Skip to main content
Consortium for Service Innovation

Is Intelligent Swarming Right for You?

The benefits realized by implementing Intelligent Swarming depend on the environment in which it is implemented.  As a general rule, Intelligent Swarming creates the most value when the complexity and/or severity of the work is moderate to high. Intelligent Swarming greatly improves an organization's ability to solve new issues. 

Ideally, we want to use our knowledge workers to solve new issues, not ones we have already solved. The goal is to get the known issues to the customer through self-service mechanisms or remove the cause of the known issues from the environment through root cause analysis and corrective action.  For new issues, we want to facilitate a collaborative problem-solving process.

Time to resolve is often a reasonable indicator of both complexity and new vs. known.  If your support center solves a high percentage of customer issues in three to five minutes, it would imply that a high percentage of issues are known and the complexity is low.  While making it easy to collaborate appropriately is always a good idea, a robust KCS® program can improve speed and consistency of answers in this environment.

If your average time to resolve new work is greater than 15 minutes, this may imply a fair amount of complexity and possibly a higher rate of new issues being reported.  While more research may be warranted, this is a good starting indicator that your environment may see measurable benefits from implementing Intelligent Swarming.

Other things to consider when determining if Intelligent Swarming is right for you:

Factor Swarming is Relevant if....
Group’s average work minutes to resolve (complexity) Average time to resolve new (work minutes) is greater than 15 min. 
New vs. known ratio The ratio of new issues coming into the support center is greater than 30%
Percentage  / impact of high severity issues

% of high severity issues is increasing

High severity issues represent a significant amount of the work

Percentage resolved at each level of support The percentage of cases requiring escalation to a higher tier is increasing
Maturity and culture of the group Trust within the group is high and collaboration is natural

These factors are offered as guidance, but analysis of each environment with judgement is required.  There is no organization that would not see benefits from the Principles and Core Concepts of Intelligent Swarming.

Is there such a thing as a hybrid model?

There are environments where the diversity of requests would dictate that we still need a traditional level 1 function that can quickly handle the known issues and escalate the complex or new issues.  These issues would be passed on to a group that would follow the Intelligent Swarming model.  This group would include what used to be the level 2 and level 3 teams. Ideally, we would also include engineering groups (Product Management, Software Development, Hardware Development) for the products or services and/or the business owners for the processes or policies we support in the swarming model.

Note: while a hybrid environment with this kind of triage function might make the most sense for your organization, maintaining a tiered, escalation-based approach to solving problems is, in fact, counter to the Intelligent Swarming Core Concept of "One Team".  Judgment is required!

  • Was this article helpful?