How Come Our Culture Isn’t Better?

Week 3 in a three-part series about differentiation.
Hiring the right people. Have you seen this done well? If we accept that failure is inevitable, meaning you How Culturecan’t hire perfectly well %100 of the time, then how do you make sure you’re getting the right people to fill your needs?
That’s easy!
Are you accomplishing your goals? Are you exceeding them? These two questions capture the urgency and essence of how truly great companies look for ideas.
This desire for new ideas, a thirsty exploration and acceptance of ideas is something I’ve seen firsthand at only a couple organizations. If you find it, take note, for you are in the presence of something very great. A culture that begs for change is not something you can create overnight, and something that I suspect doesn’t scale.
In both cases, the culture of the organization was the first goal right at the beginning. If you have competing goals, and a different primary goal you will be quickly distracted with profit, product or performance and one of the millions of details of running a successful organization.

Six Vital BYOD Stats – And The Bigger Productivity Picture

Most organizations have now adopted BYOD policies, permitting or encouraging employees to use their personal computing and communications devices at work. Though the embrace of BYOD varies—small companies are more likely to adopt BYOD than large enterprises, tech companies more than government, U.S. firms more than those in Europe—a clear majority of respondents in a recent survey by Tech Pro Research “say that their organization is using or planning to use BYOD.”

BYOD stats and impact on productivityIt is easy to see why employees want to use their own devices, with reasons ranging from familiarity to freedom. Meanwhile, employers often see the shift (despite additional security measures required) as a way to save money. And research compiled by BMC Software indicates BYOD users work longer hours. But do BYOD policies ultimately improve productivity?

Continue reading “Six Vital BYOD Stats – And The Bigger Productivity Picture”

The Technology HR Managers Want Most

“‘What’s the one thing human resource information system (HRIS) managers hope to accomplish’ with new HR technology?,” Aliah D. Wright asked recently on SHRM.org.

The answer, she reported in Wanted: Amazon.com-like Experience with HR Tech, is to “improve user experience,” based on fresh research from Information Services Group (ISG).

ERM portal combining HRIS plus other enterprise shared servicesThis isn’t surprising, given the link between workplace technology and employee satisfaction. Wright quotes Debora Card, a partner at ISG: “As the ‘war for talent’ heats up, CEOs recognize that their employees—especially Millennials—expect their interactions with HR departments to be as easy and engaging as shopping on Amazon.”

Continue reading “The Technology HR Managers Want Most”

How ERM Helps With Employee Retention

To enhance their competitiveness (or to address the expectations of stakeholders, in the case of government agencies), organizations have been investing in new and better technology for decades. These investments are generally made to meet one (or some combination of) of four primary objectives:
Technology that makes employees happy

  • to reduce costs;
  • to improve product or process quality;
  • to accelerate workflow; or
  • to enable new capabilities.

Employees were provided with and trained on the use of new technologies and tools in order to do their jobs more effectively and efficiently. True, in many cases new technologies made employees jobs easier, but the primary objectives for new investments were still focused on operational and financial benefit for the enterprise. Continue reading “How ERM Helps With Employee Retention”

The Five Most Popular Posts on Kinetic Vision of 2014 (So Far)

As we reach the halfway point of 2014, here’s a quick look at the five most-read posts on the Kinetic Vision blog so far this year. If there’s a common thread among these five posts, it’s that while all of them pertain to IT, none of them are limited to the technical realm; rather, all of these posts reflect the strategic engagement of IT with business functions and other shared services groups within organizations.

Five top posts of the first half of 2014
Image credit: Weston Signs

In general, these posts are practical (four provide how-to guidance); informative (three reflect industry research); cross-functional (two are focused on employee onboarding); and evergreen (two were published prior to this year).

Enjoy this look back at the most-read posts on the blog so far this year, and to our readers in the U.S. and Canada, enjoy the holidays this week!

10 Key Benefits of a Business Service Catalog: Forrester Research, Part 2
August 27, 2013

IT service catalogs reduce the time and cost of delivering technical services while improving the user experience. But the benefits of service catalogs needn’t be limited to the provision of IT services; an expanded view of the service catalog to encompass all shared services groups in the organization (e.g., HR, finance, facilities, etc.) extends the cost savings of service catalogs while also providing employees with a single, intuitive interface for requesting any type of enterprise service. Forrester Research has identified a number of reasons for undertaking such a business service catalog effort.

Five Key BYOD Trends and Statistics You Need to Know
March 4, 2014

As interest in BYOD skyrocketed between late 2011 and mid-2012, the initial resistance from both executive management and IT quickly gave way to scrambling to accommodate employee preferences while safeguarding corporate applications and data.  18 months later, fresh research shows that while organizations are maturing in their approach to BYOD, both the level of preparedness and nature of adaptation varies considerably. Here are five key trends.

Four Ways to Optimize the New Employee Onboarding Process
January 7, 2014

Implementing an organized onboarding process makes life better for both the organization and the new employee, at what is often a very stressful time. What’s needed is for managers in each department to map out their onboarding tasks, approvals and deliverables, and coordinate these tasks with other departments. Then look for opportunities to automate as many of the tasks as possible.

