Portals: Content is king!

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.

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:

  1. Systems of Record
    1. Employee directory
    2. Team directory
    3. Ticket portal
    4. knowledge
    5. databases
  2. Writing
    1. How-to
    2. Company updates
    3. Team updates
    4. Project updates
    5. Fileshare
  3. Checklists
  4. Links
  5. Downloads
  6. Events/Calendars
  7. Dashboard/Reporting

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!

How Come Our Culture Isn’t Better?

Week 3 in a three-part series about differentiation.
Hiring the right people. Have you seen this done well? If we accept that failure is inevitable, meaning you How Culturecan’t hire perfectly well %100 of the time, then how do you make sure you’re getting the right people to fill your needs?
That’s easy!
Are you accomplishing your goals? Are you exceeding them? These two questions capture the urgency and essence of how truly great companies look for ideas.
This desire for new ideas, a thirsty exploration and acceptance of ideas is something I’ve seen firsthand at only a couple organizations. If you find it, take note, for you are in the presence of something very great. A culture that begs for change is not something you can create overnight, and something that I suspect doesn’t scale.
In both cases, the culture of the organization was the first goal right at the beginning. If you have competing goals, and a different primary goal you will be quickly distracted with profit, product or performance and one of the millions of details of running a successful organization.

Six Vital BYOD Stats – And The Bigger Productivity Picture

Most organizations have now adopted BYOD policies, permitting or encouraging employees to use their personal computing and communications devices at work. Though the embrace of BYOD varies—small companies are more likely to adopt BYOD than large enterprises, tech companies more than government, U.S. firms more than those in Europe—a clear majority of respondents in a recent survey by Tech Pro Research “say that their organization is using or planning to use BYOD.”

BYOD stats and impact on productivityIt is easy to see why employees want to use their own devices, with reasons ranging from familiarity to freedom. Meanwhile, employers often see the shift (despite additional security measures required) as a way to save money. And research compiled by BMC Software indicates BYOD users work longer hours. But do BYOD policies ultimately improve productivity?

Continue reading “Six Vital BYOD Stats – And The Bigger Productivity Picture”

The Technology HR Managers Want Most

“‘What’s the one thing human resource information system (HRIS) managers hope to accomplish’ with new HR technology?,” Aliah D. Wright asked recently on SHRM.org.

The answer, she reported in Wanted: Amazon.com-like Experience with HR Tech, is to “improve user experience,” based on fresh research from Information Services Group (ISG).

ERM portal combining HRIS plus other enterprise shared servicesThis isn’t surprising, given the link between workplace technology and employee satisfaction. Wright quotes Debora Card, a partner at ISG: “As the ‘war for talent’ heats up, CEOs recognize that their employees—especially Millennials—expect their interactions with HR departments to be as easy and engaging as shopping on Amazon.”

Continue reading “The Technology HR Managers Want Most”

How ERM Helps With Employee Retention

To enhance their competitiveness (or to address the expectations of stakeholders, in the case of government agencies), organizations have been investing in new and better technology for decades. These investments are generally made to meet one (or some combination of) of four primary objectives:
Technology that makes employees happy

  • to reduce costs;
  • to improve product or process quality;
  • to accelerate workflow; or
  • to enable new capabilities.

Employees were provided with and trained on the use of new technologies and tools in order to do their jobs more effectively and efficiently. True, in many cases new technologies made employees jobs easier, but the primary objectives for new investments were still focused on operational and financial benefit for the enterprise. Continue reading “How ERM Helps With Employee Retention”

The Five Most Popular Posts on Kinetic Vision of 2014 (So Far)

As we reach the halfway point of 2014, here’s a quick look at the five most-read posts on the Kinetic Vision blog so far this year. If there’s a common thread among these five posts, it’s that while all of them pertain to IT, none of them are limited to the technical realm; rather, all of these posts reflect the strategic engagement of IT with business functions and other shared services groups within organizations.

Five top posts of the first half of 2014
Image credit: Weston Signs

In general, these posts are practical (four provide how-to guidance); informative (three reflect industry research); cross-functional (two are focused on employee onboarding); and evergreen (two were published prior to this year).

Enjoy this look back at the most-read posts on the blog so far this year, and to our readers in the U.S. and Canada, enjoy the holidays this week!

