Four Ways to Fix IT’s Bad Reputation December 3, 2013 No Comments
Does your IT group suffer from a bad reputation? Many corporate and public sector IT departments do (and high-profile miscues like the recent Heathcare.gov rollout don’t help).
Speaking at the Interop New York tech conference in October, William Murphy, CTO of the investment firm Blackstone Group, described the perception of IT departments as “at best adequate — a cost center and a back-office necessity at many companies. Worst case…people who say ‘No’ first and ask questions later,” reported InformationWeek. Murphy went on to say that IT is “too often considered defensive, late, overpriced, uninformed and unhelpful.”
Yet, Murphy continued, as bad as IT’s reputation (sometimes) is, “colleagues know that it’s also central to creating business change, new products, efficiency of their current workloads, really the future of the company.” He then outlined four “operational pillars” core to fixing the brand image of IT so it’s “seen by other business departments as a problem solver.”
Taking an enterprise request management (ERM) approach–in which users can enter and track requests for virtually any type of service from a single intuitive web-based portal which connects to a software orchestration engine that automates scheduling, approval, fulfillment, costing and reporting tasks–addresses all four of the operational pillars identified by Murphy.
1. An Open Design process, driven by technology.
IT and business leaders need to work together to solve the “top priority problems” first, whether those be the most common, the most painful, or based on some other criteria. Users are often articulate and vocal about what these problems are, and what end result they would like to see. Business and IT leaders then need to design processes and apply technology to solve those problems. Users generally don’t care what happens “behind the curtain” and shouldn’t need to know.
Task automation software (such as Kinetic Task) enables business function managers, with minimal IT assistance, to map out task workflow processes in order to meet a need or solve a problem. The software then communicates between enterprise applications (ERP, HRMS, ITSM, etc.) to manage approvals, scheduling and fulfillment tasks.
2. An iterative release model.
A key tenet of ERM is agile service development. Though the ultimate objective in ERM is to enable employees to order any type of service or product through a single intuitive interface, ERM projects are best started by mapping and automating a few particularly common or painful processes, then building out from there.
Because service items are defined in a request management portal, without any need to modify core code in underlying enterprise or departmental systems of record, it’s easy to create, test, tweak and deploy new processes, then clone and modify these processes to iteratively define and add new service items.
3. A transparent cost and decision process.
As noted in a previous post here on the consumerization of IT, “The ERM approach provides three key capabilities with regard to costing. First, it enables accurate costing by measuring actual time required for completing all tasks. Second, it automatically charges costs back to the requesting department. And third, it makes it easy to present costs to users, to enable them to make better, more informed ‘purchase’ decisions for requested services from IT or other departments.”
To improve their reputations, Murphy advises IT groups to ” Be efficient and clear on how you communicate project plans and costs.” By automating back-end processes, capturing accurate cost information, and presenting it to users as an element in the request management interface, ERM enables just such efficiency and clarity.
4. A simple, honest feedback process.
ERM is designed to include both automated measurement (e.g., elapsed time to complete specific tasks, SLA performance) and human feedback. By automatically sending each service requester a context-specific survey after fulfillment, with these results included in ERM reporting and analytics.
Incorporating both automated and human feedback assures that ERM implementations meet their primary objectives, which are to reduce service delivery costs and delight customers. Both types of feedback also support continual process improvement, and even more fundamentally, fixing any elements of a process that may be broken.
As IT departments work to improve their reputations, implementing ERM can play a highly visible and productive role, as well as making the organization more competitive.
To learn more, download the Enterprise Request Management Overview white paper, and join the conversation in the Enterprise Request Management Group on LinkedIn.
Using Agile Service Management to Support a Mobile Workforce November 25, 2013 No Comments
If your organization is struggling to balance the need to support mobile devices with security and compliance concerns, you’re not alone. According to recent research from TechTarget, ” Growing demand for mobile computing will continue generating major new challenges for companies in many industries for at least the next year.”
Author Anne Stuart reports that two-thirds of survey respondents (3,300 business and IT professionals worldwide) “ranked mobile-device management as a ‘medium’ or ‘high’ priority for this year,” and 85% placed the same importance on security–yet “only 29% reported having a mobile device management (MDM) tools or policies in place.”
Among the report’s other findings, corporate IT support for mobile access varies considerably by device type, with 54% of respondents willing to allow employees to self-provision smartphones, but just 29% will permit them to connect their own laptop or desktop to the company network.
Three key challenges organizations face in this shift to mobile support are:
- redesigning business processes for mobile workers;
- ensuring connection, data and device security; and
- prioritizing the business processes to “mobilize” first.
