Your Next ITSM Tool Should be Neither

TL,DR; decouple IT operations from customer service and development. Then realize the incredible savings and benefits thereof.

The term “ITSM” has always bugged me, and I think I know why.

The primary customer of ITSM is IT; everything else is lumped into “customer service” and “customer experience”.

ITSM_WikiEven Wikipedia says there are too many “fluff words” and that ITSM has an unclear definition.

But in IT, we know better. We understand what we’re talking about when we say Service Management. It’s a standard way of operating so we don’t fail.

So why would any business person buy Service Management?

To keep the lights on.

“But that’s what we hired you for! We don’t care what you call it. We don’t want to buy it, we want you to DO IT!”

Then I’ll need $1.5m every three years to replace my tools, redesign processes and…

Wait, $1.5m? Don’t you remember when last year we were managing changes via email? Don’t you remember the spreadsheets of Assets? Why $1.5m?

Technology has become complex and our colleagues want to reduce risk. Some also want to understand the value and depreciation of assets. ITSM is just IT Operations Management + Customer Service.

DING DING DING DING DING DING – we have a winner! Here’s your $1.5 million. But why every three years?

Think of ITSM tools like a car lease. Three years comes along, and it’s time for a fresh smelling one, the latest one with all the bells and whistles.

Do the bells and whistles keep the lights on?

No.

Then why keep upgrading and rebuilding your operations empire?

The tools and practices that surround Service Management change, and they change often.  Have you considered who benefits from that change?

Consider separating your systems of operation from your systems of service. It gives you the freedom to change platforms without impacting your customers.

The impact of this is far greater than you realize. We believe in building systems of engagement separate from systems of record. To understand the nature of this problem:

 

systems-of-recordDoes this image describe your problem? If so, you’ll be interested in understanding our approach to enterprise software. Read more here, or just call us directly: 1-651-556-1030

You are the Software you Buy.

Software reflects the beliefs and assumptions of those who make it.

The mundane decisions developers make affects how companies function. Thus; developers can have a large impact on your functions, teams and success.

Good companies chose platforms, languages and tools that enable their success. Great companies find partners that are enjoyable to work with and share common values.

teamIt’s up to your vendors to be transparent with their culture, sharing their beliefs. And the responsibility is on the enterprise to explore that vendor’s philosophy.

This becomes even more important as you consider platforms that determine long lasting success. If you’re going to have an application for three years or more, how do you expect the software to change? What new decisions are the product managers at that firm going to make in five years?

Can you influence their decisions?

Diligent buyers develop a relationship with a software company before purchasing. Some attend user groups and build something before a sales cycle. Others inspect or fork code on github, or use a trial version.

So, what are you buying? How do the users feel? Have you made a good match? Ask!

To learn more about our culture, watch a short video here. We’ll also continue to post our beliefs and values here, so stay tuned!

Integration Update

We’re always adding to the list of integrations that are pre-developed and free to download. Of course you can create a custom handler for ANY service with modern web integration, but this is just easier and more cost effective :)

This month we added a ton of Azure integrations – so I put together a quick summary of integrations you might be interested in (for a full and updated list always go here.):

Infrastructure Automation

Azure

We’ve added capabilities on both the Government and Cloud sides, specifically focused on Create, Delete, Status, Retrieve, Shutdown, Restart and Start.

Amazon S3

This handler generates an expiring URL for S3. Expiring URLs take a bucket, a key (path + filename) and an expiration and build up a special URL that will give the user access to the file only for a certain time period.

Amazon EC2

There are quite a few in here for working with Images and Instances. Listing, retrieving, statuses and starting/stopping – basic functions you need in EC2.

Chef

Bootstrap a node in chef using Knife.

Rackspace

Create and delete servers.

VMWare

VSphere, for infrastructure automation of course. All kinds of options here.

Tomcat

What else? It reloads :)

OpenNMS

Trigger nodes when records are created, updated and deleted.

Sales and CRM

Salesforce

Lots of functionality like managing contacts and accounts.

