Focusing on three highly regulated markets – defence, emergency services and civil nuclear – Babcock is a leading provider of critical, complex engineering services which support national defence, save lives and protect communities. They are a business that are undeniably at the cutting edge of solutions for clients so it is no surprise that they have incredibly strict protocols around IT security.
Working with restricted networks presents particular challenges when establishing a digital workplace within a business like Babcock – it really isn’t as straightforward as rolling out a cloud based SaaS solution with an ESN. We caught up with Cassy Freeman who is a process automation and Nintex expert and now, also, their digital workplace lead.
“I joined the marine division of Babcock as an IT graduate back in 2007 working on web development projects. On returning from maternity leave I moved to the central IT team specialising in a SharePoint role focused on process automation and became a bit of a Nintex specialist. A year ago, I became Digital Workplace Lead with a remit that includes both solution delivery and enablement. I’m passionate about both!”
Improving the reputation of IT
Cassy continues, “There is so much brilliant stuff that the IT team do every day, but the business doesn’t see it!” We often hear the case that in large and complex organisations, the central IT team are not viewed as favourably as they could or should be, being seen as the department who ‘throw technology over the fence’ and take ages to respond to queries via a faceless ticketed service desk process. While Cassy accepts this broad stereotype, she is keen to stress that it’s not the case at Babcock. Having said that, she adds, “I see part of my job is to improve further the reputation of the central IT team by enabling the business to do more themselves with the technology tools we have available, and by putting a face to our IT team – quite literally, getting out from behind the service desks and getting out and about in the business.”
Putting a face on IT
An important part of establishing a true digital workplace is to reduce the reliance on the service desk. To do this, Cassy knows that she needs to build a community of capable and interested ambassadors across the business. At Babcock these are known as Citizen Developers and Cassy has kick-started a programme to bring staff members together who want to know more about building business-wide IT capability. It’s just a step along the way to a digital workplace.
“I began by inviting those with Nintex access to be part of a community within SharePoint. We have a monthly WebEx call which takes the form of a Q&A. We have c60 active members in the community at the moment and hoping this will grow – especially as we progress through our UK tour!”
Digital workplace UK tour
There are all sorts of challenges and obstacles to overcome in time, but Cassy is not to be deterred. She is determined to make the best of what they have. “We already have a suite of tools available in the business – all part of our digital workplace – which, if people know about them and understand what they do, can make their working lives more efficient. Things like OneNote, Harmon.ie, Outlook, Power BI, Nintex, MS Project are all brilliant tools if you know that we have them and you know how to use them. The point of the digital workplace tour is to raise awareness of these excellent tools, and build understanding so that, as a business, we are getting real business value out of the technology at our disposal.”
The digital workplace UK tour will eventually take in over 31 UK sites making time for local Citizen Developers to share their stories, air their concerns and update their skills.
Cassy continues, “Our team have created materials that demonstrate the benefits of these tools and the plan is to have a full day event at each location with a combination of demos, presentations, Q&A sessions and drop -in surgeries so that staff can get what they want and need out of the day.”
Getting the message out
“One of the aims of the tour is to demonstrate the mobile capability that we have and which, for the most part, people don’t know about and don’t use. We will be using iPads at all the sessions to gather feedback and provide analysis (via a Nintex form!) post the events.”
While Cassy has the comms managers across the business on board, the project is very much driven by her own team. News bulletins via email and on the company intranet are the main channels, supported by some LinkedIn activity too. The team have designed their own tour tee shirts, and when I spoke to Cassy she was busy laminating posters!
Shifting the balance
From a business perspective, Cassy’s team is a delivery team: in other words, it makes money by providing IT services to its internal customers. Choosing to focus on the enablement aspect of the role, rather than solution delivery, is quite a departure but one that is fully endorsed by her management team who are fully supportive and very encouraging, recognising that Cassy is ahead of the curve in terms of engaging with their customers. “This is really a big culture change for Babcock,” insists Cassy. “Getting out and about and bringing technology to life for all our internal customers is an important step along the way to realising our digital workplace. Building greater capability in our people to be self-sufficient with the tools available to them and reducing the reliance on a traditional IT service desk culture, can only be a good thing for the business.”
Summing up the project as the UK tour gets underway, Cassy concludes, “I could not be more proud of the team as we embark on the first ever Digital Workplace UK tour at Babcock. We will be visiting the sites over a period of months in a bid to make ourselves visible and let our customers know what we can do for them and what we can help them do for themselves. It’s so important to make time for and build relationships with customers (internal or external) and listen to their needs. We are excited to hear about the amazing things our customers are already doing with the technology they have, and we are ready to enable the business to improve their use of these tools to become more efficient.”
The feedback so far has been “really awesome” and Cassy has been overwhelmed by the direct response from the business. “It is clear that this has been needed for some time so let’s hope it’s a success and we can continue to run events of this nature and build better relationships across the board.”
Post by Alison Boothby