What’s New on Kinetic Community – July 2014 July 24, 2014 No Comments

Kinetic Community is the information and interaction hub for users of Kinetic Data software. It’s the place to find and discuss product documentation, videos, presentations, training class materials, downloads, example service items, task handlers, bundles, bridges and more–as well as presentations and training materials from the 2014 Kinetic Enthusiasts Group (KEG) event.

Kinetic Community
Here is what’s new on the site since our last blog update:

Kinetic Request – Migrating from Dev to Prod (July 18, 2014)

This short video demonstrates how to migrate a service item from development to production.

Kinetic Request – Migrating from Dev to Prod from Kinetic Data on Vimeo.

VMWare Handlers (July 17, 2014)

A collection of 14 handlers useful for interacting with VMWare VSphere, including VMWare VSphere Virtual Machine Check Status (given a task id, the handler checks the current status of that task) and VMWare VSphere Virtual Machine Clone (clones the given virtual machine).

Imgur Image Upload  (July 17, 2014)

This handler uses the REST Imgur API to upload a file to your Imgur account. Before using any Imgur handler for the first time, you will need to obtain a refresh token to connect to the account (instructions included here). After doing that, the handler will connect to that account and then upload the image. Title, Description, and the Album are all optional attributes.

Infoblox Create Record (July 17, 2014)

This handler uses the REST Infoblox API to create an A record (with the possibility to also create a PTR record). After configuring the handler with the URL where the Infoblox server is hosted at along with the username and password of an account with the correct permissions, the handler will start to build the hash of information to send to Infoblox.

BladeLogic CLI Handler (July 17, 2014)

The BladeLogic Command Run handler allows you to run most CLI commands against a BladeLogic app server. It accomplishes this by using the CLI Tunnel included with the BladeLogic web services.

Listing AD Groups for a User When Only SAMAccountName is Known (July 11, 2014)

First challenge: List all of the Active Directory groups the logged in user belongs to in a menu Second challenge: Do this only knowing their short/’samaccount’ username This article addresses both these issues at once, showing how to search the AD for groups, and how to do it when only knowing the SAMAccount username.

Kinetic Request Submission Format Answers HTML (June 26, 2014)

Builds a simple text and HTML result strings by formatting a specified subset of answers for the source Kinetic Request submission. To specify the answers to be formatted, various labels can be configured (the answers will be sequenced in the normal page order of their corresponding questions); for example, a starting question menu label (if the starting question is not provided, the first question of the service item will be used).

Kinetic Helper Record Create v2 (June 26, 2014)

Creates a record with the specified values in the KS_SRV_Helper form. This can be used, in conjunction with the other helper record handlers, to store data about a service item.

To learn more, check out all recent updates and resource additions on Kinetic Community.

Enterprise Service Integration: It’s Not Just About Data July 22, 2014 No Comments

In today’s complex technology landscape, organizations are challenged to consistently improve service delivery while reducing costs. The competitive marketplace requires enterprises to have the agility to address changing business needs quickly and effectively.

Enterprise service integration with Kinetic TaskShared-service models are the corporate norm in efforts to scale service delivery models. These shared service groups (e.g., HR, facilities, finance, operations, and IT) are using large-scale software systems designed to handle specialized requirements while meeting compliance and regulatory needs.

There is an evolving demand for integrated automation strategies to provide key business services across the enterprise. It’s not just about integrating data, it’s about delivering effective service.

A new white paper from Kinetic Data, Enterprise Service Integration with Kinetic Task, explains why service integration is a better approach than data integration, and outlines how the Kinetic Task automation engine enables service integration across the enterprise in a scalable, flexible, and manageable manner.

Long gone are the days of “single vendor” solutions for management and control across the enterprise. Organizations today utilize specialized applications for finance and accounting, HR, IT service management, supply chain management, and other functions. These applications not only come from different vendors, but often run on different operating systems, on different hardware, on-premises or in the cloud.

Point-to-point data integration is one approach to connecting applications, but is difficult to scale and nightmarish to maintain.

Allowing specialized applications to be used in a service-oriented architecture (SOA) is widely regarded as a better approach. By providing a centralized hub for service design and integration, companies benefit in several ways.  Integrations are now manageable, centralized, and standardized across the enterprise. Not only can data be integrated across systems, but approvals, notifications, and messaging can be centrally managed via a workflow automation engine.

Kinetic Task can connect to any application or database to extend the benefits of BPA to any processes across the enterprise. The engine is designed to be extended not only to COTS systems but to any system that can communicate via common methodologies such as APIs, Web Services, REST, or SOAP. This strategy applies to both triggering systems and systems involved in the fulfillment or completion of the process.

