How to Avoid 10 Common Project Management Mistakes

Project glitches—and sometimes even outright failures—are unfortunately common. But they are by no means inevitable.

According to CIO Insight, “45 percent of large IT projects go over budget, while delivering 56 percent less value than promised.” Yet many of the frequent causes of project setbacks are well understand and can be avoided with proper planning and execution.

10 common project management mistakes - and how to avoid
Image credit: CIOInsight

Based on research compiled by Dennis McCafferty, here are 10 common sources of project management problems, along with guidance on how to avoid each, illustrated with the example of implementing an enterprise request management (ERM) strategy.

Continue reading “How to Avoid 10 Common Project Management Mistakes”

Virtual War Rooms: Collaborating to Solve Big Problems Fast

How can organizations solve complex enterprise problems as quickly as possible? Timeliness is essential to minimize lost revenue and productivity, and in some cases even damage to the corporate brand image.

Resolving urgent, multi-vendor, mission-critical types of problems requires collaboration. But coordinating the input and effort of employees—along with, in some situations,  partners,  suppliers, consultants or others outside the organization—who work remotely, are traveling, or are based in other cities (or countries) is challenging.

While there are a range of online collaboration tools (for functions like project management, voice/Web conferencing, and file sharing) on the market, most aren’t designed for in-the-moment, team-based problem solving. Nor are they focused on the most critical type of problem management from a business value perspective: restoring a service or operation as quickly as possible.

Usig virtual war room software for problem collaboration

A new white paper, Virtual War Rooms: Resolving Enterprise Problems with Collaboration Tools describes the current collaboration technology landscape; situations requiring real-time collaborative problem resolution; and the capabilities needed in an online tool to provide effective and efficient enterprise problem management.

Lost Productivity is Very Expensive

For critical business services in large organizations, every minute of downtime equates to lost productivity, which can be measured in real financial terms. When orders can’t be processed, products can’t be shipped, employees can”t answer phone calls or emails, a production line shuts down, or any other situation where people are unable to do their jobs due to a technology issue—the business loses money. For example, Gartner has calculated that the average cost of network downtime across industries is $5,600 per minute.

Solving Big Problems Require  Collaboration

Large enterprise problems can take many forms, including customer issues (e.g., a shipment fails to arrive on time); a public relations or social media crisis; business impacts from natural disasters; and information security breaches. But a not uncommon (and expensive if not fixed quickly) category is key enterprise systems going down, such as ERP, ITSM, supply chain, factory control, or email.

When such a system stops functioning, rapid problem resolution and system restoration is vital to minimize the expense, disruption, and interruption of vital operational processes. Identifying the source of the problem, correcting, and restoring service often involves communication and coordination of efforts between IT, business function or unit managers, and external consultants or vendors.

Using Virtual War Rooms to Coordinate Action

Online project management tools are generally designed for administering long-term endeavors. Solving large, urgent enterprise problems requires a different type of tool, one designed to enable teams to quickly formulate and execute action plans. Such a “virtual war room” tool should:

  • Enable internal and experts to quickly get up to speed on what’s known and what’s been done.
  • Allow tasks to be assigned and tracked.
  • Permit documents, images and other vital information to be uploaded and shared.
  • Provide real-time communication from any connected device, anywhere.
  • Maintain a record of communications and activities for later audit, diagnosis or training purposes.

Ideally, the tool should also be easy to implement, and even more importantly, intuitive to use: there’s no time to train anyone on use of the software when the enterprise is in a crisis situation or dealing with a mission-critical system outage.

Implementing a virtual war room tool enables organizations to make better, faster decisions in difficult circumstances; restore vital services or resolve other significant problems more quickly; and minimize the costs of lost productivity, revenue,  or opportunities. Download the white paper Virtual War Rooms: Resolving Enterprise Problems with Collaboration Tools to learn more.

