When Is It Time to Upgrade?

By Derick Larson

Two weeks ago Kinetic Request and Kinetic Survey released its most recent patch (v5.02). The most common support question I recieve about upgrades includes, “Do I have to upgrade?”  Normally, the answer is, “No.”

I always hope that customers will keep up with the latest version of our applications, but it is not required. Please note, there are  no versions of our product(s) that are unsupported. Upgrading, especially major releases, can involve a considerable amount of time and effort in testing and verifying your functionality. The only reason I actively encourage customers to upgrade is to take advantage of a specific feature or bug fix that directly relates to their situation.

The benefits of upgrading depend on the specifics of the upgrade itself. Specifics are found in the release notes included in the upgrade package. The most current release notes also contain details for all past upgrades and releases.

Examples of features included in our latest release, Kinetic Request and Kinetic Survey (v5.02) include:

• Added ability for task trees to run for approval submissions
• Added a differences report when importing over already existing templates
• Updated pattern matching for Time/Date field
• Updated documentation to reference 32 bit requirements
• Better compatibility with mid-tier

Upgrades are broken down into two parts, Remedy workflow and form changes and web server changes. You will need to use the Remedy Admin Tool/Developer Studio and possibly the Import tool for any Remedy changes. For web server updates it is normally just a copy/paste over the current web application directory.

Have questions about your own upgrade process? Feel free to contact us.

Compliance Management with Batch Service Requests

By Greg Johnson

IT governance is in demand more than ever in this era of enhanced accountability, but how do you implement it on a day by day basis? One way is to let the computers do the “heavy lifting” by setting up batch jobs to make sure tasks are timely, reviewable, and complete. Why? Well batch processing has been around for so long that it’s almost guaranteed that you have this capability.  Now I’m not suggesting you can program all of your compliance needs into a batch job and forget about it, (wouldn’t that be nice) – but the batch job can be used to kick things off. Your compliance efforts require periodic reviews of performance indicators which lead us to the next step:

Service requests

If you have a process for service request management (and you do, even though you may not call it that) then you also have a way to manage these periodic compliance tasks. Furthermore, if you are fortunate enough to have a tool that enables custom design of service requests, (like Kinetic Request) even better. You can author service requests specifically to track each task in IT governance. Checking the capacity of a system every day, or assessing change management success rates, for example.

Leveraging the approval process

Most of the time, a service request requires approval. From the perspective of a compliance check, the evaluation may need sign off by a manager or perhaps just another reviewer. Repurposing service requests to compliance makes even more sense in this case since you can use the approval for this. It’s also reassuring to know that the notifications surrounding the approval process raises awareness of what ‘s being done for compliance.

Managing Services: Within IT and Beyond

Product Brief
By Lisa Erickson-Harris, Enterprise Management Associates (EMA)

Service management has been maturing now for over a decade. It has served as an educational tool for IT to help technical staff understand the need to meet business goals and objectives. At the same time, the use of service management toolsets is expanding outside the boundaries of IT to serve the needs of any department, managing any type of service. The human resources department may still rely upon IT to deliver a laptop to a new employee, but other requests—such as payroll submissions and employee training—go beyond IT’s jurisdiction. Some service delivery technology is flexible enough to operate both inside and outside of IT.

Services take countless forms. Corporations address the needs of employees, customers and partner networks. Government agencies serve constituents (vehicle registration, license renewal), employees (booking inmates, tracking evidence), and the private sector (corporations). The common denominator for these entities is a need to expedite service delivery without relying solely on the IT department. Users, employees, customers and partners all request services in order to transact business with any organization. Similarly, they need a mechanism for requesting and receiving those services. The service catalog can be used to represent available services to various constituencies; Service Request Management (SRM) applications address the automated delivery of those services for any and all service-oriented departments within an enterprise. Service catalogs and SRM tools empower the requestor, and at the same time improve levels of service quality, ultimately improving the credibility of operations.

Many benefits result from the use of both technologies. First and foremost, the user now has visibility into what services are available and can autonomously initiate requests for those services. Using service delivery technologies, users can create a complex service model that represents real organizational needs. Features typically include the ability to segregate services by user population, track associated costs by service, and access a business-driven service model. Kinetic Data has developed an application that allows users to request, track and receive services without undue reliance on IT staff.

Click here to read more… (pdf)

Divide and Conquer to Accelerate Client Transitions

A new approach saves time and money while increasing client satisfaction.
By Brett Norgaard

Long and expensive client transitions that cut into profits and limit scalability are among the biggest problems facing information technology and business process outsourcing service providers. Yet much of what happens during the transition and client onboarding process boils down to a familiar set of standard services common to every organization whose business the service provider wins. By breaking up major tasks and performing them concurrently, clients get services faster and more efficiently while service providers pull revenue forward—a win-win situation for both service providers and their customers.