Salesforce Pardot

Create and retrieve prospects.

Sugar CRM

Retrieve account records.

Stripe

Take payments and complete checkouts

Task Management

GitHub

There’s too much to list here – but we use it, there’s a ton of integration points.

ServiceNow

Too many to list, users, groups, changes and incidents mainly.

Jira

Again, too many to list… probably because we love it.

Utilities

If you like JSON, XML, CSV and password generation These handlers are for you.

BMC

Lots of shops use BMC – so obviously we have tons of integrations. Check out the Remedy, ITSM, Bladelogic and Atrium integrations.

HP Service Manager

Create and update incidents.

IWise

Create and retrieve incidents

InfoBlox

Create A records, PTR records.

Communication and Collaboration

Basecamp

Tons of integrations, invites, todo’s, events, projects and more.

Active Directory

Too many to list – this is a biggie.

Google

User admin, calendar integration and group management

Twilio

Because nobody wants to talk on the phone anymore

Citrix

Meeting automation? Yes please.

Evernote

I love this app. Use the handler to create notes or notebooks

Dropbox

Move, delete, create and share.

LinkedIn

Company posting, profile posting and a listing of connecting people

SMTP

Manage emails, meeting requests and sending attachments.

Facebook

Events, links, statuses and posts.

Imgur

Upload automation; yes!

Twitter

Search followers, compose and include pictures

Yammer

Create, delete invite – lots of options.

The First Kinetic Data Hackathon

Winners banked $3,000 in our first hackathon ever! 2015 IT predictions and trends

We challenged anyone to build a Property Management solution using Kinetic Request (and optionally Kinetic Task). The challenge also asked participants to work toward one of four prizes:

  1. The first submission ($1,000) –

    Lindsay Hodges -RDS Services

  2. The best looking submission ($1,000) – Tian McPherson of McPherson Enterprises Inc.
  3. One random winner ($1,000)- Nanoatzen Castro of Infosys
  4. Most complete solution ($3,000) – No entries judged in this category — everybody went after “first solution”.

We learned a lot conducting this hackathon. It challenged us to build even more on our platforms. Taught us how easy it really can be to build solutions on Kinetic Request, and inspired us to build a full sandbox automation solution using our own tools. More to come on that.

Right now, we’re busy preparing for the next event which is scheduled to start September 16th, 2016. Register here to learn more and subscribe to hackathon related news.

You Released a Catalog; Now What?

Adoption: Getting People to Use your Catalog

If people don’t use your portal, there is a risk of missing returns on your investment. This is important because an initiative like a self-service portal is usually sold to leadership as part of a cost-savings initiative.

catalog open

Marketing

How do you get your customers to think about your portal when they need something? To understand this, consider the lifecycle of technology adoption. Innovators and early adopters will be easy to convince since a new portal to make requests is a disruptive change. For the rest of your audiencemarketing is key to making people aware the catalog exists and what value it provides.

Some keys to marketing your catalog include simply talking to people about it, putting it on your hold music, send links to the portal and have service agents talk to callers about your catalog. Partner with your internal marketing teams and corporate messaging teams to share stories about the self-service catalog. Of course, linking to your catalog from intranet pages and emails is also important.

Informational sessions, brown bags, new hire orientation and all-hands meetings are some more great platforms to share the stories and value of your catalog.

Experience

Having a great experience is a non-negotiable requirement of any self-service portal. If the first interaction customers have with your catalog is not a good one, they may never come back. To achieve this, partner with your customers to capture and provide input to what they would like the experience to be like. Watching people order things is a great place to start.

Improvement: Making the Catalog a Part of Company Culture

Build analytics and measurement into your catalog to determine what services people are using, which ones they aren’t using and identify what your customers are looking for. Having access to what people are searching for can help you understand what services they are looking for that may not be available yet.

Surveys help you understand if people are happy with your portal, upset with your portal and gives people a voice and input into your systems. To increase survey response rates try rewarding respondents and adding incentive to users helping you build the portal. And when something changes on your portal, make sure you communicate and understand the impact on your customers.