How IT Pros can be Business Heroes

Though IT groups are sometimes criticized for being disconnected from or out of sync with “the business” (sales, marketing,  finance, etc.), IT professionals—like their colleagues in other functional areas—want to be heroes to the organization.

How to be an IT business heroNo employee or group wants to be seen as a roadblock to business or operational progress. Quite the contrary, most would like to display the agility to leap over financial or technological obstacles; the speed to accelerate cumbersome manual processes; even the foresight to anticipate needs and solve problems before they happen.

While being born on the planet Krypton or getting bitten by a radioactive spider aren’t realistic paths, there are practical steps that IT professionals can take to become business heroes.

How to be a hero

Saving time, reducing costs, and improving the user experience are always popular achievements. Doing all three at once is even better.

Consider utilizing an approach like the enterprise request management (ERM) framework to simplify and accelerate business processes of any complexity, from password resets to PTO requests to new employee onboarding.

ERM is a model that combines an intuitive web portal with powerful workflow automation software to make it easy for employees to request any type of equipment or shard service easily, at any time, from any device,  and check on the status of open requests;  accelerates service delivery; ensures first-time fulfillment; and reduces employee provisioning costs.

To be a business hero, evaluate the ERM approach to delivering services from IT or any functional group better, faster and cheaper.

How to be a super hero

Improving processes for business users is great. But even better is giving business process owners the tools and capability to redesign, test, tweak, and deploy their own automated workflows.

To go beyond better-faster-cheaper, look into graphical automation engine tools that enable business managers, with minimal IT assistance, to map out their own business task workflows.

These tools enable process owners to automate tasks by passing information (employee names, dates, vendor IDs, etc.) between in-place functional or enterprise management and control systems (HR, ERP, ITSM, etc.) without modifying core application code.

To be a super hero, give process owners tools to quickly and easily redesign and automate their own workflows, without risk of “breaking” any functions in legacy applications.

How to be a Guardian of the Galaxy

To achieve the highest level of hero-dom, go beyond meeting user needs to anticipating them. Famous examples of this business super power include Henry Ford, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg.

While anticipating needs can be challenging, the ability isn’t limited to visionaries. Take a look at a business process. Talk to users about their most immediate needs. Then imagine that’s done; what are they likely to ask for next? What ability to meet need B follows from addressing need A?

An example is: your organization has a busy tradeshow schedule. Your company’s exhibit booth is always stored at the same warehouse and shipped via the same carrier. Your marketing team would like the ability to specify event dates and locations for the coming year,  and have the booth automatically shipped to each new venue.

Imagine—poof, that’s done. What else is the marketing team likely to want as a follow-on?

How about connecting your organization’s universal request portal into travel sites like Travelocity, Expedia, Kayak, and Orbitz, as well as your corporate rental car provider and even airline sites, so marketing staff can get alerts about airfares as the next show approaches?

How about also connecting it to your expense reporting system so air, hotel and car rental costs can be reported automatically? And automate shipping of product literature and any equipment needed? And send reminders automatically to marketing staff about key show-related milestones and activities,  like requesting press lists?

To be a guardian of the galaxy, think beyond fulfilling the immediate needs of users, and ask yourself what other capabilities are enabled by the technology that solves that short-term problem?

One final note: heroes don’t keep people waiting. When the Penguin is freezing over Gotham City, Batman doesn’t tell the good citizens to wait while he replaces the engine in the Batmobile. Even if you’ve got a major ITSM, ERP or other system implementation project in the works, you can continue with smaller projects that add near-term value by utilizing software tools that work with what you have today as well as what you’ll have tomorrow.

Even without a cape, super strength, or x-ray vision, you can be a business hero. It just takes the right approach and the right technology.

Next Steps

Three Ways Enterprise Architects Can Conquer Business Challenges

Enterprise architects face unique challenges as the bridge between IT and the business. They need both deep technical skills and business acumen; the ability to understand the details of technical infrastructure combined with a big-picture perspective; and the communication skills to work as effectively with introverted IT staff as with extroverted business leaders.

