Archive for Service Delivery Management

IT at Your Service

atyourservice

A revolution is happening within the enterprise where IT is rapidly becoming much more focused on the business users as customers. The shift has been more than just philosophical. IT’s processes and systems are shifting to support this new focus and best practices have emerged to support this shift. For example, ITIL v3 is helping facilitate the shift through its inclusion of IT Request Management/Fulfillment.

The idea of IT Request Management is pretty straightforward. Make it easy for business users to find and access the various services offered by IT. Then, make it easy for them to request the service, track the request, get status updates, and finally get their request fulfilled to their satisfaction.

But what about IT?

This makes it easy for the business user, but what about IT? How do they benefit from IT Request Management? Well, there are several ways beyond the customer satisfaction you’ll get from your happy business users.

First, if done right, IT now has a much more efficient way to route the right request through the right process, and have the correct teams notified. No more having to route everything through the “help desk” and then forwarding it on. This streamlines the response times. Also each team can manage their own knowledge base to prevent users from asking the same things, over and over again.

Second, it sets expectations. When business users are requesting services, the service descriptions include an SLA and also a cost of the service. This way, business users know what they’re asking for and what the response time should be. No more miscommunications.

But these are not the biggest benefits to IT. Since each service is being tracked, there is transparency, and IT can run reports on the costs per business unit, and even per-person within the units. It makes it easy to show the business function leaders what their units are consuming from IT and why IT needs resources to make things happen. Now that is a really big benefit for anyone who has sat in front of the business functions and tried to explain why they should ante up to fund next year’s IT budget.

So how does an IT department get there?

One way is to purchase an ITSM system and implement it, along with all of the costly process consultants, and per-seat licensing fees. At CorasWorks, we saw this as a great use for SharePoint. Most companies already have SharePoint running internally so that makes it a good candidate for an IT Request Management solution. So we designed a purpose-built Request Management solution. What makes this unique? Well, to start with, it’s built on the CorasWorks platform and as such it not only comes out of the box addressing the specific scenario, but it’s built to be customized. Each company is different, so our solution allows you to define your service categories, service areas, and individual service processes to match your needs. And since it’s built on CorasWorks, it can grow with you.

So what are the feature of the CorasWorks Solution?

There are several key features of the CorasWorks IT Request Management Solution. You can see a complete list of the features here.

But what about people who already have existing ITSM systems but could really use a better front end?

It’s possible. You could leverage our really nice, user-friendly front-end for the business user and even for IT to use to manage the service catalog and requests, then populate the ITSM system at the appropriate time. This is not an out of the box feature, but it is something our services team can do. We’ll take a look at your current ITSM system, determine the best integration points, and using the tools that are part of the system, we will not only build the connections but show you how we did it so you can maintain it. It will also be far quicker and less expensive than you would expect when hear “integration.”

Just ask and we’ll be happy to work with you.

Welcome to “IT at your service.”

william

CorasWorks Application Designer – The “Just Right” Way to Create Business Applications on SharePoint

justright We just released the CorasWorks Application Designer.  It is a tool that you use to rapidly build the most common types of work management business applications.  In this article, I’ll provide you with an overview and explain why it should become the “Just Right” tool for a lot of your business applications.

Getting Started and Building Momentum

It is available for free to all CorasWorks customers on active Premier Support and Maintenance.  You’ll find it in the Download section of the new Customer Center.  It is available for download by any employees that have been given access to the Learning Centers of the Customer Center (see this article for information on the Customer Center).  It requires that you are running v11.3.1 of CorasWorks or greater.

To get going, read the rest of the article, download the tool, upload it to a site collection, create a site with it, and then, build your first app.

When done, templatize that first app, make 10 changes in 30 minutes, and then, deliver your second app for a similar but different need.

Repeat, to create more apps.

Why “Just Right”?

February 13th was our 11th anniversary.  For 11 years, we have been committed to helping our customers deliver business applications on SharePoint.  Principally, we have done this by offering a powerful Work Management platform and COTS purpose-built solutions.  It has worked for many.  However, we think there is a large group of people out there that still haven’t been enabled to add business value.  We believe that there is a “just right” spot that we haven’t tackled yet.

