The Fundamentals of Service Delivery

By Brett Norgaard

Sound journalism addresses a fundamental set of questions—who, what, where, when, how, and why—in the makeup of a good story. The reader learns facts and gains knowledge from reading a well constructed piece. Similarly, a well constructed service will engage the user and provide a memorable experience. Service Blueprinting is a technique that maps out the service interaction from the perspective of what the user sees as well as how they interact with the “onstage” visible and “backstage” invisible service delivery elements. There is also a visualization of the underlying support infrastructure that the service provider uses in the delivery of the service.

Fundamentals of Service DeliveryWith the advent of online shopping, social media and the proliferation of mobile devices, today’s demanding users expect the same kind of experience, always on connectivity, interactivity, self-service that they receive from Amazon, FaceBook, and on their iPhone. Yet, service providers face an even higher bar, for they have to not only address the aforementioned characteristics, but they also have to handle high organizational levels of security, compliance, privacy, multiple levels of approvals, and more complex service requests than typical consumer interactions. Examples of these more complex processes include employee on-boarding, transitioning a new client onto the service platform, or doing both simultaneously while integrating with enterprise applications. Yet, service providers have to do this for multiple clients who may in turn have multiple divisions, departments, or offices.

And, a service provider always pits its current service against the “claims of better service” by rivals waiting in the wings. So, savvy service providers are adding interactive feedback into the service flow so that instead of waiting for the service to conclude before gathering feedback, are actually capturing valuable, relevant feedback that can be acted upon if triggers indicate a breach.

Good service for one client may not be good for another. It depends on what the service goals are for each client. Consider the case of a Health Care IT Service Provider that we work with—one hospital client sought to optimize around their doctors while another wanted to optimize around their patients.

As you can see, the demands on a service provider to deliver a well constructed, engaging, interactive, secure, compliant, and unique service for each client is no small order. The people, processes, and technology need to support all aspects of the service.

Starting with the technology, a platform that is configuration-based, secure, scalable, and operates in either a dedicated or multi-tenant mode is the first step. Next, and utilizing the aforementioned, the service provider should have several “experience shaping” levers at its disposal for its people to pull. The ability to request services and/or products bundled, unique approvals, and fulfillment is key. The ability to view times, dates, resources, and obtain status is also important. And, it is also vital to be able to gather real-time feedback so the service can be delivered or rectified if off track. Taken together, these service levers can shape the flow of service to the unique needs of their clients, truly addressing their business requirements and their processes.

Now there’s a story that you can write where you shape the who, what, where, when, how and why of great service.

Service Providers—Configure Your Service Processes for Superior Business Value

By Brett Norgaard

Over the past year, my blogging has centered on how service providers (internal, shared service, or outsourcers/managed service providers) can save money, reduce risk, innovate, accelerate time to value, enhance customer satisfaction and increase productivity in their operations. How can this be accomplished, you ask?

Once you have a configurable, secure, multi-tenant service platform in place, you can swiftly and confidently transition new clients onto the platform with standard, optional and customized services. If you have a “master library” with portfolio management functionality, each client can operate as “an experiment in productivity.” The opportunity is to identify, capture, replicate and roll-out productive innovations. Here’s a short blog entry exploring this: Service Providers Accrue Enterprise Value Benefits From all Clients.

One client/department/division/program’s invention can be another’s innovation…if the service items are portable to other instances or versions of the service platform. And, the branding and theming needs to adapt to the new client/user as well. See the blog series on “Service Item Portability“:

Innovation does not have to be daunting. Consider that it can simply be a matter of cloning one service item and registering it for another client/user. Or, you can clone a service item and link it to another process like a specific approval process, integration to an enterprise application like HR or Procurement, access to a Cloud-Based service for provisioning IT resources like computing power or storage, or access to an enterprise service like Active Directory – captured in a reusable handler.

Also, tying back to a configuration-driven approach, you can employ “sense and respond” style innovation with no fear of disrupting the underlying service platform since no programming changes are occurring. Here’s a link to a short blog entry on that topic: Service Provider Innovation, Three Easy Pieces.