This position wasn’t necessary and didn’t exist in the days of monolithic departmental software systems that operated independently and couldn’t “talk” to each other, but emerged as a vital need with the introduction of web services and service-oriented architectures that enabled IT components to be connected and re-used across multiple applications.

Challenges for enterprise architectsEffective enterprise architects must be able to balance short-term priorities (e.g., simplifying processes for BYOD device registration and support) with a long-term strategic design of the organization’s IT infrastructure (how will new applications, tools and processes fit with and enhance existing core systems?).

In addition to the need to possess and master this unique combination of skills, enterprise architects are challenged on a day-to-day basis to:

  • Execute on a vision for improving business processes, but often with no direct authority or budget.
  • Persuade the leaders of other business functions to believe in and help achieve specific objectives to move the enterprise forward.
  • Balance tactical, short-term, quick payback projects with strategic initiatives across the business.

Of course, the role has its attractions as well. It’s a high-visibility position with the opportunity to make a significant difference for the organization; it provides the opportunity to work with cross-functional, often multinational, teams; and the challenges (noted above) keep the job interesting.

How can enterprise architects successfully achieve their objectives while conquering the challenges inherent in the position? Here are three strategies for maximizing effectiveness:

Build support. To overcome corporate inertia and resistance to change, think about who will be positively impacted by an initiative, and how to communicate the benefits in terms that resonate with each group.

For example, a project to enable employees to report service incidents through a simple interactive web portal–rather than picking up the phone–is more likely to be embraced by those employees if it means their issues are resolved more quickly. The help desk manager will appreciate the reduction in call volume. HR will like the increase in employee satisfaction; departmental managers the increase in productivity; and executive management the decrease in support costs.

Create ad hoc coalitions and teams. Projects are more likely to succeed if those affected have input at the planning stage, and even more so if those individuals are involved in building the new system.

For example, empowering managers to create, test, and deploy their own automated processes using simple graphical tools greatly improves not only the quality of the process, but also the likelihood of adoption.

Tackle big challenges using an agile approach. As noted above, enterprise architects get involved in a mix of small, tactical improvements and large, strategic projects. Large projects are generally assumed to entail much greater cost, time, and risk.

But large projects, even those spanning the entire enterprise, can be made more manageable and less disruptive by adopting an agile approach. For example, implementing an enterprise request management (ERM) strategy to simplify and centralize employee provisioning across shared services functions can start small, with the redesign and automation of just one or a few common (or particularly painful) processes.

Then the implementation can be expanded to encompass additional departments and services incrementally. In this case, enabling process owners to design their own task flows, as cited above, not only increases the likelihood of project success and user adoption, but also speeds the rollout by spreading the work across multiple managers.

To address budgetary constraints as well as controlling the growth and complexity of the organization’s IT infrastructure, enterprise architects look to leverage existing technology investments whenever possible. Tools that facilitate communication between core management systems and data sources, and between those systems of record and user-facing systems of engagement, enable enterprise architects to improve processes and automate task workflows with minimal investment in new technology.

The Kinetic Task automation engine is one tool that can serve as the “plumbing” for cross-functional business process improvement initiatives, managing the information flow between any systems that can communicate via common methodologies such as APIs, Web Services, REST, or SOAP.  Kinetic Task is perfect for agile organizations providing the flexible pragmatic approach a scripting environment provides, while also providing the control and management functionality of a robust BPM tool.

Through communication, team building, agility, and careful technology investment, enterprise architects can successfully conquer the challenges of the role and use technology to improve business processes and outcomes.

Next steps:

Enterprise Service Integration: It’s Not Just About Data

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.

Make Your Customers Happy AND Cut Costs with Self-Service 2.0

Most of the time, increasing customer satisfaction also means increasing costs: adding product features, providing off-hours support, extending warranty periods, etc.. So, it’s surprising that when an opportunity comes along to both delight customers and save money, many enterprises fail to jump on it.