Mobile Process Redesign
According to TechTarget, “Forrester (Research) studies indicate that companies will spend nearly $8 billion on reinventing processes for mobility this year.” While mobile process design presents some unique challenges, the fundamental approach should be the same as for any process redesign: start with the goal of a delighted customer.
Work backward from the user goal and experience to the required tasks on the business side, keeping the overall process as simple as possible (though not simpler, as Albert Einstein instructed), and always looking for automation opportunities.
Ensuring Mobile Security
While this topic could fill a book (and has–several books actually), one helpful approach where feasible is to use portal software (such as Kinetic Request) as a mobile, Web-based front-end (a system of engagement) between the mobile device and the back-end enterprise application (system of record).
The portal application utilizes existing security protocols and passwords while enabling specific device-level security that protects corporate systems and information without undue complexity for the user.
Prioritizing Mobile Processes
Not every process needs be mobilized, and not every process that does has equal importance. The TechTarget article advises looking “at the employee path of activity, what they’re trying to get done on mobile, and make sure that’s enabled. Let’s also make sure we are delivering what customers want…Don’t mobile for mobile’s sake. Instead, find proof that mobility will improve productivity or help the company better serve customers or reach some other business goal.”
This is where an agile approach to service management is valuable. It enables tackling the “low-hanging fruit” (i.e., processes that are very common, or very painful, or both, for mobile users) first–testing, tweaking and optimizing them. Often, these processes can then be cloned and modified to create new processes. This enables a gradual approach to process mobility, enabling IT to meet mobile users’ most pressing needs while minimizing business disruption.
The “seismic shift” as TechTarget describes it, from desktop to mobile computing, presents significant challenges for IT infrastructure, app dev, and support services. But taking an agile approach to mobility helps to balance user demands with cost and resource constraints.
To learn more:
Brace yourself for three days of “extreme knowledge transfer” at the Kinetic Enthusiasts Group (KEG) 2014 Conference, once again at the Inverness Hotel and Conference Center in Denver.
The conference runs February 24 and 25, 2014, with post-KEG training sessions February 26-28. Register now for special two-for-one pricing (KEG14 conference only) until November 30.
- New this year: KEG Conference first, training second. Think Show and Tell (and Do!). During the KEG conference we will show you great things, and then during the training sessions, we’ll tell you how and you’ll actually do great things! Plan to go home with some extreme knowledge transfer and actual improvements to your systems.
- Next, we have so many Customer Success Stories, we’re changing the format to show off more customers and go deeper into the great things they are doing with our software.
Amazon.com made e-commerce easy. Facebook made social sharing—of videos, photos, events, what one is doing or thinking at the moment—easy. The iPhone made accomplishing many common business tasks (and a whole lot more), while on the go…easy.
The simplicity of these and other online technologies has set new expectations among workers—particularly for millenials, who have grown up with the Web—for IT services in the workplace. The actual experience, however, is too often much different, with complex and disparate interfaces even for simple functions like changing a password or ordering a new desk chair.
This is not to disparage the efforts of corporate IT groups. For the sake of efficiency, they’ve been directed for years to deliver “standard” technology (e.g., BlackBerries and ThinkPads), and non-IT services via departmental applications. Users have accepted both the complexity (from the customer standpoint) and limitations of these offerings because they were so much better than the brick phones, luggables and text-based “green screen” applications that preceded them.
The consumerization of IT is about much more than just a new generation of technology, however. It’s a fundamental re-ordering of business processes that puts users in control of the equipment they use and the services they receive. While this approach unquestionably increases complexity for IT groups in the short term, it provides long-term benefits in exchange, including increased productivity, improved business competitiveness, and higher employee satisfaction.
In their article Creating Business Value Through IT Consumerization, authors Jack Cooper, Evangelos Katsamakas and Aditya Saharia define IT consumerization as ” the increasingly transformational impact of consumer IT on enterprise IT,” and contend that ” Attempting to block the growth of IT consumerization or deciding to ignore it are both fatal strategies. They could expose an organization to security risks, and reduce the competitive position of the organization due to its failure to exploit emerging digital innovations that can increase revenues, profits and productivity.”
They then outline six factors vital to successfully managing the consumerization of IT. Four of these factors resonate well with the enterprise request management (ERM) framework for providing a single, unified system to management any type of service or product request across the organization.
Focus on innovation to create business value. In the ERM approach, this innovation includes the way that request processes are redesigned (from the point of view of the “customer” rather than the functional group[s] responsible for fulfilling the request), the way users enter requests (via a single, intuitive web-based portal interface), and the design of new service items (which can be done by business managers with minimal IT assistance).
