The role of a CSCF Point of Contact has been documented.
It follows from our definition of a Point of Contact that CSCF clients will have certain expectations with regard to how CSCF staff communicate with their clients. If we fail to meet these expectations, then we lose our clients' confidence. When we lose the confidence of our clients, then we have failed as an organization. So, it's critical that we do our best in meeting the expectations of our clients.
The guidelines below are intended to assist CSCF staff, who serve as Points of Contact, in meeting our obligations.
When a new request is made in person, by phone, or by e-mail, you should stop what you are doing and do the following:
- Make an ST item for the request. Even if you think it won't take you very long to complete the request, unless you complete what was asked of you within a few hours of the request being made and you don't have to track the time worked, make an ST item. A good rule of thumb is that even if you don't have to track the amount of time spent working on the request, if the request is not completed within two to three hours of the request being made, then there should be an ST item for that request. We need to avoid having unacknowledged requests sitting in voice-mail or e-mail for longer than a day.
- Assess when you think the job will be completed. It's critical that you be realistic. It's OK to not know, since we often run into things we haven't seen before. If you think the request is outrageous (i.e. it will take a substantial amount of effort), talk to your manager. Your manager may have to consult with the Director and we may have to politely decline the request.
- Contact the requestor within one business day of the request being made to confirm that you have received the request.
- Determine the importance of the item by asking the requestor how critical the item is and in what timeframe the item needs to be completed. The request may have a deadline. You may run into the situation where you have multiple super-important items from different requestors with the same deadlines. If and when this happens, try to negotiate deadlines with the requestors. There will likely be a consensus among requestors that job X is more important than job Y. Also, requestors may be able to prioritize their own outstanding requests. If you are still having difficulty, ask your manager for help. Jobs may need to be re-assigned to other staff members or we may need to explain to someone how difficult it would be to complete their request on time.
- If you are asked how long a job will take, provide an estimate as best you can.
- If there's going to be a delay in starting the job, or in continuing the job, as in "I probably won't be able to start this this week, but I should be able to do so by the end of the month.", then let the requestor know.
- Make sure you update ST with the due date, if there is one, as well as any other details that pertain to the relative importance of the item.
It's important that we keep our clients current on the status of open unresolved requests. The frequency of updates may vary depending on how critical the work is or how close to a deadline you're at. Here are some guidelines to help you:
- Make regular ST updates, and mail updates regarding progress or obstacles to the requestor.
- Mind your due dates!! Review your ST queue regularly and look for items with approaching due dates.
- Be honest! If you think you are not going to meet a deadline, let the requestor know immediately. This will give the requestor the chance to make alternate arrangements. Even if you think you'll barely make a deadline, let the requestor know so that there is time to develop a "Plan B".
- Consider meeting regularly (eg. weekly, monthly) with groups or individuals to review open requests.
Before you mark an item "done", make sure that you consult with the requestor to verify that the original requirements of the item have been met.
jatestar - 2004/10/28