Julie Forsythe, VP of Engineering at Auvik Networks, is here to share how using a Top 10 list helps build efficiency, cohesion and job satisfaction on a technical team. Before Auvik, Julie spent years managing technical teams in a number of environments, including BlackBerry. She has loads of experience driving efficiency on these teams.

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Driving IT Productivity With a Top 10 List: Interview With Julie Forsythe

Julie Forsythe, VP Engineering, Auvik Networks
Julie Forsythe, Auvik Networks

[01:40] Technical experts are so critical—it’s important to ensure they’re enabled for efficiency. It’s up to the leader to prioritize with all of the stakeholders so that objectives are met.

[03:01] Planning is also important for service desks, because they do have projects that they work on and those projects need to be prioritized.

[03:47] The Auvik engineering department plans on a quarterly basis. It’s important to share a very clear vision about what needs to be accomplished. Having a Top 10 list helps prioritize where to spend resources. If a high priority is in jeopardy, you know you can re-allocate resources from the 9 and 10 projects.

[04:41] At Auvik, there’s a single Top 10 list across all the engineering teams. Return on investment and customer needs are discussed to prioritize the list.

[06:01] The IT department also has a road map of what they need to do for backend maintenance and modernization.

[07:16] Usually there’s an agreed-upon time split between projects for the broader organizational and projects for IT and infrastructure.

[08:52] It’s important for your stakeholders to understand and buy into the identified priorities.

[10:13] The Top 10 list provides clarity about what’s going to be delivered. Everyone is on the same page about what’s going to get accomplished, and what isn’t possible given time and resource constraints.

[11:14] Having priorities reduces a lot of frustration by being transparent.

[12:38] Technical team members get to spend 5% of their time on personal development. There’s also 5% of their time allocated towards administrative tasks. An additional 10% of their time is allocated for quick wins or the inevitable interruptions that come up.

[14:05] There have been times when stakeholders have had challenges coming to agreement on the list priorities. They’ve gotten past this through additional and high-level conversations.

[16:01] The Top 10 list helps with budgeting and resourcing. You’ll find your stakeholders may actually advocate for you to have more resources so their projects can get done.

[17:07] It’s better to have everyone lean in and work together to develop priorities even if there’s friction in the process or it feels difficult. Julie likes to use the three Es: enablement, engagement, and investing in experts.

[18:27] Using the Gallup Q12 questions helps leaders understand how employees are feeling and see if they understand the vision they’re working towards and what they need to be wildly successful.

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