Let me explain.  Our platform requires that you know CorasWorks technology, some SharePoint, and that, you can design a business application.  Our off-the-shelf applications deliver the value quickly — if it is the application you need.

So, for some the platform is Too Cold – they can’t get that deep, don’t have the app design skills, not enough time, just not enough there to get over the hump…

For others, the purpose built apps are too much or just don’t apply – let us say Too Hot.

What we’ve done with the CorasWorks Application Designer is to build a “generic” tool that lets you build very quickly and within a well defined application framework to meet that middle majority of application needs.  The tool is not overbuilt so that it applies only to a narrow application need.  Nor, does it require you to learn much technology to deliver robust apps.  It is in the middle – just the right place to start.

All of the elements are there for you to quickly create work management applications.  And, whatever you build is a) polished and ready to be put to work, b) very easy to modify and c) even quicker and easier to re-configure to deliver for the next similar, but different, application.

So, not too hot, not too cold, just right.

A Sample Application

What does it looks like? What kind of apps are just right?  Here is an example.

I do a lot of work with Federal Government Contractors.  They have a department– Contract Administration–that manages their government contracts.  They get a huge volume of requests, normally by email, from all parts of the organization.  The application is to funnel the requests into a work management application to be centrally managed, assigned, tracked, and reported on.  Below is a sample page, All Open Requests, from the application.

image

How You Get There with Application Designer

You start by creating a new site using Application Designer (or re-using an app already delivered based upon Application Designer). The Application Designer is packaged as a SharePoint template, so it’s as simple as creating a new site using the Application Designer template. Once you create the site, you’re ready to start creating.  The Application Designer design canvas shown below is what you use to layout your application.image

This easy-to-use designer allows you to lay out your navigation and drop “widgets” into it that provide the functionality.  Widgets are navigation items (tabs, buttons), web part pages, displays, actions, and links that build out the user interface.  It is rather amazing how productive people can be just because it is easy to visually lay out the application with pre-built functionality.

You can reuse web part pages with web parts as features.  So, you can create your first one, and populate it with CorasWorks displays and actions and then clone it for use for other similar pages.  For instance, each page above in the “Manage Requests” tab is a clone of New Requests showing different information and with different user work actions.

Each page can be managed here via the Application Designer design canvas.  A key feature is the ability to secure each feature/page to a SharePoint Group or one or more users.  This enables you to easily design a robust role-based UI within a single app.

You then leverage the CorasWorks Application Wizards (Display Wizard, Action Wizard, Activation Wizard, etc.) to get into details for each feature you’ve added to the app such as custom tailoring the user actions or notifications or reports.

Branding.  Yes, people want it to look their way.  The Options feature of the Application Designer console allows you to control the look and feel.  We’ve incorporated ThemeRoller into the solution.  As it sounds, it lets you “roll your own” theme for branding or use one of the default options.

Quick Answers

How do I get it?  Go to the CorasWorks Customer Center, Download link at the top.  You need to be a user that has access to the Learning Centers of the CorasWorks Customer Center.  If you are an employee of a customer and don’t have access, just request access from the home page of the Customer Center.

How to learn to get started?  See the Application Designer video in the Platform Learning Center.  You need to have access to that Learning Center.

How to learn to build with CorasWorks?  See the “Essentials” videos in the Platform Learning Center.

Who can help me at CorasWorks?  Contact us at CustomerSuccess@corasworks.net.  We’ll also set up 1-on-1 sessions with our solution consultants to help you get started.

Enjoy,

william

Request Management Solution (Beta) – One solution, many applications, much easier

About a year ago I wrote an article about “work request management” that drills into 4 scenarios and compares and contrasts them – Customer Examples of Work Request Management apps for SharePoint.  Lots of type of requests should be managed.  Examples are: Trouble tickets (IT), Requests for proposal (BD), Capital Purchase Requests (Finance), HR Staffing (HR), Contract Reviews (Legal), Material Storage (Manufacturing), Demo Requests (Sales) and Marketing Campaign Requests (Marketing) …

These types of Requests are important to respond to.  They generate work or use capital or other resources and should be managed.  Requests and the associated work need visibility, tracking, reporting, a structured and automated way of getting them approved and tracking the work.  They are a core way that work gets initiated and done across your workplace.  The problem is that often, the types of requests that should be managed end up instead being driven through ad hoc activity, mainly email.  This adds costs and risks to the organization.  Multiple the cost/risk of one scenario times the number of scenarios and it is a big cost with a lot of risk.

