What is this “Level 0” thing? (Part 2): Knowledge, Self-Analysis and Feedback

Tools of the Trade (Part 2)

A Vision From Down Under
By Michael Poole

In my last blog, I mentioned a major client who is ‘shifting to the left’ and implementing ‘Level 0’ methods.

For those who missed my last blog, in short, ‘Level 0’ is the process of enabling users to resolve their own incidents and requests.

Obviously, one way of implementing ‘Level 0’ is to shut off the phone lines and email addresses of the Help Desk. A very effective way of getting users involved in the process, but not one I would recommend to anyone wanting a long future in an organisation. Of course, sometimes we implement this method by under-resourcing our support teams – but that is the subject for another blog.

To implement ‘Level 0’, users have to have the information available to them to resolve issues as they arise. So how do we give these to them.

There are a number of tools available.

The Knowledge

It has been famed around the world that London cabbies spend years “doing the knowledge” — learning every street, lane, theatre, hospital and pub in London — before they can sit for the exam to obtain a cab licence. Do we need to ensure that before any person joins the organisation they have an intimate knowledge of computer hardware, software, networking etc.?

No, because now, they can be like today’s Sydney cabbies who avoid “the knowledge” by having a SatNav or GPS system in the cab. Our users’ SatNav can be a Knowledge Base.

The move to implementing “KCS” or Knowledge Centred Support has been going for a number of years, but for many organisations, this has been limited to building knowledge bases directed at and only available to the support team — not the user. With the development of Web 2.0+, users are becoming more accustomed to “googling” for solutions and answers and also using self-help resources that are a part of the major social media sites. I admit, in doing these blogs, I have often consulted the blog site’s help pages and Support Forums.

So KCS is one of the tools that can be deployed as part of the “shift to the left.” But to do this, we have to make sure that we develop our KCS articles, not for computer engineers, or if we are deploying across an enterprise , HR experts or accountants etc, but for the average user and common issues.


No, I’m not becoming Tony Robbins — all “SHAMish” (Self Help and Actualisation Movement) — perish the thought — or bringing Freud onto the Help Desk — even though at times he might be useful in dealing with users, but more IKEA!

The results of some IKEA assembly projects might belie the concept — but I assume that they have more successes than failures through the step-by-step self-assembly process.

A few — well maybe many — years ago, I was involved in a project that required me to have what is called an “Assumed Rank” in the Australian Armed Services. I made Colonel for a month — the duration of the contract — but thankfully did not have to do the physical, wear a drab khaki uniform, bear arms or be saluted. But I did get into the Officers’ Mess and people had to answer my questions in a respectful way, but that is past. What I did get to find out was how the most complex maintenance and repair processes for a fighter jet could be broken down into simple steps and documented so that even I could have replaced, as an instance, the wiring loom on an F-111 or the laser-guidance system. The “repair manual” — and it was all hard-copy — was contained in a room-full of filing cabinets and needed a librarian to keep it in order and up-to-date. This of course was an extension of the production line methodology introduced by Henry Ford at his eponymous company to make the most complex consumer engineering  product of the day — the motor car — with relatively unskilled workers. Other car makers of the time were using skilled engineers and coach-makers to make one car at a time.

As the makers of the F-111 and Henry Ford knew, every process can be broken down to simple steps and delivered in an appropriate way to produce a complex result. For Ford this was a car; for General Dynamics it was the F-111 repair manual; for us this can be a fault-finding and resolution process.

In fact for the client mentioned above, we implemented such a system — a fault-finding process that enables staff with little or no technical knowledge to analyse and, in over 30% of cases, resolve issues with lap-tops ranging from OS to wireless network issues through a series of simple steps that relied on the answers to a number of questions and test activities that they could understand and carry out.

So another tool in the “Level 0” process, is intelligent and responsive self-analysis and resolution tools. What is sometimes called an “expert system.”

Information, Contribution, Monitoring & Feedback

Implementing “Level 0” also requires openness of information and a positive response to user feedback.

Users should be given every opportunity to be a part of the process.

Where KCS is implemented, users should be able to rate and suggest improvements to KCS articles and guides and also author and submit new KCS articles. As well as providing another source of input into the KCS system, users will develop a group ownership of the KCS system and its acceptance will be more easily gained.

This is also true of any self-analysis and resolution process. A network engineer may be able to define the step-by-step process for resetting a head-end switch, but it may take some input from an end-user to enunciate the process in easily understood vocabulary or point out areas that need better definition.

Users must also be contribute to the areas that need to be covered in the KCS or self-service system. What the experts think are trivial matters, may be a source of confusion to users.

Access to monitoring information in a easily understandable format can reduce calls on the Service Desk. If users know that a system is down for maintenance then they have no need to log a call.

And of course feedback to users is essential when they make a contribution or highlight an area that needs better coverage.

In part 3, I will look at ways to integrate these tools into web-based portals that can be deployed to users.





What is this ‘Level 0’ thing?

A Vision From Down Under
By Michael Poole

Last week I was a part of the Service Management Forum (SMF) that one of our larger clients in Australia has formed to bring all stakeholders in the IT area together to plan and implement the future of IT support and service delivery.

With a base of over 70,000 users geographically spread over an area of 809,444 km2 (312,528 sq mi—nearly 3 times the size of Nevada) it is a vital matter .

