The Curb Appeal of your Catalog

Performing regular application rationalization presents countless opportunities for organizations to recover waste, reduce costs and add efficiency. Although large enterprise platforms are beholden to theseWally_Shopping rationalization projects, they are often overlooked as out-of-scope.

This is usually because removing the platform has disastrous results for the customer experience.These platforms are low-hanging fruit for organizations to save millions in operations costs.

The choices you make today, drastically impact your ability to be flexible and vendor neutral tomorrow.

Thanks to several years of customer experience being a fad (and now a trend), many software manufacturers are refactoring and struggling to decrease switching costs while still providing you value.
Ideally each of your business partners and software suppliers should be working with you to decrease time to value and increase value.

Three More Key Findings About the Future of IT Service Management from EMA Research

The consumerization of IT, digital business model disruption, and the need for greater speed in technology development are combining to dramatically change the role of IT service management. According to Dennis Drogseth of Enterprise Management Associates (EMA), “Both the ‘rules’ and the ‘roles’ governing IT Service Management (ITSM) are evolving” as the relationship changes “between IT and its service consumers.”

Cloud computing, mobile, and the future of ITSMIn The Future of ITSM: How Are Roles (and Rules) Changing? Part 2, Drogseth details several conclusions from the organization’s research, expanding on previously reported findings. Here are three observations that stand out, with additional commentary.

Service management isn’t just for IT anymore.

Among EMA’s findings, “89% of respondents had plans to consolidate IT and non-IT customer service.”

Continue reading “Three More Key Findings About the Future of IT Service Management from EMA Research”

Webcast: The New Rules of IT Support and Service Management

What are the new “rules” in IT support and service management? Kinetic Data recently spoke with Eveline Oehrlich, VP and research director at Forrester Research, to discover her organization’s findings and predictions on that topic.

Happy employees make for happy customersIn the webcast Rewriting the Rules on Service Support & Management: Happy Employees = Happy Customers, Eveline discusses:

Should We Stop Calling it IT? The Case for Business Technology

Now that cloud computing and the consumerization of technology enable non-technical business process owners to address many of their own data needs—and digital technology is finding its way into a vast range of products (i.e., the Internet of Things) —is the term “IT” still useful and accurate?  Or is the abbreviation for “information technology” now too limiting, even counterproductive, in describing this function?

Should IT be renamed Business Technology?That’s the intriguing question raised by Robert Plant in a Harvard Business Review post. Plant writes that IT as a term “is no longer appropriate in a business context” and continues:

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Five More Key Takeaways from the HDI – itSMF USA Service Management Report

As noted in part one of this two-post series, ITSM tools and principles are being embraced in shared service functions (HR, finance, facilities, etc.) in an increasing number of organizations to reduce costs, improve processes, better align IT with the business, and make users happier.

Service management is not just for IT anymore Continue reading “Five More Key Takeaways from the HDI – itSMF USA Service Management Report”

Expanding Beyond IT: Strategies for Extending Request Management Across the Enterprise

Presented by Bill Harter and Matt Howe

Kinetic Data’s director of consulting Bill Harter and sales engineer Matt Howe are presenting “Expanding beyond IT — strategies for extending your Kinetic Request investment″ 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 their presentation.

In many enterprises, each department or function (sales, accounting, HR, IT, facilities, etc.) has its own systems. This leads to very siloed thinking about business processes.

Enterprise Request Management (ERM) is like a company having its own internal version of Amazon.com, where employees can order any type of service or equipment, from any department (or group of functions), from a single web interface. Employees can also check the status of their requests at any time, similar to package tracking.

Though the scope of ERM is broad, implementation needn’t be excessively difficult, time-consuming or disruptive to operations.

ERM is not a product in itself, it is a framework with a new way to approach service request management.

A few specific comments on why we are doing this session:

  • You (or your IT groups) have tools, Kinetic Request perhaps being one of them. (If you’re not, and you’re curious, you can check out product details here.)
  • This isn’t a sales pitch. ERM is, as noted above, a concept–not a product. There are many approaches to implementing an ERM strategy.
  • What we want is your WHOLE organization (not just IT or one other business function) to take full advantage of the tools you have.

If I were to boil it down to a few simple goals for this session they would be as follows:

I hope that you each, in your own way, for your own situation, can increase your “focus on Expansion” (What might expansion look like for me and my organization?) of your current service request catalog approach.

As part of that we strive for you to walk away with some “new ideas” that you can action when you return to the workplace (What else can we do / try out to reach our vision?).

More specifically, this presentation will address:

  • ERM concepts: a few of the ERM concepts that will hopefully strike a nerve on your paradigms / perceptions of the deployment of request services — again with the goal to get you thinking about expansion.
  • Implementations: implementation strategies which certainly play a role in the set-up for expansion.
  • Expansion strategies: specific ideas on how to think about and position expansion.
  • Real-world examples of companies expanding their service request (ERM) approaches.

What is ERM?What I want to do here is highlight some of the ERM concepts that will hopefully resonate with the concept of expansion, starting with: What is ERM?

