What’s New on Kinetic Community – May 2015

Kinetic Community is the information and interaction hub for users of Kinetic Data software. It’s the place to find and discuss product documentation, videos, presentations, training class materials, downloads, example service items, task handlers, bundles, bridges and more—as well as presentations from the 2015 Kinetic Enthusiasts Group (KEG) event. As John Sundberg notes in the video below, Kinetic Community is a fantastic asset.

Kinetic Community rocks - create, share, and smileHere is what’s new on the site since our last blog update: Continue reading “What’s New on Kinetic Community – May 2015”

What is this “Level 0” thing? (Part 2): Knowledge, Self-Analysis and Feedback

Tools of the Trade (Part 2)

A Vision From Down Under
By Michael Poole

In my last blog, I mentioned a major client who is ‘shifting to the left’ and implementing ‘Level 0’ methods.

For those who missed my last blog, in short, ‘Level 0’ is the process of enabling users to resolve their own incidents and requests.

Obviously, one way of implementing ‘Level 0’ is to shut off the phone lines and email addresses of the Help Desk. A very effective way of getting users involved in the process, but not one I would recommend to anyone wanting a long future in an organisation. Of course, sometimes we implement this method by under-resourcing our support teams – but that is the subject for another blog.

To implement ‘Level 0’, users have to have the information available to them to resolve issues as they arise. So how do we give these to them.

There are a number of tools available.

The Knowledge

It has been famed around the world that London cabbies spend years “doing the knowledge” — learning every street, lane, theatre, hospital and pub in London — before they can sit for the exam to obtain a cab licence. Do we need to ensure that before any person joins the organisation they have an intimate knowledge of computer hardware, software, networking etc.?

No, because now, they can be like today’s Sydney cabbies who avoid “the knowledge” by having a SatNav or GPS system in the cab. Our users’ SatNav can be a Knowledge Base.

The move to implementing “KCS” or Knowledge Centred Support has been going for a number of years, but for many organisations, this has been limited to building knowledge bases directed at and only available to the support team — not the user. With the development of Web 2.0+, users are becoming more accustomed to “googling” for solutions and answers and also using self-help resources that are a part of the major social media sites. I admit, in doing these blogs, I have often consulted the blog site’s help pages and Support Forums.

So KCS is one of the tools that can be deployed as part of the “shift to the left.” But to do this, we have to make sure that we develop our KCS articles, not for computer engineers, or if we are deploying across an enterprise , HR experts or accountants etc, but for the average user and common issues.

Self-analysis

No, I’m not becoming Tony Robbins — all “SHAMish” (Self Help and Actualisation Movement) — perish the thought — or bringing Freud onto the Help Desk — even though at times he might be useful in dealing with users, but more IKEA!

The results of some IKEA assembly projects might belie the concept — but I assume that they have more successes than failures through the step-by-step self-assembly process.

A few — well maybe many — years ago, I was involved in a project that required me to have what is called an “Assumed Rank” in the Australian Armed Services. I made Colonel for a month — the duration of the contract — but thankfully did not have to do the physical, wear a drab khaki uniform, bear arms or be saluted. But I did get into the Officers’ Mess and people had to answer my questions in a respectful way, but that is past. What I did get to find out was how the most complex maintenance and repair processes for a fighter jet could be broken down into simple steps and documented so that even I could have replaced, as an instance, the wiring loom on an F-111 or the laser-guidance system. The “repair manual” — and it was all hard-copy — was contained in a room-full of filing cabinets and needed a librarian to keep it in order and up-to-date. This of course was an extension of the production line methodology introduced by Henry Ford at his eponymous company to make the most complex consumer engineering  product of the day — the motor car — with relatively unskilled workers. Other car makers of the time were using skilled engineers and coach-makers to make one car at a time.

As the makers of the F-111 and Henry Ford knew, every process can be broken down to simple steps and delivered in an appropriate way to produce a complex result. For Ford this was a car; for General Dynamics it was the F-111 repair manual; for us this can be a fault-finding and resolution process.

In fact for the client mentioned above, we implemented such a system — a fault-finding process that enables staff with little or no technical knowledge to analyse and, in over 30% of cases, resolve issues with lap-tops ranging from OS to wireless network issues through a series of simple steps that relied on the answers to a number of questions and test activities that they could understand and carry out.

So another tool in the “Level 0” process, is intelligent and responsive self-analysis and resolution tools. What is sometimes called an “expert system.”

Information, Contribution, Monitoring & Feedback

Implementing “Level 0” also requires openness of information and a positive response to user feedback.

Users should be given every opportunity to be a part of the process.

Where KCS is implemented, users should be able to rate and suggest improvements to KCS articles and guides and also author and submit new KCS articles. As well as providing another source of input into the KCS system, users will develop a group ownership of the KCS system and its acceptance will be more easily gained.

This is also true of any self-analysis and resolution process. A network engineer may be able to define the step-by-step process for resetting a head-end switch, but it may take some input from an end-user to enunciate the process in easily understood vocabulary or point out areas that need better definition.