Yet that’s exactly the case with self-service 2.0 (which is distinguished from self-service 1.0 by being action-focused rather than knowledge-focused). In a Harvard Business Review (HBR) article, Why Your Customers Don’t Want to Talk to You, Matt Dixon and Lara Ponomareff report several provocative findings from research on customer service preferences, among them:

  • “Companies tend to think their customers value live service more than twice as much as they value self service. But our data show that customers today…value self-service just as much as using the phone.”
  • Furthermore, “this indifference holds regardless of (customers’) age, demographic, issue type, or urgency.”
  • Two-thirds of the customers…told us that three to five years ago, they primarily used the phone for service interactions. Today, less than a third do, and the number is shrinking fast.”
  • While time is a factor, the efficiency of using an ATM or airport kiosk vs. interacting with a live employee alone doesn’t explain “why we go out of our way to take care of our service needs ourselves.”

In attempting to interpret these findings, the authors hypothesize that “maybe customers are shifting toward self service because they don’t want a relationship with companies…(and) self service now allows customers the ‘out’ they’ve been looking for all along,” which, if accurate, leads to the startling conclusion that “Running your company as if customers want to talk to you isn’t just expensive, it’s potentially undermining your efforts to build longer-term loyalty.”

Avoid customer frustration: use self-service 2.0
Photo Credit: couragextoxlive via Compfight cc

What may be most surprising about the post is that it was written in 2010. Yet if you’ve tried to resolve a customer service issue recently on any number of corporate sites, you’ll realize how little has changed.

The issue in 2014 isn’t that companies (by and large) don’t offer online self-service, but that many still don’t do it well. In a final finding, the HBR authors note that “a staggering 57% of inbound calls (to customer service centers) come from customers who first attempted to resolve their issue on the company’s website. And over 30% of callers are on the company’s website at the same time that they are talking to a rep on the phone. That’s a lot of frustrated customers.”

Business-to-consumer (B2C) sites are (generally) mature in ecommerce, and making strides in other aspects of online customer service. Their business-to-business (B2B) counterparts are now catching up: according to MarketingCharts,  “B2B commerce is shifting offline to online and self-service, say 57% of B2B vendors from the US and Europe,” with 44% of respondents “also agreeing that B2B commerce is adopting B2C best practices in order to optimize the purchasing experience.”

However, “The most commonly-cited challenge in B2B commerce is providing intuitive and user-friendly interfaces for multiple touch points, cited by half of the respondents.” The challenge in optimizing the user experience and ease of use for customers explains why the HBR findings regarding the high percentage of customers frustrated with online self-service offerings remain relevant.

Fixing these problems is vital. As Forrester Research states in their January 2014 report, Transform Customer Processes And Systems To Improve Experiences, in what they term the age of the customer: ” Competitive differentiation achieved through brand, manufacturing, distribution, and IT is now only table stakes. A major source of competitive advantage is the one that can survive technology-fueled disruption —an obsession with understanding, delighting, connecting with, and serving customers.”

And obviously, firms that can reduce costs while also achieving these objectives will be at an even greater competitive advantage.

Consequently, Forrester lists among its top customer management trends for 2013 (with our comments in parentheses):

  • “Brands are turning their attention to CX (customer experience) design: More firms will realize that the right customer interactions across all touchpoints don’t just happen; they must be actively designed.”
  • “Untamed processes are getting more attention: More firms will move away from isolated BPM and/or front-office CRM projects and toward cross-functional transformation initiatives to support the invisible, untamed customer management processes critical to exceptional CX.” (This is why an enterprise request management (ERM) approach is valuable; it entails  automating and optimizing cross-functional processes, designing process steps to address the “white spaces” between functional groups where these “invisible, untamed” processes dwell.)
  • “Agile implementation approaches are scaling to the enterprise level: More firms will adopt agile project management” (as well as agile request management) “and software development methodologies based on iterative development principles…”
  • “Mobile applications are empowering employees and consumers.” (Agile service management is again also key to supporting a mobile workforce and mobile consumers.)