10 Key Benefits of a Business Service Catalog: Forrester Research, Part 2
August 27, 2013

IT service catalogs reduce the time and cost of delivering technical services while improving the user experience. But the benefits of service catalogs needn’t be limited to the provision of IT services; an expanded view of the service catalog to encompass all shared services groups in the organization (e.g., HR, finance, facilities, etc.) extends the cost savings of service catalogs while also providing employees with a single, intuitive interface for requesting any type of enterprise service. Forrester Research has identified a number of reasons for undertaking such a business service catalog effort.

Five Key BYOD Trends and Statistics You Need to Know
March 4, 2014

As interest in BYOD skyrocketed between late 2011 and mid-2012, the initial resistance from both executive management and IT quickly gave way to scrambling to accommodate employee preferences while safeguarding corporate applications and data.  18 months later, fresh research shows that while organizations are maturing in their approach to BYOD, both the level of preparedness and nature of adaptation varies considerably. Here are five key trends.

Four Ways to Optimize the New Employee Onboarding Process
January 7, 2014

Implementing an organized onboarding process makes life better for both the organization and the new employee, at what is often a very stressful time. What’s needed is for managers in each department to map out their onboarding tasks, approvals and deliverables, and coordinate these tasks with other departments. Then look for opportunities to automate as many of the tasks as possible.

Automating Employee Onboarding and Provisioning Processes with Request Management
June 12, 2012

The benefits of automating onboarding and provisioning include less paperwork, reduced costs and increased efficiency. Perhaps most importantly, proper onboarding and provisioning makes new employees feel welcome, prepared, and  confident they have the resources to quickly make an impact within the organization. There are several ways to automate employee onboarding and provisioning, including purpose-built applications, but using a Request Management application is perhaps the simplest and most efficient way to do it.

Systems of Engagement: How to Get Revolutionary Business Results from an Evolutionary IT Approach
February 4, 2014

Legacy management and control software platforms weren’t designed to support lightweight, mobile, wireless access. Certainly, a “rip and replace” approach is one way to address this—but both business users and their IT counterparts cringe at the thought of the time, expense, and business disruption of this approach, not to mention the loss of substantial intellectual and financial capital invested in existing core enterprise systems. A better approach is to retain those core business applications (systems of record), while providing the simplified, flexible, web-based access required by business users through interface-layer systems of engagement.

Four Ways to Optimize the New Employee Onboarding Process

New employees are the lifeblood of every organization. Beyond natural turnover, at some point in any enterprise it’s impossible to grow without adding people.

Implementing an organized onboarding process makes life better for both the organization and the new employee, at what is often a very stressful time. Enterprises want to get new employees settled in, up to speed, and contributing productively as quickly as possible. Employees want to get started on their jobs with minimal wait time and chaos.

And yet, “at many companies, provisioning new hires is a haphazard affair, often amounting to little more than handing out a laptop and a building pass,” according to the Wall Street Journal in How (and How Not) to Train New Staff on IT. While the WSJ article focuses on information technology issue, its recommendations can easily be expanded to encompass the entire employee onboarding process.

Have Everything Ready

According the WSJ article, “Many of the mistakes companies make come from starting too late and not having a clear ‘onboarding’ process.” While IT clearly plays a pivotal role in bringing new employees into the company (provisioning computer hardware, mobile device management, email and application access, phones, printer access and more), several other departments also need to be involved.

Employee Onboarding Process Task TreeHuman resources (HR) needs to get the employee set up with payroll, benefits, emergency contact information, training, etc. Facilities needs up to set and provision furnishings for the employee’s workspace. Accounting needs to coordinate pay- and expense-based setup tasks with HR. And so on.

What’s needed is for managers in each department to map out their onboarding tasks, approvals and deliverables, and coordinate these tasks with other departments. Then look for opportunities to automate as many of the tasks as possible to reduce labor, costs, and the potential for errors due to redundant manual data entry.

While onboarding processes will be different across departments and levels (e.g., the process for a call center operator will differ from a departmental VP), many of the same tasks still apply. So, a basic onboarding task workflow can be created, then modified as needed for various roles.

Simplify Systems Access

“One of the dumb ways of getting new employees set up is to have a complex process of approval for access to systems. New staff members can end up waiting days or weeks for managers in different departments to give them access to what they need,” according to the WSJ story.