CorasWorks is very well suited for request management applications.  Over the last year, we’ve seen more and more CorasWorks-based applications created to address all sorts of types of request management needs.  The ROI on these apps is very good – however…

The practical challenge for organizations is that there are so many different scenarios. They are architecturally quite similar but differ in the details.  And, the details matter to the end customer.  While the end result is quite good using CorasWorks, it takes a bit of time and some knowledge to configure CorasWorks for each specific application and to modify it when things change.  Compared to other options, we have a good general solution.  But, we thought that with a bit of focus we could make it even easier, more approachable, more scalable, and, more cost-effective for you to meet the business needs.

So, we decided to create a “vanilla” Request Management solution.  This solution, now in Beta, leverages the new v11.3 feature set to make it much easier to crank out purpose-specific request management apps.  It is the “vanilla” version.  You use the solution and the new onboard features to create your flavor of it to meet the specific business needs. Thus, the value proposition is not that you get just one application, but, you get a one solution that allows you address a whole lot of applications.

The Demo – 6 minutes

Below is a video that shows the new Request Management solution.  It walks you through the “vanilla” solution and then shows you some of the new features to make configuration a snap such as the Application Designer, Process Designer, Business Rule Sets, and Stage-based Request Details (shown below).

Request Management Video image

 

The Solution Beta

The solution is now in Beta.  We are working with customers that want to try it out and have specific application scenarios in mind that they want to address.  If you are interested, send an email to info@corasworks.net or contact your account representative.

wiilliam

Building a Solution Catalog? Start with These 4 Core Work Management Solutions

Are you building out a re-usable solution catalog?  If you use SharePoint as an application platform, you should.  This is how you get tremendous leverage, save costs, decrease time to app, reduce risk, and, cut out lots of “noise”.  In this article, I’ll give you some context of why you should have a generic, re-usable solution catalog.  Then, I cover 4 core Work Management solutions that I’d recommend you add to your catalog.

Don’t have a Solution Catalog?  You are not alone.

Most folks started with SharePoint for Portals, Intranets, and general collaboration, largely via collaborative Team Sites.  When the idea of doing more on top occurs, such as business applications, they tend to think of development.  Over the years, as the standard enterprise application development teams have been migrating to the SharePoint world, the habit of doing “classic” development of applications has infiltrated the SharePoint world.  So, for anything that sounds like a business application, they do requirements gathering, waterfall development, custom code development, and hopefully, end up with an application.  This approach doesn’t lead to a catalog of re-usable solutions because it is technology focused vs. business focused.

This is unfortunate.  SharePoint, particularly in an environment enabled by CorasWorks, is the ideal environment for re-useable applications.   All of the elements are there to dramatically improve the process of delivering applications and be able to serve demand based upon known, re-usable frameworks and “base solutions”.   It is not just about the cost of developing a single application, but, about how you can transform the process into a virtuous cycle that actually drives business innovation and continuous improvement.

Envision A World of “Magic Apps”

Imagine, a world where there were 10 basic application frameworks or design patterns for information work.  These 10 were the core elements for 90% of what most business users needed.  If you had these 10 pre-packaged as templates in your Solution Catalog, you’d be able to reduce time to solution 5x, cut your costs in half, and, be able to focus right in on the key features that drive productivity and enable innovation.

The challenge is that these 10 core design patterns aren’t easy to see.  We get focused on the specifics of a requested app and fail to step back and see the pattern which is necessary to build up your generic catalog of what I call “magic apps”.  Here is an example…

A business customer comes to you asking for a Materials Storage Request solution for managing the storage of manufacturing chemicals.  They have come up with some requirements.  Of course, the application is unique or so they think.  But, you happen to have a Work Request Management magic app in your catalog.  You whip it out, spin up a site, spend a couple hours tweaking some words, fields, navigation to “localize” your magic app to the “language” of the customer.  Then, you engage with them.  All of the sudden you are not doing requirements, but rather, you are in the stage of “finishing” the application.  You immediately have them working with the app, thinking through the process as they touch and feel it.  In this imaginary world, good things happen all around.  But, is it really fantasy?

4 Base Work Management “Magic Apps” for your Catalog

If it is real, then what are the 10 magic apps for your catalog?  We’ll start with the basic 4 for work management that we use with new customers.  They cover a lot of needs.  Each is targeted at structured work management – getting specific work done.  However, their design is different because of the context of the work.  They are:

  • Team Work Management
  • Work Request Management
  • Role-Based Process Management
  • Stage-Based Process Management

We’ll take a look at each below.  Along the way you’ll get examples and see how they build and differ.

NOTE: I tend to think of Solutions as the somewhat generic way to meet a need.  The Application is the solution that is applied to a specific problem for a specific person or group.  Example: we provide coffee (solution), do you want a Mocha Chai Latte or a Yukon Drip with Soy (specific applications).

Team Work Management

This solution is used by a self-contained team to get work done amongst themselves.  It is not a Team Site where a team can generally collaborate.  It is purpose specific and structured to help the team get something specific done.  A key difference the others that I’ll cover below is that you don’t have external people requesting things or external parties involved in the process.  The team is creating the work and managing the work.

Examples for this would include: Task Management, Marketing Collateral Management, Idea Management, Meeting Management, Knowledge Bases, Design & Work Standards.

This is really the most basic solution for work management.  In a SharePoint-context the key is that the users are working in a controlled UI, with a managed set of things they can see and actions they can take.  This separation of the work from the content (which would be users working directly in native SharePoint in a list or library) is what gets you into structured work management and gives you control, consistency, and user task automation.

Work Request Management

How many apps depend on one team getting requests from a) individuals or b) other teams?  A lot.  The key difference in this solution design is that there is an external individual or group that is making a request.  Then, a specific team manages these requests through to completion.  By its nature this work is “interrupt” driven – the team is responding to outsiders.

Examples include:  a Help Desk, Change Requests, Materials Storage Requests, Product Information Requests, Security Clearance Requests, Contract Review Requests. (see article with examples)

In a sense these apps are just one step up from Team Work Management.  The external Request and the interactivity with the requestor are the additions.  A standard application contains the request form, the work management displays and user activity, and reporting.

Role-Based Process Management

SharePoint is natively content-based and many of us are used to the idea of simple sequential workflows to individuals for document approvals.  With this type of solution, we change the design to provide a common UI where people in their roles vs. as individuals, usually cross-functionally, participate in the process of reviewing requests/submissions to arrive at an outcome.

Examples include: Contract Review, Policy and Procedure Management, Legal Matter Management, Capital Approval, Project Proposal Review.

The standard application is a UI with tabs for different roles and the work management to control the flow and the activity that occurs within each role.

Stage-Based Process Management

This is similar to role-based process management yet fundamentally different.  The process is typically a Stage-Gate based process.  Thus, instead of roles or individuals, work flows through a set of standard Stages.  This solution is designed to open up a process and allow for collaboration within the Stages.

Examples includes: New Project Onramps, Idea Management, Business Development Capture & Proposal Processes, Knowledge Creation/Publishing Processes, R&D Product Innovation, Patent & Trademark Reviews.  (See article with examples)

Again, you typically have a UI with tabs, but here, each represents a Stage vs. a Role.  Then, you have the work management to automate the activity within each stage and promote work through its gate to the next stage.

Build the Catalog.

The above is a bit abstract.  It should be, that is the key to building your catalog of “magic apps”.  You are abstracting from the specific to the general.

My recommendations are simple.  Decide that you will build a Solution Catalog for your organization.  Understand the standard business design patterns that apply in a workplace.  Measure how many solutions you add to the catalog per quarter and how much you use them.  Promote the applications that you deliver leveraging the catalog.  You’ll have better results.

