How to Avoid 10 Common Project Management Mistakes

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.

10 common project management mistakes - and how to avoid
Image credit: CIOInsight

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.

Continue reading “How to Avoid 10 Common Project Management Mistakes”

Expanding Beyond IT: Strategies for Extending Request Management Across the Enterprise

Presented by Bill Harter and Matt Howe

Kinetic Data’s director of consulting Bill Harter and sales engineer Matt Howe are presenting “Expanding beyond IT — strategies for extending your Kinetic Request investment″ today at the 3rd annual KEG (Kinetic Enthusiasts Group) Conference. For those of you who couldn’t make it to the Denver event, or just want to review the session, here are some highlights of their presentation.

In many enterprises, each department or function (sales, accounting, HR, IT, facilities, etc.) has its own systems. This leads to very siloed thinking about business processes.

Enterprise Request Management (ERM) is like a company having its own internal version of Amazon.com, where employees can order any type of service or equipment, from any department (or group of functions), from a single web interface. Employees can also check the status of their requests at any time, similar to package tracking.

Though the scope of ERM is broad, implementation needn’t be excessively difficult, time-consuming or disruptive to operations.

ERM is not a product in itself, it is a framework with a new way to approach service request management.

A few specific comments on why we are doing this session:

  • You (or your IT groups) have tools, Kinetic Request perhaps being one of them. (If you’re not, and you’re curious, you can check out product details here.)
  • This isn’t a sales pitch. ERM is, as noted above, a concept–not a product. There are many approaches to implementing an ERM strategy.
  • What we want is your WHOLE organization (not just IT or one other business function) to take full advantage of the tools you have.

If I were to boil it down to a few simple goals for this session they would be as follows:

I hope that you each, in your own way, for your own situation, can increase your “focus on Expansion” (What might expansion look like for me and my organization?) of your current service request catalog approach.

As part of that we strive for you to walk away with some “new ideas” that you can action when you return to the workplace (What else can we do / try out to reach our vision?).

More specifically, this presentation will address:

  • ERM concepts: a few of the ERM concepts that will hopefully strike a nerve on your paradigms / perceptions of the deployment of request services — again with the goal to get you thinking about expansion.
  • Implementations: implementation strategies which certainly play a role in the set-up for expansion.
  • Expansion strategies: specific ideas on how to think about and position expansion.
  • Real-world examples of companies expanding their service request (ERM) approaches.

What is ERM?What I want to do here is highlight some of the ERM concepts that will hopefully resonate with the concept of expansion, starting with: What is ERM?

It’s a holistic approach, that centralizes service requesting, most likely involving some automation…. Self-Service 2.0.

As noted above, ERM is like a company having its own internal version of Amazon.com. It ensures first time fulfillment, lowers costs and makes for happier end users (internal or external customers).

Service Catalog Maturity LevelsThere are a few ERM concepts from that worth highlighting here. Forrester Research describes three levels of service catalog maturity:

(1) IT services (or subset of IT services)

(2) utilizing some automation of enterprise services

(3) acts as “services broker”

ERM thinking is of value regardless of an organization’ service catalog maturity.

In many enterprises, each department or function (sales, accounting, HR, IT, facilities, etc.) has its own systems. This leads to very siloed thinking about business processes.

The Six Sigma approach requires thinking across departmental or group barriers, to improve cross-functional business processes. It’s not always easy thing cross-functionally; but if processes are already optimized within functions, it makes sense that the largest remaining opportunities for improvement exist in the “white spaces” between different business functions.

The ultimate target is for Service Catalogs to mature from IT service catalogs to business (enterprise-wide) service catalogs.

Focusing on customer-centric fulfillment eliminates need for employees to manually manage their requests, deal with multiple departments, systems and processes, obtain approvals and schedule deliverables. With ERM, most processes are automated by software, and employees are shielded from the complexities of the underlying processes. Fulfillment is faster, more accurate, and requires much less employee effort.

ERM: Start by Thinking SmallThough the scope of ERM is broad, implementation needn’t be excessively difficult, time-consuming or disruptive to operations.

