Interview with CA’s Jim Turcotte on the TSIA STAR Award for Innovative Support

Today I am pleased to bring to you an interview with our recent STAR Award winner for Innovative Support: Jim Turcotte, SVP of Technical Support, from CA Technologies, a $4.3 Billion IT management software and solutions company with expertise across all IT environments—from mainframe and physical to virtual and cloud. Innovative Support is one of my favorite categories; it is fantastic to see companies trying new and creative approaches to improving the customer experience.

John Ragsdale: Jim, congratulations on your STAR Award, and thanks for taking the time for this interview.

Jim Turcotte: Thank you, John. We’re very excited about the award, as well as the TSIA award for Value Added Support we won in the spring. Winning back to back awards brings a level of validation to our efforts.

John: Let’s start with a high level question. My experience is that some companies thrive on innovation while others remain very change phobic—it seems a part of corporate culture. From the amazing content of your STAR Award application, clearly CA Technologies embraces innovation. How does the corporate culture of CA Technologies encourage and reward innovation?

Jim: At CA Technologies, we’re very focused on transforming our culture to one of innovation. In fact, I’m participating on an innovation panel in Tampa, Florida with CA’s top technical leaders. We also recently launched Idea Tree, a program to evaluate and nurture Innovation.

You need to recognize and reward innovation. And that’s the great thing about winning the TSIA STAR Award for Innovative Support—it recognizes the innovative work of the people of CA Support. It’s motivating and helps drive our culture of innovation.

John: Let’s get into some of the detail of your STAR Award application, which does a great job of describing innovation in all areas of support operations—people, process and technology. I want to start with the people side. You have a great program in place and a pretty sweet reward and recognition system for employees. Could you talk about the Integrated CA Support Employee Programs?

Jim: You’re only as good as your team, so we focus on programs to help us attract, board and retain great people—people who delight our customers. We view these programs as an  investment—not an expense—that pays big dividends in customer satisfaction and loyalty.

First and foremost, we are getting much better at attracting the right kind of people. Tests show us that Support Engineers need two key traits. The first is a desire to help people. Second, you must love solving problems. These are basic concepts. But support organizations often hire engineers based more on their technical skills than their soft skills. Once hired, we work to rapidly assimilate the new engineers into our family through our buddy program, welcome kits, executive touch points and class communities.

Last but not but least, you need to retain. Our attrition rate is just 3%, compared to a rate of 12% for the industry. Besides our rewards and other integrated programs you mentioned, our greatest successes come from Standing Ovation. This new program is changing our culture to one of empowering our engineers to delight our customers. Managers tend to spend too much effort directing and not enough time enabling and empowering. Standing Ovation is giving our engineers the freedom to exercise their own judgment, resourcefulness and creativity to solve issues.

John: I think that process innovation may be the toughest area for many companies—changing processes that have been in place for many years. You have had great success with a new program called “Go Live with CA Technologies,” which not only speeds time to value and consumption of products for customers, but also appears to be a great opportunity for Value Added Services. Could you talk about the “Go Live with CA Technologies” program?

Jim: I think everyone agrees the software industry needs to help customers both reduce time to value and realize greater value. Similar to employees, one needs to attract, board, and retain customers. So we made significant investments in technology, processes and talented people and created Go Live with CA Technologies. This program helps us to focus on boarding (reduce time to value) and increasing retention by helping customers realize more value. Go Live with CA Technologies is a four-stage roadmap for proactively assisting customers:

  1. Get Me Started: Personal one-on-one with the customer to guide the initial project setup and relationship.
  2. Set Me Up: Proactive implementation monitoring and guidance. Our Go Live command center provides 24×7 monitoring of weekend moves-to-production.
  3. Roll it Out: 90 day stabilization period with heightened issue monitoring.
  4. Get More Out of It: Programs that help our customers understand how to leverage under-utilized features.

John: While your award application demonstrated leadership across the board, you scored highest in the innovative use of technology with your Labs on Demand. Can you elaborate?

Jim: Many issues can only be diagnosed and resolved in the customer’s unique and complex environment. But replicating customer environments on our own local labs was slow and costly. CA Support now uses Labs on Demand (LOD): a sophisticated on demand private cloud. Our Support Engineers can dial up an image on demand and be diagnosing a customer’s problems in much less time. In many cases, we maintain pre-built images in our LOD Library for even faster problem resolution.

John: Nearly a third of my member inquiries over the last year concerned knowledge management tools and processes, and this is an area CA has definitely figured out. In less than two years, your program for measuring and rewarding knowledge creation, Write for Success, has quadrupled the creation of knowledge and has big impacts on customer satisfaction with your online knowledgebase. Could you give us some information on “Write for Success” and how the program has impacted problem resolution times?

Jim: Write for Success rewards both support engineers and teams for creating knowledge content based on issues they’ve resolved. Awards include Write for Success certificates, which our support engineers proudly display on their office walls, and financial incentives. With a program like Write for Success, it’s very important to ensure quality and not just quantity.

John: To win a STAR Award, you not only have to have great results, you need to be able to tell your story in a compelling way. I think your STAR Award application was a real winner on many levels. Of course your results were impressive, but the judges were also very pleased with the application itself—results and impacts are clearly stated, you used lots of great examples, and there was also a very personal angle by including anecdotes about support employees, like Kevin Harrison and the Earn Awards program, and Tom, the support engineer working diligently to resolve complex problems. Could you talk a bit about your approach to the award application, and how you pulled together such an impressive entry?

Jim: The award category had a strong linkage to our passion around Innovation as you mentioned earlier. If you really have passion for something, demonstrating the efforts and results almost seem effortless. It clearly helps to have a great team that clearly is proud of their achievements and welcome an opportunity to share their work in these kind of award forums. My thanks to TSIA for providing this opportunity!

John: Jim, it has been a real pleasure chatting with you about your STAR Award win for Innovative Support. Thanks for taking the time to share your wisdom with TSIA members!

Jim: Thanks for the invitation, John.

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