Automating Employee Onboarding and Provisioning Processes with Request Management
June 12, 2012

The benefits of automating onboarding and provisioning include less paperwork, reduced costs and increased efficiency. Perhaps most importantly, proper onboarding and provisioning makes new employees feel welcome, prepared, and  confident they have the resources to quickly make an impact within the organization. There are several ways to automate employee onboarding and provisioning, including purpose-built applications, but using a Request Management application is perhaps the simplest and most efficient way to do it.

Systems of Engagement: How to Get Revolutionary Business Results from an Evolutionary IT Approach
February 4, 2014

Legacy management and control software platforms weren’t designed to support lightweight, mobile, wireless access. Certainly, a “rip and replace” approach is one way to address this—but both business users and their IT counterparts cringe at the thought of the time, expense, and business disruption of this approach, not to mention the loss of substantial intellectual and financial capital invested in existing core enterprise systems. A better approach is to retain those core business applications (systems of record), while providing the simplified, flexible, web-based access required by business users through interface-layer systems of engagement.

Four Ways to Optimize the New Employee Onboarding Process

New employees are the lifeblood of every organization. Beyond natural turnover, at some point in any enterprise it’s impossible to grow without adding people.

Implementing an organized onboarding process makes life better for both the organization and the new employee, at what is often a very stressful time. Enterprises want to get new employees settled in, up to speed, and contributing productively as quickly as possible. Employees want to get started on their jobs with minimal wait time and chaos.

And yet, “at many companies, provisioning new hires is a haphazard affair, often amounting to little more than handing out a laptop and a building pass,” according to the Wall Street Journal in How (and How Not) to Train New Staff on IT. While the WSJ article focuses on information technology issue, its recommendations can easily be expanded to encompass the entire employee onboarding process.

Have Everything Ready

According the WSJ article, “Many of the mistakes companies make come from starting too late and not having a clear ‘onboarding’ process.” While IT clearly plays a pivotal role in bringing new employees into the company (provisioning computer hardware, mobile device management, email and application access, phones, printer access and more), several other departments also need to be involved.

Employee Onboarding Process Task TreeHuman resources (HR) needs to get the employee set up with payroll, benefits, emergency contact information, training, etc. Facilities needs up to set and provision furnishings for the employee’s workspace. Accounting needs to coordinate pay- and expense-based setup tasks with HR. And so on.

What’s needed is for managers in each department to map out their onboarding tasks, approvals and deliverables, and coordinate these tasks with other departments. Then look for opportunities to automate as many of the tasks as possible to reduce labor, costs, and the potential for errors due to redundant manual data entry.

While onboarding processes will be different across departments and levels (e.g., the process for a call center operator will differ from a departmental VP), many of the same tasks still apply. So, a basic onboarding task workflow can be created, then modified as needed for various roles.

Simplify Systems Access

“One of the dumb ways of getting new employees set up is to have a complex process of approval for access to systems. New staff members can end up waiting days or weeks for managers in different departments to give them access to what they need,” according to the WSJ story.

Provisioning role-based system and application access should be part of the onboarding process flow as described above. For situations where the employee is in a new role for which systems access isn’t completely defined, or in which it’s determined after the employee starts that he or she needs access to an application that wasn’t specified in the onboarding process, incorporation of an enterprise request management (ERM) strategy (sort of an “Amazon.com” for any type of internal company service and equipment requests) can enable that access gap to be quickly filled.

Control the Bring-Your-Own Device (BYOD) Chaos

As noted here previously, a properly implemented BYOD approach can both keep employees happy and reduce costs for the organization. The Journal article is spot-on that there do need to be guiderails around on the program, with both limitations and requirements clearly communicated up front, but “banning all personal devices is increasingly unrealistic.”

Training Done by Humans

“Giving someone access to an intranet site with instructions to read it and watch a few videos isn’t as effective as one-to-one training,” as the WSJ points out, but there is an even smarter approach. Pardon the cliché, but this is an area where “thinking outside the box” can really make a difference.

Rather than just considering various methods of training, consider designing new interfaces—what Forrester Research calls “systems of engagement“—on top of vital, but often complex, core enterprise applications (systems of record).

For example, a call center operator may need to utilize information from multiple applications and screens in order to answer even a few common questions. Rather than spend hours on training (regardless of the method used), build a simple interface with perhaps just a handful of clearly-labeled fields that provides the operator with the essential capabilities and information needed to resolve the customer issue while hiding all of the underlying complexity and cross-system navigation.

This approach can reduce to training time required, at least for many common tasks, to virtually zero. A simple user interface that eliminates the need for training is often the best training approach of all.

The combination of mapping the entire onboarding process flow, automating as many tasks as feasible, and doing as much of this work as possible before the employee arrives for the first day on the job, will get each new employee off to a comfortable, chaos-free and productive start as rapidly as possible.

For more information on this topic, download the white paper Business Process Automation Anywhere and Everywhere.