In summary, here’s a “formula” to consider: CSMtP(ML/CPM) + ST + CSI = DML

Configurable, Secure, Multi-tenant Platform w/Master Library/Curator Portfolio Management + Streamlined Transitioning + Continual Service Innovation = Differentiated, Market Leadership.

Service Providers—Do the Math on Visible and Hidden Benefits

By Brett Norgaard

The other day, we got some feedback from a large service provider who’s been struggling with their service request management tool for the usual reasons—it is inflexible, dependent upon programming, risky to make changes to the database structure, cumbersome to move from development to production without rework, hard to survive upgrades to the underlying service platform and constantly reinventing the wheel. After experiencing a demonstration of Kinetic Request and Kinetic Task’s configuration driven approach, reusable and cloneable service items and handlers as a starting point for creating new service items, visual work flow, and portability between environments, versions and instances they said something powerful, “This will save us two to three years of development time and will put us that much ahead of schedule.”

Here then is a list of the “visible” business benefits that they saw:

  • Cost savings
  • Time-to-market
  • Using a more readily available and less costly resource (business analyst vs. programmer)

While this is very interesting, think about something else—this represents one client. This service provider has many clients. While each is unique, our experience tells us that there are similar standard service items that could be deployed across the entire client base. Working from a master library, this service provider could also construct an automated method to generate not only a standard service catalog, but specialized service catalogs that command premium pricing based upon their business value to the client. They would also have the money, time, and a satisfied client willing to look at doing more with them.

For simplicity sake, if this service provider had ten clients in the same boat as described above, the cost savings they could point to collectively would be 20-30 years of development time. Now we are talking some serious money as well as some seriously happy clients that can consume the service provider’s offers now vs. two to three years down the road. As author Michael Lewis pointed out in the book, “The New, New Thing” when referring to Jim Jordan (silicon valley guru) and his sales pitch to investors, “Do the math.”

Service providers who have the right knowledge, architecture, tools, and skills in place are poised to accrue “hidden” business benefits as well as the “visible” ones sooner vs. later.

Forrester Research Outsourcing Trends—How Service Providers Can Capitalize

By Brett Norgaard

The other day, I had the chance to listen in on Forrester Research Service Provider Analyst Pascal Matzke’s observations on the outsourcing market. He outlined trends that are leading service providers to change their business models.

Here are the key trends:

  • The traditional outsourcing market has slowed, is not efficient and is very competitive – outsourcers often “build a new factory for every new client.”
  • Consumerization is affecting enterprise IT.
  • Business units are more involved and focused on business results.
  • Cloud computing is driving new dynamics toward re-use and on-demand offerings.

The traditional outsourcing model aimed toward IT operations with a “Plan, Build, Run” model was focused on lowering costs.

There are new models with embedded portfolio management practices emerging:

  • A focus on recurring client needs and scalability
  • Streamlined solutions built with modules—repeatability and re-use
  • Venture Capital mindset to manage the portfolio

The New Model focuses on Executive Management and Lines of Business in the Assessment and Solution phases. IT Operations works closely with Lines of Business in Service Integration. Everything is offered “as a Service” – Infrastructure, Security, Platform, Software, Analytics, and Business Process. IT Operations and Lines of Business work together to orchestrate service delivery. New model is Assess, Compose, and Orchestrate – a more fluid model than the traditional Plan, Build, and Run model.

Business benefits of new model:

  • 25-30% Improvement in Implementation Time
  • Better Project Predictability
  • Cost Savings of up to 15%

Matzke offered up a Portfolio Opportunity Scorecard—a Boston Consulting style two dimensional analysis using Portfolio Maturity and Market Readiness to gauge where to invest in service offerings.

He wrapped up with some advice for service providers to get busy exploring cloud offerings, review existing client relationships, conduct vision planning, get better at competitive intelligence, work on improved leadership, build portfolio management and get good at partnering.

