Enterprise Portal to Find the Right People Quickly
This is the fourth article in our series to help you answer the question, “Do I need an Enterprise Portal?”. In Part 4 we will discuss the process improvements that can be gained in having the ability to document and search for experts within your organization. Check out past articles: Part 1: Consolidating Applications to Reduce Training Time and Improve Efficiency; Part 2: Capture, Findability and Expertise; and Part 3: Finding Information When You Need It.
You are unique and you have an emergency. Now what?
A global Fortune 500 company told me they had a huge challenge. They built their business on customer service. They are famous for it. The customer always comes first, and if a customer is unhappy, every effort is made to fix the issue and delight the customer.
This company also creates a unique offering with thousands of moving parts. By unique, I mean that nobody else does exactly what they do.
And with their unique offerings, they have certain challenges common to companies with unique offerings: namely, that very few people will know how to fix your unique offerings when they go a-breaking. In fact, the odds were very good in the case of this company that were only 2 or 3 people in the world who could fix certain problems when they came up.
When a problem causes a customer emergency, and that problem can only be fixed by a couple of people in the world, what do you do?
Scramble to find the expert who can fix it, of course!
But what if you don’t know who the expert is?
Then you’re in trouble.
I’ve found that many organizations experience something similar. A problem needs urgent attention, and the person who solved that problem in the past is unreachable, unfindable, or at least unknown by the people who are responsible to fix it.
The solution – Enterprise Portals with a database of experts
One solution might be to document every problem that anyone fixes.
But let me ask you this: How many problems have you fixed this week? And how would you like to document all of that for everyone in your organization to see?
I didn’t think so.
Another solution is to maintain a database of experts for every issue, in the event that this issue comes up. In the case of this customer, that would have been difficult, because when the piece that broke was built, it was an insignificant part of the offering. But many years later, Marketing decided to call special attention to that feature for a promotion. And now it’s broken and it’s also a customer emergency.
And of course we do maintain databases of experts, especially for more frequent problems, and for certain classes of urgent problems. But for less visible problems, the collective maintaining of databases of experts can be extremely challenging for a dispersed organization. After all, if the expert works in your group, you know who he/she is. Documenting your experts so that people in other groups can ask him/her for help in case of emergencies may not be something that is incentivized by your company. Maybe incentivizing this type of database maintenance is even a good idea (especially for certain types of problems like safety issues), but more often it is not implemented.
Enterprise Social Media
Another solution is to integrate an enterprise social media package. There are several available choices, like Microsoft SharePoint, IBM Connections, Yammer, Jive, and Open Text. These can be integrated into your enterprise portal or your employee portal to make finding experts much easier. There are even more: other social software tools to consider are Salesforce Chatter, Huddle, Igloo, Liferay, Zyncro Tech, Sitrion, Atlassian, VMware, Zimbra, SAP, and Google (these all made it to Gartner’s 2014 Magic Quadrant for Social Software in the Workplace[i] chart), among others.
How does it work?
As people interact with one another and solve problems, key parts of those interactions are recorded. In particular, with some of these systems, a knowledge map is created that allows you to find the expert you need at the right time. Just search for the issue you need an expert for, and results pop up based on the past few years’ emails, blog posts, forum comments, web articles, and even instant messages. All of these will direct the social media software to connect you with the people who have communicated about that subject the most. Frankly, it’s amazingly effective.
Does it make a difference?
Yes it does. Integrating these tools into your enterprise employee portal can make the difference between a satisfied customer and an unsatisfied customer, and I’ve seen it again and again.
Finding an expert can make the difference between a problem that is easily solvable and one that is not easily solvable.
Multiply that difference by all the problems every employee in your organization tried to solve this year but couldn’t, and now we’re talking about real money and time.
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