The 3 Best Focal Points of Request Management

Today I had someone ask for advice. “What would you tell a new Request Process Owner?” Although results will vary, here is some generic advice.

The goal of Request Management is to deliver goods and services to those that need them. This sounds simple, but we’re talking about people; so it’s not simple.

First, you have more than one person you serve. You support and defend the people ordering, selling and fulfilling goods and services. Each will have an idea of what that means. If you can get them all to agree, you should consider a career in politics.

Ordering.

Make sure people know where to order things. This might be the biggest challenge. And there are several related goals.

It’s a lot easier to tell people where to go when you have one place for people to order things. So, a secondary goal is making sure everything that can be ordered is in that one place. This might be impossible, so do your best. Partnering with Business Analysts and other key people will help you achieve clarity. It will also help you understand the history and technical limitations.

The “one place” to order things should be in neutral territory. If not, you will face opposing goals and risk their influence.

Improving that “one place” is another related goal. How easy is it to find the right goods and services? Is it easy to order them? When you want to change an item description, can you? Flexibility is an advantage, dependence is your foe.

Keep a small marketing and sales campaign targeted at both new and experienced people. Let them know what new things they can order. Take their feedback on the catalog and listen to them. Driving demand and traffic to your portal will keep authority and adoption high.

Next, consider the people selling and delivering those goods and services. Are they enabled to manage their own items? Do they like the automation or task assignments? Are the alerts and information they need working well? Keep them focused on smooth delivery and using the central portal.

Finally, providing an excellent customer experience will reward you with loyal fans. These fans will tell their friends and coworkers about their experience. This makes your sales and marketing efforts much easier and amplifies your reach.

Selling.

Consider request management to be a supply chain. Going further upstream to your vendors may be an easy way to find savings in effort or cost. Say the headphones you provide are $100. Can you get better ones at the same price? Can your vendor get you a better price?

This is usually a great opportunity for automation and cost savings. Say for instance that every laptop you buy ships alone. Is there cost savings in shipping them all at once? How do you manage stock? Licensing?

There are a lot of partnerships in this function, keep your partners close.

Fulfillment.

Let’s stick with headphones. When someone requests them, what happens? Does Sally order them from Amazon? If so, do they get delivered to the person that ordered them? Does Sally get them first?

These are the details of request management that are often the hardest to impact. Getting Sally to change her process is not going to be simple. If you make it automated she may even feel her job is danger. Always focus on value. Using your customers’ feedback will be instrumental in designing and impacting these details.

Just like selling, fulfillment is a chain of events that you can analyze. Improvements are always there, the questions of cost, expectations and experience still apply.

This also means you must balance complexity. Hiring new employees or bringing on new companies are examples of complex requests. Don’t get overwhelmed and leverage your selling, fulfillment and requesting professionals to improve.

I hope this will help you on your journey. What would you add to these suggestions?

You Released a Catalog; Now What?

Adoption: Getting People to Use your Catalog

If people don’t use your portal, there is a risk of missing returns on your investment. This is important because an initiative like a self-service portal is usually sold to leadership as part of a cost-savings initiative.

catalog open

Marketing

How do you get your customers to think about your portal when they need something? To understand this, consider the lifecycle of technology adoption. Innovators and early adopters will be easy to convince since a new portal to make requests is a disruptive change. For the rest of your audiencemarketing is key to making people aware the catalog exists and what value it provides.

Some keys to marketing your catalog include simply talking to people about it, putting it on your hold music, send links to the portal and have service agents talk to callers about your catalog. Partner with your internal marketing teams and corporate messaging teams to share stories about the self-service catalog. Of course, linking to your catalog from intranet pages and emails is also important.

Informational sessions, brown bags, new hire orientation and all-hands meetings are some more great platforms to share the stories and value of your catalog.

Experience

Having a great experience is a non-negotiable requirement of any self-service portal. If the first interaction customers have with your catalog is not a good one, they may never come back. To achieve this, partner with your customers to capture and provide input to what they would like the experience to be like. Watching people order things is a great place to start.

Improvement: Making the Catalog a Part of Company Culture

Build analytics and measurement into your catalog to determine what services people are using, which ones they aren’t using and identify what your customers are looking for. Having access to what people are searching for can help you understand what services they are looking for that may not be available yet.