Making frequent small improvements keeps change simple for your end users. Make sure your items have a similar look and feel, and make ordering easy. Focus on the customer experience, and never stop improving.

Expansion: growing the use of your catalog

There are lots of ways to expand. Adding departments, services or even a new portals are challenges you may need to overcome. Seeking out the power-users, information brokers and persuaders to discuss the design and functionality of your portal will be exponentially valuable.

There are a couple ways to scale your expansion. One way is to build items and technology features to be reused and leveraged by power-users. Building activities and functions that are repeatable and modifiable will make your catalog easier to use and therefore more likely to I used.

Another is to build your technology in such a way to distribute the details of your services. This might include being able to leverage a standard approval workflow, or giving business professionals the ability to customize their own forms. This may take some careful planning and maybe even re-work, but the investment is worth it when demand increases.

Support: How to Scale Innovation

Since most modern technology platforms can literally do anything, we need to break the habit of asking “Can it…” and start planning how to approach a solution.

Exploring what your platforms are capable of keeps you in the role of “early-adopter” which makes you a key resource to the people leveraging this technology. This role will often start automating solutions or fixing problems that people have been complaining about for years. This is an important step in the life of a self-service platform.

Expand who is using the platform, give them a framework to work within and cross-train. Having multiple people involved in a system like this removes the risk of having a single point of failure.

Nobody knows everything, so getting others involved will also help scale exploration. Continuously learn more about the technologies that are providing the value your team and company need.

Lastly, keeping your platforms up to date keeps you leveraging new functionality and feature sets as well as keeping you learning more about the enabling technology.

Get Started

Ready to get started implementing a catalog that can grow? Start learning more today at http://kineticdata.com.

Kinetic Data creates business process software that delights its customers, making them heroes by transforming both the organization and the people who work there. Since 1998 Kinetic Data has helped hundreds of Fortune 500 and government customers — including General Mills, Avon, Intel, 3M and the U.S. Department of Transportation — implement automated request management systems with a formula that is proven, repeatable and ready to implement. The company has earned numerous awards for its superior products and support. Kinetic Data serves customers from its headquarters in St. Paul, Minn., offices in Sydney, Australia, and through a valued network of reseller partners. For more information, visitwww.kineticdata.com, follow our blog, and connect with us on Twitter andLinkedIn.

Lessons from a Scrum Master

I’ve been a ScrumMaster for 6 years and previously at a hospital and not Matterin product development. So I did a “scrum training” session a few months ago and that went really well. Next I worked to condense that session from 2.5 hour scrum training into 30 minutes, and again into 15 minutes.

So read it, and burn some time reading!

I’m Matt “Matter” Raykowski and I’m a Product Developer and “Level 37 JavaScript Sorcerer”. They call me “Matter” because we have a habit of collecting Matts (4) and Brians (4) in the office.

HockeyRinkI built a “hockey rink” in my back yard for my kids.

Okay – so what is agility?

Contrary to some people’s beliefs ‘agility’ is not a process. It is not something that can be condensed into a document, passed out to employees, and then expected to be followed to guaranteed success. It is a way of thinking. It is, and this is important, a culture.

So you might have thought oh no, he’s going to babble on about scrum.

Or ˈkänbän/.

Or some other post-it™ driven process or technique.

Okay, yes, we do use scrum at Kinetic. It’s wonderful. You should try it. You can use it for anything, not just software. Who knows what scrum is? Just in case you don’t it’s one of many agile methodologies, which includes XP (Extreme Programming), Kanban, and Lean Software Development.

But if agile isn’t a process, a framework, or some other finite set of rules I can impose upon my employees to ensure instant success… what is it? What good is it?

We value…

Value in statements on the right, value left more

  • Individuals and Interactions over Process and Tools
  • Working Software over Comprehensive Documentation
  • Customer Collaboration over Contract Negotiation
  • Responding to Change over Following a Plan

Who recognizes this? Agile Manifesto.