Tracking service-related metrics with Kinetic InfoForrester further recommends identifying and tracking specific service-related metrics (such as “the number of customer support cases closed per day, the number of calls handled per agent, the service-level agreement (SLA) compliance rate”); setting process designs  before applying technology; and overcoming adoption issues  by letting business users influence functionality.

Which leaves only the final question of how to improve the online experience for customers; how can organizations best simplify UIs to eliminate the need for customer calls, thus simultaneously increasing customer satisfaction and reducing customer service costs?

One approach is “rip and replace,” discarding existing customer service systems in favor of newer installed or cloud-based offerings. While this approach may seem to offer long-term advantages in terms of a more modern IT infrastructure, it’s expensive, time-consuming, and disruptive; and unless it can completely replace existing systems, it can actually make an organization’s technology environment more complex, and increase the risk of redundant and potentially mismatched data elements.

A better strategy is what Forrester covers in its July 2013 report, Prepare Your Infrastructure And Operations For 2020 With Tools And Technologies, of adding modern systems of engagement atop legacy systems of record (established, in-place management and control systems). This is the approach taken in ERM; leverage existing enterprise and department applications in which you’ve already invested money, time, and training—then add new technology only as needed (e.g., request management portal software, workflow automation, EAI, etc/).

The good news for organizations embracing the challenge of redesigning processes and customer service UIs to simplify the user experience is that doing so not only reduces service costs, but also increases customer satisfaction and loyalty. The even better news is that taking an ERM approach can reduce the time, effort, and expense of conquering that challenge.

For more information:

Implementing Enterprise Request Management (ERM): How to Get Started

Enterprise Request Management (ERM) is a business-efficiency strategy focused on centralizing and automating business processes and service requests. ERM helps to ensure first-time fulfillment, which means lower costs and happier customers.

Though the word “enterprise” sometimes conjures visions of huge, nightmarish implementations, ERM isn’t scary. Because it’s based on an agile approach, there’s no need for an ERM implementation to be excessively difficult, expensive, time-consuming, or disruptive to operations. It can be implemented incrementally by starting with one or a few processes, and gradually expanded across departments and functions as the concept proves its value.

How to Implement Enterprise Request ManagementERM leverages existing departmental and enterprise management and control applications, so additional technology and training investment requirements are often modest. The use of task automation and orchestration software eliminates the cost and risk of modifying core legacy application code. And enabling process owners (e.g., department managers) to map their own business processes using graphic tools both increases the sense of ownership across functions and minimizes the workload for IT.

A new white paper from Kinetic Data defines the ERM concept and benefits, describes how to begin implementing an ERM strategy, and provides concrete steps to guide you through the implementation process.

An ERM implementation starts with identifying one or a few request management processes that are especially painful to users and the business itself, then assembling a small, informal project team consisting of a business analyst, a developer, the “owner” of the process, a representative from management, and, most importantly, users themselves, who can articulate the desired outcome in their own terms.

Next, those processes are broken down into discrete tasks. Manual processes are automated wherever feasible, to save time, reduce costs, and improve accuracy. Along the way, tasks and processes are tested, tweaked, refined, deployed, measured, and continually improved.

Download the new white paper, Enterprise Request Management: How to Get Started, to get the full (not scary) story about deploying ERM.

Kinetic Process Options: Creating Work Orders with Kinetic Fulfillment

Kinetic Data developer/analyst Brian Peterson is  presenting “Kinetic Process Options (Work Orders / Fulfillment)” today at the 3rd annual KEG (Kinetic Enthusiasts Group) Conference.  For those of you who couldn’t make it to the Denver event, or just want to review the session, here are some highlights of his presentation.