Leverage the apps ecosystem and re-evaluate traditional enterprise IT vendors. Actually, the applications from those “traditional enterprise IT vendors,” in which many organizations have invested seven- and even eight-figure sums over the years (taking into account software, support, implementation, upgrade, and employee training costs) still have value. It’s the way that casual users interact with such systems that need to change.
In the ERM approach, applications designed to simplify the user experience while orchestrating communication between enterprise systems on the back end provide four key benefits:
- leveraging investments in existing enterprise applications;
- accelerating fulfillment and reducing service delivery costs through automation;
- improving the user experience by providing a single, simple, no-training required interface for ordering any type of service (and shielding the users from back-end complexity); and
- enabling agile service item development, by making it easy for business managers to design, test and refine new processes without any modifications to core code in the underlying enterprise systems.
Redefine IT management priorities. Think “flexible control.” While trends like BYOD require IT to be more flexible and accommodating, security and compliance considerations are still vital. Explain the trade-offs to users; they can bring their own devices, but must still work with IT to protect company systems and data.
Develop new practices and structures to address the needs of an increasing mobile workforce while keeping costs under control, like providing simple interfaces for self service, and offering “Genius Bar”-type schedule-based service.
Determine and control BYOD costs and reimbursement. The ERM approach provides three key capabilities with regard to costing. First, it enables accurate costing by measuring actual time required for completing all tasks. Second, it automatically charges costs back to the requesting department. And third, it makes it easy to present costs to users, to enable them to make better, more informed “purchase” decisions for requested services from IT or other departments.
Though the consumerization of IT presents challenges to existing structures and processes, the ERM approach to service requests, fulfillment, and measurement provides IT groups and other shared services functions with an effective way to simplify life for users while delivering services faster and at less cost.
What’s New on Kinetic Community – October 2013 October 28, 2013 No Comments
BMC Execute Process V2 (October 11, 2013)
Runs the Execute Process command on the AR System server. This handler works in both Kinetic Task 2.x and 3.x. You can use this task handler to execute Remedy AR System Run Process and $PROCESS$ commands. The input parameters are: Command, the process command, and Wait for server response, which can be either “Yes” or “No” to indicate if the handler should wait for a response from Remedy server.
Kinetic Task v3.1.1 (October 10, 2013)
Fixes some bugs that were discovered in v3.1.0, and enhances the install wizard to ensure the Remedy server allows admin operations before trying to install the Remedy forms and workflow. This version is compatible with Kinetic Request v5.1 (with applied Task 3.0 compatibility package, available here) and other external data sources.
Kinetic Calendar SQL Adapter (October 7, 2013)
Each of the specific database adapters are extensions of the Generic JDBC Adapter. Java Database Connectivity (JDBC) is a Java technology that provides an abstract interface for querying against different database systems, and requires basic configuration dependent on the target database vendor and version.
Sample JDBC Handlers (October 3, 2013)
A collection of handlers that illustrate sample implementation strategies and solutions. Handlers in this category emphasize a simple, repeatable pattern and may not accomplish a constructive task.
Kinetic Request v5.1.0 Hotfix 3 (September 19, 2013)
Use these instructions and links below to dowload and install Kinetic Request/Survey v5.1.2, or to upgrade an existing Kinetic Request/Survey system to v5.1.2. Note: Kinetic Request and Kinetic Survey use the same files and follow the same installation/upgrade procedure. The information provided below applies to both applications.
Kinetic Request Delivery Model (September 19, 2013)
Kinetic Data has developed and refined this delivery model to help you efficiently implement our service request management software and begin presenting business services and managing them effectively through actionable service catalogs. This delivery model includes a number of worksheets, best practices and examples to assist with your implementation process.
Facebook Handlers (September 19, 2013)
Handlers which interact with Basecamp, a project management software. These handlers allow you to post events, links, status updates and posts to a Facebook page.
Setting up a Deployment Calendar (September 19, 2013)
This page contains files and instructions necessary to set up a Kinetic Calendar 2.0 that will allow customers to book a deployment time for their request directly within the request from available times configured by the deployment team.
Troubleshooting PermGen Errors (September 19, 2013)
Options if you receive an error that tomcat is Out of Memory and the error references PermGen. PermGen memory is the space where the JVM stores the classes and methods data. If you start and stop tomcat a lot in a short time you can also receive this error. A minimum of 512mb with a recommended setting of 1024mb.
To learn more, check out all recent updates and resource additions on Kinetic Community.