Well, that was boring. Right? If you want more, check out the agile manifesto. What is important is what motivates people. It is this: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. How on earth do the Four Core help with this? Well, let’s look at the culture here at Kinetic.

There’s a process in everything. This is how we plan, this is how we do deployments, this is how we do releases. But they’re not sticks used to keep us in line. Our Sonar and coverage reports are important tools but do not dictate how we develop the product. There’s a trust that we’re competent individuals, that we know how best to solve complicated problems. As a matter of fact that’s probably why we were hired in the first place. At Kinetic Data ceremonies are informal and used to collaborate and communicate.

We keep our process light so people solve problems right.

First the manifesto says “software” everywhere. It’s not just software. It’s “stuff” and “things”.

We care less and less about the spec we created over a year and a half ago on how our latest version was to be designed.

Our goal isn’t to deliver a software package designed to spec. Our goal is to provide working, quality software.

It won’t take long for you to develop against a spec before you realize that you totally forgot about something or that the concept is fundamentally flawed in some way. Being forced to make some horrible piece of software people are going to hate just because of ‘what the spec says’ makes me a sad person.

Plus, who wants to write all of that documentation knowing it’ll be totally irrelevant before the  project even ends?

Dogs, working together, cats… being cats.

So I’d rather look at this horrible feature and say, “hey, this is horrible, let’s do this differently.” Okay sure, there’s a legal contract regarding the Statement of Work and yadda yadda. But that doesn’t mean you hand us a piece of paper and we blindly implement it, even if we discover some new information that makes it clear it needs to be redesigned. Or worse, if you do. So let’s work together. It doesn’t need to be a battle, we’re a team, right?

Think bigger, not just within a real legal contract and real customers. Think of that spec document and a “contract” the same way. You have to develop a new financial forecasting report for the CFO and Controller, right? If the data available isn’t sufficient to write the report or realize that summary data isn’t all that useful? Don’t just power through it. Collaborate! Figure it out! We’re a team, right?

Okay so it all leads here, it’s all about plans and change I mean who here has had a project that went exactly as planned? We should plan, because it gives us a guideline, it gives us a purpose. But we have to acknowledge that the path to completion is littered with pitfalls.

It’s important not just to acknowledge that you need to respond to change but provide ways to do it. People need ways to express that there’s a problem. Timebox – break work down into cycles – plan for 2 weeks of work not 2 years of work. This means every 2 weeks you get a chance to say “hey, this isn’t working.” Provide constant feedback loops. And then actually do something about it. Change.

If I don’t love what I’m doing I’ll do it. But I don’t feel like I have a purpose then. I don’t have a vested interest in the success of it. Telling me I get, let’s just say, stock options if a product is successful won’t assuage the fact that I was forced to make a horrible product. Being allowed to try out new tools or technologies, new techniques for solving problems, to rethink and propose changes to the product, to have some level of freedom in my day-to-day development, to have a voice in the course and planning of the project. These are the things that make working at Kinetic an incredible experience. And a happy employee is a productive employee.

At Kinetic we’re “scrumbut” – but getting better. You see, Agile is iterative, adaptive, and timeboxed. And we apply that to our process as well as our work. At Kinetic we plan 2 weeks at a time. This gives everyone a good view into what’s happening. Plans change, we have a retrospective, and then we refactor. We have “daily” standup. It’s transparent and anyone can come and usually we have someone from each area. They’re problem solving sessions, I might find out that the bug I was working on was already solved by Ben.

Agile is also psychological. This is why we have Burndown Charts. It’s really nice to see that line go down, to feel like you’re making progress. We’ve involved in planning involvement and estimation. This really helps prevent burnout.

Finally we have a level of autonomy. John and Kelly say what you want, but we decide on how because, again, that’s what we were hired to do.

Be a Provider… NOT a Broker!

At Kinetic Data we’ve been talking for years about Service Integration and Automation (SIAM) and building software products to enable Service Providers to deliver at scale.  Understanding the SIAM concept has real value for enterprises looking to achieve successful delivery where service models are distributed across fulfillment silos, and customer experience is of paramount importance.