Brian is also the coordinator of Kinetic Community and would love to hear your feedback about the site.

Until now, many organizations have had to rely on complex forms with generic fields to assign actionable tasks to their Support Groups.

Just say no to complex, rigid applicationsActionable tasks are actions that need to be assigned to and completed by a person.  These can be actions such as create a user ID, modify access or purchase a tablet. Clients have had to assign actionable tasks using forms and applications that do not effectively capture the important information upon completion. They contain a large quantity of fields which become noise to the users. Generic text fields such as “Notes” or “Resolution” rely on the person completing the task to know what information to put in the task.

There is no simple or effective way to validate the information in a free text field. If information needs to be extracted from this “Notes” field by a workflow process or reporting, the field needs to be parsed.  Parsing a text field for specific information is always complex and problematic.

The workflow process behind these forms are complex and attempt to be “one size fits all.” Modifying the workflow process behind these applications is discouraged by the vendor, and if you do make modification it is very difficult and at times similar to playing Jenga—take out the wrong piece and comes crashing down.  They do not enable  “Your process your way.”

Our clients need more. They have encouraged and challenged Kinetic Data to provide them a solution to these issues within the Kinetic Request product.

Introducing Kinetic FulfillmentOur response to their needs and requirements is Kinetic Fulfillment.

It’s flexible, lightweight and clean with minimal fields.  It is simple and similar to other web forms which users are familiar with and comfortable using.  It can be easily branded and styled to match your company’s standard colors logo.

When automation isn’t possible, our clients need an application to manage and assign actionable tasks to groups or to individuals within groups.

They want it built on Kinetic Request so that it uses a common and consistent application throughout the lifecycle of the request.

It needs to have a workflow engine behind it to  meet their workflow process requirements.

They need a lightweight, clean and flexible solution that is easy to use.  It needs to contain targeted, specific, and relevant completion questions to get the important information upon completion of the task.

Kinetic Fulfillment meets these requirements.

Structure of Kinetic Bundles and Bundle PackagesKinetic Fulfillment is an application built on Kinetic Request.  This type of application is what we call a Bundle Package. Bundles install into Kinetic Request and Bundle Packages install into Bundles.

As defined on Kinetic Community “Bundles are web-based add-ons to Kinetic Request which allow you to quickly create a web interface to your request catalog.”

A Bundle is a deployment or installation which includes shared functionality and branding for a Kinetic Request catalog.

Bundle Packages are similar to a Bundles, but they are narrower in scope and more focused on adding specific functionality. They also includes the elements and processes necessary to support their own features

A Bundle Package may still leverage features and styling of its parent Bundle.  It can dropped into a Bundle and retain the branding and styling as the rest of the catalog with minimal or no effort.

Kinetic Fulfillment is comprised of two major components: Work Orders and the Fulfillment Console.

Creating Work Orders in Kinetic FulfillmentWork Orders are the actionable task records which are assigned to groups or users.  Work Orders contain all of the information necessary for the fulfiller to complete the required task.  The Kinetic Fulfillment application contains all of the logic and events necessary to manage its lifecycle and state.

A Work Order is a Service Item in Kinetic Request. Service Items are the front-end request forms which are built by Kinetic Request.  Service Items are where the questions are presented to the User.

Because Kinetic Fulfillment is built on Kinetic Request, Service Items are used as the framework and delivery for Work Orders.  Specialized features and functionality have been added to a Work Order Service Item.

Developing and maintaining a Work Order involves the same skills, tools and applications as working with requests.  Request developers no longer need another application or additional skill set to create and assign tasks.

This also helps provide a consistent UI and branding with the rest of the service catalog.

Work Order Fields DetailAll Work Orders contain several unique fields which help define it and identify its state.  These fields are located at the top of the Work Order. Your workflow process will give these fields their initial values and assign the Work Order to the correct group or user.

