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”

How IT Will Change by 2020 – Research From HDI

Given the rapid and dramatic changes occurring in business and technology, it’s challenging to predict events even one year out (though a post here last fall took a shot at predicting IT trends for 2015).

Yet the researchers at HDI have even more ambitiously taken a stab at prognosticating the state of enterprise technology and IT support five years ahead in Foresight Is 2020: Industry Predictions from the HDI Strategic Advisory Board.

the future of IT support per HDIThis article by Roy Atkinson and Craig Baxter shares some of the findings from “an ambitious project to look ahead about five years and make some assertions about where the technical service and support industry will be by the year 2020,” launched late last year by the HDI Strategic Advisory Board.

Continue reading “How IT Will Change by 2020 – Research From HDI”

Customer Satisfaction Soars at ATS with Enterprise Request Management

As noted here before (and here and here), enterprise request management (ERM) is a business-efficiency strategy that reduces service delivery costs while increasing user satisfaction. Combining a single intuitive portal for requesting any type of enterprise service with back-end process automation, the ERM approach simplifies request management for employees, accelerates service delivery, and ensures first-time fulfillment.

Automating workflow processes with ERMWhat does that look like in the real world? Continue reading “Customer Satisfaction Soars at ATS with Enterprise Request Management”

Six Key ERM and IT Trends for 2015

Danish physicist Neils Bohr is credited with saying “Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future.” And indeed, prognostications are often proven wrong, particularly regarding technology, sometimes absurdly so: for example, Businessweek magazine’s prediction that the paperless office was just a few years away—made in 1975.

2015 IT predictions and trends Continue reading “Six Key ERM and IT Trends for 2015”

The Best Service Catalog Tools, Featuring Gartner Insight

Organizations implementing request management portals for an IT service catalog or broader enterprise request management (ERM) have numerous vendor options to consider. Which offering is best in any individual situation depends of course on the specific needs of that company or government agency.

The decision process generally starts with research, and such research often includes evaluating reviews conducted by leading industry analysts. How does Kinetic Request compare to competitive systems in such evaluations?

Gartner Service Catalog Critical Capabilities ReportIn the recent Gartner report, Critical Capabilities for IT Service Catalog Tools [Jeffrey M. Brooks, Chris Matchett, 17 March 2014], the answer is: quite well.

As recently announced, Kinetic Request received an assessment of “Good,” the highest possible assessment given for Product Viability in this report. It is one of seven products evaluated to receive this rating. The research evaluated nine critical capabilities and various weightings of importance.

The report defines a service catalog in this way:

“IT service catalog tools are intended to improve business users’ customer experiences and to increase IT operations efficiency. IT service catalogs simplify the service request process for customers and improve customer satisfaction by presenting a single face of IT to the customer for all types of IT interactions… IT service catalog tools provide a process workflow engine that automates, manages and tracks service fulfillment.”

That definition—improving the user experience and service efficiency through a single portal linked to an automated process workflow engine—aligns well with the ERM concept, though ERM extends the service catalog beyond IT into potentially all shared services functions within an organization.

Kinetic Request is a powerful and flexible enterprise-wide request management portal application. It’s been praised by customers for helping to reduce helpdesk calls and workload, cutting request fulfillment time, eliminating paperwork, and providing significant cost savings.

Gartner clients and other organizations interested in reading the full evaluation can order the full Gartner report here.

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

Next steps:

How a Healthcare IT Service Provider Saved $4.7 Million with ERM

Hospitals are under pressure on multiple fronts to reduce costs. One key cost-reduction strategy is outsourcing non-core functions, such as IT, in order to focus more on effective and efficient patient care.

CareTech Solutions is a healthcare-focused IT service provider, supporting 400,000 end-users across more than 200 hospital clients, with a focus on “creating value for clients through customized IT solutions that contribute to improving the patient experience while lowering healthcare costs.”

To make it easier and faster for busy nurses and hospital staff to request IT services, and resolve technical issues more quickly, CareTech began implementing an enterprise request management (ERM) strategy with help from Kinetic Data.

Handling close to 250,000 service requests through its online service request portal in 2013, CareTech estimated “the annual costs savings and productivity gains for its collective operation to be an impressive $4.7 million.”

Read the full story here.

 

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?

Flexibility vs Simplicity in Request Management

by Anne Ramey

At large companies, there are often many internal customers utilizing any solution provided by IT for use in the company; request management is no exception. A phrase I have always used to describe the diverse internal customers working together to agree on requirements, enhancements, etc. for shared components of any particular solution is folks “playing in the sandbox together.” You have folks who play nice, folks who want all the sand toys, folks who like to throw sand, etc..

If you follow this metaphor, then having to share a limited pool of designers/developers/system administrators is like having a limited number of shovels and pails in the sandbox. If you follow this further, the tool the designers are working with is the sand itself.

There are service catalog / request management tools that tout themselves as so easy to use that anyone in the company can use them (departments can set up their own requests, etc)—no technical skills required. These tools represent your basic playground sandbox sand. Pretty much anyone can dig a hole and make a “mountain,” but that’s about all anyone can do with it. Everyone’s results look pretty much the same, and there are simply things (a lot of them) that these tools just can’t do.

Service catalog software should be like sculpting sandOn the other hand, Kinetic Request is like sculpting sand. Anyone can build a basic hole and mountain. But there is also the capability, with some about of prep and skill and more work, to end up with a real work of art. You can end up with anything from your basic beach sandcastle to (with proper staff, training, planning, funding, etc) a full life-like medieval castle with accompanying village. It’s all up to what you put into it.