Users must also be contribute to the areas that need to be covered in the KCS or self-service system. What the experts think are trivial matters, may be a source of confusion to users.

Access to monitoring information in a easily understandable format can reduce calls on the Service Desk. If users know that a system is down for maintenance then they have no need to log a call.

And of course feedback to users is essential when they make a contribution or highlight an area that needs better coverage.

In part 3, I will look at ways to integrate these tools into web-based portals that can be deployed to users.

 

 

 

 

Kinetic Data Training

By Derick Larson

You’ve purchased Kinetic Request or Kinetic Survey, you got it installed, you have some requirements scoped out—now what? Well, how about some training!

There are manuals to help and even web videos, but there is just no substitute for a knowledgeable person to come and help get you started. One of the best ways to do this is with a training class. Kinetic Data offers four different classes to help you get started (or restarted it it’s been awhile) with Kinetic Request, Kinetic Task and Kinetic Survey.

If you have purchased only Kinetic Survey, the choice is easy. We offer a two day Kinetic Survey Manager class and a one day Administrator class. During class you will learn all about developing survey templates including questions, text, images, formatting with cascading style sheets, events and integrations. This class is for people that will be creating and maintaining survey templates. During the Administrator class, we walk through performing an integration to a sample BMC Remedy form, and talk about installations, where and how data is stored, and using some custom javascript. The Administrator class is for BMC Remedy administrators, and is also useful for report writers.

If you purchased Kinetic Request (or better yet, both Kinetic Survey and Kinetic Request), there are more options for classes. First there is the four day Kinetic Request Manager class which includes everything from the Kinetic Survey Manager class (so you can take the Kinetic Request class and be covered for Kinetic Survey!) and adds on a day of talking about the Kinetic Task Engine. You’ll learn how to create your own task trees and all about our basic handlers and others available from the Kinetic Task Community (ktc.kineticdata.com). Like the Kinetic Survey class, this class is for people that create and maintain service items and service catalogs. And, the same Administrator class is offered as the fourth day of training.

With the addition of Kinetic Task, bundled with Kinetic Request, we have two additional classes. The first is aone day web based classthat is focused on building task trees for Kinetic Request. It is essentially day three of the Kinetic Request Manager class and is great for customers that are upgrading from older versions, or just want some insight into how Kinetic Task works.

The last class we offer is a three day course just on Kinetic Task Advanced Training. It includes all the material from the one day online class and adds two days of breaking down and creating the task handlers that are part of what makes the ne Kinetic Task engine so powerful.

The Kinetic Survey Manager, Kinetic Request Manager, Kinetic Administrator, and the Kinetic Task Advanced Training are all available both at a local St Paul, Minnesota training center (see our web site for specific schedules) or you can have a trainer come to your site. The one day Kinetic Task Builder class is offered as on on-line class only at this time.

One of the best reasons to have a trainer come to your site is customization. As much as possible, we will customize the training class to your needs and specific requirements. We will happily change or update our in-class examples to your specific needs. And, if there are specific items that you want included in training, we can make sure they are part of your curriculum.

Contact us at training@kineticdata.com to inquire about availability and cost. Let us help you get your Kinetic Data project off to a great start.

So You Want to Change the Out-Of-The-Box Workflow or Forms?

By Derick Larson

So you love our Kinetic Data products (of course), but there is this one thing that your customers are asking for that means you might have to alter the out-of-the-box workflow or forms.

What Now?

Have no fear. Remember that behind the scenes Kinetic Request, Kinetic Survey, and Kinetic Calendar are all built on BMC Remedy, a configurable automation system. Using the Remedy Administrator Tool or Developer Studio (depending on your version of Remedy) you have total control to change the application to suit your customers’ needs.

While this sounds great, even easy, there are a couple things that you want to watch out for.

Upgrades and Patches

Every time you upgrade or patch the application, there is the possibility of our updates overwriting your customizations. It is very important that you track and record all of your customizations so you can setup the application the way you (and your customers) want it.

Migrating Environments

Just like after an upgrade, if you migrate a Kinetic Data application from one environment to another, your changes need to be accounted for. Most customers mark any workflow changes with either a unique character (*, = or +) or a standard abbreviation pre-pended to the name. Forms are a little harder to notate changes, and may require a separate document.

What are “Normal” Customizations?

Over the years we have learned that there are not many customizations needed in either Kinetic Request or Kinetic Survey. Almost the entire interface with customers is done through the Service Items or Survey Templates. However, there are a few that are popular:

  • Removing Delete Options—this includes removing or disabling the delete buttons for templates and catalogs
  • Changing Access using BMC Remedy Permissions—often done to open up access to the BMC Remedy Administrator links to Configuration, Integration Manager and Report Manager
  • Adding Custom Workflow for Submitted Templates—Not a true customization to the product, but we do provide a specific filter guide for filters that need to fire when a template is submitted. The guide is called “KS_SRV_CustSurveyResultsJoin_RunCustomLogic”

If you and your customers think your customization of the product is coolhey! We might too. Let us know of any interesting changes to the product and they may end up in the next version.

As always, feel free to contact Kinetic Data support with any questions or comments about customizations or any other topic.