How Kinetic Data enables capitalizing on these trends:

Kinetic Data’s configurable, multi-tenant, secure, web accessible, experience shaping, integration ready applications are particularly well-suited for the move beyond IT into the Lines of Business areas of your clients. Cloning and service item portability make re-use a great option at the design and delivery phases, too. Re-use is a great way to innovate not only within a single client’s portfolio, but across the service provider’s portfolio. Constructing a well thought Master Library of service catalogs and service items, along with a sound methodology for roll-out can dramatically decrease the time to transition to a new service platform. Sense and respond style innovation can let you experiment without risk and then see which innovations clients select. You can also leverage investments in the BMC Remedy ITSM tool set to extend directly to end users via web accessible service catalogs, self service portals and go beyond IT to realize true business value—anytime, anywhere, and on the client’s terms.

Service Providers Balance Factory IT by Enabling IT for Service Catalog Success

By Brett Norgaard,

Service Providers can leverage an article in the McKinsey Quarterly, “Reshaping IT Management for Turbulent Times” as you build your case for a configurable, streamlined, re-usable, secure service catalog offering for specific market segments.

The article discusses two models—Factory IT and Enabling IT. And, these two models can work together. An intentional focus where appropriate can allow you to make a business case for each and to differentiate your offerings—here’s how…

First of all, Factory IT is about using configurable products where appropriate (p. 2) atop a standardized platform. This allows you to restructure and continually improve processes. The Master Library (Service Items, Handlers, and Themes/Brands) along with a portfolio management/curator emphasis will allow you efficient re-use of the library across all of your clients. Streamlining key processes like transitioning new clients and the provisioning of tailored service catalogs are two key examples. This configuration strategy also reduces the risk inherent when modifying source code to tailor each client’s experience. The article mentions service catalogs specifically as a way to achieve efficiencies (p. 3).

Next, Enabling IT looks for new sources of value and includes a willingness to test (sense and respond) as well as close collaboration. Again, a configuration-based, low risk strategy affords this type of innovation to occur. This kind of innovation rewards partnership with people who can provide the business requirements based upon specific objectives and market knowledge. Rapid prototyping and iterative development are what happens in Enabling IT (p. 6). Mistakes are encouraged…again, a configuration-based strategy allows for this. With Kinetic Data’s configuration architecture, you can test all you want before registering a service item into the service catalog. Enabling IT supports an organization’s innovation culture—communicate, sense, respond, categorize, test, certify and register service items that can be used across the client base. The Kinetic Task Community is a good starting point to review a set of existing handlers addressing integrations with virtual resources, directories, and enterprise applications.

The article concludes (p. 8) with, “The combination of functional productivity and business value creation, will likely be a major competitive differentiator; the first step in delivering this value is to ensure companies have the right leaders in place for each effort.” A sound architecture, a configuration-based strategy, and an understanding of Factory IT vs. Enabling IT affords service provider leaders with low risk/high reward options for Service Catalog success.

Service Provider Innovation – Three Easy Pieces

Industry analysts covering service providers at Gartner and Forrester Research monitor the evolving structure of outsourcing deals on a constant basis. These analysts report an interesting trend – innovation is included as a deliverable in an increasing number of deals.

What can a service provider do to ensure a constant stream of innovations that can be delivered to their clients?

There are three related pieces to address this that service providers using Kinetic Request bundled with Kinetic Task can adopt. The first is re-purposing service items developed for other clients, demonstrations, trade conferences, RFPs, etc. In our last service provider blog post on enterprise value, we explored the enterprise value that accrues to service providers by capturing, replicating, and re-deploying useful service items. Service items configured using Kinetic Data’s architecture contain a task tree that is a visible representation of the actual service item. It is abstracted from the branding and theming so as to be re-usable and is portable (see series of blogs on Service Item Portability) so it can run in any BMC Remedy environment version 6 or greater. Inventions designed for one purpose or client can be captured, re-branded, zipped up, installed, tested, and registered for another client. Innovation number one.

Service Innovation GoalsIn a related move, an existing service item can be cloned and modified, creating a new innovation. An example of this might be to add a robust approval process for service/product requests that goes down different paths based on data collected such as dollar amounts or urgency. A well planned master library will include this approval process as a task handler that can be pulled into any service item, connected, configured, tested, zipped up, installed and registered as a new service item. Innovation number two.

