Service Providers—Configure Your Service Processes for Superior Business Value

By Brett Norgaard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Service Providers—Do the Math on Visible and Hidden Benefits

By Brett Norgaard

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

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

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

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

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

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

Forrester Research Outsourcing Trends—How Service Providers Can Capitalize

By Brett Norgaard

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

Here are the key trends:

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

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

There are new models with embedded portfolio management practices emerging:

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

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

Business benefits of new model:

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

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

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

How Kinetic Data enables capitalizing on these trends:

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

Service Providers Innovate in the New World of Multi-tenancy 2.0

Multi-tenancy 1.0
Multi-tenancy has long been the model of the outsourcing industry. Multi-tenancy is usually defined as using a single instance of an application to service multiple client organizations (or tenants) over a single, shared infrastructure. The value of this approach increased when service providers discovered that comprehensive IT service management platforms (such as BMC Remedy™) could be re-architected to serve multiple clients if customer data could be kept segmented and secure. The same service—help desk, desktop management, IT asset management or other IT service—could be pushed out to multiple clients. Clients enjoyed all of the benefits typically associated with outsourcing: cost-savings, efficiency and the ability to focus resources on core business competencies rather than on IT. Outsourcers benefited from the ability to easily scale up to serve multiple clients without needing to purchase and support multiple instances of the same software. The model served outsourcers well for many years.

But three trends are making Multi-tenancy 1.0 obsolete:

  1. The pressure to innovate. The outsourcing market is reasonably mature. While new players continue to enter the market, familiar faces often compete for the same business. This has placed more pressure on service providers to innovate and to demonstrate to clients that they understand their unique business requirements and offer the capacity for value-added solutions delivery.
  2. Outsourced IT services have expanded well beyond traditional service desk functions. Instead of handling only problem resolution, outsourcers are now processing requests, handling approvals, coordinating fulfillment, and more.
  3. Businesses are changing their thinking about IT, a change being driven by the ways employees are using the IT services provided to them. When employees leave their physical workplace, they often continue working using laptops, tablets, smart phones and home computers. People have come to expect technology to be easy, engaging and empowering. They are increasingly frustrated by applications and services that don’t provide this experience.

These trends place new pressure on service providers.
Their business models are based on the ability to apply one software infrastructure across many clients. But those infrastructures weren’t originally envisioned to support a client-centric environment in which:

  • Clients increasingly demand a uniquely tailored interactive experience;
  • Employees want co-created self-service, self-help and self-provisioning; and
  • Clients want end-to-end services that require integration with enterprise applications beyond IT, such as HR, facilities, and procurement.

Service providers have made multimillion-dollar investments in their software infrastructures. Few relish the prospect of abandoning these investments, but many are beginning to realize that Multi-tenancy 1.0, as described here, no longer allows them to keep up with changing client needs and marketplace conditions. Customization at the client level, which requires programming at the application level, will continue to be too expensive, time-consuming and risky. Changes or additions will continue to amplify risks. Customizations will be lost during upgrades and need to be redone, which again means more money, time, and risk. These problems will limit the service providers’ ability to scale.

Multi-tenancy 2.0
Half a decade ago, Web 2.0 conceptualized a shift from the passive viewing of prebuilt content (Web 1.0) to an interactive user-centric Internet. Multi-tenancy 2.0 conceptualizes a similar approach for services providers. It doesn’t require service providers to abandon their well-established service platforms, but rather positions those platforms as back-office applications instead of forcing them to serve both front-end and back-office needs simultaneously.

As back-office tools, IT service management platforms will continue to provide robust, stable, process-driven, and standards-based platforms for addressing incident and problem resolution, change management, service-level agreements, and configuration management databases. But in front-end roles where there is a growing need to provide tailored and client-centric customer innovations—such as request management via self-service portals, service catalogs, approvals, fulfillment, visibility, interactivity, collaboration, and co-created services—most IT service management platforms are inadequate. In today’s outsourcing environment, forcing a back-office system to accommodate both back- and front-end roles is an increasingly untenable proposition.

Moving from Multi-tenancy 1.0 to 2.0 imposes eight new demands on service providers:

  1. Configurability at the client level that is swift to deploy, requires no programming, is persistent through upgrades, and is adaptable to a continually changing environment;
  2. The ability to configure a secure, tailored experience for each client—whether at the user, department, group or enterprise level;
  3. The capability for client innovation with low risk—meaning customizations for one client should have no impact on others;
  4. Service item portability—new service items can be created in a test environment, zipped up, installed, and run in the production environment with no manual rework, and best-practice service items can be imported into different environments and run confidently;
  5. The ability to accommodate today’s interactive and collaborative way of working whenever, wherever and from any device—company or personally owned;
  6. The ability to integrate service items to enterprise applications for both simple and complex services
  7. The ability to swiftly transition new clients to a service platform; and
  8. Continual improvement and the ability to innovate.

Service Provider Innovation
The reusability of service items is one of the keys to service provider innovation in the new world of Multi-tenancy 2.0. With the Kinetic Data Multi-Tenant Suite, service providers can capture, replicate, and re-deploy new service items developed for one client across their entire customer base. Service items configured using Kinetic Data’s architecture contain a task tree that is a visible representation of the actual service item. It is abstracted from the branding and theming to provide reusability and portability in any BMC Remedy environment version 6 or greater. Innovations designed for one purpose or client can be captured, re-branded, zipped up, installed, tested, and registered for another client.


For further information on the new world of Multi-Tenancy 2.0 check out the white paper:
 Multi-tenancy 2.0: Service Provider Innovation and Customizing the Client Experience .

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

By Brett Norgaard,

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

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

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

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

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

Service Provider Innovation – Three Easy Pieces

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

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

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

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

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

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

Personalizing Kinetic Calendar

By Derick Larson

Kinetic Calendar is possibly my favorite product—and not just because we get fewer support calls. Kinetic Calendar gives you an entirely new way to view your Remedy data and opens it up to a much wider audience.

The most common question about Kinetic Calendar is how to let customers view the events they want without making multiple calendars. The idea is to give the customer a lot of data and let them “filter” down to what is important to them. This lets you have one main calendar that customers can personalize for their own requirements.

For example, you have one change management calendar that multiple departments use to view their changes. You could create multiple calendars, but that is limiting if a customer wants to see the changes for multiple departments. Filtering lets the customer personalize the calendar, without requiring you to make any changes to the actual calendar definition.

Filtering is done two ways.

First, there is an event type for a calendar called Filtered that lets you select fields (from the BMC Remedy form you are using for your data) for your customers to filter the individual events. You can set the order of the fields and even set a default. The fields are listed along the top of the web display of the calendar for the customer to choose.

The second method allows you to put parts of your qualification in the URL that is used to display the calendar. You have to build your own web page to collect the parameters and call the URL (Kinetic Request and Kinetic Survey are perfect for this), but you can really add to your customers experience by letting them make selections before the calendar is displayed. This method uses a feature called Parameter Values, and can be combined with the filters.

Combining the two methods together allows you to present very informative and personalized views into your own BMC Remedy data. For example, a service provider could see events by one or multiple companies, or their customers can be limited to just their own tickets, but still have the ability to filter based on other criteria like priority, status or assigned to group.

Let us know what cool things you’ve done with Kinetic Calendar—we love to share ideas and experiences with our customers.

Service Providers Accrue Enterprise Value Benefits from All Clients

By Brett Norgaard

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

Here’s a breakdown of the formula:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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