With a new leadership, they are now wanting to embracing ‘Shift to the Left’ or ‘Level 0.’

What is ‘Shift to the Left’? What is ‘Level 0’?

Let us look at the standard support model we all know and, perhaps, love.

It starts at Level 1 with the Help or Service Desk operator logging and hopefully resolving incidents or requests. If this is not possible, we move through Levels 2 and 3 etc. of the support and service layers. In this model, the user who contacts the Help Desk takes no active part in the correct resolution or fulfillment process. The support and service team use various tools to get to a resolution. These may include: Call Scripts, Knowledge Bases both formal and informal, automated fulfillment services/applications, interaction with other team members etc.

If we look at the support levels as a series running from left to right with the lowest—Level 1—on the left and then add Level 0 (the user) to the left of Level 1, then we have a ‘shift to the left’ with ‘Level 0’ as the first level of support.

Level 0 is all about creating an environment where the user can commence and, with the right tools, resolve an incident or fulfill a request WITHOUT having to involve the conventional support and fulfillment teams.

Let’s admit it, ‘Level 0’ can be a challenge to conventional support and fulfillment structures. The Help Desk is a well established and understood method of providing support to users. Users and support teams both can feel  uncomfortable with this model.

Done badly, it can result in frustration for the users, who feel that they are being abandoned and the support team feeling that they are being ‘put out of a job.’

Done well, the users will get a resolution faster and the support team—at all levels—will be engaged in the more challenging issues while not being overwhelmed by trivial issues that can be resolved easily.

In my next blog on this topic, we will look at the tools which enable Level 0 and, of course, how the Kinetic Suite of applications can be an integral part of addressing the challenges.

Service Providers—Configure Your Service Processes for Superior Business Value

By Brett Norgaard

Over the past year, my blogging has centered on how service providers (internal, shared service, or outsourcers/managed service providers) can save money, reduce risk, innovate, accelerate time to value, enhance customer satisfaction and increase productivity in their operations. How can this be accomplished, you ask?

Once you have a configurable, secure, multi-tenant service platform in place, you can swiftly and confidently transition new clients onto the platform with standard, optional and customized services. If you have a “master library” with portfolio management functionality, each client can operate as “an experiment in productivity.” The opportunity is to identify, capture, replicate and roll-out productive innovations. Here’s a short blog entry exploring this: Service Providers Accrue Enterprise Value Benefits From all Clients.

One client/department/division/program’s invention can be another’s innovation…if the service items are portable to other instances or versions of the service platform. And, the branding and theming needs to adapt to the new client/user as well. See the blog series on “Service Item Portability“:

Innovation does not have to be daunting. Consider that it can simply be a matter of cloning one service item and registering it for another client/user. Or, you can clone a service item and link it to another process like a specific approval process, integration to an enterprise application like HR or Procurement, access to a Cloud-Based service for provisioning IT resources like computing power or storage, or access to an enterprise service like Active Directory – captured in a reusable handler.

Also, tying back to a configuration-driven approach, you can employ “sense and respond” style innovation with no fear of disrupting the underlying service platform since no programming changes are occurring. Here’s a link to a short blog entry on that topic: Service Provider Innovation, Three Easy Pieces.

In summary, here’s a “formula” to consider: CSMtP(ML/CPM) + ST + CSI = DML

Configurable, Secure, Multi-tenant Platform w/Master Library/Curator Portfolio Management + Streamlined Transitioning + Continual Service Innovation = Differentiated, Market Leadership.

Kinetic Data’s Employee Works to Promote Big Brother Big Sister Program Awareness

By Nancy Nafziger

Benjamin Christensen is a Big Brother Big Sister  volunteer with an inspiring story.

Twenty-seven-year-old Ben is the Big Brother to Arthur and came into the preteen’s life four years ago. The Big Brother Big Sister of the Greater Twin Cities located near Kinetic Data’s office in St. Paul, MN helped connect the two.

“I’ve since come to find out that I’ve gotten more out of the program than I think I’ve actually put into it with Arthur and so that’s been quite an experience,” Ben says.

“Ben has been a good influence on my life, I wasn’t getting into trouble, but I’m pretty sure, if Ben hadn’t come along, I’d end up like a friend of mine and he’s gotten into the cigarettes and weed and stuff like that.” Arthur says.

“Everyone can use a mentor at any age.” Ben says.

Ben and Arthur do many brotherly activities together. Ben taught Arthur how to play cribbage and create a resume. They often shoot hoops. Ben continues to focus on helping Arthur with his academics. They are working on improving Arthur’s GPA so that he can expand his college opportunities.

Ben and Arthur’s Big Brother relationship has been mutually beneficial. Arthur will always be part of Ben’s life. In May, Arthur had the honor or being a groomsman in Ben’s marriage to a Big Sister he met through the program.

Being a Big Brother or Big Sister is one of the most fulfilling things Ben has ever done. This experience has given him the opportunity to help shape Arthur’s future.

Lastly, Ben’s volunteer work hasn’t gone unnoticed. In August, Mpls.–St. Paul, MN News Channel KARE 11 awarded Ben the 11 Who Care Award! This program recognizes outstanding volunteers in the community.

To hear Ben and Arthur’s story, check out KARE 11’s video and story.