Download the white paper Enterprise Service Integration with Kinetic Task to learn more.

The Four Essential Elements for Successful IT Projects July 15, 2014 No Comments

Though IT projects (and projects in general, for that matter) can fail for any number of reasons, four ingredients are vital and common to all successful projects. Research and experience have shown that having all of these elements in place greatly improves the odds of success, while the absence of any one dramatically increases the risk of failure.

The 4 essential elements of successful IT projectsThe first and most fundamental requirement for success is that the stakeholders in the project have to want it to succeed. This may seem so blatantly obvious as to be not worth mentioning, as IT projects in general are designed to alleviate some sort of corporate pain. But stakeholders may consciously or unconsciously create barriers to success if they don’t understand the project or are simply resistant to change. You can lead a horse to water, but…

Chris Rixon summarizes this nicely in a post on BMC Communities, writing “While it’s crucial that all stakeholders believe in the mandate for change, they are more likely to be invested if they want it to happen,” and that wanting the change improves other aspects of project execution including problem-solving and teamwork.

So how does one instill this desire among stakeholders? It isn’t enough merely to ask people what they want. As with microwave ovens in the 70s, VCRs in the 80s, web browsers in the 90s, and smartphones in the 00s, people didn’t know they wanted these new-to-the-world products until they were developed.

Understanding wants therefore requires some ability to anticipate what users will embrace. It also means “bringing them along for the ride,” involving users early on in defining goals and metrics. As Chris put this in his post, “Invite all team members to define a shared view of success, and you may be surprised to find that even the most hardened skeptics will temper their objections. Their participation is vital to reinforcing the vision and its credibility.”

But the ultimate in creating that want is to empower users to do things for themselves. People take pride in creation (for example, if anyone has ever served you a salad containing vegetables they grew themselves, they almost certainly made a point of telling you those veggies came straight from the garden).

In the IT project world, an example is mapping business processes as part of an enterprise request management (ERM) implementation. Enabling business process owners (e.g., finance or HR managers) to design, test, modify, and deploy their own service fulfillment processes, with minimal IT assistance, increases efficiency and accelerates the rollout of new services, while increasing adoption through that pride in creation.

The second requirement for project success is belief that it can succeed. The U.S. scientific community accepted President Kennedy’s 1961 challenge to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade because, as audacious as the goal was, they had confidence it could be done. Had he asked for, say, room-temperature nuclear fusion in the same timeframe, the scientific response would likely have been less enthusiastic.

One of the most effective ways to demonstrate viability is through an agile approach. For example, the goal in ERM of using a single portal to manage any type of service request, from all shared-services groups across an enterprise, can seem daunting at first. Taking an agile approach to service management—starting with just one or a few processes or services, then building upon early successes—reinforces confidence in scaling request management horizontally across the organization.

The third essential element for success is collaboration. Successful projects require high-functioning teams, which Chris characterizes as ” small, yet focused and inclusive,” including individuals with expertise in project management, relevant IT specialties and business functions, and service delivery management.

The ideal size for the project team will vary by project scope and complexity. But teamwork is in our DNA, and we recommend forming teams that are as small as feasible, as large as needed, and as passionate as possible.

The final ingredient needed for project success is resources. No project can succeed without adequate levels and the right mix of people, time, space, equipment, outside help, and technology.

IT projects, unfortunately, have a reputation for going over budget. According to management consulting firm McKinsey, nearly half of all IT projects (and two-thirds of software projects) exceed their initial budget allotments.

Three keys to help assure adequate resource allocations without busting the budget are:

  • Keeping teams—and thus staff time and cost—as small as feasible (which has the added bonus of making them more manageable and likely to succeed).
  • Using an agile methodology, enabling “quick wins” and proof of value before substantial budget or time investments are made.
  • Leveraging existing technology wherever possible. For example, the ERM approach to business service delivery focuses on leveraging existing investments in software and related organizational knowledge wherever possible, for functions like scheduling, messaging, costing, reporting, and analytics.

Every new project entails some risk of failure. But to avoid all risk would mean avoiding opportunities to grow and improve. By ensuring that projects clearly address the wants of stakeholders, inspire confidence, optimize collaboration, and have adequate resources, organizations can maximize the odds of project and operational success.

Learn more:

The Best Service Catalog Tools, Featuring Gartner Insight July 8, 2014 No Comments

Organizations implementing request management portals for an IT service catalog or broader enterprise request management (ERM) have numerous vendor options to consider. Which offering is best in any individual situation depends of course on the specific needs of that company or government agency.

