Schneider Electric Energizes Employee Services with Smarter Request Management

Organizations constantly change: they add and drop product lines, acquire other companies, divest business units, and expand into new markets or countries.

The true measure of any enterprise technology is not whether it can merely adapt to such changes, but also enable continual improvement,  both operationally and in employee experience.

Schneider Electric call deflection savingsWhen Schneider Electric launched an initiative to upgrade its employee services request portal, it put its request management software to the test. Here’s the company’s story.

Schneider Electric is a global organization with more than 170,000 employees in 134 countries, supplying a wide range of business and residential energy products and services.

Continue reading “Schneider Electric Energizes Employee Services with Smarter Request Management”

Fairfax County Public Schools Make the Grade with Improved Service Delivery

While no one enjoys having the “flow” of their work interrupted by a technology problem, that situation is especially vexing for teachers; a glitch can throw off not just their schedule, but that of the whole class.

Fairfax County Public Schools Improves IT Service DeliverySo when tech issues do occur, teachers need to be able to report incidents quickly, have confidence that the problem will be fixed promptly, and get back to their students.

Recognizing the challenges in the classroom, the IT staff at Fairfax County Public Schools first moved their services online in 2007. But this early system still relied on manual steps and paper-based approval processes.

Continue reading “Fairfax County Public Schools Make the Grade with Improved Service Delivery”

What’s New on Kinetic Community – October 2014

Kinetic Community is the information and interaction hub for users of Kinetic Data software. It’s the place to find and discuss product documentation, videos, presentations, training class materials, downloads, example service items, task handlers, bundles, bridges and more–as well as presentations and training materials from the 2014 Kinetic Enthusiasts Group (KEG) event.

Kinetic Community
Here is what’s new on the site since our last blog update: Continue reading “What’s New on Kinetic Community – October 2014”

Show Me the Money! How to Calculate ERM Cost Savings

Enterprise request management (ERM) is an approach to service delivery that combines an intuitive Web portal with a back-end automation engine to accelerate fulfillment, enabling workers to request any type of service, equipment, or resource via a single intelligent interface, anytime, from any device.

The ERM model reduces service delivery costs and delights users while leveraging much of the technology you already have in place. And it empowers IT professionals to be heroes to the business.

ERM-Cost-ReductionOther key benefits of an ERM implementation include:

  • Service standardization
  • Reduced delivery time
  • Reduced risk
  • Improved visibility into service delivery
  • Overall process improvement

But how do you go about proving the value—making the financial case for implementing an ERM strategy?

A new document from Kinetic Data, Process Efficiencies with Kinetic Request: An executive view of the benefits and financial impact of enterprise request management, details the financial value of ERM, how to calculate cost savings, and other factors to take into account when evaluating the financial benefits of this approach.

With ERM, employees can request any “thing” they need to do their jobs, regardless of which internal service group (IT, HR, facilities, finance, legal, etc.) provides that item or service. Productivity as well as user experience are improved because employees have only one (easy) system to use for requesting any type of service, instead of needing to know who provides what and navigating multiple different online (and sometimes paper-based) request processes.

Back-end workflow processes (approvals, scheduling, fulfillment) are automated using orchestration engine software. This process automation reduces costs, eliminates manual efforts, accelerates service delivery, and improves process quality. Process owners can define their own “service items,” mapping and testing task workflows before putting them into production.

ERM is especially valuable for managing complex processes that cross functional boundaries, such as new employee onboarding. Though not required, ERM most often begins with an IT service catalog implementation, then is gradually expanded to other shared services groups.

The document also explains how Kinetic Request and Kinetic Task can enable organizations to implement effective ERM strategies that are scalable, flexible and manageable. For example, according to Gartner, 85% of business processes are initiated by a form. Yet research shows that up to 40% of submitted forms contain missing information that must be manually corrected. By pre-populating forms with “known” information (based on login), presenting questions dynamically (that is, follow-on questions can change based on previous responses), and validating all input, Kinetic Request dramatically reduces the need for manual information correction.

