Why Dell IT Went All In on Workforce Personas

How Dell IT is using workforce personas and team member experience data to better support its people.

When it comes to providing tools and technology to today’s increasingly hybrid workforce, one size doesn’t fit all. And what does fit the needs of your team members today, may not fit tomorrow.

It is a realization that inspired Dell IT’s Team Member Experience organization (TMX) to transform the way we serve our 130,000 team members across Dell Technologies, from the workforce personas we use to define their needs to the way we leverage data to respond when those needs change—as they have dramatically in the past few years.

Of course, knowing your workforce is the key to delivering the ultimate team member experience. And since personas are the cornerstone of knowing your workforce, we started our transformation by honing this critical design tool. 

Keeping Workforce Personas Evergreen

A persona is a fictional character that IT creates based on research to represent the different types of users of IT services and products.

After years of team member surveys, focus groups and shadowing people in their jobs, Dell Digital, Dell’s IT organization, became proficient at using personas to determine the right set of tools and technologies to best meet team member needs in their roles. When COVID-19  prompted a sudden shift to a home-based workforce,  we learned that business needs and workforce needs can change with the snap of a finger.

We have since returned to a flexible hybrid workforce where team members still work from home more often, but the office remains an essential environment. That means we need to ensure we provide the tools that meet the way people work, wherever they are.

We needed a better way to let TMX personas keep pace with changing demands and priorities. We leveraged a comprehensive study by Dell’s Client Solutions Group (CSG) and insights from Dell Services to tap into hybrid workforce trends and redefine our personas. We then invested in telemetry tools to create a proactive support model that would correlate systems and satisfaction data to keep our persona practice evergreen and relevant going forward.

The result is a modern set of tools and processes, for not only equipping team members with the right devices, but also monitoring their experiences to identify and correct any challenges that arise. TMX is now able to recognize emerging trends for each worker persona and be more proactive and agile in addressing business teams’ needs.

A little more than a year into this transformation, we have garnered some of the highest team member satisfaction scores for technology services and products that we have ever achieved in the five years that TMX began measuring CSAT. The overall CSAT score climbed from 50 to 80 percent after deploying the new solution. We expect to see even greater team member satisfaction as we continue to deploy persona-driven technology through its normal life cycle processes.

Graphic illustrating key performance benefits of Dell Technolgies IT Workforce Persona adoption.

Our TMX Evolution 

Over the years, TMX has evolved our use of personas to determine the equipment we supply to team members, as workforce trends, user roles and demands have changed.

Several years ago, the TMX team realized we needed to develop a framework in which we could better understand our workforce to more effectively serve their technology needs. Prior to that, we followed industry practices by supplying each team member with a single standard device, regardless of what they did or what they needed. Applications were also constrained and standardized. The resulting team member satisfaction ratings were low.

As a global company, Dell had many different roles, responsibilities, functions and locations to accommodate. TMX began its effort with team member surveys, then added focus groups and first-hand observation of various jobs to gain insights into categories, needs and friction points. Our original personas were focused around executive and outside sales, inside sales and core knowledge workers and backbone corporate services. Location and mobility were important factors.

Instead of giving everybody the same PC, we began to match PCs and peripherals with individuals based on their function, role and location.

We realized that if people have the right-fitted technology, their satisfaction will be higher, no matter what system, low-end or high-end, as long as it is suitable. We refined the process and gained positive team member feedback.

In partnership with HR, TMX also incorporated personas into its onboarding process to automatically provide the right hardware to new hires and those assuming new roles. Using personas has also improved cost management since it eliminated the need to field custom requests and service nonstandard equipment.

Keeping Pace with Today’s Changes 

Despite our previous success, the sudden shift to a remote workforce and the subsequent reintroduction of the office environment significantly altered our team members’ priorities. We realized we needed to revise our persona strategy.

Our research underscored the fact that those previously agreed-on personas had changed in this hybrid, flexible working environment that we’re now in.

Home-based workers, for example, required more video capability support but less mobility. Battery life was no longer as important. As the workforce subsequently became more hybrid, team member priorities shifted yet again to technologies and tools that accommodate a mix of home, office and mobile work.

TMX continues to review our personas to modernize and update them as ways of working evolve. We have also established a Voice of the Team Member Center of Excellence, which features listening posts to enable us drive changes based on what we hear. We have also combined in-house and third-party telemetry tools to gather and analyze data and feedback.

TMX became an early adopter of modern personas developed by the CSG team, which had researched evolving workforce roles and macro trends happening across many customers as part of a two-year study. We also worked closely with Dell Services on aligning personas with consultancy offerings.

TMX both simplified and refined our personas, removing location as a factor. Our ongoing goal is to provide a set of tools that offer every single employee the optimal experience, from the right PC and peripherals to the overall work ecosystem.

We are now able to get ahead of evolving workforce needs before they become critical and before our competitors can find the same trend, a capability we can use to our competitive advantage. 

Interested in bringing hybrid work solutions or a personas-led approach to your own organization? You can learn more by reading our case study, visiting Workforce Persona Services or by contacting your Dell Technologies Sales Representative.

JP Glick

About the Author: JP Glick

JP is an experienced IT practitioner with a demonstrated history of deploying technologies which enhance the team member experience in the areas of mobility, desktop computing, messaging and unified communications. He currently leads the Team Member Experience IT team and is driving company-wide programs focused on Digital Workplace transformation for Dell’s 130K team members. JP has previously held roles leading Mobility, Mobile Application Development and Team Member Services Operations.