Archive for March 2013

Compuware Changepoint 2012 Release: Usability, Embedded Analytics, Doc Management, Mobility

March 27, 2013

I attend a lot of vendor briefings, usually an annual update or to hear what’s new in the latest release. Last week I had an opportunity to catch up with Lori Ellsworth, SVP & General Manager for Compuware Changepoint, a Professional Services Automation (PSA) solution which is one of the top installed PSA products by TSIA members, and one of my top recommended solutions for large enterprises. Lori gave me an overview of the Changepoint 2012 release, and there was so much to love I decided it was definitely blog worthy.

In my 2012 Member Technology Survey, 54% of PS members had budget for new or additional PSA technology in 2012-2013, and the early results from my 2013 survey (open until 3/31) show similar results. Companies are getting serious about moving off spreadsheets and enforcing processes for PS that bridge the gap between CRM and ERP. According to our benchmark data, companies that have adopted a PSA solution have improved metrics in many areas, including hot metrics like utilization rates and rate realization.

With this as a backdrop, the Compuware Changepoint 2012 release has a lot of differentiating features, including:

  • UI overhaul. The new version of Changepoint has more of a web 2.0 look and feel, including support for a wide range of browsers. The app looks better, the user controls are updated and intuitive, and they also make great use of browser space to minimize scrolling.
  • Mobility. Making use of technologies like HTML5, Changepoint now offers mobile device support for a wide array of devices, including features for time and expense tracking on smartphones, and real-time management dashboards available on tablet devices.
  • Offline capabilities. We like to pretend that staying connected 24/7 is easy, but the truth is that life is filled with pockets with no cell reception (like my neighborhood), and places where connectivity isn’t allowed (hospitals, airplanes). Compuware Changepoint has been brave (if you’ve ever helped develop an offline synching application you’ll know what I mean–it ain’t easy) and introduced offline capabilities on the laptop using an Excel based expense template, with a typical use case that a PS consultant can enter their expenses offline while flying home from a project, and the expense report can be uploaded as soon as they reconnect.
  • Embedded analytics. Last year I published a report about how service organizations were leveraging big data, and what I found is that few service organizations have a standalone BI tool, or the expertise to use it. The companies getting the most value from analytics have adopted platforms with “best of breed” analytics embedded in the platform. This is the route Compuware has taken, embedding IBM Business Analytics (Cognos) into the  Changepoint 2012 release. The release includes a library of real-time dashboards, and that library will continue to grow with each new release. With business user-targeted controls, PS groups can now start doing real analytics–no data scientist involved.

  • Document generation. Another OEM partner included in the Changepoint 2012 release is Intelledox, providing smart forms and automated generation of business documents and reports. Using a wizard-like interface which prompts you for needed data, Intelledox shortcuts the creation of statements of work, complex project bids, etc., increasing accuracy and saving hours of time per report. The rumors I’ve heard from the field is that existing customers can’t wait to get their hands on this integration.
  • eLearning. Compuware Changepoint has developed a library of training courses–all designed to be consumed in 5 minutes or less–to help new users get up to speed quickly. As an example, there are 40 lessons alone for working with the project worksheet. Contextual help is also available, linked to every part of the application, including an option to personalize the online help and eLearning  to contain company specific information.

I thought I would share Lori’s responses to some of my questions:

John Ragsdale: When I look at a PSA platform with as much sophistication as Compuware Changepoint offers, I’m surprised that so many companies–including many large ones–have yet to adopt PSA. But with high planned spending, luckily this is changing. Among your customers and prospects, what do you see as the catalyst that forces them to finally move to a PSA platform?

