Designing Great Forms

I posted an example last week of a form I encountered that really stuck out to me. It really shocked me how good it was.

Awesome_Form_Design

Can you spot what stood out to me?

There are standard good things about this form:

  1. A graphical representation of where I am in the process
  2. Simple entry fields with clear field name
  3. A submission button that is clear

Yeah, yeah… it’s a form. I expect all those things.

What struck me about this form was that it didn’t care about me! It was asking for my child’s name, not mine. The credit card holder.

So what Matt?

So what? That’s my daughter! She means the world to me. No surprise there either.

So why is this so good?

Later in the process, as I’m discovering their services and receiving communications this form gives them an edge. They now have the power to influence my experience in a way you couldn’t without my daughter’s name.

Matt, did Lucy like the kit we sent?

We’ll be sending Lucy’s next kit this week!

This subtle data gives this company the ability to reach me emotionally EVERY time they want to interact with me. They know something their competitors do not; my daughter’s name.

A well designed form is easy to use and has a good entry experience. A truly great form does all that, and empowers business processes to be exceptional.

What can you change in your forms to delight your customers later?

Are you able to test your theories?

If you want the flexibility to build great experiences, empower employees and customers while improving business outcomes you should really check out Kinetic Data today. Don’t want to check out another company in your free time? Send your app dev pros to our developer site, or email us and we’ll check you out instead!

When Systems of Record should be used as Systems of Engagement

TL,DR; Never. Ever. Not even then.

Systems of record are designed to be used by trained professionals using industry terms, metrics and data.

Why on earth would try to open the door to untrained professionals? And if you’re training each employee to use a system of record, aren’t you wasting money and time?

There are tons of examples of this everywhere you look.

Can you imagine diagnosing your car? How about towing it in? Do you even have the right equipment?

Will your interpretation of the diagnosis be accurate?

Stop making non IT users use your IT system, and stop training each and every employee how to use the new HR system.

Spend the time and effort to build an interface that doesn’t require training, and then us modern tech to integrate with all the things.

Enabled employees require little training and focus on what they are great at.

Want to read more? We have a 7 page white paper(pdf link) that goes into great detail on this subject. Or you can an IT focused, shortened version here, or just go and try our software that is designed for this specific purpose.

Your Next ITSM Tool Should be Neither

TL,DR; decouple IT operations from customer service and development. Then realize the incredible savings and benefits thereof.

The term “ITSM” has always bugged me, and I think I know why.

The primary customer of ITSM is IT; everything else is lumped into “customer service” and “customer experience”.

ITSM_WikiEven Wikipedia says there are too many “fluff words” and that ITSM has an unclear definition.

But in IT, we know better. We understand what we’re talking about when we say Service Management. It’s a standard way of operating so we don’t fail.

So why would any business person buy Service Management?

To keep the lights on.

“But that’s what we hired you for! We don’t care what you call it. We don’t want to buy it, we want you to DO IT!”

Then I’ll need $1.5m every three years to replace my tools, redesign processes and…

Wait, $1.5m? Don’t you remember when last year we were managing changes via email? Don’t you remember the spreadsheets of Assets? Why $1.5m?

Technology has become complex and our colleagues want to reduce risk. Some also want to understand the value and depreciation of assets. ITSM is just IT Operations Management + Customer Service.

DING DING DING DING DING DING – we have a winner! Here’s your $1.5 million. But why every three years?

Think of ITSM tools like a car lease. Three years comes along, and it’s time for a fresh smelling one, the latest one with all the bells and whistles.

Do the bells and whistles keep the lights on?

No.

Then why keep upgrading and rebuilding your operations empire?

The tools and practices that surround Service Management change, and they change often.  Have you considered who benefits from that change?

Consider separating your systems of operation from your systems of service. It gives you the freedom to change platforms without impacting your customers.

The impact of this is far greater than you realize. We believe in building systems of engagement separate from systems of record. To understand the nature of this problem:

 

systems-of-recordDoes this image describe your problem? If so, you’ll be interested in understanding our approach to enterprise software. Read more here, or just call us directly: 1-651-556-1030

You are the Software you Buy.

Software reflects the beliefs and assumptions of those who make it.