ERM is not a product in itself, it is a framework with a new way to approach service request management.

ERM projects should never end. The goal of employing an ERM strategy is not about ‘turning it on and being done’. It’s a framework for supporting improvable service strategies that can evolve with the ever changing need.

A key concept of ERM is using process automation tools to orchestrate back-end systems of records in many different departments or functions. That allows an easy move from narrow and shallow to wide and deep, automating complex requests that may span multiple parts of the enterprise using lessons learned from earlier and simpler types of request management.

You want to improve your on-boarding process?… Start by tackling the process at a macro level. You can always version it forward and improve things at a micro-level later. Automate and improve the things you can do immediately. If you have a part of the process that requires inputting data to five different systems, use the ERM system to collect the data once and input it where it can go. Even if you don’t have access to automate all of the inputs and fulfillments in the first phase, solve what you can. It will improve the process from where it is today setting up future versions of a process that continue to improve granularity.

During our scoping with new clients and as part of our delivery during implementations, we often find ourselves trying to convince organizations to take things on in bite size chunks.

It’s great to think “Big Picture”—but do it in small pieces. Rome wasn’t built in a day (or even a decade).

What is the long-term impact and how can we get there with short term wins? Start by adding services in the portal, even if they are not perfectly defined; they can be improved over time. No service is 100% perfect from inception. Get people using it, gather feedback, evaluate results, and continually improve things over time!

A good analogy is Facebook. Ten years ago, Facebook had a few features. You could “like” and “poke” people and send messages. Today it has thousands of features. They got people using the platform and had a vision to continue to roll out new content/features and integrations. Once people were using it—they were hooked.

Lots of little improvements make for big improvements across the entire organization. As you have success, you can take a foot out of the apple tree (we often talk about low hanging fruit, well let’s make more low hanging fruit).

The ERM Implementation ProcessAs a reference, here is a proposed guide for how to implement ERM process. As an organization identifies new services to expand into their catalog, this is a way to do it and evolve. This also shows the core technology components required for an ERM implementation.

LEGO Model 1

 

 

 

 

Thinking about it another way—because Matt Howe likes to build LEGO models—here’s an assemblage that’s impressive on its own, recreating an actual scene. But it is part of a larger picture…a larger “vision” if you will.

LEGO Model 2

 

 

 

 

Now we’re exposed to “more people”, more things are happening here.

LEGO Model 3

 

 

 

 

The whole picture…or is it?

LEGO Model - Full View

 

 

 

 

 

An entire section of Washington DC. (at LEGOLAND, not in Matt’s front yard room).

This wasn’t built in a day either—it started from a single brick. What’s the point?

Think of technology like request portal software (such as Kinetic Request) and workflow automation software (such as Kinetic Task) as key components—like LEGO building blocks—for creating an enterprise-wide process automation strategy which accelerates your business and drives innovation. Automation frees people from manual actions to focus on other—higher-value—activities. Activities that are core to your business, that enhance the “secret sauce” that makes your company different and special.

Why expand the use of service catalog tools beyond IT?

  • To leverage existing investments. Continue telling your company how smart it was that you bought them, and how they can be used in a myriad of ways.
  • Migration to the cloud. These tools provide integration with legacy/internal systems and processes (such as the new hire process)
  • To make other functional groups aware of what’s possible.
    • facilities (an underserved area of the corporate life that really matters to employees!); other IT areas [operations, NOC, service desk] lots of options for streamline and automate;
    • business groups [business-to-IT interactions, paper forms]; and
    • complaints – where there’s a complaint, there’s an opportunity!
  • To improve the business. Success leveraging your tools means success for the business. Realize their potential and change your business with them.

Start by taking stock of current situation.

Don’t limit your thinking to how your tools are used today; try to thing about using them for more generic business purposes.

When new product features are released, try to apply the concept to something in your business/organization/environment.

  • Review your current system and resources/staff.
  • What is the “vision” of your current portal/implementation? Are you meeting it?
  • Will new “stuff” be part of the current design, or separate? (Remember that what you have today is just one chapter, not necessarily the whole book!)
  • Do your staff have the necessary skills to help you “sell”? To back up “the talk” with technical know how?
  • Are new team members getting necessary training? Do they bring “extra” skills with them you can leverage (e.g., CSS, HTML, JavaScript, etc.)?