Now of course, I’d highly recommend that you include lots of CorasWorks in your apps.  Our software gives you the consistent framework as your base and we have many base solutions to leverage to augment your catalog.  The great flexibility of CorasWorks allows you to easily customize the “magic apps” of your catalog to meet specific needs and enhance, extend and integrate them.  It is time to get your virtuous cycle humming…

william

10 Fundamentals to Know When Delivering Apps in a CorasWorks-powered Environment

I’ve spent a lot of time with customers over the last year working with the internal people who are delivering apps to business users.  You are out there busily building apps, setting standards, listening, supporting and connecting things. Your technical skills range from beginning builders to workplace wizards.  Along the way it has become clear that core fundamentals of CorasWorks have gotten lost or are at least lumpy.  I am not talking about technical items, but, about how to think about what you are doing when delivering collaborative work management apps using CorasWorks.  I guess with the time, new folks coming in and churn it makes sense.  In this article, I’ll go over my list of Top 10 fundamentals of CorasWorks that every app builder and every application service delivery manager should know.

You can templatize an App and Reuse it for another Purpose/Group

A key value proposition of CorasWorks is the reusability.  Yet, a surprising number of people don’t even know that you can templatize and re-use an existing SharePoint site.  So, if you build a CorasWorks app, why not re-use/re-purpose it for another use.  Better yet, how about maintaining a central catalog of cleaned, re-usable application templates, and, giving it visibility across business groups.

Context vs. Content

I often hear business users say that the UI of a CorasWorks PS delivered app is simpler to use, easier to understand and much better than native SharePoint.  The reason is context vs. content.  An average native SharePoint user is used to working in a team site.  By design SharePoint is a content driven experience – really collaboration by proximity.  You go to some place (a site) and hit a page to access content.  CorasWorks changes this.  Effectively, what you do with CorasWorks is overlay a business context.  When our Professional Services does the work we use our in-house standardized application templates that strip away all of the ancillary content baggage like announcements and quick links and provide business users with an experience that is relevant to the business context.  This seems much “easier” to business users.  I recommend that you take a look at our PS standard and do the same.

Three Main Tiers of CorasWorks App Value

When using CorasWorks, you can add value in three main tiers.  Always triage your work into one these tiers as follows:

  • Self-service – this is where you expose native SharePoint and CorasWorks capabilities to a broad group of users that use them to enhance their team collaboration sites.
  • Standardized solution types – CorasWorks has defined, trains on, and supports about 15 types of standardized solutions for collaborative work management.  The idea is for your organization to understand these, buy or build your first one, catalog them, and reuse, reuse, reuse.
  • Custom solutions – These are solutions that are so unique that you need to do requirements and then build them out.  The box for doing this with CorasWorks is very, very big, particularly when leveraging the Advanced Framework of v11 (see next item).

NOTE: Most people are binary; either self-service or custom.  What is really lacking is the middle tier – this is probably the area of greatest opportunity to add value to your organization.

CorasWorks v11 and our Advanced Framework

The Advanced what???  The current shipping version of CorasWorks is v11.2. This is the 11th major release of our core platform since 2003. With CorasWorks all of the software (.dll’s) are in this platform product. Your solutions are created on top by configuration. v11 includes an Advanced Framework. This is a multi-tier app framework that allows you to build very custom extensions or new apps without doing custom compiled code. You can even go as far as to build a custom database app with a separate SQL server database and a CorasWorks front-end surfaced in SharePoint – again without custom compiled code. This means that your IT Governance model can be centrally managed, but, the business groups can get lots of value.  The box of what you can do with CorasWorks is probably a lot bigger than you think.

Basic Apps are Built Up – Like Layering

When you use our basic framework/components we call that a basic app.  A standard, single-site CorasWorks basic app is built up.  It is like an assembly line.  The standard steps are:

  • Create a new site using a standard base solution template
  • Add navigation
  • Modify the data – lists and libraries, custom “workplace” fields, and data relationships
  • Add basic displays (usually grids for apps)
  • Add forms (action forms for new items and in process action forms)
  • Add user task automation actions
  • Add email notification actions, activations and workflow
  • Add reporting
  • Add Advanced Framework extensions (after business user feedback, see last point)

CorasWorks Actions Control What Users Can Do

CorasWorks comes with its Actions Framework.  Using a wizard you can create actions for users to perform.  This is your control point.  It allows you to separate the user from the data (If you think about it with native SharePoint you are pretty much giving users direct access to the data).  So with your apps, think actions for users.  They need not know what magic the action does behind the scenes or what gets kicked off (emails, workflow, other actions, etc.).