The decision process generally starts with research, and such research often includes evaluating reviews conducted by leading industry analysts. How does Kinetic Request compare to competitive systems in such evaluations?

Gartner Service Catalog Critical Capabilities ReportIn the recent Gartner report, Critical Capabilities for IT Service Catalog Tools [Jeffrey M. Brooks, Chris Matchett, 17 March 2014], the answer is: quite well.

As recently announced, Kinetic Request received an assessment of “Good,” the highest possible assessment given for Product Viability in this report. It is one of seven products evaluated to receive this rating. The research evaluated nine critical capabilities and various weightings of importance.

The report defines a service catalog in this way:

“IT service catalog tools are intended to improve business users’ customer experiences and to increase IT operations efficiency. IT service catalogs simplify the service request process for customers and improve customer satisfaction by presenting a single face of IT to the customer for all types of IT interactions… IT service catalog tools provide a process workflow engine that automates, manages and tracks service fulfillment.”

That definition—improving the user experience and service efficiency through a single portal linked to an automated process workflow engine—aligns well with the ERM concept, though ERM extends the service catalog beyond IT into potentially all shared services functions within an organization.

Kinetic Request is a powerful and flexible enterprise-wide request management portal application. It’s been praised by customers for helping to reduce helpdesk calls and workload, cutting request fulfillment time, eliminating paperwork, and providing significant cost savings.

Gartner clients and other organizations interested in reading the full evaluation can order the full Gartner report here.

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

Next steps:

The Five Most Popular Posts on Kinetic Vision of 2014 (So Far) July 1, 2014 No Comments

As we reach the halfway point of 2014, here’s a quick look at the five most-read posts on the Kinetic Vision blog so far this year. If there’s a common thread among these five posts, it’s that while all of them pertain to IT, none of them are limited to the technical realm; rather, all of these posts reflect the strategic engagement of IT with business functions and other shared services groups within organizations.

Five top posts of the first half of 2014

Image credit: Weston Signs

In general, these posts are practical (four provide how-to guidance); informative (three reflect industry research); cross-functional (two are focused on employee onboarding); and evergreen (two were published prior to this year).

Enjoy this look back at the most-read posts on the blog so far this year, and to our readers in the U.S. and Canada, enjoy the holidays this week!

10 Key Benefits of a Business Service Catalog: Forrester Research, Part 2
August 27, 2013

IT service catalogs reduce the time and cost of delivering technical services while improving the user experience. But the benefits of service catalogs needn’t be limited to the provision of IT services; an expanded view of the service catalog to encompass all shared services groups in the organization (e.g., HR, finance, facilities, etc.) extends the cost savings of service catalogs while also providing employees with a single, intuitive interface for requesting any type of enterprise service. Forrester Research has identified a number of reasons for undertaking such a business service catalog effort.

Five Key BYOD Trends and Statistics You Need to Know
March 4, 2014

As interest in BYOD skyrocketed between late 2011 and mid-2012, the initial resistance from both executive management and IT quickly gave way to scrambling to accommodate employee preferences while safeguarding corporate applications and data.  18 months later, fresh research shows that while organizations are maturing in their approach to BYOD, both the level of preparedness and nature of adaptation varies considerably. Here are five key trends.

Four Ways to Optimize the New Employee Onboarding Process
January 7, 2014

Implementing an organized onboarding process makes life better for both the organization and the new employee, at what is often a very stressful time. What’s needed is for managers in each department to map out their onboarding tasks, approvals and deliverables, and coordinate these tasks with other departments. Then look for opportunities to automate as many of the tasks as possible.

Automating Employee Onboarding and Provisioning Processes with Request Management
June 12, 2012

The benefits of automating onboarding and provisioning include less paperwork, reduced costs and increased efficiency. Perhaps most importantly, proper onboarding and provisioning makes new employees feel welcome, prepared, and  confident they have the resources to quickly make an impact within the organization. There are several ways to automate employee onboarding and provisioning, including purpose-built applications, but using a Request Management application is perhaps the simplest and most efficient way to do it.

Systems of Engagement: How to Get Revolutionary Business Results from an Evolutionary IT Approach
February 4, 2014

Legacy management and control software platforms weren’t designed to support lightweight, mobile, wireless access. Certainly, a “rip and replace” approach is one way to address this—but both business users and their IT counterparts cringe at the thought of the time, expense, and business disruption of this approach, not to mention the loss of substantial intellectual and financial capital invested in existing core enterprise systems. A better approach is to retain those core business applications (systems of record), while providing the simplified, flexible, web-based access required by business users through interface-layer systems of engagement.