Surveys help you understand if people are happy with your portal, upset with your portal and gives people a voice and input into your systems. To increase survey response rates try rewarding respondents and adding incentive to users helping you build the portal. And when something changes on your portal, make sure you communicate and understand the impact on your customers.

Making frequent small improvements keeps change simple for your end users. Make sure your items have a similar look and feel, and make ordering easy. Focus on the customer experience, and never stop improving.

Expansion: growing the use of your catalog

There are lots of ways to expand. Adding departments, services or even a new portals are challenges you may need to overcome. Seeking out the power-users, information brokers and persuaders to discuss the design and functionality of your portal will be exponentially valuable.

There are a couple ways to scale your expansion. One way is to build items and technology features to be reused and leveraged by power-users. Building activities and functions that are repeatable and modifiable will make your catalog easier to use and therefore more likely to I used.

Another is to build your technology in such a way to distribute the details of your services. This might include being able to leverage a standard approval workflow, or giving business professionals the ability to customize their own forms. This may take some careful planning and maybe even re-work, but the investment is worth it when demand increases.

Support: How to Scale Innovation

Since most modern technology platforms can literally do anything, we need to break the habit of asking “Can it…” and start planning how to approach a solution.

Exploring what your platforms are capable of keeps you in the role of “early-adopter” which makes you a key resource to the people leveraging this technology. This role will often start automating solutions or fixing problems that people have been complaining about for years. This is an important step in the life of a self-service platform.

Expand who is using the platform, give them a framework to work within and cross-train. Having multiple people involved in a system like this removes the risk of having a single point of failure.

Nobody knows everything, so getting others involved will also help scale exploration. Continuously learn more about the technologies that are providing the value your team and company need.

Lastly, keeping your platforms up to date keeps you leveraging new functionality and feature sets as well as keeping you learning more about the enabling technology.

Get Started

Ready to get started implementing a catalog that can grow? Start learning more today at http://kineticdata.com.

Kinetic Data creates business process software that delights its customers, making them heroes by transforming both the organization and the people who work there. Since 1998 Kinetic Data has helped hundreds of Fortune 500 and government customers — including General Mills, Avon, Intel, 3M and the U.S. Department of Transportation — implement automated request management systems with a formula that is proven, repeatable and ready to implement. The company has earned numerous awards for its superior products and support. Kinetic Data serves customers from its headquarters in St. Paul, Minn., offices in Sydney, Australia, and through a valued network of reseller partners. For more information, visitwww.kineticdata.com, follow our blog, and connect with us on Twitter andLinkedIn.

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”

How to Avoid 10 Common Project Management Mistakes

Project glitches—and sometimes even outright failures—are unfortunately common. But they are by no means inevitable.

According to CIO Insight, “45 percent of large IT projects go over budget, while delivering 56 percent less value than promised.” Yet many of the frequent causes of project setbacks are well understand and can be avoided with proper planning and execution.

10 common project management mistakes - and how to avoid
Image credit: CIOInsight

Based on research compiled by Dennis McCafferty, here are 10 common sources of project management problems, along with guidance on how to avoid each, illustrated with the example of implementing an enterprise request management (ERM) strategy.

Continue reading “How to Avoid 10 Common Project Management Mistakes”

Six Questions When Choosing an IT Vendor – from CIO Magazine

Selecting a new IT vendor is about more than just checking off boxes for product features and functions. Functionality is important of course, but it’s table stakes.

When you’ll be relying on a software application to help fundamentally improve your business operations and the working lives of employees, it’s imperative to get to know the vendor behind the product.

six key questions to ask IT vendorsIs the company reliable? Are they the kind of people you’ll enjoy working with on an ongoing basis? Are they committed to helping you achieve your professional objectives—or just out to make a sale?

In a recent CIO magazine article, Rob Enderle provides an outline for such an evaluation. Continue reading “Six Questions When Choosing an IT Vendor – from CIO Magazine”

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”

The Risk and Opportunity in “Shadow” IT Spending

Do you know how much your organization actually spends on information technology? The answer may surprise you.

According to recent research from advisory firm CEB, “CIOs globally estimate that the ‘shadow’ IT spend in other areas of the business represents another 20 percent on top of the official IT budget. However, the real figure is closer to 40 percent.” Marketing, HR, operations and finance groups are most likely to have their own dedicated IT budgets.