Why does it take so long?

After the sale, new clients of a service provider frequently complain about the time and cost of transitioning to the new service. Typically, transitions take two-to-six months to complete.1 Costs to the service provider range from two percent to 15 percent of the total cost of the first year and directly affect the time to profitability of new customers.2 If the period drags out too long, clients may see little evidence of progress and grow increasingly dissatisfied. Based on this perception, clients may even try to renegotiate or terminate contracts.

The source of the problem stems from the way the outsourcing services industry has evolved. In the early days of outsourcing, service providers took a cookie-cutter approach to their delivery of services. As the industry became more competitive and client-centric, customers increasingly demanded a more customized approach. Inevitably, these new demands increased the length, complexity and cost of onboarding clients and delayed the service provider’s time-to-value from the client’s perspective.

For example, one large service provider is currently trying to transition several hundred clients to a new service delivery platform. To date, a handful of clients have been transitioned to the new platform through a process similar to that outlined in Figure 1 — the traditional approach to transitioning clients to a new service. The figure illustrates the time required to create, validate and test individual service components on a one-off, or custom, basis. This service provider discovered that the process is taking several months and, at that rate, it could take years to successfully transition its entire client base.

There is an opportunity to approach this challenge differently. By developing a standardized and configurable process to activate these services as quickly and efficiently as possible, outsourcers can shave months off the transitioning process, focus on the high-value aspects of a service, and start delivering services to clients in weeks rather than months. This pulls revenue forward and helps service providers get off on the right foot with clients, which is often the most important single aspect of establishing a mutually beneficial outsourcing relationship.

Click here to read more… (pdf)

How IT Automation Empowers Enterprise Agility

By Nancy Nafziger

Change is constant in today’s enterprise. Enterprises are constantly challenged to keep up with the complex demands of IT change. Enterprises need more automation, more customization and more demands have been placed on efficiency than ever before. Enterprise agility has become crucial.

So what is agility? In Gartner’s book, “Achieving Agility: Defining Agility in an IT Context,” Daryl Plummer and David McCoy define agility as “the ability of an organization to sense environmental change and respond efficiently and effectively to that change.”

One of the core enabling elements of enterprise agility includes the facilitated ability to change business processes and to customize operational responses in real-time, which Rick Dove refers to as response ability. More than ever we are seeing enterprise network managers turning to IT automation technology to help the enterprise increase responsiveness automate complex processes and create efficiency. In some cases, the automation technology is already present, but a look at process improvements could drive up efficiencies, says Evelyn Hubbert, senior analyst at Forrester Research. “The economy is forcing IT departments to go back to basics, in a sense, to squeeze more out of existing infrastructure. Because the management of existing systems can be up to 70% of IT costs, IT is starting to understand the importance of better management in their efforts to get leaner,” she said.

Here are five factors to weigh when looking for IT process automation:

  • Visibility—need ongoing visibility into the total environment.
  • Self-service—top performing enterprise operations make use of automated processes by implementing self-service systems.
  • Flexibility—adaptive business intelligence requires flexibility.
  • Security—manages risk through automation and flexible configuration.
  • Workflow management—streamline core activities to route tasks and manage workflow more efficiently.

Succeeding at IT process automation requires taking a long hard look at how a request management system enables operational efficiency:

  • Automation of service delivery tasks—achieves business agility, operational efficiency, and high performance levels by automating your workflow. Based on a configurable workflow that ensures that the appropriate information is collected, the request is routed to the appropriate approver(s) and that automatic notifications are triggered.
  • Customization via configuration: flexible, intelligent handling of requests leverage the power of customizable forms, tasks, complex workflows, notifications, and approvals to match the way you deliver service.
  • Reduces costs—efficiently configures repetitive tasks and eliminates manual processes.
  • Self-service—empowers both IT and non-IT staff to configure their own tasks, processes, and approvals.
  • Secure configuration—creates a unique and secure experience via flexible configuration.

One final thought. If request management drives IT automation, then IT automation drives enterprise agility—and enterprise agility drives profits.


Support Vision

Questions, Questions, Questions
By Derick Larson

What do you expect when you call support? Do you typically just have a “How do I…?” question. Has your customer asked you to add an enhancement? Have you heard about an upgrade and want to know what’s included?