The mundane decisions developers make affects how companies function. Thus; developers can have a large impact on your functions, teams and success.

Good companies chose platforms, languages and tools that enable their success. Great companies find partners that are enjoyable to work with and share common values.

teamIt’s up to your vendors to be transparent with their culture, sharing their beliefs. And the responsibility is on the enterprise to explore that vendor’s philosophy.

This becomes even more important as you consider platforms that determine long lasting success. If you’re going to have an application for three years or more, how do you expect the software to change? What new decisions are the product managers at that firm going to make in five years?

Can you influence their decisions?

Diligent buyers develop a relationship with a software company before purchasing. Some attend user groups and build something before a sales cycle. Others inspect or fork code on github, or use a trial version.

So, what are you buying? How do the users feel? Have you made a good match? Ask!

To learn more about our culture, watch a short video here. We’ll also continue to post our beliefs and values here, so stay tuned!

Integration Update

We’re always adding to the list of integrations that are pre-developed and free to download. Of course you can create a custom handler for ANY service with modern web integration, but this is just easier and more cost effective :)

This month we added a ton of Azure integrations – so I put together a quick summary of integrations you might be interested in (for a full and updated list always go here.):

Infrastructure Automation

Azure

We’ve added capabilities on both the Government and Cloud sides, specifically focused on Create, Delete, Status, Retrieve, Shutdown, Restart and Start.

Amazon S3

This handler generates an expiring URL for S3. Expiring URLs take a bucket, a key (path + filename) and an expiration and build up a special URL that will give the user access to the file only for a certain time period.

Amazon EC2

There are quite a few in here for working with Images and Instances. Listing, retrieving, statuses and starting/stopping – basic functions you need in EC2.

Chef

Bootstrap a node in chef using Knife.

Rackspace

Create and delete servers.

VMWare

VSphere, for infrastructure automation of course. All kinds of options here.

Tomcat

What else? It reloads :)

OpenNMS

Trigger nodes when records are created, updated and deleted.

Sales and CRM

Salesforce

Lots of functionality like managing contacts and accounts.

Salesforce Pardot

Create and retrieve prospects.

Sugar CRM

Retrieve account records.

Stripe

Take payments and complete checkouts

Task Management

GitHub

There’s too much to list here – but we use it, there’s a ton of integration points.

ServiceNow

Too many to list, users, groups, changes and incidents mainly.

Jira

Again, too many to list… probably because we love it.

Utilities

If you like JSON, XML, CSV and password generation These handlers are for you.

BMC

Lots of shops use BMC – so obviously we have tons of integrations. Check out the Remedy, ITSM, Bladelogic and Atrium integrations.

HP Service Manager

Create and update incidents.

IWise

Create and retrieve incidents

InfoBlox

Create A records, PTR records.

Communication and Collaboration

Basecamp

Tons of integrations, invites, todo’s, events, projects and more.

Active Directory

Too many to list – this is a biggie.

Google

User admin, calendar integration and group management

Twilio

Because nobody wants to talk on the phone anymore

Citrix

Meeting automation? Yes please.

Evernote

I love this app. Use the handler to create notes or notebooks

Dropbox

Move, delete, create and share.

LinkedIn

Company posting, profile posting and a listing of connecting people

SMTP

Manage emails, meeting requests and sending attachments.

Facebook

Events, links, statuses and posts.

Imgur

Upload automation; yes!

Twitter

Search followers, compose and include pictures

Yammer

Create, delete invite – lots of options.

The First Kinetic Data Hackathon

Winners banked $3,000 in our first hackathon ever! 2015 IT predictions and trends

We challenged anyone to build a Property Management solution using Kinetic Request (and optionally Kinetic Task). The challenge also asked participants to work toward one of four prizes:

  1. The first submission ($1,000) –

    Lindsay Hodges -RDS Services

  2. The best looking submission ($1,000) – Tian McPherson of McPherson Enterprises Inc.
  3. One random winner ($1,000)- Nanoatzen Castro of Infosys
  4. Most complete solution ($3,000) – No entries judged in this category — everybody went after “first solution”.

We learned a lot conducting this hackathon. It challenged us to build even more on our platforms. Taught us how easy it really can be to build solutions on Kinetic Request, and inspired us to build a full sandbox automation solution using our own tools. More to come on that.

