- Branch Create
- Branch Protect
- File Create
- Project Create
- Webhook Create
- Job Create From Template
This post is the sixth in a series about building portals for teams and groups to interact with customers. If you’re interested in reading more please follow us on twitter or subscribe in the right-hand margin of this blog —>
In the last five posts, you’ve gotten a website up and running – announced your team, set up a way for your team to talk to customers and another for customers to talk to your team. Last post we started exploring the possibility of integrating another system into your portal.
Whether you realize it or not, you have just made a terrible mistake.
The complexity of your little portal has more than doubled. Now that you have this other system “in there” it has the ability to hurt your customer experience! What if that system makes changes? What if the data fails? How will your customers feel? What perception are you giving them?
Which brings us to another element each portion of your portal needs consider; seamlessness.
Remember all that total-cost-of-ownership stuff I was rambling about last week? That’s what I mean. If that data source goes down, how does your portal look? Do the customers realize it’s down? How many ways can you stop a good experience? Too many.
Putting safeguards in place may help:
- Can you replicate the database/app locally and serve it through the website? This way if it goes down, your version stays up.
- Can you make the portal dynamic, so that if the data source is unavailable, users see a different page/experience?
- How about automated testing and alerting?
This stuff can be expensive – so it’s best to know what you’re getting into. Try things out, but always be ready to pivot.
What else causes a seamless experience for users?
Colors, text and words.
Ugh, I hate this one. But it’s equally important. To make the experience a good one, all your content “should” match. This phrase just makes me ill, because like perfection – this is unattainable. There will always be out of date content. One website will update before all the rest, one document will keep being out there without an update – this is just part of reality. Get ready to work on this for the rest of your career.
The look and feel should also match other websites and experiences – where possible.
Search is a huge part of how people interact with the web. Neglecting search is an active and intentional attempt to derail most modern technology users. This can also help make your portal seem seamless and get customers to engage.
Navigation has a large impact on experience. Designers working with personas understand that navigation for one person is not navigation for all people. And no matter what decision you make on the design of navigation, it will be wrong for some people. You’ll have to deal with it.
The best navigation supports permalinks for people that bookmark what they need, or use the autofill feature of their browser to navigate to exactly what they want. Here’s some awesome reading about navigation. Jared is a great writer about experience.
And as always – test these things and listen to your customers. They will tell you when your search results suck. They will tell you when they can’t navigate to their favorite spot in less than 2 clicks. They are here for you!
join us for the next segment “Is that a Portal in your pocket?” by following us on twitter or subscribing in the right-hand margin of this site —>
This post is the fifth in a series about building portals for teams and groups to interact with customers. If you’re interested in reading more please follow us on twitter or subscribe in the right-hand margin of this blog —>
Now your site is up and running and you can talk to your customers and they can also participate in discussions. What comes next to provide value?
Content is what your customers want. Some examples that they might be looking for include success stories, examples of how your department or team helps people and the systems and data your teams use every day.
Consider how much information your team has. Building an interface into that information can produce some pretty unique and innovative ideas, solutions and value.
Let’s say for instance your team runs a library at a medical device manufacturer. You have access to tons of resources that most people are going to want to access and skim quickly – as well as in-depth research.
Can you extend access to the catalog via a web portal, api or guest access?
This simple integration not only saves time on employee productivity (direct access to information) – it could also lead to a more disciplined approach to product management; which translates to less risk and more profit.
Extending the data your company, team or project already leverages, adds value to your customer when they can do it themselves.
Take another situation – if you’re a bank providing financial services, surely your service partners have access to information and value your customers are begging to get at.
If you, as a bank, can offer that information, you now have a way to differentiate yourself from other local banks. Another benefit is that your partnerships grow stronger. I’ve also seen some financial institutions giving away this kind of information as a marketing tactic to attract new customers.
These integrations aren’t particularly easy. It’s not always as easy as copy-pasting an embed code from youtube. Sometimes, though, it is!
So, I echo the same thing; GO TO THE CUSTOMERS! What systems, information or things do they call your team for all the time, that they could just look up themselves?
Once you discover those things, you’ll need to determine if your software, website, whatever can integrate well. At which point you will evaluate the return-on-investment of the integration (meaning how much will you impact productivity/revenue) and the total-cost-of-ownership for this integration. Does it require a license? How about staff? Once these considerations are made, hopefully a decision can be made.
Here are some examples of common integrations being added to portals:
- Systems of Record
- Employee directory
- Team directory
- Ticket portal
- Company updates
- Team updates
- Project updates
Each one of these topics has complexities and considerations. Join us next week as we start exploring the fire hose of enhancement requests you’re going to start getting.
Have you been reading along? Send feedback, get involved or let us know how we’re doing!
Service disruption occurs when change and release management collisions occur.
How do we prevent these collisions from occurring in the first place?
Even the most sophisticated teams are subjected to these problems; why?
No matter how much planning and automation you have, there are still outages!
Now the service desk is getting hammered with calls and a VP is irate over not being able to reach his “key” system. No one is happy. The world is on fire!
