Nitin Laghate explains the knowledge, skills and benefits of SAF for him, his organization and his clients.

Why did you decide to take the Service Automation Framework certification?

I wanted to take Service Automation to be able to enable my clients further.

I’m working with my clients to help them leverage service automation in their digital transformation journey. What I found good in this course importantly, is the way the syllabus is structured. So, when we say service automation, the course typically consists of a foundation of – ‘What is a service?’. ‘What are the different aspects of service in terms of the service provider?’. How it reaches and impacts a customer and a user. It provides you an end-to-end view of the service lifecycle.

Was there anything you liked especially?

The specific point that I like very much is the prime focus – looking at our service through the lenses from the customer (who buys) and especially the end-user (who uses). The focus was more on the ‘real user’, so it could be B2B or B2C (business to business or business to consumer), and the important aspect of it was the customer/user experience and that is something the ‘service blueprint’ guides you on. This ‘service blueprint’ term is one of the most widely used and discussed terms in the IT services sector.

We focused especially on defining the user criteria, different user groups in terms of geographic and segmented ways. It helps us to put a focus on the different aspects of the user.  When you base your objectives on user groups, it is very important to identify and plan these services from provisioning -> service activation ->, and then flow through to the service operation. The service blueprint is a complete overview, right from service strategy through to service operations.

I have expertise and experience in these areas, so these things are not new for me. The value addition of this structured course brought new insights from the customer and service providers’ perspectives with more clarity in the end-to-end service automation area.

Did you find the SAF blueprint useful?

Yes – for example, looking at the diverse user groups – and the different criteria that go into identifying the user group such as – Is it a corporate group? Is it an individual? It goes deeper – like the age of the user group or the education and profession. We built a persona and considered the user preferences – whether they were at college, university, a tax or non-taxpayer etc.We then went on to relate it to industry. 4.0 framework and concepts; How mobile computing, mobile technologies, and all the latest technologies which we are observing such as IoT, cloud computing, on-demand services, elasticity have an influence on the service(s) we are looking to provide.It wasn’t just the technical aspects, but how all those aspects are actually bringing change to human life and society – including the socio-economic aspects. It is having a tremendous impact on society.  It is impossible to identify, understand and capture these issues entirely so we need to look at user actions.

One of the aspects I found particularly brilliant was ‘serendipity management’ which is actually turning ‘customers into fans’. Let’s put things like pricing or discounting models aside.

When the customer is not expecting a gift or discount etc – the concept of serendipity management is offering unexpected gifts to the customer such as – a free parking space if the customer is visiting a conference – for instance, every 15th person (here, the customer doesn’t know it, your algorithm knows!).

Or, say take say a florist or a cake shop – every 25th person will receive a surprise discount (not advertised) just to delight the customer in the moment – a bit like getting an upgrade from economy to business on a flight (this example is pretty familiar to us). It leaves you with a great feeling, resulting in happy customers that are likely to feel good about the service and its providers. It creates a special bond between you and the product/service/provider.

You can apply this serendipity management principle, anywhere at any stage as part of service automation and the blueprint.

“One of the aspects I found particularly brilliant was ‘serendipity management’ which is actually turning ‘customers into fans’. Let’s put things like pricing or discounting models aside.”

How do you envisage yourself using service automation in your role?

Let us take an example of a taxi service provider where a fleet of cars is maintained to provide service to their customers. The measurement of service is that cabs are running on the road and not spending much time in the garage for maintenance and repairs. Car maintenance schedules can be fed into the system to record and log them. The workflow automation can be designed to understand the maintenance schedule based on certain important criteria. There are lots of possibilities; ie the schedule can be finalized automatically with the local/prescribed garage with the help of workflow automation. The email, message, or google calendars can be set based on the finalized appointment schedule.Here, the cab service provider is a ‘provider’, – the cab drivers are their customers, and the person who will avail the taxi service will be the end-user. The end-user will experience a clean and maintained car (delighted), cab drivers/owners will be able to keep their cars maintained proactively (happy to serve) and ultimately the cab service provider will be the top choice of customer/user to avail or book the service. All parties benefit from service automations.Again, unexpected free car parking, once a year or a free service could be offered to some cab owners at a specified location – this would be an example of applying ‘serendipity management’.

One of the concepts is the ‘familiarisation’ – it is not new – but the way it is discussed and connected in this course is important. When we visit a website, we have an opinion or expectation – on how it should look;  Take menus and sub-menus – are they organized? Are they user-friendly?

Since going through this course and taking the SAF examination, I am confident in reviewing client websites and identifying improvement areas in terms of user experience constructively. It helps me to support my clients better.

What were you hoping to gain from SAF training and certification?

I decided that I should go for this formal certification because, as a professional, even though I have been working for an organization and with clients for a long time – I need to know that we are keeping up with industry standards; How are others thinking about it? Performing it? What structures are they working with? Find out about the new concepts, theories – relate them with the exposure you get in the industry.I want to be sure I am ahead of the curve and understand emerging standards and procedures such as automation.  It is important for us to advise clients on digital transformation. It keeps them ahead of industry expectations, helping them to understand emerging trends & technologies.I am also looking at this through an educational lens – what would the client maturity be in terms of an understanding of the service blueprint, adopting it – implementing it. How quickly, effectively, and efficiently can we do it?

Would you recommend the Service Automation Framework certification to someone else?

Certainly – if we look at it, the SAF course brings in a perfect blend of user research, user experience (UX), customer experience (CX), applying design thinking to understand pains and gains – preparing right from service strategy till service operations. It will be beneficial to beginners as well as practitioners.

Nitin Laghate – Agile Coach and ITSM Transformation Manager

Nitin Laghate has more than two decades of Industry experience in IT Services, Telecom, Manufacturing, and Banking domain space. He managed Digital Transformation initiatives and Service Automation programs applying Design Thinking and Agile mindset. He guided clients in transforming from traditional to agile organizations. This was achieved by aligning Business Unit Strategies with Corporate Strategies and thereby efficient usage of Technological Capabilities.
He provides agile coaching to the leadership, program, projects, team and individuals and is an expert in Scrum (scaled agile), Kanban & Lean management agile methodologies.