Provisioning role-based system and application access should be part of the onboarding process flow as described above. For situations where the employee is in a new role for which systems access isn’t completely defined, or in which it’s determined after the employee starts that he or she needs access to an application that wasn’t specified in the onboarding process, incorporation of an enterprise request management (ERM) strategy (sort of an “Amazon.com” for any type of internal company service and equipment requests) can enable that access gap to be quickly filled.

Control the Bring-Your-Own Device (BYOD) Chaos

As noted here previously, a properly implemented BYOD approach can both keep employees happy and reduce costs for the organization. The Journal article is spot-on that there do need to be guiderails around on the program, with both limitations and requirements clearly communicated up front, but “banning all personal devices is increasingly unrealistic.”

Training Done by Humans

“Giving someone access to an intranet site with instructions to read it and watch a few videos isn’t as effective as one-to-one training,” as the WSJ points out, but there is an even smarter approach. Pardon the cliché, but this is an area where “thinking outside the box” can really make a difference.

Rather than just considering various methods of training, consider designing new interfaces—what Forrester Research calls “systems of engagement“—on top of vital, but often complex, core enterprise applications (systems of record).

For example, a call center operator may need to utilize information from multiple applications and screens in order to answer even a few common questions. Rather than spend hours on training (regardless of the method used), build a simple interface with perhaps just a handful of clearly-labeled fields that provides the operator with the essential capabilities and information needed to resolve the customer issue while hiding all of the underlying complexity and cross-system navigation.

This approach can reduce to training time required, at least for many common tasks, to virtually zero. A simple user interface that eliminates the need for training is often the best training approach of all.

The combination of mapping the entire onboarding process flow, automating as many tasks as feasible, and doing as much of this work as possible before the employee arrives for the first day on the job, will get each new employee off to a comfortable, chaos-free and productive start as rapidly as possible.

For more information on this topic, download the white paper Business Process Automation Anywhere and Everywhere.

The Evolution of the Service Catalog – Here’s What Comes Next: Forrester Research, Part 1

The concept of the IT service catalog isn’t going away but it is evolving. As a caterpillar turns into a butterfly through metamorphosis, so the IT service catalog is being transformed. It will emerge in forward-thinking organizations as a higher-level entity called the business service catalog.

That’s one of the core takeaways from Master the Service Catalog Solution Landscape in 2013, a Forrester Research white paper. Authors Eveline Oehrlich and Courtney Bartlett introduce the white paper by stating that, “The successful IT organization no longer just keeps the lights on—this organization enables the business to achieve organizationwide goals. To facilitate this shift, IT organizations must now focus on…delivery…of services rather than IT technologies. To do this you must have a service catalog.” But most current IT service catalogs, focused on descriptions of services IT offers to the business, are inadequate to this task.

As IT moves from a supplier of services to playing a more central role in driving business initiatives and success, its mission must shift from information technology (IT) to what Forrester terms “business technology” (BT). “The shift from IT to BT requires new models for how technology is delivered, operated, and supported. Services must be defined, and there is no right or wrong way to do this.” (Though there is a fast way, as previously described here in How to Automate High-Volume Service Item Creation for Faster Service Catalog Deployment.)

Furthermore, per the authors, “Forrester believes services should be primarily defined from a customer point of view,  or with a particular business outcome in mind. As IT moves from being a provider of technologies to a broker of services involving technology, a comprehensive service catalog becomes imperative for the health and future of the business.” In other words, the BT vision means extending the service catalog beyond IT to encompass services provided by departments and functions across the organization.

Forrester Research Employee Onboarding ModelFor example, the figure at right shows a simplified list of services associated with onboarding a new employee. Most of the services shown are provided by IT. The goal of employee onboarding, however, is to get new employees productive as quickly as possible; ideally, new employees would have everything they need in order to do their jobs at their fingertips on their first day. This holds not only for new employees, but for those transferred to a new role or new location as well.

The image below shows an example task tree for an employee onboarding process: not only the different departments involved (IT, facilities, HR,  etc.) but also the multiple approvals and fulfillment actions required to fully provision a newly hired employee.

Employee Onboarding Process Task TreeForrester’s BT vision thus nicely correlates with the concept of enterprise request management (ERM). The business service catalog must be actionable (not merely defining services); it must extend beyond IT into services delivered by other functions (such as HR and facilities); and it must be capable of managing complex processes spanning multiple departments and business functions—while shielding the business user from that complexity.

Part two of this series will detail the benefits of undertaking a business service catalog initiative, and part three will outline the architectural requirements.

For more on this topic: