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Remedy Welcomes You To Your New Office. Now Get To Work!

Written By: D. Geller
Published On: August 30 2000

Product Background

Bob Keane, Remedy Corporation's Senior Product Manager for the Remedy SetUp@Work product started work only four days after he was hired. Although his own desktop machine hadn't been delivered yet, he was set up with a loaner, and all permissions and links were in place so that he could start to work. In addition, he could easily check the status of his PC, desk blotter, trash basket, and other yet-to-be-delivered items from a browser. Andrew Pritchard, Remedy's Director of Solutions Marketing, remembers the first employee he hired once the precursor of SetUp@Work had been deployed internally. "Not only was he all set up with a computer and a phone and phone number, and ready to go the minute he walked in the door, he already had 55 e-mails!" (It turns out that many of the 55 e-mails were confirmations of service setups and orientation meetings that Mr. Pritchard had specified for him.)

Remedy SetUp@Work is a tool that lets managers define the full range of services needed by an employee. Beyond its use for new employees it is also targeted as a tool to support groups or whole companies during moves to new quarters. Companies can also use it to speed the integration of new employees after an acquisition. Remedy calls this an Employee Transition Management product.

The tool works with Remedy's Strategic Service Suite to transfer a manager's request for hardware, software, permissions, and services to the groups responsible for meeting them and to track and report status. Behind the scenes are Remedy's powerful workflow tool, the Action Request System (see Remedy Corporation: Poised for a Comeback?) and a newer tool, an approval engine that manages the potentially complex hierarchy of approvals needed to unlock the goods and services the employee needs.

Remedy offers the following prototype ROI calculation to help justify the product. The claim is that to set up or move an employee without automated assistance costs $750, assuming a total of 8 hours spent by the IT, HR and Facilities departments. Using SetUp@Work reduces the cost to $200. In a 2,000 person company, with an expected 300 new employees, 300 employee moves and 200 replacement hires due to attrition each year, the savings from SetUp@Work is $440,000. This takes into account the employees' lost productivity, although perhaps not the cost of the hiring manager's Grecian Formula 14, needed to hide all those newly grayed hairs.

The product has been newly released with a number of features, including integration with other Remedy applications, interface enhancements that make the product more useful in multi-site organizations, and intelligent task assignment. With intelligent task assignment the system will automatically make task assignments that are consistent with the particular new employee. In practice, this means that a hiring manager in Boston can use a template to kick off setting up the new employee without bothering to specify that the assigned service technician should be one based in Eastern Massachusetts rather than one in Southern France. To the user SetUp@Work appears to manipulate a family of objects with inheritance and instantiation; however the implementation is not based on object oriented technologies.

Product Strategy and Trajectory

SetUp@Work is one piece of the larger Remedy@Work suite of workplace automation solutions, which also includes Remedy Purchasing@Work and a soon to be released travel and expense product (see Remedy Plots A Course To Travel And Expense Capabilities).

All of Remedy's products are compatible through the Action Request System and their Enterprise Integration Engine, which provides connectivity to back-end ERP, HR and database systems. As an example, the SetUp@Work product can be fully integrated with Remedy's Help Desk, Change Management and Purchasing@Work products. Thus, if a new employee needs a desktop computer or desk that can't be found in inventory the order can be generated and sent for approval automatically.

This puts SetUp@Work on two strategic growth paths. First, as a member of the Remedy@Work suite it will be joined by other complementary applications. Among possible new products would be collaboration and task management tools. It seems likely that evolution will move in the direction of a portal solution, in the sense that Remedy may find ways to integrate other standard employee functions, such as e-mail and schedule management from Microsoft or Lotus, under the common Remedy@Work interface. Second, SetUp@Work also is part of a "vertical" application suite targeted to IT asset management, working in tandem with such applications as Remedy Change Management and Remedy Service Level Agreements.

That said, we don't foresee any major changes to this product in the next two years. Unless (and we think this unlikely) it turns out not to meet customer needs, we think Remedy will treat it as a well-defined product eligible for only minor enhancements, and turn its attention to rolling out new Remedy@Work products.

Remedy is looking for its early adopters among mid-level companies, especially those meeting one of more of these conditions:

  • Large contingent work force

  • Completing an acquisition

  • Member of an industry undergoing deregulation.

Remedy believes that the product is fully scaleable to the largest enterprises.

At this time Remedy expects most sales to be to existing customers, but has already had new customers come to the company because of SetUp@Work. Remedy believes that this interest validates its assumption that there is a significant market for Employee Transition Management, and expects to be the leading vendor.

Product Strengths

Sometimes we see complex products and wonder whether they have yet found the problem that will justify them. SetUp@Work is exactly the opposite kind of product. You only have to hear about it to say, "Of course. How obvious." It's an elegant idea that almost every growing company can see an immediate need for. Certainly, anyone who's had a new job or a new desk since about 1988 knows why this product was created.

Simplicity is its hallmark, but some serious infrastructure is needed to make it work well. Remedy's Action Request System and its Approval Server engine provide that infrastructure. As noted above, Remedy can offer out-of-the-box integration. This is an obvious advantage that will be increasingly leveraged with future products.

Product Challenges

The major weakness of the product may be only that it is not conceptually difficult to replicate. While it is true that Remedy has a lead both in terms of timing and in terms of the sophistication of its AR System, its competitors could easily announce products that have the same general description. This would tend to fragment and confuse the market. Remedy's best protection is to develop its marketing to new customers quickly; the existing customers who might add SetUp@Work shouldn't be ignored, but are not likely to go away. Of course, most B2B markets are fragmented anyway, so this is hardly a major concern.

BOTTOM LINE

Vendor Recommendations

Frankly, we don't see too much to change here. This is a simple product that meets a significant need and promises substantial ROI, if not in terms of the time of the newly hired employee then certainly for the time it saves the hiring manager.

In some sense, though, that simplicity and high value create a problem for Remedy when selling to customers who do not have Remedy's infrastructure in place. Such customers must in effect have a number of Remedy infrastructure products to get full value, which we define so as to imply full integration with back-end systems. These are provided with the purchase of SetUp@Work, so cost isn't an issue. But the additional pieces do add some complexity to the IT department's life. Having a version of this product that could make use of other components could be of value. Since Remedy already has begun to build partnerships with integration and middleware vendors, so as to provide alternatives to their own Enterprise Integration Engine, this is probably an easy path to follow.

The downside is that this move might reduce the product's ability to leverage sales of other Remedy products to such customers. Our guess is that Remedy would be better off with a more inclusive strategy, but we recommend only that they make the call as soon as they can. Certainly, the early announcement of a "standalone" version, if that is the decision, could inhibit some potential competitors.

User Recommendations

How much would you give if, on your next job, you could be ready to do real work on the first day? How much time has it cost you to have your office moved? How much would you give if, as a hiring manager, you could reduce the administrative headache of launching a new employee, or of moving a group, by fifty or sixty percent? Add these together and multiply by the number of new or moved employees. Even if the value doesn't quite satisfy ROI requirements, it will be clear that investigating SetUp@Work is the humane thing to do for the other people in your company.

We believe that existing Remedy customers will have no trouble justifying this product. For customers who are not already Remedy users there will be questions to answer about integration with back-end systems or with other workplace products. Explore these carefully with Remedy.

 
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