It’s a holistic approach, that centralizes service requesting, most likely involving some automation…. Self-Service 2.0.

As noted above, ERM is like a company having its own internal version of Amazon.com. It ensures first time fulfillment, lowers costs and makes for happier end users (internal or external customers).

Service Catalog Maturity LevelsThere are a few ERM concepts from that worth highlighting here. Forrester Research describes three levels of service catalog maturity:

(1) IT services (or subset of IT services)

(2) utilizing some automation of enterprise services

(3) acts as “services broker”

ERM thinking is of value regardless of an organization’ service catalog maturity.

In many enterprises, each department or function (sales, accounting, HR, IT, facilities, etc.) has its own systems. This leads to very siloed thinking about business processes.

The Six Sigma approach requires thinking across departmental or group barriers, to improve cross-functional business processes. It’s not always easy thing cross-functionally; but if processes are already optimized within functions, it makes sense that the largest remaining opportunities for improvement exist in the “white spaces” between different business functions.

The ultimate target is for Service Catalogs to mature from IT service catalogs to business (enterprise-wide) service catalogs.

Focusing on customer-centric fulfillment eliminates need for employees to manually manage their requests, deal with multiple departments, systems and processes, obtain approvals and schedule deliverables. With ERM, most processes are automated by software, and employees are shielded from the complexities of the underlying processes. Fulfillment is faster, more accurate, and requires much less employee effort.

ERM: Start by Thinking SmallThough the scope of ERM is broad, implementation needn’t be excessively difficult, time-consuming or disruptive to operations.

ERM is not a product in itself, it is a framework with a new way to approach service request management.

ERM projects should never end. The goal of employing an ERM strategy is not about ‘turning it on and being done’. It’s a framework for supporting improvable service strategies that can evolve with the ever changing need.

A key concept of ERM is using process automation tools to orchestrate back-end systems of records in many different departments or functions. That allows an easy move from narrow and shallow to wide and deep, automating complex requests that may span multiple parts of the enterprise using lessons learned from earlier and simpler types of request management.

You want to improve your on-boarding process?… Start by tackling the process at a macro level. You can always version it forward and improve things at a micro-level later. Automate and improve the things you can do immediately. If you have a part of the process that requires inputting data to five different systems, use the ERM system to collect the data once and input it where it can go. Even if you don’t have access to automate all of the inputs and fulfillments in the first phase, solve what you can. It will improve the process from where it is today setting up future versions of a process that continue to improve granularity.

During our scoping with new clients and as part of our delivery during implementations, we often find ourselves trying to convince organizations to take things on in bite size chunks.

It’s great to think “Big Picture”—but do it in small pieces. Rome wasn’t built in a day (or even a decade).

What is the long-term impact and how can we get there with short term wins? Start by adding services in the portal, even if they are not perfectly defined; they can be improved over time. No service is 100% perfect from inception. Get people using it, gather feedback, evaluate results, and continually improve things over time!

A good analogy is Facebook. Ten years ago, Facebook had a few features. You could “like” and “poke” people and send messages. Today it has thousands of features. They got people using the platform and had a vision to continue to roll out new content/features and integrations. Once people were using it—they were hooked.

Lots of little improvements make for big improvements across the entire organization. As you have success, you can take a foot out of the apple tree (we often talk about low hanging fruit, well let’s make more low hanging fruit).

The ERM Implementation ProcessAs a reference, here is a proposed guide for how to implement ERM process. As an organization identifies new services to expand into their catalog, this is a way to do it and evolve. This also shows the core technology components required for an ERM implementation.

LEGO Model 1

 

 

 

 

Thinking about it another way—because Matt Howe likes to build LEGO models—here’s an assemblage that’s impressive on its own, recreating an actual scene. But it is part of a larger picture…a larger “vision” if you will.

LEGO Model 2

 

 

 

 

Now we’re exposed to “more people”, more things are happening here.

LEGO Model 3

 

 

 

 

The whole picture…or is it?

LEGO Model - Full View

 

 

 

 

 

An entire section of Washington DC. (at LEGOLAND, not in Matt’s front yard room).

This wasn’t built in a day either—it started from a single brick. What’s the point?

Think of technology like request portal software (such as Kinetic Request) and workflow automation software (such as Kinetic Task) as key components—like LEGO building blocks—for creating an enterprise-wide process automation strategy which accelerates your business and drives innovation. Automation frees people from manual actions to focus on other—higher-value—activities. Activities that are core to your business, that enhance the “secret sauce” that makes your company different and special.

Why expand the use of service catalog tools beyond IT?

  • To leverage existing investments. Continue telling your company how smart it was that you bought them, and how they can be used in a myriad of ways.
  • Migration to the cloud. These tools provide integration with legacy/internal systems and processes (such as the new hire process)
  • To make other functional groups aware of what’s possible.
    • facilities (an underserved area of the corporate life that really matters to employees!); other IT areas [operations, NOC, service desk] lots of options for streamline and automate;
    • business groups [business-to-IT interactions, paper forms]; and
    • complaints – where there’s a complaint, there’s an opportunity!
  • To improve the business. Success leveraging your tools means success for the business. Realize their potential and change your business with them.

Start by taking stock of current situation.

Don’t limit your thinking to how your tools are used today; try to thing about using them for more generic business purposes.

When new product features are released, try to apply the concept to something in your business/organization/environment.

  • Review your current system and resources/staff.
  • What is the “vision” of your current portal/implementation? Are you meeting it?
  • Will new “stuff” be part of the current design, or separate? (Remember that what you have today is just one chapter, not necessarily the whole book!)
  • Do your staff have the necessary skills to help you “sell”? To back up “the talk” with technical know how?
  • Are new team members getting necessary training? Do they bring “extra” skills with them you can leverage (e.g., CSS, HTML, JavaScript, etc.)?

Share with the business where you are currently, and continue to do so. Put yourself in a position to offer a solution.

Set goals for expanded/enhanced use of your tools, such as:

  • Speeding up support ticket entry
  • Call scripting
  • Creating and analyzing surveys
  • Reducing costs (or avoiding costs) in other ways

Here are half a dozen strategies for expanding service request management across your organization.

Service Catalog Expansion StrategiesStrategy #1 – Expand in your current framework

For a majority of Kinetic Data customers, a “Service Catalog” project is what started our relationship. A lot of initial interest from a few years ago centered around ITIL’s service catalog concepts. There has been less discussion of ITIL lately, but the “service catalog” concept can be applied to many areas of the business: Marketing, Operations, Customer Service, Finance, Research & Development, Accounting, Legal, Facilities, HR.

So while there is less buzz about ITIL, there is much more about consumers, consumerization, customers (the “age of the customer” as Forrester Research phrases it).

Strategy #2: Create a portal—or expand your ownto include services for these other groups.

People are creatures of habit. Cultural changes take time and diligence. As explained in The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, people adopt ideas and practices that are “sticky” and accessible. Don’t be afraid to help “tip” the culture from one of “I need help!” to a culture of “I’m going to help myself!” Ecommerce has already conditioned people to use the web for ordering products/services in their daily life. Why should work-life be any different?

If you want people to use a portal of services—make it EASY, available and seamless. Remove the barriers for self-service and make the user experience ‘sticky.” If it’s a great experience and it “sticks” in someone’s mind that it is easier to request something from a portal than from calling for help—they will use it.

Once you get people using the portal, you can continue to expand service offerings and improve things over time. Design it in a way that will support a long-term vision and is iterative. Don’t worry about being perfect out of the gate!

Business groups will be reluctant to adopt the system unless they can improve their productivity by receiving better business services.

Service Request Expansion Strategies - Beyond the OrdinaryStrategy #3: Think beyond the ordinary; use the capabilities of the tools.

Think beyond traditional service requests, to any business process/system with the need to request something (a triggering request submission) that will require others to take actions (fulfillment and in some cases pre-approval, etc.) . The workflow may be paper today, may be part automated, may be email only, etc.

Paper doesn’t support a mobile workforce; you have to store it; it’s bad for the environment. If you are still using paper, or if the term fax still exists within your organization…offer an automation engine tool for systems that don’t have one.

Automate. Don’t just enable self-help for creating help desk tickets. Can you solve the problem? Are you trying to solve the problem? Make self-help actually help.

Extend Service Request Ownership Beyond ITStrategy #4 – Partner with others and “the business.”

As a team you can achieve MORE…..FASTER! Distribute the management of the system. Don’t be afraid to empower groups within the organization to take ownership of their parts. It’s the concept of “self-help” again.. If HR wants to have a portal, encourage them to use the system and build it out.

By including others in the vision, new ideas will be introduced. Service catalog software like Kinetic Request is designed to allow for distributed management. If you want thousands of services built in the system, you will get there faster by having more people participate in building the service items they require.

It doesn’t have to be an “IT solution” that HR uses. Make it an HR solution that IT supports.

Strategy #5 – Show value.

Explaining value is easier with facts! Track, Measure, Improve. An ERM strategy allows you to empower users to help themselves with self-service. It also provides a scalable, repeatable and auditable framework for continuous improvement. To define key areas for improvement, it helps to break down processes to understand where automation can improve service and reduce cost.

ERM provides measurable cost savings through self-service.

Evangelize Request Management SuccessStrategy #6 – Socialize and celebrate

Success is many things—not just a completed catalog. Celebrate that you are changing your business, cost effectively. You are directly correlating to the bottom line

Don’t be afraid to sell or socialize your success! Ongoing evangelism is critical to making people aware of the power of the system. What people don’t know they don’t know. If you want people to take an idea and run with it, they need to know about it.

Thank you!

Next steps?

Using Agile Service Management to Support a Mobile Workforce

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.”

How agile service management supports mobile workers
Image Credit: DTC

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:

How to Make the Consumerization of IT Delightful, Not Frightful

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.

Dilbert on the Consumerization of IT
Image Credit: Scott Adams

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.