CorasWorks Cuts Across Structural Barriers of SharePoint

Native SharePoint has a number of structural “barriers” that constrain your canvas for designing and building apps.  CorasWorks separates the user context from the content meaning that people can basically do anything from anywhere.  We make all of SharePoint your design canvas.  The main barriers we cut across are data types, lists, sites, site collections, web applications, and, even farms.  The impact is that for advanced designers they think in terms of the actual user experience wherever and in whatever context vs. the app user interface.

Apps: Single Sites vs. Distributed Systems

Most people are site bound.  They think of SharePoint site by site – because they have learned to live within the barriers.  In reality, SharePoint is a distributed system or even more correctly a “system of systems”.  Sometimes you will build a single site app, like a Help Desk.  Other times you are really designing and building systems – a collection of sites.  An example is a Portfolio of project sites where you might have a PMO, a couple of Portfolio Management sites, and a mere 50 or 100 project sites spread across departments working in different site collections.  The key is to design at the system level first, thinking about the user role and experience, with the local sites coming next.  Back to the Help Desk and that single site.  Where do the users enter in their Help Desk requests? Where do they see the status and activity?  Can they first search a knowledge base or access a self-service community?  Should it really be designed as just a single Help Desk site for 10 help desk engineers or is it really a system to help users be more productive with a user population of say 3,000?

Think Collaborative Application Design Patterns

Most users think that an IT Help Desk, a Chemical Materials Storage Request system for a Pharmaceutical, and, an IDIQ HR Staffing app are very different applications.  To a CorasWorks builder they are basically the same with a bit of work to customize the “language” of the app.  In effect, they are what we would call a “Request” collaborative application design pattern.  In this world of collaborative work management apps you begin to see that most apps fit into common, re-usable patterns.  This is what drives the repeatability of our Standardized Solution Types mentioned above.  Thus, a catalog of 10 standard base app templates representing each of the solution types can serve your needs to create 100’s of business function specific applications.

Think about the Work-Stream(s)

We are very focused on the app.  In practice, this allows us to focus and meet a need.  However, in reality often work in one activity kicks off work in the next.  Or, in order to get the work done of one app you need to tap into another set of teams/apps/processes. When you step back and see how these activities tie together, you are thinking about what we call the work-stream.  For instance, in the big picture, an Idea Management app, would hand off to a Project Approval App, that hands off to a Development Project app that feeds your Change Management app.  The project approval app may have a process to request a capital expenditure (from finance) or a market study (from marketing).  Each of these apps can live on their own and usually have completely different users and contexts and make up multiple work-streams.  But, they connect.  They are loosely coupled.  And, you can have them all inter-operating within a CorasWorks-SharePoint environment.

william

International Health Agency Gets More for Less through App Consolidation on SharePoint 2010

The potential is there.  SharePoint provides organizations with a platform that can be used to consolidate applications (existing and new) and add value through the native integration of the work of the users.  In this article we’ll look at the experience of a customer who drove this home over the last year with benefits in cost savings and organizational improvements.

Our customer is a 3,000 person non-governmental Health Agency.  Their mission is to improve health and standards of living for 35 member countries across the Americas.  Headquartered in Washington, DC they serve a broad and diverse community with 31 in-country offices in the member states.

 

Getting to the New Model

They have been a CorasWorks customer since 2004.  They have used CorasWorks on both SharePoint 2003 and SharePoint 2007.  On these environments, CorasWorks was used to enhance their Intranet with content services, collaboration, and work management.  In planning for 2011, they were preparing to move to SharePoint 2010 and to use CorasWorks v11.  They decided to expand their perspective of SharePoint from a collaborative environment to become an application platform.  To accomplish this they planned a shared services, Service Delivery model heavily leveraging CorasWorks that they would use to consolidate applications and build new apps.

