A new approach to service request management is gaining ground in companies around the globe. Called Enterprise Request Management, or ERM, this framework is finding favour with organisations because it allows them to take an incremental and evolutionary approach to centralising and modifying business processes and service requests across the company. ERM operates at the intersection of the three levels of IT service catalogue maturity identified by Forrester Research:
- Level one – organisations focused on “delivering IT services to consumers through a standard set of choices and/or requests”
- Level two – service catalogue automating enterprise services
- Level three – service catalogue acting as a “service broker”
Let’s take a look at five steps involved in implementing ERM:
- Design your business process
- Involve your stakeholders
- Identify gaps in technology
- Test the processes
- Refine and build onto the processes.
1. Design Your Business Process
Every business has request fulfilment processes that employees would love to improve, whether it’s as simple as resetting a password or as complex as onboarding new employees. The first step is to identify and prioritise improvements in these processes in terms of what is both realistically achievable and what has the greatest impact on user satisfaction.
Next, break the process down into discrete tasks. What task is the easiest to improve in the shortest amount of time? Start there before proceeding to tackle the more vexing tasks. Look at what types of phone calls are overburdening your IT service desk. Are most of them for password resets or are users having problems with software installs? Also, look at which other departments have common support request issues, like paid time off requests in the human resources department, or conference room reservations in the facilities department.
With a service request portal and a back-end process automation tool, ERM provides a simple solution to these types of calls. With an online self-service request portal, users can log and track common service requests themselves while the “back-end” system manages the approval and fulfilment workflow of the request. It doesn’t stop there, however. The flexible and extensible design of ERM allows you to add more (and more complex) types of requests over time.
ERM is designed to automate most, if not all, of the tasks within the service request management lifecycle – including centralized request management, scheduling, approvals, analytics, Service Level Agreement (SLA) tracking, status, charge back, billing and reporting – by linking to and coordinating with the software systems enterprises already have in place (systems of record) to handle these tasks.
2. Involve Your Stakeholders
With ERM, fulfilment processes are customer-centric. In other words, they’re designed from the customer’s perspective rather than from what appears to be the most convenient or logical approach for internal service providers. So, it’s important to involve the appropriate stakeholders by assembling a small project team consisting of a business analyst, a developer, the “owner” of the process, a representative from management, and, most importantly, the users themselves, who can articulate the desired outcome in their own terms.
Keeping the team relatively small is important, since larger teams are more bureaucratic and take longer to get things done. By keeping an open dialogue, users will be accepting of — and possibly even eager for — the changes that ERM will facilitate in simplifying complicated or broken request fulfilment processes.
3. Identify Gaps In Technology
As with any project, it helps to take one step at a time. Don’t get mired in the current state of your technology or existing processes, which can be a recipe for inaction. Often you’ll find that if you “think small” by breaking processes down into realistically achievable goals and by building on the momentum from these small victories, your current technology may not be as inadequate as you first thought. However, frequently new front-end “systems of engagement” and flexible process automation tools may be needed. But make sure they’re designed to interact with back-end systems of record with little or no modification.
4. Test The Processes
With ERM it’s easy to create and test processes with very little risk because the core programming code doesn’t get modified. Feel free to make changes as needed and then test again. Once the process is concrete, is can be cloned and modified for other similar needs.
5. Refine & Build Onto The Processes
With ERM, the best approach is an evolutionary one. Start with the low-hanging fruit — the broken processes that have the greatest impact on customers. Work from these successes and the experiences gained, and then expand efforts wider and deeper into other request fulfilment processes. After making any desired adjustments, deploy a more efficient way of fulfilling requests by using ERM and determine the next processes that need to be fixed. By learning, iterating and improving, ERM can easily move out of IT and unify service request fulfilment across your organisation.
As you can see, the benefits and ease of ERM simply are too good to pass up. After all, who wouldn’t want lower service delivery costs and happier customers? So, wait no longer – now is the time for your organisation to join the ranks of those realising the benefits of ERM:
- An improved user experience
- Centralisation of business services
- First-time and automated fulfilment
- Leveraging of existing systems.
Regardless of your organisation’s level of request management maturity, you’ll find that ERM is the “glue” that unifies service request fulfilment across your enterprise.