We planned. We strategized… We have GREAT tools! We have GREAT PEOPLE! We AUTOMATE!!!
Why? Why me? Why us?
While you may have planned accordingly, followed the good practice handbook to the letter and thought you understood the decisions in the CAB, you still had collisions. Why?
Because you made decisions based on incomplete information.
There are MANY systems of record that hold critical information related to service delivery. That information is often not all in a single database — such as your ITSM system.
Vacation and business event information? It’s in your messaging system (Exchange).
Customer specific case information? It’s in your CRM (Salesforce.com).
Release information? It’s in your ITSM system (ServiceNow).
If key data related to change/release decisions is not all in the same system, the effort to correlate it may be painful and time-consuming, but; ultimately it is worth it if service is improved. Figure out how to get it correlated — even if it is a spreadsheet. Reduce the risk by knowing what is what.
We built Kinetic Calendar to enable real-time visibility into key data from multiple applications. it’s more important than ever to be able to cross reference data from those systems. Request a free demo here.
tl,dr; flexibility. From buying a new app to acquiring a company, your ability to integrate can make or break returns.
When your doctor prescribes medicine there are many questions. A patient might ask “How long until it kicks in?”
This applies to business decisions as well. Adopt a new system and executives begin to ask “When will realize value?” Start shipping a new product line and investors wonder “When will profits emerge?”
How do we answer these questions with accuracy and speed? One thing acquisitive companies do is compare books. Take a look at the finances. Look at the details of operation expenses, profits and capital expenditures. This gives you a great deal of insight about the hard facts of a business.
There are many other aspects aside from finance though. How do new products get more clarity on when profits will emerge? Unique funding tools like kickstarter have shed light on this. Why not get people signed up to buy before or during design? Have you asked people if they would buy your product? Will they? How will you tell them when it’s ready?
What if you took the kickstarter model to heart?
How will employees know when a new system will be available? When will their jobs get easier or more streamlined? Have you asked for their input?
Kickstarter has a ton of value beyond just crowdfunding. It’s a way to communicate, survey and set expectations. These functions are critical during times of flux and change.
Knowing where our teams, systems and colleagues are within a transition empowers speed.
We’re building your next kickstarter and can’t wait to share it with you. You can also try it out for yourself here.
To learn how our software empowers organizations to architect for fast integration, read our stuff on preparing to realize the value of BIG change.
tl,dr: all business processes start somewhere, whether data, event or request driven. That simple goal is the starting point of request process improvement.
I just need to collect people’s email addresses to get started.
I get into a lot of solution conversations with my friends. This is consulting 101, but there’s more on the line when I’m personally invested in this person.
There are other challenges too, when it’s personal there’s usually a cost prohibitive budget, a.k.a. no cash on hand.
So when someone asked me how to collect information and “get started” a lightbulb went off!
All processes start somewhere.
It appears that almost all business processes come down to a click. An order. A bit. A byte. SOMETHING; whether it be data or a request, something triggers a business response.
Can we then assume that the best software gets this?
When I asked this, I re-asked it a couple times before I realized this was the value IT was providing. Particularly when it refers to Enterprise Architecture.
The decisions you make about the puzzle you are composing with technology investments influences your ability to react to information and events.
Which is why good architects and business analysts ask difficult questions about APIs and Integration points.
Can you send an example of the JSON?
It’s why great application developers know the details of how to alert and register events. As well as how to extract and parse event and alert information in a meaningful way.
How do you start a process? Is it as easy as filling in a request form? Do you click a button? Is it complex or simple? Why?
Participants in our second virtual hackathon have been challenged to start a business process. Create a simple registration application. Start capturing those email addresses and start the business process you need to start now.
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.):
We’ve added capabilities on both the Government and Cloud sides, specifically focused on Create, Delete, Status, Retrieve, Shutdown, Restart and Start.
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.
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.
Bootstrap a node in chef using Knife.
Create and delete servers.
VSphere, for infrastructure automation of course. All kinds of options here.
What else? It reloads 🙂
Trigger nodes when records are created, updated and deleted.
Sales and CRM
Lots of functionality like managing contacts and accounts.
Create and retrieve prospects.
Retrieve account records.
Take payments and complete checkouts
There’s too much to list here – but we use it, there’s a ton of integration points.
Too many to list, users, groups, changes and incidents mainly.
Again, too many to list… probably because we love it.
If you like JSON, XML, CSV and password generation These handlers are for you.
Create and update incidents.
Create and retrieve incidents
Create A records, PTR records.
Communication and Collaboration
Tons of integrations, invites, todo’s, events, projects and more.
Too many to list – this is a biggie.
User admin, calendar integration and group management
Because nobody wants to talk on the phone anymore
Meeting automation? Yes please.
I love this app. Use the handler to create notes or notebooks
Move, delete, create and share.
Company posting, profile posting and a listing of connecting people
Manage emails, meeting requests and sending attachments.
Events, links, statuses and posts.
Upload automation; yes!
Search followers, compose and include pictures
Create, delete invite – lots of options.