When you call support, we ask a lot of questions. We ask questions to try and figure out what’s wrong. Asking questions is part of our diagnostic process. We use the answers to narrow down options and present solutions.

The next time you have to call support—or even better, when you don’t have to call support—take the opportunity to ask us questions about our products. We’re always happy to explain how a new feature works, or how we’ve seen other customers use Kinetic Data applications.

A great example of this is the new Kinetic Task Engine that comes bundled with Kinetic Request, Version 5. While we offer a couple of classes on the Kinetic Task Engine (shameless plug—Kinetic Data’s Training Schedule), it may be awhile before customers can get up to speed with configuring and using the new features. While you ask questions about issues you may have with the Kinetic Task Engine, please ask us questions about how you could use it and how other customers are using it.

My name is Derick Larson and I’m one of the folks providing support and training to users of the various Kinetic Data products.


Service Request Management: Changing the Way We View Service in an Unpredictable World

A Vision from Down Under
By Michael Poole

I am writing this blog post sitting beside what has been described as the most beautiful harbour in the world. I am writing it in English, so the spelling is correct on this side of the world!

One of the joys of working for Kinetic Data in Australia and looking after any part of the world that is not North America, is exploring the differences in the varieties of English that are spoken especially the different meanings of words and phrases we use.

As an example, just the other day I was talking to Nancy, our marketing director and the controlling entity behind this blog site, about my resource-scheduling problem. Getting my newly resident son and his girlfriend to “wash up” after they have used the kitchen and had a meal. The conversation was at cross-purposes until I realised that what I should have said was “do the dishes.” Nancy had visions of me insisting that they have a bath after every meal!

…And that is a great segue into the real message of this blog—resource scheduling and timely responses to requests.

One thing I notice as I sit here at Circular Quay, is the way the ferries that ply the harbour always have a birth at the wharf available. You can see that just as a ferry appears from under the Sydney Harbour Bridge, another ferry departs a wharf, leaving room for the new arrival. Most times this works like clock-work—a good example of resource scheduling, albeit in a very controlled environment. The schedulers know exactly how many ferries are in operation, and the requests for wharf space are also scheduled and controlled. There are no unforeseen calls from ferry masters to have a space urgently. It all works like a fine tuned machine.

It would be great if we could run our IT support operations in the same way, scheduling incidents and service requests at regular intervals, making sure that we always have resources available and no backlogs of unresolved tickets.

But we can’t, no matter what country you are in, incidents, like accidents, just happen and need to be resolved. Delays in resolution nearly always result in some level of customer dissatisfaction.

Talking with our clients, I have found that there are a number of things that can be done to improve client satisfaction even in our unpredictable world of IT services:

  • Give continuous feedback on the status of the incident or request;
  • Give realistic estimates of resolution times;
  • Ensure that MACs do not deplete resources at times of high incident numbers—typically Monday morning or at the end of the month;
  • Implement a good calendaring system to keep an up-to-the-minute visual watch on incidents, requests, MACs, events and resources—both human and system
  • Get timely feedback from users on the resolution of an incident or request; and
  • Immediately notify managers of any negative feedback. A manager’s calling a user to discuss the problem and how to improve service has turned many negative situations into positives.

And of course, they do this all with the help of our Kinetic Data Suite of applications.

Gentle readers, I know most of you are surrounded by snow, but I will end this post sending you my deepest sympathy as I go back to enjoying the sun glittering on the harbour waves and watching the ferries moving in and out of the wharves like clockwork.


Introducing Kinetic Vision

Kinetic Data is reaching out in support of the Business Service Management community by launching our new blog Kinetic Vision, Building a Better Business Service Management Blog.

For more than 10 years, Kinetic Data has delivered business service management and service delivery management software tools for enterprises and service providers. We build software solutions that allow business departments to interact with employees for better overall service and improved efficiency—throughout the entire enterprise.

Our goal is to empower our customers to take ownership of their service management processes. We are passionate about developing new tools and identifying future trends by listening to you.

Our mission with Kinetic Vision is to provide an objective and informative business service management blog where experts can provide thought leadership and interact with you. Topics will include a wide range of Business Service Management themes.

In addition to me, Kinetic Vision bloggers will include:

  • Derick Larson, Support/Trainer, Kinetic Data
  • Brett Norgaard, Outsourced Service Provider Director, Kinetic Data
  • Greg Johnson, Implementation Consultant, Kinetic Data
  • Michael Poole, Director International Business Development, Kinetic Data

We’ll be posting regularly, so check back often. Grab our RSS feed or subscribe to our blog by email.

Nancy Nafziger
Marketing Director, Kinetic Data