Status is used to communicate the state of the work order.  It tells others and the workflow process what stage of the lifecycle the Work Order is in. Many organizations have their own requirements and ideas of what values should be in a status menu.  We’ve made this list of values configurable so that clients can create status list that meets their needs.

A Work Order has a Company, Organization, Group and User Hierarchy. It can be assigned to an entire group or to a single user in a group. Out of the box, Works Orders can use groups from ITSM or from Fulfillment’s own data source.  However, it is flexible enough to use groups from an alternate data source.

Work Order AcknowledgementsDue Date indicates the date on which the Work Order is due to be completed. The date picker is displayed when clicking on the calendar icon

Priority indicates the Priority of the Work Order: Low, Normal or Urgent. Acknowledged allows the Work Order to be acknowledged without modifying the status.

Entering Work Information on a Work OrderThose of you who use BMC ITSM are familiar with Work Information. In Kinetic Fulfillment, Work Information is used to share information and attachments with the Requester and other Work Order Fulfillers. Work Information may be flagged as public (intended to be shared with the Requester ) or private (intended to only be shared with the Fulfiller). Multiple Work Information records can be added to a Work Order

Example - Tablet Request Workflow ProcessHere is an example process for Requesting a tablet.

  • The tablet is requested.

  • The manager approves the request.

  • The tablet is procured and delivered.

Each Request, such as a request for a tablet or a request for a user ID, can utilize a different Work Order  or multiple Work Orders in their workflow processes.

In other instances, the Work Orders may need to be the same.  The Network ID Request and the Database ID Request may have the same Work Order requirements.  If so they can both use the Work Order.

When multiple Work Orders are created, each can be designed to target specific completion information by including questions unique to their process and requirements.

A Request for a Tablet may need a Work Order to capture the tablet make, model, and serial number upon completion.  A Work Order for a new User ID may only require the ID of the new user to be provided.

Creating a request-specific Work Order can ensure quality data is captured by including specific, targeted questions.  Targeted questions tell the user precisely what information to provide; a field labeled “Resolution” or  “Notes” doesn’t.

For example, a question labeled “Tablet Make”, “Tablet Model” or “Serial Number” tells the user exactly what information is needed.  The workflow process also now “knows” where the Model and Serial number are stored. The information can easily be accessed by the workflow process without needing to parse a generic text field.  This enables workflow automation.  The workflow process can easily update a CMDB or other asset repository with information provided in the Work Order.

Work Orders are built on Kinetic Request so they can leverage other features of the product. As an example, events and dynamic menus can be used to further refine the completion information that is provided to the Work Order, such as: the Nexus 7 is specific to the Google Tablet.  If a different Make is selected, the menu changes to list only the models which relate to the selected make of tablet.

We can also apply data validation to the questions.  Data validation can be used to ensure a valid phone number, username, email address, or IP address are provided.  It could also be as simple as making the answer to a question required.

Work Orders can also be shared by workflow processes. Sharing Work Orders reduces the need for maintenance.  If a change is needed or a bug is discovered, the changes or corrections only need to be made to a single Work Order.

Reusing a Work Order also decreases development time.  When Work Orders are reused, users are already familiar with them.  This provides a consistency to the to workflow processes.

Fulfillment includes the flexibility to use either Shared or Targeted Work Orders.

Work Orders can also be cloned, which makes creating a new Work Order quick and easy.

A Work Order is just a type of Service Item in Kinetic Request.  The same tools and methods are used within Kinetic Request to quickly and easily create a new Work Order to target specific completion information.  A Work Order Service Item Template can be quickly cloned, then have targeted questions added  The use of the Work Order is then defined in the appropriate workflow processes.  The built-in functionality of the Work Order hides these questions until the fulfiller is ready to answer them.

The Tablet Request example shown earlier was simplified; there is more to the processes than this.

