As the Kinetic Vision blog approaches another significant milestone, its 200th post, here’s a look back at the top 20 most-read posts since the blog’s launch in March of 2011.
Not surprisingly, the phrases that occur most frequently in the posts below indicate readers are most interested in industry research about request management (that’s what we do), its applications (service catalogs, employee onboarding, BYOD) and its benefits (cost savings, process automation, risk management).
It’s also not surprising many of these are “evergreen” posts; these are articles with a long “shelf life” that continue to draw significant numbers of views month after month. The most-read post so far in 2015 (How IT Will Change by 2020 – Research From HDI) narrowly missed the list below, coming in at #23 all-time.
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.
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.
Selecting a new IT vendor is about more than just checking off boxes for product features and functions. Functionality is important of course, but it’s table stakes.
When you’ll be relying on a software application to help fundamentally improve your business operations and the working lives of employees, it’s imperative to get to know the vendor behind the product.
Is the company reliable? Are they the kind of people you’ll enjoy working with on an ongoing basis? Are they committed to helping you achieve your professional objectives—or just out to make a sale?
This 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.”
Do you know how much your organization actually spends on information technology? The answer may surprise you.
According to recent research from advisory firm CEB, “CIOs globally estimate that the ‘shadow’ IT spend in other areas of the business represents another 20 percent on top of the official IT budget. However, the real figure is closer to 40 percent.” Marketing, HR, operations and finance groups are most likely to have their own dedicated IT budgets.
Though it’s important for IT departments to understand and address the issues raised by these unofficial technology investments, “shadow” IT spending isn’t all bad. Andrew Horne, managing director at CEB, noted: “While the idea of ‘shadow spending’ has in the past been seen as a risk or threat, on the contrary it is often a sign of healthy innovation and presents a valuable opportunity for IT to work more closely with business partners to develop new capabilities.”
An enterprise request management (ERM) strategy can be invaluable in assuring that all technology spending is done efficiently (i.e., that departments don’t unnecessarily overpay or duplicate spending) and adheres to compliance and security requirements. The objective needn’t be excessively tight control, but rather a matter of providing guiderails to keep overall enterprise technology spending on track.
An ERM approach provides:
An intuitive, unified web portal for all types of service requests, across all shared services functions within an enterprise. Giving department managers a common, easy to use tool for creating, managing and optimizing their own request process workflows reduces the perceived need to work “outside the system.”
Transparency in service costs, so everyone understands the costs and other departments can work with IT to minimize technology-related service delivery costs.
Exposure for all available services, whether delivered by a single functional group or through the coordinated efforts of different departments. This helps avoid duplicate efforts or spending, and helps functional groups identify opportunities for increased coordination to reduce service fulfillment time and costs.
While shadow IT spending is a concern for CIOs, it presents opportunities as well as risks. Utilizing an ERM approach to service request and fulfillment can help IT groups reduce unneeded spending and address compliance and security concerns while giving functional groups the flexibility they need to improve their own processes and efficiency through technology acquisition.
The world of retailing has never been easy, but retailers today face unprecedented challenges: product commoditization, “showrooming,” short product lifecycles, margin compression, and the challenge of meeting increasing customer expectations while reducing costs.
Self service is one way to reduce costs, and hardly a new idea. The problem is that while it saves money, self service has too often diminished the customer experience, leading to frustration rather than delight. That’s because, as noted previously here, self service 1.0 was focused on providing information; it “didn’t give users what they really wanted: the ability to get broken things fixed, and to order new things.”
Self service 2.0, on the other hand, is focused on action. It provides customers (internal or external) with actionable services, enabling them to make specific requests, track the progress of those service requests at any time, and provide feedback on the timeliness and quality of service received. It automates processes to accelerate service delivery, eliminate redundant and error-prone processes, and reduce costs. But just as important (if not more so), it’s designed to improve the customer experience.
Actionable IT service catalogs are one example of self service 2.0. But while useful and efficient, their focus on IT services limited their value to retail (or other types of) organizations, and made them yet another department system to be learned and navigated.
Enterprise request management (ERM) is an ideal strategy for taking self service 2.0 out of department silos and extending it across the enterprise. It provides a single intuitive web-based portal for requesting any type of service. External customers can access a public-facing portal for ordering and checking the status of various types of services. Retail employees can access an internal portal for ordering services from HR, IT, facilities, or even complex services involving multiple functions.
For example, no retailer wants a customer to have to wait for attention from an employee who is on-hold with a technician, trying to resolve a problem with a point-of-sale terminal. With ERM, the employee can order the repair online (from a PC, tablet or smart phone), and get an instant estimate of the expected repair time (as well as the ability to track request status). Spending less time resolving such service issues not only reduces costs, it makes life better for both the employee and the customer.
While implementing an ERM strategy generally requires some new technology investments, most global retailers already have many of the pieces in place (such as HR, ITMS, supply chain and other departmental and enterprise software platforms). ERM is designed to leverage existing technology and training investments. And it empowers departmental managers to create, manage and optimize their own business processes—with minimal technical assistance—speeding adoption across the organization.
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.”
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.
The technical architecture of a business service catalog or enterprise request management (ERM) implementation encompasses a system of engagement (user interface), systems of record (underlying ITSM, ERP and other enterprise platforms) and an orchestration engine to manage communication between systems, as well as reporting and analytics tools to help manage and optimize service fulfillment.
In the Forrester Research white paper Master the Service Catalog Solution Landscape in 2013, authors Eveline Oehrlich and Courtney Bartlett define three levels of service catalog maturity. At the most basic level, organizations are focused on “delivering IT services to consumers through a standard set of choices and/or requests.”
At level two, the service catalog automates enterprise services, and at level three it acts as a “service broker.” The ERM concept operates at the intersection of these levels. For example, new employee onboarding is a process—but one that includes much more than just IT services (important as those are), also invoking required services from human resources, accounting, facilities, office management and potentially other functional groups.
According to Forrester, the highest level service catalog architecture comprises the demand side from the business and the supply side capabilities of IT (and other functions and departments). The “demand side” component is defined as “the highest level of the service catalog. It’s the front end, the portal, or the menu that presents only services that solve business user problems…It should be simple, intuitive, and in layman’s terms–too much detail complicates user experience. Less is more.”
That definition correlates nicely with the description of the ideal ERM front end: simple and intuitive (so it requires no training to use), web-based (so it’s accessible anytime, anywhere, from any device), and comprehensive (so it provides “one-stop shopping” for enterprise services, regardless of the department[s] responsible for service fulfillment).
Among the four components that comprise the “middle level” of the service catalog architecture are consumers of the service catalog and interfaces. It should be noted here that the “interface” need not be identical for all users. That is, while the fundamental look and feel is consistent, users can be presented with different service item choices based on their login (e.g., line employees can’t requisition a new hire; sales and other employees who spend a great deal of time traveling may be presented with different hardware options than those who work primarily in an office; etc.).
Finally, among the components of the “lower level service catalog” architecture is “integration with IT systems and business applications.” This is where an orchestration engine, or workflow automation software fits. It eliminates the need for redundant manual data entry into multiple systems by passing information securely as needed between different enterprise software systems and automating tasks such as management approvals and resource scheduling.
Oehrlich and Bartlett conclude that “In the future, the term ‘service catalog’ may be rendered obsolete, as a service catalog initiative is so much more than just a catalog—it’s the management of the life cycle of various services demanded and consumed by the business users.” This is achieved by an ERM strategy: business users get the intuitive service request, status tracking, and personalization of a site like Amazon.com, within the context of enterprise business service management.