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.
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.
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.
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?