The Evolution of the Service Catalog – Here’s What Comes Next: Forrester Research, Part 1

The concept of the IT service catalog isn’t going away but it is evolving. As a caterpillar turns into a butterfly through metamorphosis, so the IT service catalog is being transformed. It will emerge in forward-thinking organizations as a higher-level entity called the business service catalog.

That’s one of the core takeaways from Master the Service Catalog Solution Landscape in 2013, a Forrester Research white paper. Authors Eveline Oehrlich and Courtney Bartlett introduce the white paper by stating that, “The successful IT organization no longer just keeps the lights on—this organization enables the business to achieve organizationwide goals. To facilitate this shift, IT organizations must now focus on…delivery…of services rather than IT technologies. To do this you must have a service catalog.” But most current IT service catalogs, focused on descriptions of services IT offers to the business, are inadequate to this task.

As IT moves from a supplier of services to playing a more central role in driving business initiatives and success, its mission must shift from information technology (IT) to what Forrester terms “business technology” (BT). “The shift from IT to BT requires new models for how technology is delivered, operated, and supported. Services must be defined, and there is no right or wrong way to do this.” (Though there is a fast way, as previously described here in How to Automate High-Volume Service Item Creation for Faster Service Catalog Deployment.)

Furthermore, per the authors, “Forrester believes services should be primarily defined from a customer point of view,  or with a particular business outcome in mind. As IT moves from being a provider of technologies to a broker of services involving technology, a comprehensive service catalog becomes imperative for the health and future of the business.” In other words, the BT vision means extending the service catalog beyond IT to encompass services provided by departments and functions across the organization.

Forrester Research Employee Onboarding ModelFor example, the figure at right shows a simplified list of services associated with onboarding a new employee. Most of the services shown are provided by IT. The goal of employee onboarding, however, is to get new employees productive as quickly as possible; ideally, new employees would have everything they need in order to do their jobs at their fingertips on their first day. This holds not only for new employees, but for those transferred to a new role or new location as well.

The image below shows an example task tree for an employee onboarding process: not only the different departments involved (IT, facilities, HR,  etc.) but also the multiple approvals and fulfillment actions required to fully provision a newly hired employee.

Employee Onboarding Process Task TreeForrester’s BT vision thus nicely correlates with the concept of enterprise request management (ERM). The business service catalog must be actionable (not merely defining services); it must extend beyond IT into services delivered by other functions (such as HR and facilities); and it must be capable of managing complex processes spanning multiple departments and business functions—while shielding the business user from that complexity.

Part two of this series will detail the benefits of undertaking a business service catalog initiative, and part three will outline the architectural requirements.

For more on this topic:

How Forrester’s Smart Process Apps Fit with Enterprise Request Management

Forrester Research recently published a report titled Smart Process Applications Fill A Big Business Gap. The title is certainly apt, since smart process apps as Forrester defines them are essentially specific business process workflows modeled in an enterprise request management (ERM) framework.

The analysts define smart process apps (SPAs) as “a new category of business application software designed to support processes that are people-intensive, highly variable, loosely structured, and subject to frequent change. Smart process apps fill the gap between systems of record and systems of engagement by automating both structured and unstructured work activities in support of collaborative processes.”

Task Map for an Employee Onboarding ProcessBreaking that down, an SPA is essentially software “plumbing” that enables functional department managers (in IT, HR, facilities, accounting, operations or other areas) to define business process flows, then manages those flows to accomplish a specific task (which can be as simple as changing a user’s security access settings or as complex as onboarding a new employee).

Because such processes are “subject to frequent change,” the SPA must make it easy to modify existing workflows as well as create new ones. Because the processes are collaborative, the SPA must be able to communicate with and between people through “systems of engagement” (online forms, intranet applications, or request management software like Kinetic Request) and “systems of record” (federated enterprise systems such as ERP software, financial and reporting applications, HR suites, email systems, etc.).

The Forrester report further states that “SPAs increasingly incorporate BPM (business process management)…mobile development frameworks…(and) business rules package integration”—all of which sounds much like the Kinetic Task workflow automation software engine—as well as “complex event management” (a function of the Kinetic Calendar online calendar tool).

Among the characteristics of such software, the report authors include, “SPAs make processes easier for employees to comprehend and interact with.” Within the context of ERM, the software should enable employees to not only easily request a business service but also to monitor the status of that request (much like online package tracking offered by major shippers); it should also make it easy for managers to create, review and adjust the processes required to fulfill the service request. In addition, SPAs will incorporate “advanced analytics (that) deliver just-in-time insight within context.” In an ERM strategy, the underlying system collects and reports on metrics regarding process and sub-task completion times and costs to support continual improvement.

Finally, the Forrester report predicts that “The next generation of packaged process applications will encapsulate…process models in these collaborative business processes yet make it possible for business people to modify the app to reflect continuous improvement in how collaboration, engagement, and interaction can occur.” The “next generation” of applications may or may not do these things—but Kinetic Task does much of this today.

Want to learn more? Download this white paper on our approach to enterprise-wide holistic  business process automation (BPA).