Since Kinetic Data service items are made up of configuration data with no programming change to the underlying service platform source code, playing with, testing, and experimenting are encouraged and do not pose a risk. This kind of sense and respond innovation can happen reactively or proactively without the time, cost and risk of programming. Service innovators need only a business process analyst level of familiarity in order to sense and respond their way to new service items. Innovation number three.

Service innovation can come in many forms. Having a configuration driven, portable approach with an eye towards re-using service items and their component parts to modify existing service items is one easy way to achieve your service innovation goals one piece at a time.

Service Providers Accrue Enterprise Value Benefits from All Clients

By Brett Norgaard

Every branch office in an organization can be thought of as “an experiment in productivity” according to Frank Troppe, author of “Branching Out,” the definitive book on branch office success. The trick is to promote a culture of innovation and ultimately capture the best productivity gains from the branches and replicate them across the entire company. Troppe goes on to develop a formula called, Replication Rule 144X, which dollarizes the Enterprise Value of effective branch-based innovations. Here’s how it works. In a 1000 branch based organization, let’s say that branch #273 invents a way to save $100/mo. through the development of a process such as the on-boarding of new branch personnel, the streamlining of a claims process, or the coordination of requesting and fulfilling equipment, materials, and space for ongoing seminars.

Here’s a breakdown of the formula:

$100 (monthly savings) X 12 months = $1200 Annual Savings per Branch

$1200 (Annual Savings per Branch) X 1000 Locations = $1,200,000 Annual Savings for all Branches

For a public company, let’s assume a Price to Earnings (PE) Ratio of 12 (this is an average—it could be higher or lower)

$1,200,000 (Annual Savings for all Branches) X 12 (Average PE Ratio) = $14,400,000 in increased Enterprise Value

Not too bad for a $100/mo. savings in branch #273 within an organization that can recognize, capture and replicate this innovation. An automated request and fulfillment system like Kinetic Request bundled with Kinetic Task can certainly capture the process and present it for broad usage across an organization. And, there is an integration capability to connect to enterprise systems like IT, HR, Procurement, and Facilities to broaden the scope and scale of the innovations.

As exciting as this is for a single enterprise, it is particularly appealing for a service provider with multiple clients who may each have thousands of branches, stores, offices, centers, clinics, etc. What we are really talking about here is a multi-tenant service request and fulfillment platform that can be configured for each client and where the innovations—captured as processes within service items—are portable and “replicatable” between branches and clients.

To the savvy service provider innovator, Replication Rule 144X is just the start…

 

 

For Outsourcers, Service Item Portability is a Must Have—Part 3

By Brett Norgaard
(Part 3 of a 3 part series)

In Part 2, we argued that service item portability must also be configuration driven in a service provider environment since it is most likely changing and under increasing pressure to deliver self-service and co-created services… securely, of course. This entry will top line the business case for service providers adopting service item portability.

By employing reliable, tested and proven service items that can be offered in standard offers with additional optional service provides scale. Over time, service items from other clients can be incorporated swiftly, efficiently and effectively into the standard or optional offers. This also makes transitions swift and predictable.

Risk is lowered since portability means ease of bringing established service items into new environments. Service items based on configuration data also allow testing, piloting, and benchmarking with no additional programming with nothing to break.

Lower risk also contributes to saving time and money. One service provider cited a phenomenal gain in efficiency (16:1) when comparing business analysts configuring a service catalog vs. using developers to start from scratch.

Service item portability makes upgrades to the underlying service platform survivable. Service catalogs and service items can be pointed to the new version of the service platform and run immediately with no need for rework. This includes all branding and theming.

Time to market is shortened. One way that service providers innovate is by combining existing offers to make new offers that can be targeted at new markets. Having a low risk strategy and associated tactics enables a “sense and respond” style of innovation.

Service item portability yields a strong business case for service providers. The pieces, taken together, contribute to the ability to scale. In a world of increasing pressure on service margins and operating income, scalability is a welcome “ability.”