Looking Back: The Top 20 at 200

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).

Request management blog posts: - top 20 at 200It’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.

Here then are the top 20:

Continue reading “Looking Back: The Top 20 at 200”

The Enterprise Service Catalog: Expanding Beyond IT’s Origins

Every large organization—whether a university, business, non-profit, government agency, or other entity—develops processes over time to enable employees to obtain the products and services necessary to do their jobs. But too often, these processes vary based on the service needed, the department that provides it, or even the worker’s location. Employees are forced to navigate a maze of forms, online systems and request processes, leading to frustration and wasted time.

In an EDUCAUSE Review article, The Unified IT Service Catalog: Your One-Stop Shop, authors Tamara Adizes, Mark Katsouros, Reginald Lo, Simon Pride, and Karalee Woody, propose a unified service catalog as the solution:

Kinetic Data's internal ERM enterprise service catalog“A unified service catalog provides a single common framework and approach for delivering services across the institution — a one-stop-shopping approach that enables customers to efficiently submit their requests.”

Continue reading “The Enterprise Service Catalog: Expanding Beyond IT’s Origins”

Give Your Employees Shoes, So They Don’t Walk

Most of us are familiar with the parable of the shoemaker’s children. The analogy of the shoemaker’s children having no shoes because the cobbler is too busy crafting footwear for customers is frequently applied to individuals, consultants, organizations, and businesses whose external expertise is notably lacking in their internal affairs.

Don't leave employees shoelessA classic example of this is described in a recent report from Gartner, Design IT Self-Service for the Business Consumer: (Jarod Greene, 19 February 2014): “IT organizations should employ the same self-service techniques consumer service providers use to increase uptake and satisfaction levels.”

Often,  enterprises that offer convenient and user-friendly self-service capabilities for external customers fail to adopt such systems or approaches for delivering internal IT (or other functional) services to employees.

The report also states, “The majority of IT self-service deployments are not designed with the end user in mind. IT organizations should employ the same self-service techniques consumer service providers use to increase uptake and satisfaction levels.”

Employees want the same type of user experience from internal systems that they get from consumer apps, ecommerce sites, and social networks; yet IT doesn’t design employee-facing applications this way. IT and other departments (HR, finance, facilities, etc.) too often design systems to fit their own preferences rather than users’ wants.  Enterprises can address this gap by designing employee-facing self-service portals which are more like customer-facing applications.

The Gartner report further predicts that “by 2016, 20% of I&O (Infrastructure & Operations Management) organizations will incorporate consumer self-service practices into their IT self-service strategies, up from less than 5% today.”  That’s heady growth, but still surprisingly low adoption.

On a larger scale, these observations apply as well to enterprise request management (ERM), a business process improvement approach to service delivery that provides employees with a single, intuitive  “Amazon.com-like” portal for requesting anything they need to do their jobs, from any internal department or function. The process of implementing ERM starts with redesigning services and processes from the business user’s perspective.

To improve request management and service delivery processes across the enterprise, four additional points are worth noting:

  • Not just IT systems, but IT support models must also evolve to reflect consumer offerings. In addition to self-service, IT help desks should offer walk-up and schedule-based support to meet the needs of an increasing mobile and remote workforce.
  • The success of self-service offerings depends upon utilization. If portals are too difficult to use, or simply automate poor back-end processes (i.e., doing the wrong things, but faster), employees will go around the system to get things done. This not only renders the technology investment a waste, but can actually decrease productivity.
  • Scope creep can often risk the success of enterprise projects—but it needn’t be a concern due to the agile approach of the strategy. An ERM implementation can start small, with just one or a few processes, and expand as it proves its value. The implementation is also scalable as process managers in business functions outside of IT can design, test, refine, and deploy their own service items with minimal technical assistance.
  • Moving from phone-based support to online self-service can both increase user satisfaction and reduce costs. As the Gartner report notes, “Self-service is both cost-effective and scalable. The 2013 average IT service desk cost per agent-handled contact is $17.88. Comparatively speaking, the costs of building, maintaining and administering IT self- service portal to manage contacts are much lower than the costs of people to support the same contacts.”

Evolving IT support, and internal business service delivery more broadly, to a more consumer-focused model can both delight business users and reduce fulfillment costs for the enterprise. Failing to do so, conversely, negatively impacts productivity and frustrates employees. With ERM, the figurative cobbler can make shoes for his children that keep them from walking out the door.

To learn more:

Avoiding the Four Sharks of IT Disruption with ERM

Beneath the “deceptively smooth surface” of today’s technology world swim the “four sharks of disruption:” cloud computing, smart computing, mobility and IT consumerization, according to Forrester Research vice president Andrew Bartels.

Four Sharks of IT Disruption
Image Credit: Creating a Simple Life

In an article on ebizQ, Bartels explains that mobility will have the biggest impact on customer and employee engagement; the consumerization of IT on employee interaction with IT; smart computing on running the business; and cloud computing on running IT.

Three of these “sharks” share the waters (so to speak) of IT with enterprise request management (ERM), a strategy for extending the benefits and capabilities of service catalogs across all shared services delivery groups within an organization.

Mobility: at the front end of an ERM deployment is a web-based portal interface that can be used to order and track any type of service or equipment request, built using a tool like Kinetic Request. The portal enables users to place or check the status of a request from virtually any type of device, anywhere, at any time.

ERM utilizes a system of engagement (the web-based portal) to interact with underlying systems of record (enterprise and department applications like ERP, HRMS, ITSM, supply chain, accounting and other application suites) so that changes to the interface, and even to the underlying process automation logic, can be made without modifying the core code in enterprise applications.

That concept isn’t limited to request management, of course; it could be applied to limited, task-specific access to core applications for any of a variety of purposes in a mobile environment.

