An overview of the Consider stage, the first step in the Service Portfolio “Factory” process.
Your customers are demanding a lot from you. From a business standpoint, this demand may be an indication that you’ve demonstrated to your customers that you can help them. That’s great news! ServiceNow certainly makes it easy to create new Service capabilities. The problem is, for many–customer demands exceed available resources.
Having demand is a good problem to have – ask any business owner. But demand turns sour when you don’t have the means to meet it. From an ITSM perspective, it’s best to determine which requests for new capabilities are merited, and which make the most sense for your business.
For ServiceNow users struggling to keep up with demand – and specifically customer ideas for new or enhanced service capabilities – the question becomes: How can all this input be handled effectively and fairly across all requesters?
The next step for meeting and managing IT demands is to enter the “Consider” stage of the service portfolio factory workflow.
In the Consider stage, you get feedback from your customers, and score and rank their ideas to create a better reality of projects to plan and execute over a 6-12-month window.
Demand management begins at the front end
I ended the previous blog post, “Managing ServiceNow Demand in Three Steps,” with a brief description of each of the four stages in the factory workflow: Consider, Build, Modify and Retire.
In this article, I will expand on Consider, the first stage of the IT demand management process. Note that this process can be done either with or without ServiceNow’s demand management solution, if you don’t own it.
The Consider stage is your demand or intake funnel located at the front end of the entire ServiceNow workflow process. It is in this stage where demands are made by your customers. To assess which requests to fulfill, you should ask yourself a series of questions, like “Which demands are the most important?” or “Which ones provide your company with the greatest value?” There are plenty of other questions you can ask, too. What matters is the end goal of this process – to establish a consistent, logical basis for ranking and managing new service requests, and then taking it from there.
Start the Consider stage by creating a simple, self-service idea and enhancement front end. This enables your customers to easily suggest new ideas or enhancements, which is important. To make it easy for customers to suggest ideas, empower them with a simple self service portal form to explain the idea briefly, why it is valuable, and how many might benefit from it.
Review ideas and determine which ones are good
Once you’ve received the input, the next step in the Consider stage of the demand management process is to review their input, and subsequently rank it. As noted, there may be more demands than there is funding or resources, and some ideas are better than others. Therefore, consistent scoring and ranking of candidate projects is critical to this process. Should you need additional clarification to perform a high-level ranking, reach out to the customer to discuss it beforehand.
Here are three apertures you can use to create a simple scoring approach – Business Value, Risk and Expected Cost. With a small number of questions, you can form a reasonable opinion, as well as identify areas where you may need still more information to make an informed judgment call. In the figure below, we present a scoring matrix and give examples on the types of questions you can ask to determine if the project is worth pursuing.
Figure: Evolve Scoring Matrix
These questions can then flow into a simple scoring tool. On the left side of the figure above, there are three areas we discussed: Business Value, Risk and Expected Cost. Listed on the top right-hand side are the projects being considered. For the three areas, each question is ranked on a scale of 1-3, with each question weighted against the others as to how valuable it is in your business.
Part of the matrix in the figure above displays expected cost for each project. Combine the scores from business value and risk to get a compound score of 1-3, with 3 being the best. In the lower right-hand orange section, there is a score and the calculated cost for each project. In the blue circled area, there is a project that is ranked with a 3 (the highest possible) with a project cost of $166,000 – this is the lowest cost of the possible projects. Of course, this would be a no brainer – it’s clear that this is a good project to pursue.
Building and using a simple, logical scoring approach in your IT demand management process can truly help take the emotion and politics out of demand decision making – and provide a rational basis for explaining demand tradeoffs you make to your stakeholders, without hurting their feelings.
If the request has merit, then reach out for a bit more information on expected functionality, the breadth and reach of systems, and information on possible risk and complexity. Then, get ready to create a better reality for the next 6 to 12 months. This is a 4-step process:
- Step 1: Take a list of possible projects that is rated most highly for the next 6 to 12 months, and might be worthy to undertake.
- Step 2: Take the calculated cost a step further and estimate the level of effort each might require by 3 specfic roles – the engagement / project manager, the solution architect and the developer.
- Step 3: Sum the hours by role for the 6-to-12-month period.
- Step 4: Define your sourcing and funding strategy, considering internal, consulting and possible offshore resources to help meet the demand.
Our Evergreen Evolve (EE) offering delivers this portfolio approach to demand management, and many other benefits. Of course, we can modify it for your needs. You can learn more about it by visiting the EE website, or you can always reach out to me if you have questions about the process.
The Evolve Scoring Matrix above is a simple spreadsheet which you can easily tailor to your specific needs. If you’d like a copy of it, please contact us and we will be happy to send it to you.
In the next post, I’ll cover the next stage of the service portfolio factory workflow process: Build.
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About the Author: Don Casson is CEO of Evergreen Systems, an IT consulting firm helping medium to enterprise public and private sector organizations to dramatically transform their IT operations. Don is a frequent writer, blogger and presenter, and has delivered over 60 webinars on topics in Service Management, including IT and shared services.