To demonstrate the potential financial value of ERM to your management team, download Process Efficiencies with Kinetic Request: An executive view of the benefits and financial impact of enterprise request management. If your team isn’t familiar with ERM, ask them to watch the movie first.

Next steps:

Kinetic Process Options: Creating Work Orders with Kinetic Fulfillment

Kinetic Data developer/analyst Brian Peterson is  presenting “Kinetic Process Options (Work Orders / Fulfillment)” 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 his presentation.

Brian is also the coordinator of Kinetic Community and would love to hear your feedback about the site.

Until now, many organizations have had to rely on complex forms with generic fields to assign actionable tasks to their Support Groups.

Just say no to complex, rigid applicationsActionable tasks are actions that need to be assigned to and completed by a person.  These can be actions such as create a user ID, modify access or purchase a tablet. Clients have had to assign actionable tasks using forms and applications that do not effectively capture the important information upon completion. They contain a large quantity of fields which become noise to the users. Generic text fields such as “Notes” or “Resolution” rely on the person completing the task to know what information to put in the task.

There is no simple or effective way to validate the information in a free text field. If information needs to be extracted from this “Notes” field by a workflow process or reporting, the field needs to be parsed.  Parsing a text field for specific information is always complex and problematic.

The workflow process behind these forms are complex and attempt to be “one size fits all.” Modifying the workflow process behind these applications is discouraged by the vendor, and if you do make modification it is very difficult and at times similar to playing Jenga—take out the wrong piece and comes crashing down.  They do not enable  “Your process your way.”

Our clients need more. They have encouraged and challenged Kinetic Data to provide them a solution to these issues within the Kinetic Request product.

Introducing Kinetic FulfillmentOur response to their needs and requirements is Kinetic Fulfillment.

It’s flexible, lightweight and clean with minimal fields.  It is simple and similar to other web forms which users are familiar with and comfortable using.  It can be easily branded and styled to match your company’s standard colors logo.

When automation isn’t possible, our clients need an application to manage and assign actionable tasks to groups or to individuals within groups.

They want it built on Kinetic Request so that it uses a common and consistent application throughout the lifecycle of the request.

It needs to have a workflow engine behind it to  meet their workflow process requirements.

They need a lightweight, clean and flexible solution that is easy to use.  It needs to contain targeted, specific, and relevant completion questions to get the important information upon completion of the task.

Kinetic Fulfillment meets these requirements.

Structure of Kinetic Bundles and Bundle PackagesKinetic Fulfillment is an application built on Kinetic Request.  This type of application is what we call a Bundle Package. Bundles install into Kinetic Request and Bundle Packages install into Bundles.

As defined on Kinetic Community “Bundles are web-based add-ons to Kinetic Request which allow you to quickly create a web interface to your request catalog.”

A Bundle is a deployment or installation which includes shared functionality and branding for a Kinetic Request catalog.

Bundle Packages are similar to a Bundles, but they are narrower in scope and more focused on adding specific functionality. They also includes the elements and processes necessary to support their own features

A Bundle Package may still leverage features and styling of its parent Bundle.  It can dropped into a Bundle and retain the branding and styling as the rest of the catalog with minimal or no effort.

Kinetic Fulfillment is comprised of two major components: Work Orders and the Fulfillment Console.

Creating Work Orders in Kinetic FulfillmentWork Orders are the actionable task records which are assigned to groups or users.  Work Orders contain all of the information necessary for the fulfiller to complete the required task.  The Kinetic Fulfillment application contains all of the logic and events necessary to manage its lifecycle and state.

A Work Order is a Service Item in Kinetic Request. Service Items are the front-end request forms which are built by Kinetic Request.  Service Items are where the questions are presented to the User.

Because Kinetic Fulfillment is built on Kinetic Request, Service Items are used as the framework and delivery for Work Orders.  Specialized features and functionality have been added to a Work Order Service Item.

Developing and maintaining a Work Order involves the same skills, tools and applications as working with requests.  Request developers no longer need another application or additional skill set to create and assign tasks.

This also helps provide a consistent UI and branding with the rest of the service catalog.

