Rick Herman, the new director of WashU IT End User Services (EUS), is just beginning to settle into his new role, but has already taken steps to understand the challenge ahead by talking to staff. In this interview, he discusses his first few weeks in the role and his optimistic outlook for the future of EUS and WashU IT.
What’s your first impression of the EUS group so far?
Great group! Everyone I’ve spoken with really wants to do a good job. I’m trying to meet as many people as I can. I think it’s really important for me to know everyone and understand what they do. This is a complex organization and everyone has a role that impacts someone else. Understanding all of those interactions is important for us to work smart.
Have you had the chance to meet with your direct reports?
I have had a one-on-one with every direct report. I’ve also had one meeting with the larger group of direct reports and managers. The directors and managers within EUS are dedicated to our success and I appreciate their input.
Have you defined short and long term goals for EUS (3, 6, 9 month)? If so, what are they?
I’m still in the evaluation stages. I officially started on August 16th. We have set one goal to reduce the average age of incidents in EUS over the next 90 days. There will be more information on how we are going to get there coming soon. At this point, I’m still getting to know people and understanding the organization. What I can say is that I think we are on the right path. There has been a lot of change and the focus of our organization is not as crisp as it should be. We may be splintering our time on various initiatives. I expect that over the next several weeks, I can highlight the priorities so that our efforts can be focused.
Is it your plan to ‘stay the course’ started by the previous EUS executive director?
Yes, for the short term. As I meet more people and learn more, I expect that there will be adjustments. I think it will be more of an evolution rather than a revolution. There are some processes that may need to be re-evaluated and as the SITS program moves ahead, there are opportunities for us to develop and make incremental improvement. We need to focus our efforts.
As the organization moves toward metrics-based success factors, what KPIs will you focus on improving in the next few months?
Ticket age is the current focus. The idea is to take a simple metric, the age of an incident, and reduce. I’d like to better understand how we can resolve our customer’s issues and close incidents in a timely way. It seems that incidents are either closed quickly or they get stuck and age. I think it is worth some study to understand why some incidents get stuck and what we need to do to get them moving again.
EUS is a large team. How do you plan to communicate with the team and ensure that key messages are cascaded accurately and regularly?
I expect to make rounds on a regular basis. In addition to regular meetings with the direct reports and managers, I would like to be invited to staff meetings. I’m a talker, so I’ll be around and looking for good conversation.
What past experience can you bring to be successful in your new role?
Most recently, I was the IS Director for Neurology. We were a small group with limited resources and a requirement to support a large group of physicians, researchers, and staff. Having worked at the Medical School for about eight years total, I feel that I understand that environment. In my most recent job prior to WashU, I worked for a medium sized law firm. For those nine years ,I learned a lot. Over that time I had financial, HR, and construction management responsibilities in addition to IT. The job was very diverse. While it didn’t make me an expert in HR or finance, it certainly gave me a broad experience which I think will benefit WashU IT.
What are you most looking forward to in this new role?
I really enjoy working with people. Please, if you see me out and about and we have not met, say “Hello.” We have so many dedicated and creative members of our team. While there are challenges and room for growth in all organizations, we have the advantage of our teammates to make it all work. The work ahead may be difficult, but we have the right people to be successful.