For Shared Service IT organizations, most have an understanding of the Handshake above 2brokering concept with respect to infrastructure delivery.  In this context, the brokering concept is often referred to as the Hybrid Cloud infrastructure model. In this model, Corporate IT is typically the central provider of infrastructure services, while the actual components making up deployed technology stacks live both internally (corporate data centers) and externally (partner provided, Cloud-based data centers).  Often, Corporate IT may involve many back-end partners in providing those infrastructure components.

At a high-level, the Service Brokering concept appears to solve challenges associated with delivering enterprise IT service in the complex world of today’s global economy. In this model, services are made up of component functions where fulfillment tasks are sourced to provider-partners responsible for delivering their individual part.  While this may seem like a broker model, the reality is that if you view things from the customer’s perspective, the “Service Broker” concept doesn’t make sense at all.  

When I think about my experiences with brokers, some are great and some are not.  Regardless of how good the broker, I’ve ended up (as the customer) having to directly interact with downstream providers to resolve issues related to the service I’ve procured.  I’ll spare the gory details, but offhand I can think of examples with healthcare, investments, house-buying and home repair that make up my experiences.

Each time an issue came up in the delivery of a complex service (home-purchase) and I had to get involved in solving them, it was time-consuming, costly and frustrating. More than once, I decided that regardless of how good the broker was in my initial interaction, I would not use them for the same service in the future as it was easier for me to handle things directly with the downstream provider.  That’s an anecdote for IT outsourcing if you are keeping score at home!

Ultimately, the underlying issues with all of any of these challenging “Service Broker” experiences I have lived were due to the difference between my perception and the reality of the service model I was procuring.

As a customer, I expected an experience where the service being provided was truly integrated end-to-end regardless of who was doing the fulfillment.  What I got was a disparate and distributed service experience that was notintegrated and left me looking for an alternative provider for the future.

So, with respect to Enterprise IT and the idea of “Service Brokering”, think about:

  • A customer procures (requests or buys) a service and expects delivery of it, not just “part of it”.
  • That customer has an expectation (SLA) for that service with corporate IT.  It’s not the customer’s responsibility to coordinate sub-contractor agreements (OLA’s) between back-end fulfillers that comprise the component Sub-Services, nor is it their interest to have any complexity added to their experience.
  • They don’t care if Vendor A is responsible for Sub-Service 1, and Vendor B is responsible for Sub-Service 2.  All they want is simple access to the service and a great experience in it’s delivery.   

If there’s an issue with a downstream fulfillment by Vendor B, it’s ridiculous to expect a customer to care about a missed OLA or further, to get involved in the resolution of a stalled service.  When they come to get service from Corporate IT, they expect a great experience by a Service Provider, not a Service Broker.

If you understand what goes into end-to-end service delivery where there is afocus on customer experience, Service Brokering is nothing more than marketing-speak. Another attempt by industry vendors to try to re-label what already exists and sell it to you as “new.”  The multi-sourced delivery model has existed for decades.  It is not new, and there are real Service Providers out there that truly understand the value of Service Integration in driving excellent customer experience!


Remember:  What matters most is customer experience.  Be a ServiceProvider NOT a Broker!

Diversity and Failure are the Keys to High Performing Orgs

TL,DR; Add diversity -> Increase trials -> Increase failures -> Increase learning = high performing organizations.

Discover moreHave you ever heard someone say they didn’t know what they didn’t know? Discovering new ways of working and learning can be challenging. This is particularly true if a team lacks diversity. If everyone likes the same radio stations, how do we discover new music? If everyone reads the same websites, do we even need to discuss the content?

Broaden your horizons.

Listening to new thoughts, ideas and perspectives can be inspirational and often valuable. When you find something new worth trying, try it!

Failure promotes learning and high performing organizations embrace both.

Expand your horizons by exploring one of our non-profit partners; Geekettes, WomenWhoCode, Geekout and DevOpsMSP.