Work Order Fields DetailAll Work Orders contain several unique fields which help define it and identify its state.  These fields are located at the top of the Work Order. Your workflow process will give these fields their initial values and assign the Work Order to the correct group or user.

Status is used to communicate the state of the work order.  It tells others and the workflow process what stage of the lifecycle the Work Order is in. Many organizations have their own requirements and ideas of what values should be in a status menu.  We’ve made this list of values configurable so that clients can create status list that meets their needs.

A Work Order has a Company, Organization, Group and User Hierarchy. It can be assigned to an entire group or to a single user in a group. Out of the box, Works Orders can use groups from ITSM or from Fulfillment’s own data source.  However, it is flexible enough to use groups from an alternate data source.

Work Order AcknowledgementsDue Date indicates the date on which the Work Order is due to be completed. The date picker is displayed when clicking on the calendar icon

Priority indicates the Priority of the Work Order: Low, Normal or Urgent. Acknowledged allows the Work Order to be acknowledged without modifying the status.

Entering Work Information on a Work OrderThose of you who use BMC ITSM are familiar with Work Information. In Kinetic Fulfillment, Work Information is used to share information and attachments with the Requester and other Work Order Fulfillers. Work Information may be flagged as public (intended to be shared with the Requester ) or private (intended to only be shared with the Fulfiller). Multiple Work Information records can be added to a Work Order

Example - Tablet Request Workflow ProcessHere is an example process for Requesting a tablet.

  • The tablet is requested.

  • The manager approves the request.

  • The tablet is procured and delivered.

Each Request, such as a request for a tablet or a request for a user ID, can utilize a different Work Order  or multiple Work Orders in their workflow processes.

In other instances, the Work Orders may need to be the same.  The Network ID Request and the Database ID Request may have the same Work Order requirements.  If so they can both use the Work Order.

When multiple Work Orders are created, each can be designed to target specific completion information by including questions unique to their process and requirements.

A Request for a Tablet may need a Work Order to capture the tablet make, model, and serial number upon completion.  A Work Order for a new User ID may only require the ID of the new user to be provided.

Creating a request-specific Work Order can ensure quality data is captured by including specific, targeted questions.  Targeted questions tell the user precisely what information to provide; a field labeled “Resolution” or  “Notes” doesn’t.

For example, a question labeled “Tablet Make”, “Tablet Model” or “Serial Number” tells the user exactly what information is needed.  The workflow process also now “knows” where the Model and Serial number are stored. The information can easily be accessed by the workflow process without needing to parse a generic text field.  This enables workflow automation.  The workflow process can easily update a CMDB or other asset repository with information provided in the Work Order.

Work Orders are built on Kinetic Request so they can leverage other features of the product. As an example, events and dynamic menus can be used to further refine the completion information that is provided to the Work Order, such as: the Nexus 7 is specific to the Google Tablet.  If a different Make is selected, the menu changes to list only the models which relate to the selected make of tablet.

We can also apply data validation to the questions.  Data validation can be used to ensure a valid phone number, username, email address, or IP address are provided.  It could also be as simple as making the answer to a question required.

Work Orders can also be shared by workflow processes. Sharing Work Orders reduces the need for maintenance.  If a change is needed or a bug is discovered, the changes or corrections only need to be made to a single Work Order.

Reusing a Work Order also decreases development time.  When Work Orders are reused, users are already familiar with them.  This provides a consistency to the to workflow processes.

Fulfillment includes the flexibility to use either Shared or Targeted Work Orders.

Work Orders can also be cloned, which makes creating a new Work Order quick and easy.

A Work Order is just a type of Service Item in Kinetic Request.  The same tools and methods are used within Kinetic Request to quickly and easily create a new Work Order to target specific completion information.  A Work Order Service Item Template can be quickly cloned, then have targeted questions added  The use of the Work Order is then defined in the appropriate workflow processes.  The built-in functionality of the Work Order hides these questions until the fulfiller is ready to answer them.

The Tablet Request example shown earlier was simplified; there is more to the processes than this.