IT consumerization: as employees increasingly expect the same ease of use and intuitive interfaces from enterprise software that they get from consumer applications like Amazon.com,  eBay, Facebook, and Google apps, IT will need to find ways to expose selected functions while shielding users from unnecessary underlying complexity.

ERM accomplishes this in the realm of service requests and fulfillment, replacing what is often a hodgepodge of paper-based processes and multiple, disparate departmental online forms with a single user-friendly UI. Between the portal interface and the underlying enterprise applications, it incorporates a task workflow automation software engine to securely communicate between the underlying systems, automating functions like scheduling, fulfillment and reporting while shielding the requestor from the complexity of the back-end process flow.

BYOD policy is another component of IT consumerization. Managing this phenomenon requires balancing employee convenience and productivity with data and system security concerns, as well as providing flexible support structures like schedule-based rather than queue-based helpdesk services.

Cloud computing: in order to make optimal choices about cloud services, while staying within a solution set manageable by IT, internal business application developers need to understand:

  • what their cloud options are;
  • the specifications of different cloud services; and
  • the costs of each alternative.

The management and provision of hybrid cloud services is thus a logical application for ERM, as detailed in a previous blog post here.

Adding an ERM strategy to your IT diving gear makes swimming with the sharks of disruption a bit less scary.

For more information:

 

 

John Sundberg to Present the ERM Concept at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo

Kinetic Data president John Sundberg will deliver a presentation outlining the concept and benefits of Enterprise Request Management (ERM) at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Orlando, which runs from October 6th through the 10th. The ERM presentation will take place in the Emerging Technology Pavilion Theater on Wednesday, October 9, at 12:35 p.m..

Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2013Gartner Symposium/ITxpo is the world’s most important gathering of CIOs and senior IT executives. This year’s event will focus on how the convergence of forces like mobile, social, and cloud technologies are dramatically reshaping the role and business expectations of IT. The 2013 agenda offers 500+ analyst sessions, workshops, roundtables and mastermind keynotes across five full days. With 10 role-based tracks and 11 industry tracks, the agenda targets your specific title responsibilities and ways to adapt new ideas and strategy to your industry, along with insight on what’s next in IT.

John’s presentation will discuss how an ERM approach to service requests and fulfillment drives cost savings and business agility. Organizations are moving to ERM in response to changes in the business environment—such as BYOD and the consumerization of IT—and the shortcomings of technology-focused service request management approaches in adapting to those changes.

Large businesses and government agencies recognize the need for “self-service 2.0” approach to request management. The core elements of self-service 1.0—posting a catalog of services and list of “known solutions” in the form of a knowledgebase—had limited value. The approach these organizations are finding valuable is to bridge the gap between an employee needing something (anything from a new office chair to resources for a new product development project) to an employee getting something. ERM bridges that gap.

Business function managers are empowered to define their own service items and task flows. Internal or external “customers” get a single intuitive, Web-based interface for ordering any type of service, without needing to understand the underlying approval and scheduling processes. Organizations benefit from accelerated service delivery, improved first-time fulfillment, and lower service delivery costs.

Kinetic Data will also be exhibiting in the Emerging Technology Pavilion. Registration is still open for this Gartner event.

Going Beyond the IT Service Catalog

Fueled by ITIL recommendations, innovative vendor offerings, and industry analyst endorsements, service catalogs have emerged over the past several years as the preferred method for presenting IT services to users. Requesting “service items” like a new laptop, access to the corporate ERP system or printer maintenance is now commonly done through a service catalog application.

Some forward-thinking organizations have taken the service catalog concept beyond IT, extending it to include services from other groups like HR (vacation requests),  finance (travel expense reimbursement) and facilities (a new office chair).

Request Management Screen ExampleBut such extensions are often problematic and cumbersome, because service catalogs are often bolt-ons to core IT service management (ITSM) applications. Since these applications aren’t designed for general business use, it’s difficult for business function managers to define and tweak service item definitions and fulfillment processes without extensive (and expensive) IT assistance.

As a result, non-IT services are often presented to users via different systems (or at least different user interfaces), forcing users to learn multiple request systems and to know which to use for specific types of service requests. But business users don’t care which department is delivering a given service, or even if multiple departments have to coordinate tasks for fulfillment (such as onboarding a new employee). They just want it done, and they want it to be simple.

Consequently, industry analysts today say that “service catalogs” (an IT term) need to evolve into “request management” (a business term) systems. ITSM applications may still serve essential functions within the fulfillment process (along with HR, finance, ERP and other applications) but need to be coupled with a single, unified, user-friendly, web-based and mobile-enabled front-end portal: one request interface to use, any time, any where, for any type of service request.

Analysts refer to these as Systems of Engagement (the unified request management portal) for Systems of Record (the back-end ITSM, ERP, HR, finance and other apps). In other words, using a flexible, intuitive user interface to leverage existing investments in the enterprise applications which do the heavy lifting of service delivery, while shielding business users from unnecessary complexity.

In an enterprise request management implementation, service requests can be entered through a user-friendly portal interface (or triggered by events in other systems), with all subsequent tasks—approvals, scheduling, delivery, feedback collection, costing, and reporting—managed by an automated task workflow engine capable of secure communication with and between enterprise applications and federated data sources.

Business managers can create, manage and modify their own tasks with minimal IT involvement. The end result? A great concept—IT service catalogs—can be practically extended into any function in the organization, without an expensive and disruptive “rip and replace” implementation or any unnecessary complexity for department managers or business users.

To learn more, check out these white papers:

Agility is the Key to Request Management Software

Using Service Catalogs to Run IT As a Business (Not Like a Business)