In real business scenarios, much more happens than just creating a Work Order. Multiple processes can happen during the lifecycle of the Work Order.  There are email notifications to be sent, SLA Flags to be set, a CMDB to be updated, and perhaps updates made to a customer’s ticketing system which is monitoring progress.

Tablet Request Workflow DetailIn our Tablet Request example, its workflow process creates the Work Orders.  When a Work Order node executes, it creates the Work Order and pauses; the Work Order has its own workflow processes to execute, in this case Assignment and Complete.

Work Order Workflow ProcessA Work Order can have several workflow processes to execute. In a Work Order, there are several triggers which can execute a one of many workflow processes.

Now we have introduced new hooks to executing workflow processes in between the time of creation and completion. Workflow processes can be grouped by event or action, which makes them reusable.

Re-using and sharing Work OrdersNot only can Work Orders be either Shared or Unique, but so also the Workflow Processes can be.

The Purchase Tablet Work Order may have a unique workflow process for Completion.  However, it may share a Workflow Process with Create ID.  Either scenario can be accomplished.

We have created these reusable pieces that can be used to create workflow processes and meet a variety of requirements.  Pick an existing Work Order and Workflow Process  or create new ones and the process for your request.

A Workflow can be executed before Submission. Example uses of this include:

  • Send emails – On Reassignment
  • Set SLA Flag – Modify Values to indicate In Progress
  • Request information from the requestor or another individual – Common requirement to have a request for more information
  • Update an external system – Update with status change

If you can put it in a workflow process, it can be run.

Worflow Automation with Kinetic TaskAll of these Workflow processes are made possible by the Kinetic Task Product.  Kinetic Task is Kinetic Data’s Graphical Workflow Process Builder. The Developer builds a Task Tree to define the workflow process.

Nodes in the tree represent Task Handlers.  Task Handlers are the building blocks of a Task Tree.  Handlers execute the actions and make the decisions in the Task Trees.

Many core handlers are included with Kinetic Task, but we also have a library of useful handlers available on Kinetic Community to perform tasks such as sending approvals and emails; retrieving personnel information; and reading data from / writing data to external applications like Remedy, Salesforce and ServiceNow.  And of course we have a handler to create Work Orders.

The Handlers are dragged into the Task Tree from a list of available handlers, configured and then connected to other nodes.

Process Fulfillment ConsoleThe second main component of Kinetic Fulfillment is the Fulfillment Console.

The Fulfillment Console is the Work Queue for Work Orders.  It allows fulfillers to see what tasks are assigned to them and to manage and view the Work Orders which need their attention.  It is an important tools for managing and prioritizing Work Orders assigned to fulfillers.

Fulfiller can prioritize work queues by:

  • Assignment;
  • Priority;
  • Due Date; or
  • Status.

Additionally, Work Orders are categorized into different tabs such as:

  • “My Work Orders”
  • “Open Work Orders”
  • “Unassigned Work Orders”

The Fulfillment Console includes an additional tab for Searching Work Orders. Work Orders can be opened and assigned from the Fulfillment Console.

Work Orders in Kinetic Fulfillment are lightweight, clean and flexible, with no extraneous fields.

A Work Order can display only Targeted Questions that are required to complete the specific assigned task.  These dedicated fields can also be used to better direct the user to provide specific information needed.  This also gives provides better event management and data validation.

With Kinetic Fulfillment, you’re no longer slave to large applications which attempt to conform their workflow process to fit everything.  You have the flexibility to create workflow processes to meet your unique requirements.   If you want an email notification to be sent, add that to the workflow process. It’s your process.

Each of these processes is reusable.  Build it once and include it in other Work Orders.

Reuse these workflow processes when you can or create new unique workflow process where the requirements are different.  The workflow process executed upon a status change for the Tablet Work Order doesn’t need to be the same as on the Create User ID Work Order.

Execute the workflow process at any point in the lifecycle of a work order.  If you can do the workflow in a workflow process, you can run it at any time in a Work Order.

Thank you!

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