but  our  clients’  ignorance  of  proper  process  makes  it  darn  near  impossible.
  • 32. Processes work... http://www.flickr.com/photos/57707829@N02/5356741351/#heweb13 #MPD1 It’s  so,  so  easy  to  say  that  adhering  to  a  process  is  hard,  takes  too  much  energy,  takes  too  much  time.  But  what  happens  when  we  really  do  use   a  process  to  determine  our  actions? I  was  really  against  deIining  a  process  for  my  internal  stakeholders  for  quite  a  while.  I  may  be  the  anti-­‐process  person.  I  believe  life  and  work   are  organic.  That  we  should  live  in  the  moment,  and  embrace  those  things  that  just  pop  up.   Process  seems  so  formal.  But  that  incident  in  my  “ice  breaker”?  That  was  really  real.  A  simple  printed  brochure  plus  updated  website  -­‐  and   four  rounds  of  revisions  that  took  over  a  month  to  Iinish  –  not  to  mention  enormous  amounts  of  time  in  and  out  of  the  ofIice  as  well  as  terrible   frustration  -­‐  changed  my  mind.
  • 33. We’re in the education business http://www.flickr.com/photos/70109407@N00/2097402250/#heweb13 #MPD1 I  realized  that  if  I  educated  my  stakeholders  –  my  clients  –  about  how  a  process  works  with  external  services  folks,  then  I  could  expect  them  to   be  responsible  adults  about  dealing  with  me.  My  work  becomes  more  valuable  and  quantiIiable  if  they  know  why  I  make  the  decisions  I  make   about  everything  from  font  size  on  a  site  to  why  sending  an  email  to  students  in  all  caps  (so  they  pay  attention  to  it)  is  not  a  smart  idea.  
  • 34. Practice makes perfect... http://www.flickr.com/photos/yunphotos/4973125140/#heweb13 #MPD1 To  start,  you  have  to  determine  what  is  the  best  practice  in  your  area  of  the  business.  Meaning,  when  you  work  with  graphic  designers,  what   does  their  contract  say?  When  you  work  with  a  developer,  at  what  point  do  you  determine  that  a  site  is  mistake-­‐free?  Do  you  get  two  rounds   of  revisions?  When  do  you  start  paying  extra  for  their  services  on  a  regular  job?  Model  your  process  after  what  would  be  expected  “in  the  real   world.”
  • 35. Oh, behave... http://www.flickr.com/photos/louisabate/4237541615/#heweb13 #MPD1 However,  this  can  bite  you  in  the  butt.  It  also  calls  for  you  to  behave  in  the  same  way  as  someone  who  charges  real  money.  You  must  deliver  on-­‐ time  and  within  the  parameters  of  the  client’s  request.  You  have  to  prioritize  those  who’ve  “contracted”  with  you  to  complete  a  job.  You  have  to   make  enhancements  in  a  timely  fashion;  you  have  to  respond  when  a  client  behaves  appropriately.
  • 36. Put on your big girl panties and get to work #heweb13 #MPD1 in  short,  there’s  no  room  for  passive  aggressive  behavior  or  pushing  a  job  aside  because  you  have  another  urgent  need.  If  you  have  a  truly   “urgent  need”  that  takes  precedence  over  your  “contracted  job,”  then  guess  what?  You  might  do  exactly  what  a  freelancer  does
  • 37. #hustle S/O @joelgoodman#heweb13 #MPD1 Hustle  to  get  all  the  jobs  done.  It’s  the  way  many  of  us  work  right  now.  
  • 38. Educate your stakeholders... http://www.papermag.com/2012/05/the_real_world_20th_anniversar.php#heweb13 #MPD1 Next,  we  have  to  educate  our  shareholders  on  what  happens  in  the  real  world.  For  some,  that  means  talking  to  a  person  outside  who  would   do  the  same  job  as  you  –  only  in  a  charge-­‐back  model  situation.  For  others,  that  means  taking  a  job  that  got  out  of  hand  and  showing  your   stakeholders  what  it  would  have  cost  if  there  was  no  you.
  • 39. #fail http://www.flickr.com/photos/wootness/6919873602/#heweb13 #MPD1 Tell  your  clients  what  happens  with  a  graphic  designer  if  you  don’t  get  all  changes  in  at  one  round  –  that  you  pay  for  them  one-­‐by-­‐one  –  they’d   be  smarter  consumers  of  my  services.  You  simply  don’t  take  a  sip  of  water  from  the  tap  when  you  have  to  pay  per  visit.  And  you  don’t  eke  out   your  corrections  when  you  have  to  pay  each  time  you  think  a  synonym  should  be  used.  Show  them  the  money  trail  and  remind  them  how   expensive  their  crap  could  get  if  you  weren’t  there  in  a  client  services  type  role.
  • 40. http://www.flickr.com/photos/gloriapalaceth/6840735638/#heweb13 #MPD1 If given a chance In  other  words,  people  in  a  client  services  situation  will  tend  to  treat  your  work  like  you’re  a  buffet.  Cheap  food;  they’re  gluttons.  They’re   wasteful.  They’ll  eat  until  they  need  a  wafer-­‐thin  mint.  They  don’t  appreciate  what  you’re  offering  cause  you  come  without  an  accurate  price   tag  attached.  
  • 41. Treat yourself http://www.flickr.com/photos/firenzeboboli/5925664770/#heweb13 #MPD1 Make  sure  they  understand  what  that  price  tag  is.  Be  an  a  la  carte  menu.  Don’t  be  a  buffet.  
  • 42. Enforce the process... http://www.flickr.com/photos/8skeinsofdanger/3189568678/#heweb13 #MPD1 All  this  education  and  process  development  can’t  work,  however,  if  you’re  not  willing  to  enforce  the  process.  This  is  the  hardest  part.  It’s   easy  to  enforce  a  system  when  you  don’t  have  to  see  a  person  everyday.  That’s  why  folks  who  are  external  to  that  system  are  so  adept  at  it.  
  • 43. Remain cool headed... http://www.flickr.com/photos/moanacestari/6717639805/ #heweb13 #MPD1 Key  addendum  to  that  last  point?  Don’t  get  emotional  (I  need  to  take  this  advice  myself  sometimes.)  and  don’t  get  angry.  Remind  your  stakeholders   that  if  they  abuse  your  process,  their  project  will  go  to  the  end  of  the  line.  Period.
  • 44. Wrapping it up #heweb13 #MPD1 So, to wrap it up...
  • 45. You can’t always get what you want. #heweb13 #MPD1 How  do  we  get  the  behavior  we   want?  
  • 46. But what do you need? #heweb13 #MPD1 How  do  you  get  what  you   need?
  • 47. Value your own work. S/O @unmarketing#heweb13 #MPD1 Value  your  own  work. And this is how you do that.
  • 48. Define the process. #heweb13 #MPD1 You  deIine  the  process.
  • 49. Educate your stakeholders. #heweb13 #MPD1 You  educate  your   stakeholders.
  • 50. Enforce the process. #heweb13 #MPD1 You  enforce  the   process.
  • 51. You be a human. #communicate S/O @plautmaayan#heweb13 #MPD1 In  short,  you  be  a  human.  And  you  demand  that  your  stakeholders  act  human  and  treat  you  with  respect.  It’s  not  too  much  to  ask.  
  • 52. Get with me... Tonya Oaks Smith tosmith@ualr.edu @marleysmom 501.324.9896 Through theThou, a person becomes I.

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