Lori Ellsworth:  While the timing may be different for every organization, we see a couple of catalysts for investment pretty consistently:

  • Revenue  growth – either it is already underway or is planned near term,  with an expectation of sustaining that growth rate.  Organizations need to drive growth while maintaining or growing margins, which they cannot do while “flying blind”
  • Greater dependence on services for adoption and delivery of an organizations product
  • Changing services portfolio – need to optimize core services and build higher value add services
  • Global expansion
  • Planned resource growth
  • Managing mergers and acquisitions

John: The Changepoint 2012 release is hitting on some very hot trends. One of those is mobility. What are requirements or use cases for mobility you frequently hear from PS customers?

Lori: We see the two most prevalent groups pushing to work in a mobile environment are executives and services consultants.  For the executive who carries their device everywhere, we are delivering real time visibility into key business metrics and dashboards on the tablet.  For consultants or anyone “on the road”, the advantages of tablet and smartphone access is about time and expense management , and participating in business process – making it easy for them to do both so that they can focus more of their time on billable projects.

John: Another trend you are leveraging in this release is embracing big data, and you can’t do better than an OEM of IBM Cognos–one of the most popular BI products available. Could you talk about how real-time dashboards can help PS management become more proactive?

Lori: It is essential that services leaders are able to have “real-time” visibility into the health of their business, because as you suggest, they need to be proactive. Whether they are looking at dashboards for utilization, rate realization, margins, performance by line of business etc. anywhere access to data allows them to operate their services business better by identifying issues and trends while there is still time to have an impact!

John: I’ve been wanting to see a demo of the Intelledox integration since I read all the buzz about it on Facebook when it was first announced. I have to think with budget cuts being a common theme for 2013, this is a “must have” integration. What sort of time savings are your early adopters seeing?

Lori: Our expectation is that this solution is all about saving time – we have a wealth of information captured in the Changepoint solution for every part of the business.  Our Intelledox partnership allows them to leverage this information to build real time critical business documents, and get them quickly out to the customer.  Think about a Statement of Work for a services organization, which must contain standard legal info, terms and conditions and customer specific pricing and detail, all in a professionally presented document.  With the Changepoint/Intelledox solution, dynamically choose the template and text need, insert customer specific data from Changepoint and publish the document in multiple formats.  The alternative is to do this manually – very labour intensive and error prone.  This is one very specific example and there are many others, but the savings from this can be enough to justify the investment!

I’d like to thank Lori Ellsworth, and the rest of the Compuware Changepoint team, for the briefing and demo, as well as for entertaining my questions. And as always, thanks to you for reading!


Doing a poor job on social media support is worse than not supporting social at all

March 19, 2013

I’ll probably catch a lot of flack for this column title, but that’s my opinion and I’m sticking with it. I just finished reading an article in today’s San Jose Mercury News about a study done by cloud vendor LiveOps about social media support, claiming that 70% of customer complaints on Twitter and Facebook are ignored; the average response time for Facebook questions is 2 days (opposed to 2 hours, which is the customer expectation), and that more than a third of companies have deleted a customer question from their Facebook page they didn’t want to answer.

Unlike phone calls and emails, social media support is very public. I always say that opening up a new customer interaction channel is like blowing a hole in the side of your corporate office. You now have a big gaping hole for customers and information to flow in and out, and if you don’t police that hole, including audit trails for traffic in and out, and service level agreements for who can use the hole and how quickly you must respond, you will get in big trouble.

Thousands of companies put very little thought into the decision to begin supporting customers via Twitter or Facebook, and I suspect many now regret it. Once that hole in the side of the company is open, it is all but impossible to close. And it is incredibly visible when you can’t keep up with the volume and begin ignoring–or deleting–customer questions.

Based on lots of TSIA data, it is clear that online communities/discussion forums are hugely successful for technical support–or at least have the potential for being hugely successful. But on the B2B technical support side, I remain unconvinced about social media channels. The typical use case for Twitter support is, “I called Comcast and was told there was an hour wait for an agent, so I Tweeted instead.” I don’t think any TSIA members have an hour wait for a phone agent. Ever. In the B2B, i.e., enterprise support world, in which you pay a very large fee for access to technical support, you don’t have long wait times. In fact, dedicated account reps are common for premium support. And the bottom line is, if a system administrator Tweets or Facebooks that their corporate ERP or supply chain system is down, that is not reporting a tech support issue, that is airing your company’s dirty laundry and a fireable offense.