In real business scenarios, much more happens than just creating a Work Order. Multiple processes can happen during the lifecycle of the Work Order.  There are email notifications to be sent, SLA Flags to be set, a CMDB to be updated, and perhaps updates made to a customer’s ticketing system which is monitoring progress.

Tablet Request Workflow DetailIn our Tablet Request example, its workflow process creates the Work Orders.  When a Work Order node executes, it creates the Work Order and pauses; the Work Order has its own workflow processes to execute, in this case Assignment and Complete.

Work Order Workflow ProcessA Work Order can have several workflow processes to execute. In a Work Order, there are several triggers which can execute a one of many workflow processes.

Now we have introduced new hooks to executing workflow processes in between the time of creation and completion. Workflow processes can be grouped by event or action, which makes them reusable.

Re-using and sharing Work OrdersNot only can Work Orders be either Shared or Unique, but so also the Workflow Processes can be.

The Purchase Tablet Work Order may have a unique workflow process for Completion.  However, it may share a Workflow Process with Create ID.  Either scenario can be accomplished.

We have created these reusable pieces that can be used to create workflow processes and meet a variety of requirements.  Pick an existing Work Order and Workflow Process  or create new ones and the process for your request.

A Workflow can be executed before Submission. Example uses of this include:

  • Send emails – On Reassignment
  • Set SLA Flag – Modify Values to indicate In Progress
  • Request information from the requestor or another individual – Common requirement to have a request for more information
  • Update an external system – Update with status change

If you can put it in a workflow process, it can be run.

Worflow Automation with Kinetic TaskAll of these Workflow processes are made possible by the Kinetic Task Product.  Kinetic Task is Kinetic Data’s Graphical Workflow Process Builder. The Developer builds a Task Tree to define the workflow process.

Nodes in the tree represent Task Handlers.  Task Handlers are the building blocks of a Task Tree.  Handlers execute the actions and make the decisions in the Task Trees.

Many core handlers are included with Kinetic Task, but we also have a library of useful handlers available on Kinetic Community to perform tasks such as sending approvals and emails; retrieving personnel information; and reading data from / writing data to external applications like Remedy, Salesforce and ServiceNow.  And of course we have a handler to create Work Orders.

The Handlers are dragged into the Task Tree from a list of available handlers, configured and then connected to other nodes.

Process Fulfillment ConsoleThe second main component of Kinetic Fulfillment is the Fulfillment Console.

The Fulfillment Console is the Work Queue for Work Orders.  It allows fulfillers to see what tasks are assigned to them and to manage and view the Work Orders which need their attention.  It is an important tools for managing and prioritizing Work Orders assigned to fulfillers.

Fulfiller can prioritize work queues by:

  • Assignment;
  • Priority;
  • Due Date; or
  • Status.

Additionally, Work Orders are categorized into different tabs such as:

  • “My Work Orders”
  • “Open Work Orders”
  • “Unassigned Work Orders”

The Fulfillment Console includes an additional tab for Searching Work Orders. Work Orders can be opened and assigned from the Fulfillment Console.

Work Orders in Kinetic Fulfillment are lightweight, clean and flexible, with no extraneous fields.

A Work Order can display only Targeted Questions that are required to complete the specific assigned task.  These dedicated fields can also be used to better direct the user to provide specific information needed.  This also gives provides better event management and data validation.

With Kinetic Fulfillment, you’re no longer slave to large applications which attempt to conform their workflow process to fit everything.  You have the flexibility to create workflow processes to meet your unique requirements.   If you want an email notification to be sent, add that to the workflow process. It’s your process.

Each of these processes is reusable.  Build it once and include it in other Work Orders.

Reuse these workflow processes when you can or create new unique workflow process where the requirements are different.  The workflow process executed upon a status change for the Tablet Work Order doesn’t need to be the same as on the Create User ID Work Order.

Execute the workflow process at any point in the lifecycle of a work order.  If you can do the workflow in a workflow process, you can run it at any time in a Work Order.

Thank you!

What’s next?

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.