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"Just in time, not "just in case" is a great catch-phrase that captures our knowledge management practices here in Rational Client Support. And we thought you might be interested in learning a little more about that.
We believe that knowledge base content (in a support context) is different and should be managed differently from other types of technical content, like documentation, white papers, or manuals. Technical Support content is dynamic and needs to be created, managed and delivered for "just in time" accuracy and freshness. A piece of support content is most valuable within the first 30 days of the problem being discovered. Unfortunately, many organizations take 60-90 days to document and release new solutions, which you can see from this graph is ... sub-optimal.
The Acme Co has started fielding support calls about the new bilateral destabilizer functionality, released last week. Sadly, a use case has emerged: if you plan on deploying the bilateral destabilizer underwater (like anyone would EVER do that), you need to make some adjustments in the motor housing.
Acme believes that getting this information out to their clients quickly is far more impactful than investing in a lengthy writing, editorial and review process while clients continue to struggle without this valuable knowledge nugget. Acme certainly doesn't want to continue to field calls about known issues. They want to get the knowledge as close to the clients as soon as possible, so their support engineers can be helping clients with new issues.
We believe the same is true for our business, and client surveys bear this out.
We want to fill knowledge gaps (yours and ours) as quickly as possible. We value accuracy and speed over presentation and format.
That is why we focus on "just in time", not "just in case". Content is created in the context of the issues a client is facing this minute - in the context of a PMR. We're not building an encyclopedia, we are providing solutions. And we create those solutions at the time they are being demanded. We recognize that knowledge is more accurately captured at the moment of using it, not in attempting to recollect it accurately later, which is why we ask our support engineers to capture their knowledge use in the PMR workflow. Capturing knowledge for reuse is not something we do afterwards, if we get a spare minute. It is an integral part of the core business.
Everyone in Rational Client Support is a knowledge worker. And you win.
Today we spotlight Laurel Dickson-Bull. As a certified Project Management Professional, Laurel has her hands in a number of different programs at the leadership level, as you'll find below. But don't be fooled, she also has her hands in numerous hobbies and projects outside of work as well! Read on to learn more about Laurel's work and interests, and maybe you'll have something to chat about when you run into her during her numerous VoiCE events or other program collaborations!
Tell us a little about yourself: who are you, what is your role in Rational Client Support?
I am a Client Programs Manager, which means I run beta programs, Design Partner Programs and VoiCE Events.
How long have you been working for IBM and Rational?
I have worked for IBM 7 years. I like to say I am "heritage Rational", but the fact is I worked for Rational only two weeks before the IBM acquisition.
Have you had any other roles in Rational?
My first job in Rational/IBM was as the Globalization Program Manager for ClearCase and ClearQuest. This was before we started using the IBM Globalization processes. I managed the release of the first Japanese version of the products, fondly remembered by some as "McKinley-I".
What are you currently working on?
I am currently running a managed beta program for Rational Focal Point, a Design Partner Program for Rational Focal Point and Rational Project Conductor, setting up a Design Partner Program for Rational Insight and helping with the 2010 Workbench for CLM beta.
Describe a normal day for you.
I'm up at 6:00, walk the dog, make sure the kids are out the door, then drive 5 miles to work at the Littleton, Massachusetts Lab (I know I AM lucky to have such a short commute!). My work day consists of planning meetings with the product teams to set up client programs and monitor feedback. I spend a good deal of my time answering client questions, meeting with clients and preparing for client meetings. So I am on the phone a good deal. I love my headset! I collaborate a lot with the other client program managers in my team to improve our internal processes. We recently created a "process wiki" to document and share all of our team's processes, as well as a database to manage all our team data and metrics.
What project are you the most proud of?
I have had a lot of great experiences since I have been in the Client Programs team. Probably my proudest accomplishment is helping to grow the team. Managed beta, open beta, Design Partner and VoiCE (Voice of the Client Event) have become household words in Rational. Last year, I was fortunate to lead the first VoiCE events in China and Germany. It was a pleasure to build VoiCE from scratch in those geographies and to get to know the local marketing teams and the clients. Plus, I love to travel.
Are you a gadget person? What type of gadgets do you use?
I do like gadgets, but I tend to loose them. I had an iPod Nano (twice) that I loved, but alas, I lost it (twice). I haven't replaced the second one...
What gadget, which you currently own, can you not live without?
Is a car a gadget? I cannot imagine my summer commute without my 1995 Miata convertible.
What is your favorite part of working for Rational Client Support?
I like working with the customers and connecting them with colleagues who write, test and support our products. I also think the senior management in Support has a good sense of humor.
What inspires you in your work?
My current team inspires me. They are hard working, smart and inventive. It's amazing how the Client Programs team has grown in the last two years - from a small US team of three to an international team of nine. We expect to run about 30 beta programs and nearly 20 Design Partner Programs in 2010.
How do you define success?
Doing what you love, loving what you do and then watching your kids do it even better.
In your spare time, if you have any, what hobbies or activities interest you?
I like too many things... it's hard to get really good at anything. Right now my hobbies are community volunteer activities, gardening, reading, and I am learning to oil paint. My father painted, my sister and brother also both paint... I guess it was inevitable!
Do you have any big plans for the future?
I visited my son in Barcelona, Spain this spring. The Dali museum was unreal (actually, surreal). I adored the architecture of Antoni Gaudi in Barcelona: ( http
What is on your nightstand with regard to reading?
I just finished "The Unnamed" by Joshua Ferris. It was a strange book, but thought-provoking. I am currently reading "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo". It's a good summer read.
What future technology would make your life easier?
I would like to be able to use a transporter like on Star Trek. That way if we have extra food left over after a company barbecue we could send it immediately to hungry children anywhere in the world. I like to imagine that technology will help with things like that in the future.
What are you doing to make the planet smarter?
I am sending my three children to college! They should be smarter when they graduate.
How do you prefer to find answers to your questions?
I Google a lot. I visit Google news. For work-related things, I tend to SameTime or phone people. I am not shy about that. I think using the phone is underrated. We need to email less, talk more.
How are you using social networking today?
I use Facebook to keep up with family, friends, colleagues. Also Linked in for professional connections. I tried Tweeting for awhile, but I got bored with it. I use Lotus Communities extensively.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Paying my last tuition bill. Probably in another position at IBM, hopefully leading and growing a team. Working on the side as famous oil painter (ha!).