Share with the business where you are currently, and continue to do so. Put yourself in a position to offer a solution.

Set goals for expanded/enhanced use of your tools, such as:

  • Speeding up support ticket entry
  • Call scripting
  • Creating and analyzing surveys
  • Reducing costs (or avoiding costs) in other ways

Here are half a dozen strategies for expanding service request management across your organization.

Service Catalog Expansion StrategiesStrategy #1 – Expand in your current framework

For a majority of Kinetic Data customers, a “Service Catalog” project is what started our relationship. A lot of initial interest from a few years ago centered around ITIL’s service catalog concepts. There has been less discussion of ITIL lately, but the “service catalog” concept can be applied to many areas of the business: Marketing, Operations, Customer Service, Finance, Research & Development, Accounting, Legal, Facilities, HR.

So while there is less buzz about ITIL, there is much more about consumers, consumerization, customers (the “age of the customer” as Forrester Research phrases it).

Strategy #2: Create a portal—or expand your ownto include services for these other groups.

People are creatures of habit. Cultural changes take time and diligence. As explained in The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, people adopt ideas and practices that are “sticky” and accessible. Don’t be afraid to help “tip” the culture from one of “I need help!” to a culture of “I’m going to help myself!” Ecommerce has already conditioned people to use the web for ordering products/services in their daily life. Why should work-life be any different?

If you want people to use a portal of services—make it EASY, available and seamless. Remove the barriers for self-service and make the user experience ‘sticky.” If it’s a great experience and it “sticks” in someone’s mind that it is easier to request something from a portal than from calling for help—they will use it.

Once you get people using the portal, you can continue to expand service offerings and improve things over time. Design it in a way that will support a long-term vision and is iterative. Don’t worry about being perfect out of the gate!

Business groups will be reluctant to adopt the system unless they can improve their productivity by receiving better business services.

Service Request Expansion Strategies - Beyond the OrdinaryStrategy #3: Think beyond the ordinary; use the capabilities of the tools.

Think beyond traditional service requests, to any business process/system with the need to request something (a triggering request submission) that will require others to take actions (fulfillment and in some cases pre-approval, etc.) . The workflow may be paper today, may be part automated, may be email only, etc.

Paper doesn’t support a mobile workforce; you have to store it; it’s bad for the environment. If you are still using paper, or if the term fax still exists within your organization…offer an automation engine tool for systems that don’t have one.

Automate. Don’t just enable self-help for creating help desk tickets. Can you solve the problem? Are you trying to solve the problem? Make self-help actually help.

Extend Service Request Ownership Beyond ITStrategy #4 – Partner with others and “the business.”

As a team you can achieve MORE…..FASTER! Distribute the management of the system. Don’t be afraid to empower groups within the organization to take ownership of their parts. It’s the concept of “self-help” again.. If HR wants to have a portal, encourage them to use the system and build it out.

By including others in the vision, new ideas will be introduced. Service catalog software like Kinetic Request is designed to allow for distributed management. If you want thousands of services built in the system, you will get there faster by having more people participate in building the service items they require.

It doesn’t have to be an “IT solution” that HR uses. Make it an HR solution that IT supports.

Strategy #5 – Show value.

Explaining value is easier with facts! Track, Measure, Improve. An ERM strategy allows you to empower users to help themselves with self-service. It also provides a scalable, repeatable and auditable framework for continuous improvement. To define key areas for improvement, it helps to break down processes to understand where automation can improve service and reduce cost.

ERM provides measurable cost savings through self-service.

Evangelize Request Management SuccessStrategy #6 – Socialize and celebrate

Success is many things—not just a completed catalog. Celebrate that you are changing your business, cost effectively. You are directly correlating to the bottom line

Don’t be afraid to sell or socialize your success! Ongoing evangelism is critical to making people aware of the power of the system. What people don’t know they don’t know. If you want people to take an idea and run with it, they need to know about it.

Thank you!

Next steps?