There is also something in the article I laughed at. According to the survey, “customers are likely to spend about 30 percent more money” if the company has a social media presence. Well, I review RFPs all the time, and I’ve never seen a B2B purchase decision based on which vendor has the most Twitter traffic. It galls me that news outlets refuse to differentiate between B2B and B2C when they write things like this, and some wrong-headed B2B manager is going to bring this article into his boss and say, “Let’s start social media support and we’ll raise sales 30%.”

So, before you decide to begin supporting customers with technical issues via Twitter or Facebook, please remember:

  • Only a very small slice of traffic will have anything to do with a technical support issue. Most traffic will be about your latest commercial, your stock price, your CEO’s private life, the color of your company logo, etc. Technical support engineers are not equipped to handle these questions, and it is a waste of their time. But, if you are going to support the general public via a social channel, you need a strategy for these non-technical issues. If you don’t have an outbound marketing or PR group staffed to handle these posts, which will probably be 90% of traffic, don’t open the channel to begin with.
  • If you do insist on supporting customers via social channels, please leverage one of the many knowledge platforms now offering plugins to social media. For example, you can create a tab on your Facebook page that allows searching your self-service knowledgebase and shows lists of FAQs.
  • Record every interaction in CRM..or someplace. You need an accurate history of which customer asked which question, regardless of channel, and you need to understand which questions are asked and answered by all channels to make sure knowledgebases are current and accurate.
  • Establish SLAs. If you are going to support a new channel, whether it is social or not, you have to establish response times for the channel. And you must have staff dedicated to meet those SLAs. I’m not saying you necessarily publish the SLAs (“All Facebook posts will be answered within 2 hours”), but internally, you must have some SLA guidelines and the ability to measure how well you are doing in meeting those SLAs. Customers have expectations, and if you can’t meet them, you shouldn’t launch the channel.

And as always, thanks for reading!

2013 Services Technology Survey NOW OPEN!

March 1, 2013

I am very happy to announce that my annual services technology survey is now open. This is the 8th annual survey, which tracks adoption, satisfaction and planned spending across 24 categories of tools and services. The survey is open March 1 to March 31. The data from this survey drives the bulk of my research for the year. Never have so few created so many research reports from a single survey. In time for our Spring Technology Services World Conference in Santa Clara, I will publish:

  • 2013 TSIA Heatmap. This report provides a high level view of adoption trends across all service discipline, noting major technology trends impacting support services, field service, education services, professional services, service revenue generation, as well as our new discipline, managed services.
  • 2013 Spending Reports. I also write detailed reports documenting adoption, satisfaction and planned spending for each service discipline, 7 reports in all (in addition to the above disciplines, I also create a version for TSIA partners)
  • 2013 Top Installed Report. Last year was the first time I created this report, which shows top installed products in all 24 categories of the survey. This turned out to be one of the top downloaded reports from last year, as everyone starts a new purchase by asking, “What products are my peers using?”
  • 2013 Spending: Europe. Last year we had such a great response from European companies that I was able to publish a separate report showing how adoption and planned spending trends differed in Europe compared to North America. Providing I receive a good response database, I will create this report again for 2013.

In addition to published research, the satisfaction scores received in the survey determine the winner of the TechBEST Best in Satisfaction Award, presented at TSW Santa Clara.

If you work in a services role, I urge you to take the survey. It will take less than 15 minutes to complete (hopefully a lot less). Everyone is eligible to participate, not just TSIA members. In fact, everyone who takes the survey will receive a copy of the 2013 Heatmap as my thank you for participating. If you are a vendor of services technology, please consider asking your customers to take the survey.

Here is the link to the survey:

Thanks for your help, and let me know if you have any questions. And as always, thanks for reading!