The Intelligent Swarming Practice of Connect is key to making the system intelligent. The key to efficiency and reducing effort is our ability to make relevant connections of work to people, people to people, and people to content. This is also one of the main components that helps remove tiers or escalation of work within an organization: by making work visible to the right resources for first touch, or as close to first touch as possible, and making it easy for people to find the right people to work with when solving issues. For Connect to function, we need to think through the needed process, dependencies, measures, and tools required.
The process of connecting people, work, and content happens though the use of a visibility engine. Visibility is about making relevant connections. We want to:
- Make work visible to the best resources capable of solving the issue on the first touch
- Make requests for help visible to people who might be able to help
- Make work that is relevant to me visible to me so I can offer help
Making these connections enables the most efficient way to solve new issues.
- If the right person works on the right issue, it can most often be solved without the need for collaboration. There is no need for escalations, moving work to others, or countless iterations with a customer.
- When collaboration is needed, making it easy and seamless to find the right people to help allows fast transfer of knowledge specific to the issue at hand.
Intelligent Swarming is an opt-in model. For the system to work most efficiently, we need to design our processes to leverage the intrinsic motivators of autonomy, mastery, and purpose, and manage exceptions as exceptions. This means we do not use case routing to assign specific work to specific people. Instead, we offer visibility to the work most relevant to the people who are able to help solve it based on their skills and preferences, and those people choose what they work on.
The Practice of Connect and the associated processes that need to be designed depend on knowing a lot about the people engaged and the nature of the work itself. People attributes, work attributes, and a common classification model that connects people to work enables a visibility engine to make Intelligent Swarming intelligent.
When we refer to people attributes, called People Profiles, we are talking about both internal company employees who take requests for work and people who make a request. Traditionally, we think about this as an engagement between an employee and a customer, but requestors can be external customers, partners, people in different departments, or people from within the same team; really any individual to any individual can be a requestor-responder engagement.
Ideally, we use the same format/structure to maintain all of the attributes across all of the people (internal and external) and work with a 'flag' that indicates the potential relationship that help us make connections to resolve work quickly. We talk more about this topic in People Profiles.
While there is a wide range of technology that can be used to enable Intelligent Swarming, the practice of Connect has two main tool considerations: Visibility Engine and Profiles Database.
- Visibility Engine: A tool that helps make connections between work & people and people & people, along with a way to make these connections visible. Advancements in machine learning are making this easier, and some Customer Relationship Management (CRM, Helpdesk, ITSM) tools have built in features to make routing and visibility easier. This can also be done manually early in an Intelligent Swarming adoption, which can be a great way to learn and refine how skills and competency matching work.
CAUTION: It is easy to turn a visibility engine into a routing engine or direct assignment engine. This goes against the Intelligent Swarming principle of Trust by removing autonomy.
- Profiles Database: Whether talking about people or work, we need a way to store what we know and make that easy to access for the visibility engine. Information collection can be manual early in an adoption, but ideally, the database would be built and maintained automatically (with oversight). A profiles database should be able to capture/store:
- Declared identity, skills/competencies, interests, and preferences of people engaged
- Derived skills/competencies from the content people interact with (requests, knowledge articles, documentation)
- Work attributes that include, but not limited to: product, functionality, severity, service level agreement
The measures of Connect center around how accurate we are at work and people visibility. If our goal is to connect people to people for new issues, how effective are we at doing this as close as we can to first touch is the best measure for Connect.
- Reduced Case Transfers / Escalation: If we are making work visible to the right resources, the number of case transfers should drop dramatically.
- Offers to Help: Tracking offers to help (to requests or to others' work) can be an indicator that we are making the right request visible to the right resources.
We can also infer from the measures and contribution models described in the Practice of Recognize if the Practice of Connect is working.