 

App Consolidation during 2011

Armed with SP 2010, CorasWorks v11, and, a new App Service Delivery mandate, during 2011, they began building and consolidating applications on SharePoint.  Below is a list of the top 10 applications that they delivered based upon CorasWorks.

paho2 apps 2

The applications had a broad range of Types. “Typing” and understanding the design patterns behind the types is an important part of the standardization of their Service Delivery model.  In addition, in the table we list how the application was delivered.  While all of them are CorasWorks-based, their service team used a different set of resources to deliver the apps to their business customers.  Note that more than half of the apps were delivered using just internal resources.

 

Cost Impact of CorasWorks-based App Consolidation

We worked with the customer to do an analysis of the delivery cost impact for these applications.  We looked at each application and alternatives evaluated.  Many of the alternatives were apps delivered as separate Application Services.  Some were only possible as a custom project.  The comparison applications were the middle range of applications with a comparable feature set.

The result of the analysis is that using CorasWorks they saved $321,000 or 64% of the cost of using alternative 3rd party off-the-shelf apps and services.  Some of the details are as follows:

- The total cost to deliver the 10 apps above was $184,000 ($18k/app).

- This cost includes software license costs to CorasWorks, CorasWorks Professional Services, services from CorasWorks partners, and, the man-days used internally to deliver the apps. The organization used 75 man-days internally.

- The cost of the applications if delivered using 3rd party software/services was estimated to be $505,000 ($50k/app).

Further, it is estimated that over the next 3 years with the CorasWorks/SharePoint licensing model, the organization will save another $250,000 in additional licensing and services costs over the costs of CorasWorks for these 10 applications.  In addition, they are able to leverage their Corasworks/SharePoint investment and Service Delivery capabilities to build and consolidate additional applications over the three years with even greater savings per app.

 

Overall Success of Service Delivery Model

The cost savings noted above are significant.  But, in their annual review of the model, they highlighted additional benefits as follows:

- The projects were delivered, and, within time, budget, and feature set. By delivered we mean, made it to production.  A 100% success result was significant.  There were few surprises because they knew in advance where they could get to and what it would take.

- The business users got what they wanted.  Unlike the alternative apps that were initially reviewed before they decided on a CorasWorks solution, the business groups were able to get what they really wanted and needed.  Thus, in their opinion what they got was superior to the alternative.

- They did this with little impact on the operating environment.  Only one feature required custom compiled code.  Thus, the apps were delivered on top of the standardized CorasWorks/SharePoint environment which enhances the ongoing maintainability of the entire shared services environment.

- The cost of applications is declining as they gain on the learning curve.

- The user experience is improving as the apps become inter-connected across the environment.  Thus, instead of a user having to go to many separate apps and learn new interfaces they are able to access all relevant apps from wherever they work and use a common interface.

 

My Comments

Here are some of my general comments about this organization and their success with their App Consolidation and Service Delivery model.

- They have very good people managing Service Delivery.  They know SharePoint.  They know and have invested to learn CorasWorks.  They are exceptional at understanding the design patterns for collaborative applications and how to apply them and reuse the designs, frameworks, and components.  They are confident enough to deliver complete applications internally and know when to outsource.

- The Service Delivery group has the trust of the business groups and the support of IT and general senior management.  It helps that a number of the applications were specifically for the senior management of the organization.

- During 2011, they invested in the CorasWorks Solution Frameworks, Cim for Collaboration, and PPM for Project work, which they have leveraged for multiple applications and which had a significant impact on the reduced costs.  The Solutions were on top of the CorasWorks v11 platform.  (These costs are included in the costs analysis above).

- Their organization is really just learning to collaborate.  Six months ago I was speaking with the Service Delivery Manager and he told me “people in our organization don’t collaborate; they work and they share information when they have to”. This may seem odd for an organization that has had SharePoint for 8 years, and, has a globally distributed operating structure.  But, real collaboration is a lot more than sharing documents in a team site.  Over the last 6 months with SP2010, CorasWorks Collaboration and the collaborative applications they’ve delivered and on their roadmap this has started to change.