Right now, we’re busy preparing for the next event which is scheduled to start September 16th, 2016. Register here to learn more and subscribe to hackathon related news.

You Released a Catalog; Now What?

Adoption: Getting People to Use your Catalog

If people don’t use your portal, there is a risk of missing returns on your investment. This is important because an initiative like a self-service portal is usually sold to leadership as part of a cost-savings initiative.

catalog open

Marketing

How do you get your customers to think about your portal when they need something? To understand this, consider the lifecycle of technology adoption. Innovators and early adopters will be easy to convince since a new portal to make requests is a disruptive change. For the rest of your audiencemarketing is key to making people aware the catalog exists and what value it provides.

Some keys to marketing your catalog include simply talking to people about it, putting it on your hold music, send links to the portal and have service agents talk to callers about your catalog. Partner with your internal marketing teams and corporate messaging teams to share stories about the self-service catalog. Of course, linking to your catalog from intranet pages and emails is also important.

Informational sessions, brown bags, new hire orientation and all-hands meetings are some more great platforms to share the stories and value of your catalog.

Experience

Having a great experience is a non-negotiable requirement of any self-service portal. If the first interaction customers have with your catalog is not a good one, they may never come back. To achieve this, partner with your customers to capture and provide input to what they would like the experience to be like. Watching people order things is a great place to start.

Improvement: Making the Catalog a Part of Company Culture

Build analytics and measurement into your catalog to determine what services people are using, which ones they aren’t using and identify what your customers are looking for. Having access to what people are searching for can help you understand what services they are looking for that may not be available yet.

Surveys help you understand if people are happy with your portal, upset with your portal and gives people a voice and input into your systems. To increase survey response rates try rewarding respondents and adding incentive to users helping you build the portal. And when something changes on your portal, make sure you communicate and understand the impact on your customers.

Making frequent small improvements keeps change simple for your end users. Make sure your items have a similar look and feel, and make ordering easy. Focus on the customer experience, and never stop improving.

Expansion: growing the use of your catalog

There are lots of ways to expand. Adding departments, services or even a new portals are challenges you may need to overcome. Seeking out the power-users, information brokers and persuaders to discuss the design and functionality of your portal will be exponentially valuable.

There are a couple ways to scale your expansion. One way is to build items and technology features to be reused and leveraged by power-users. Building activities and functions that are repeatable and modifiable will make your catalog easier to use and therefore more likely to I used.

Another is to build your technology in such a way to distribute the details of your services. This might include being able to leverage a standard approval workflow, or giving business professionals the ability to customize their own forms. This may take some careful planning and maybe even re-work, but the investment is worth it when demand increases.

Support: How to Scale Innovation

Since most modern technology platforms can literally do anything, we need to break the habit of asking “Can it…” and start planning how to approach a solution.

Exploring what your platforms are capable of keeps you in the role of “early-adopter” which makes you a key resource to the people leveraging this technology. This role will often start automating solutions or fixing problems that people have been complaining about for years. This is an important step in the life of a self-service platform.

Expand who is using the platform, give them a framework to work within and cross-train. Having multiple people involved in a system like this removes the risk of having a single point of failure.

Nobody knows everything, so getting others involved will also help scale exploration. Continuously learn more about the technologies that are providing the value your team and company need.

Lastly, keeping your platforms up to date keeps you leveraging new functionality and feature sets as well as keeping you learning more about the enabling technology.

Get Started

Ready to get started implementing a catalog that can grow? Start learning more today at http://kineticdata.com.

Kinetic Data creates business process software that delights its customers, making them heroes by transforming both the organization and the people who work there. Since 1998 Kinetic Data has helped hundreds of Fortune 500 and government customers — including General Mills, Avon, Intel, 3M and the U.S. Department of Transportation — implement automated request management systems with a formula that is proven, repeatable and ready to implement. The company has earned numerous awards for its superior products and support. Kinetic Data serves customers from its headquarters in St. Paul, Minn., offices in Sydney, Australia, and through a valued network of reseller partners. For more information, visitwww.kineticdata.com, follow our blog, and connect with us on Twitter andLinkedIn.