Recognize The Importance Of Operators

Posted by Murray Wilson Sat, 06 Feb 2010 18:45:00 GMT

In a column entitled Change: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly in TVTechnology, PBS Chief Technology Integration Officer Andre V. Mendes reminds us to appreciate the broadcast operators that have to run newly-built facilities, because human interaction with the new technology is a crucial consideration in any successful venture.

In a column entitled Change: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly on www.tvtechnology.com, PBS Chief Technology Integration Officer Andre V. Mendes reminds us to appreciate the broadcast operators that have to run newly-built facilities, because human interaction with the new technology is a crucial consideration in a successful venture.

Mr. Mendes, like many others, notes that the pace of technology innovation is lightening fast, and while thrilling, it does present huge technological challenges to senior management. But also remember the people who make the technology work day in and day out. As Mr. Mendes explains:

It is not unusual that those of us with a technical background effectively become inured to the constant change. By virtue of our professions, we have to study these issues, analyze the requirements, design new workflows, finely detail the user interfaces and lay out implementation schedules. Quite often, in the midst of all this frenetic activity, we forget about our end users.

These are the often-ignored people that day after day, week after week, sit with us in conference rooms sharing every intimate detail of their current workflow as we jointly strive to remove inefficiencies brought about by years, sometimes decades, of changing business requirements.

Mr. Mendes also recognizes that managers sometimes view these end users with some apprehension:

These are the unrecognized heroes of technological implementations who, unfortunately, sometimes get branded as uncooperative and change-averse, as they struggle to understand a new operational paradigm, an unfamiliar user interface, and a whole new set of field names, acronyms, applications and ways of doing business.

We at tps have been fortunate enough to train many operators onsite at their facility, and we are almost always greeted by people eager to learn and run what the engineering teams have built. Typically there is a mix of older, more knowledgeable engineers and younger, less experienced individuals in the audience. The seasoned people are so helpful! They have seen immense change in broadcast television distribution, yet they are smart enough to know that certain underlying principles never change. These engineers are very aware that the constant business goal is to get more and more programming into a smaller and smaller pipeline, and they are rapidly learning the transition from broadcast to IP.

Usually the younger students have more of an IT background, and less broadcast experience. So they blend their formal education training with the experienced engineer’s acquired skill-set, and the new facility runs more smoothly because of this combined knowledge base.

It’s important to involve operations staff in the planning and design stages early on if the hiring schedule allows it. These new employees should definitely help write operational procedures based on the meticulous workflows, and then they must be trained fully to help make system hand-off a success. This multi-step approach to operational readinesss works well, and operators will invest their full effort if they feel part of the overall team. As Mr. Mendes insightfully states:

So, if your organization is heavily involved in a transformation, and if you recognize yourself or some of your end users in any of the previous lines, make sure at the next joint meeting to take a few moments to thank them for their help in the entire process. You may surprise or even stun them, but I am positive that they will appreciate it. In the end, that simple acknowledgement will go a long way to ensure that your current and future projects will have a much better chance at success.

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