 

william

Tools and Best Practices for SharePoint Service Delivery Managers

I am spending a lot of time with our customers these days.  In particular, I am working with many Service Delivery Managers.  They usually own the application side of SharePoint (vs. the infrastructure) and serve the role of supporting the user community and delivering solutions to their customers.  They are in a pivotal role to add business value to the organization.  Many of the solutions they deliver are CorasWorks based.  However, in this article, I’ll cover the Top 10 uses of CorasWorks to create “tools” that they use in their work.

NOTE: In large enterprises, you often have a core SharePoint team working globally with SD teams for different business groups.  In this article, I am focused on the local SD teams tied to a Business Group or an SD team in a smaller organization that serves both the end-user community and the business group requests. (addition 7-22) – Increasingly, these SD teams are becoming Application Service Delivery Teams leveraging the enterprise’s private cloud offering.

 

Servicing the Customer

These tools are used to support and interact with their customers.

Site Request System – this is a high-volume system for users to request new standard sites (such as a Team Site) and then allow the Service Delivery team to review, approve, and manage the requests.

Change Request System – this system is used by users that want changes to sites or applications.  It can be combined with the one above, but, this is usually for larger application.

App Request System – this is really a project proposal system where business groups request project-based custom apps.  Typically, these apps go through a stage-gate review and approval process.

End-User Support Community – our best practice is to use a CorasWorks Cim community to make it easy to provide information as articles and provide a collaborative experience where articles can be rated and commented upon

Learning Center – like our CorasWorks Community Learning Centers, this system provides a more structured experience for users to learn.  These are also typically based upon Cim providing users with access to structured and community information.  In addition, it is a great place to surface the Request options, Support Options, and, examples of delivered apps with videos or even links to the apps.

 

The Work of the Service Delivery Team

This category consists of the tools that Service Delivery Teams use to manage their work and insure that they are prepared to deliver.

Work Request Management console – behind the Site Request system, the Change Request System and the App Request system is your teams Work Request Management console.  These requests flow into your team.  Via this console you manage the request process – review the requests, decide whether to them, interact with the user, delegate the task, track the tasks, let the system update the requestor, get reports, etc…etc

Task Management – a great number of items can be acted upon directly via the Work Request Console above.  But, some require that you assign a number of tasks to one or more people.  Using a CorasWorks-based task management solution, you can track the tasks and automate the work of people on them such as updating requestors and close out.

Project Management – some requests turn into projects that span weeks or months and require detailed task and resource management.  Leveraging CorasWorks PPM SDM’s are managing those projects that are big enough to require it.  A key element is that the SDM can track tasks, resources, issues across the projects as a portfolio.  In addition, the users can use see their tasks from projects as part of the day-to-day task management above.

App Catalog – this is a structured Cim-community based catalog of applications that you have delivered, can deliver, and want to be able to deliver.  It serves as both a knowledge base and the site to store and manage app templates, delievered apps, and published solutions.  It gives you a rich collaborative environment with as much structured taxonomy as you need.

Knowledge Base/Lessons Learned Catalog – again a Cim-community to capture knowledge.  There are lots of little tid-bits of useful knowledge.  This site serves as the grab bag.  Got some info, drop it in.  DO NOT worry about organizing or perfecting this knowledge.  Just collect, collaborate, and consume.  The knowledge will get better as people comment, enhance, and collaborate.  It is a resource.  From here, you may and will end up publishing finished product to the App Catalog.

 

Best Practice: Weekly Programmatic Reviews

All of the “tools” above effectively provide you with plenty of ways to track the flow of work and what assets are created. So, each week do a checkpoint and leverage the tools to give you the answers – easily and quickly.

In addition, with SharePoint and CorasWorks, Service Delivery teams have a great capacity to reuse knowledge and “artifacts” (templates, components, features, web parts, etc.).  To be most effective, you should measure each week what assets your team has created AND captured, in addition to, what work got done.   If you do this, after three months you will have a vast catalog and set of skills and your work should be a) more manageable, b) faster to deliver, and c) more robust because you will be better prepared to deliver more value.

 

william