Hidden opportunity in shadow IT spendingThough it’s important for IT departments to understand and address the issues raised by these unofficial technology investments, “shadow” IT spending isn’t all bad.  Andrew Horne, managing director at CEB, noted: “While the idea of ‘shadow spending’ has in the past been seen as a risk or threat, on the contrary it is often a sign of healthy innovation and presents a valuable opportunity for IT to work more closely with business partners to develop new capabilities.”

An enterprise request management (ERM) strategy can be invaluable in assuring that all technology spending is done efficiently (i.e., that departments don’t unnecessarily overpay or duplicate spending) and adheres to compliance and security requirements. The objective needn’t be excessively tight control, but rather a matter of providing guiderails to keep overall enterprise technology spending on track.

An ERM approach provides:

  • An intuitive, unified web portal for all types of service requests, across all shared services functions within an enterprise. Giving department managers a common, easy to use tool for creating, managing and optimizing their own request process workflows reduces the perceived need to work “outside the system.”

  • Transparency in service costs, so everyone understands the costs and other departments can work with IT to minimize technology-related service delivery costs.

  • Exposure for all available services, whether delivered by a single functional group or through the coordinated efforts of different departments. This helps avoid duplicate efforts or spending, and helps functional groups identify opportunities for increased coordination to reduce service fulfillment time and costs.

The CEB study also found that “Spending on mobile applications is set to accelerate in 2014 though, with almost two-thirds (65 percent) of employees dissatisfied with the mobile capabilities available to them for work purposes.” As previously noted here, agile service management practices can significantly improve support for mobile workers, reducing overall costs while improving employee satisfaction and business competitiveness.

While shadow IT spending is a concern for CIOs, it presents opportunities as well as risks. Utilizing an ERM approach to service request and fulfillment can help IT groups reduce unneeded spending and address compliance and security concerns while giving functional groups the flexibility they need to improve their own processes and efficiency through technology acquisition.

For more information:

How Retailers can Cut Costs and Improve the Customer Experience with ERM

The world of retailing has never been easy, but retailers today face unprecedented challenges: product commoditization, “showrooming,” short product lifecycles, margin compression, and the challenge of meeting increasing customer expectations while reducing costs.

Improving Retail Service Request ManagementSelf service is one way to reduce costs, and hardly a new idea. The problem is that while it saves money, self service has too often diminished the customer experience, leading to frustration rather than delight. That’s because, as noted previously here, self service 1.0 was focused on providing information; it “didn’t give users what they really wanted: the ability to get broken things fixed, and to order new things.”

Self service 2.0, on the other hand, is focused on action. It provides customers (internal or external) with actionable services, enabling them to make specific requests, track the progress of those service requests at any time, and provide feedback on the timeliness and quality of service received. It automates processes to accelerate service delivery, eliminate redundant and error-prone processes, and reduce costs. But just as important (if not more so), it’s designed to improve the customer experience.

Actionable IT service catalogs are one example of self service 2.0. But while useful and efficient, their focus on IT services limited their value to retail (or other types of) organizations, and made them yet another department system to be learned and navigated.

Enterprise request management (ERM) is an ideal strategy for taking self service 2.0 out of department silos and extending it across the enterprise. It provides a single intuitive web-based portal for requesting any type of service. External customers can access a public-facing portal for ordering and checking the status of various types of services. Retail employees can access an internal portal for ordering services from HR, IT, facilities, or even complex services involving multiple functions.

For example, no retailer wants a customer to have to wait for attention from an employee who is on-hold with a technician, trying to resolve a problem with a point-of-sale terminal. With ERM, the employee can order the repair online (from a PC, tablet or smart phone), and get an instant estimate of the expected repair time (as well as the ability to track request status). Spending less time resolving such service issues not only reduces costs, it makes life better for both the employee and the customer.

While implementing an ERM strategy generally requires some new technology investments, most global retailers already have many of the pieces in place (such as HR, ITMS, supply chain and other departmental and enterprise software platforms). ERM is designed to leverage existing technology and training investments. And it empowers departmental managers to create, manage and optimize their own business processes—with minimal technical assistance—speeding adoption across the organization.

To learn more: