GUEST COLUMN: Taking responsibility for the care
July 6, 2012
A few months ago, I talked about how marketing and operations must work together in order to maximize their casino tracking system features. Now I’d like to talk about the individuals who administer and implement our system features. How many of us have been stuck in limbo when our system “super users” are re-assigned or leave our organization? Believe me, I’ve been there and it is maddening hunting down system settings, permission rights and system specs. Doesn’t it always seem to happen during peak seasons when we are tight on resources and our biggest promotions or product installs are looming on the horizon?
We as operators put a great deal of time and effort into the research, selection and installation of our casino tracking systems. At some time or another every department or division is involved in this process. But then, kind of like the day after New Year’s, we leave it to “someone else” to clean-up and get things back in order and keep them in order.
We have to put as much effort into our system related human resources as we do our system related infrastructure.
I believe our system vendors do a very good job in conducting training during installation and with support after installation. I also believe that no vendor can anticipate our unique property challenges or replicate our unique property advantages, so their training and support is a little broader than we’d like.
We as operators should take advantage of our vendors’ methods and use them as models for managing our specific systems effectively.
I see system frustration on both the vendor-to-operator side and on the operator-to-vendor side. I think both sides can agree that some of our frustrations are self-inflicted. Simply put, we are crazy busy and our new systems are supposed to give us a competitive advantage, not bog us down with bugs, errors and work-arounds. In our system’s defense… are we doing our part to avoid those pit-falls?
I approach a system as I would any department in an operation. The system has tools and mechanisms that must be serviced and maintained. The system has inventory that must be tracked and updated. The system has a large variety of users that must be reviewed and trained. Today’s systems do not “belong” or reside in any one department, so it’s imperative that we get our hands around the processes and may benefit from its remarkable features.
I recommend taking a three pronged approach to effectively manage your system:
• Project or system management-this process is the most important during installation and upgrades. The best project managers and project management teams are un-biased diplomats with laser sharp communication and follow-up skills who have the best grasp on the entire operation’s needs as regards to the system. Keep in mind, these individuals do not necessarily have to come from within your IT departments, they do however, need to have the time and resources to keep your installations and upgrades on deadlines and within budget as needed.
• System support and maintenance-this process covers the broadest spectrum of duties. This team will compile and/or create training tools and programs by integrating vendor training materials with organization’s training materials and formats. This team will be responsible for updating and/or amending any internal controls associated with the system. Regularly scheduled system evaluations should happen under this team to ensure settings are accurate, user right permissions are up-to-date and system features are functioning properly across all departments.
• Department specific system protocol-each department will have very clear objectives and processes as relates to their system use. Specialized training and pass-down instructions will be maintained within the department and stored in the correct formats in common department files. Super-users will be identified within each department and will be responsible for coordinating specialized training and communicating with system support as needed. Job duties or responsibilities will be updated to reflect position specifics as relates to the system.
I’m sure many of you already have aspects of this approach in place, if you don’t, this is a great time to take a look at your processes and make sure your “bases are covered” when it comes to your system management. Canvas your teams and gauge their skill sets and comfort levels as relates to system use. Make sure your lines of communication between departments and vendors are “obstacle-free,” train like crazy and keep consistent practices in place.