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April 2009, Issue 1, Volume 11

Working Together at One Service Desk
Working Together Succesfully on Facilities and IT/ HR Workflows in TOPdesk / The Hype is Over: the Rise of the Shared Service Centre / Client in Focus: Viafrica

Working Together at One Service Desk
In this issue of TOPdesk Magazine, we discuss a variety of topics and disciplines including facilities management, its collaboration with IT, process-based working methods at

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HR and the everything-under-one-roof solution: the Shared Service Centre. Here at TOPdesk, we are involved in all of these aspects of service management. In particular we have noticed that interest for the combined support of IT and FM in one tool is increasing.


Contents April ’09
4 6 7 10 12 16 18 News Column: Coding, Coffee and Rock ´n Roll Client in Focus: Viafrica Module in the Spotlight: Configuration Management Working Together Succesfully on facilities and iT The Psychology of Collaboration HR Workflows in TOPdesk The Hype is Over: the Rise of the Shared Service Centre Facilities Management Moving Towards iTil Tips + Tricks

TOPdesk Magazine, a service management platform, discusses subjects that are topical in the world of professional service desks in iT, facilities and other service providing organizations. TOPdesk Magazine is intended for managers, service desks employees, facilities organizations and electronic city councils - anyone who is involved with supporting customers on a daily basis. This concerns both the processes and the technology behind these services.

But there is more to it than just software. Organizations that wish to stimulate collaboration between various departments are jumping readily at even more challenges. In this issue, we examine the collaboration of IT and FM departments from project-based, psychological and teambuilding points of view.

Bart Enkelaar, one of our younger developers, has written

TOPdesk Magazine is a TOPdesk publication tel: +31 15 270 09 00 email: Editorial board Amanda Dirkse, niek Steenhuis Editors Arjen Dirks, Bart enkelaar, Brenda Heeringa, Carrie Brandt, Claudia funk, fenneke Gonggrijp Henrieke Korten, Johanna Kirn, Jordi Recasens, nienke de Wilde Translators Carrie Brandt, Clare Donald, nicola van de Velde Lay-out Dutch Designers Collective Cathy van den Berg, Cora naus, Joost Knuit Website David Blom, erik Pols, Ted erkkila

this edition’s column. Bart, who also writes music, illustrates the similarities between composing music and developing software. We reveal a client that has an active role in Africa and examine all the ‘need to knows’ and ‘nice to knows’ of Configuration/Asset Management.

Enjoy reading!

Amanda Dirkse


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Dutch Designers Collective
Part of the TOPdesk group of companies



2008: A record year for TOPdesk TOPdesk now available in italian
We are pleased to announce that an italian version of TOPdesk is now available for organizations that have one or more branches in italy. The italian language setting is available in the enterprise and Professional versions of TOPdesk 4 and will be provided in service pack 2 for the 4.1 version. After installing the service pack, it will be possible to set your browser to italian. The italian version of TOPdesk was developed in response to requests from a growing number of multinational clients who wanted to improve support for their italian speaking branches, clients and contacts. TOPdesk is always open to new forms of collaboration. if you are interested in selling TOPdesk in italy, for example, please contact us on +44 (0)20 8846 8516 or send an email to 2008 was a busy year for TOPdesk, as we broke records set in previous years for both sales and new clients. We expect to continue to grow in 2009.

Results from the 2008 Dutch Customer Satisfaction Survey
The results from our annual customer satisfaction survey - which was conducted with the TOPdesk Survey module - revealed that, in general, our clients are pleased with TOPdesk products and services. The results were similar to the 2007 survey results; however, the 2008 spectrum of results was more uniform. in other words, we did not receive as many extremely positive or extremely negative responses as we did in the previous year. The survey was sent to 8043 Dutch TOPdesk clients, of which 984 responded. About 100 respondents added comments to the survey. Our Customer Service department contacted these people by phone and the feedback they gave us is currently being analyzed and incorporated into our services and product development. Surveys of clients in other countries are currently being planned.

Exhibitions and Shows
Best Practices in iTSM Spant!, Bussum netherlands

Continued growth
in comparison to 2007, TOPdesk sales increased almost 30% in 2008. Thanks to product development such as the adaptation of TOPdesk for facilities management and the launching of TOPdesk as a Service, we were able to tap into new markets. “Besides being the leading iT service management organization in the netherlands, we are now one of the big players in the facilities market. Our SaaS version also contributed to last year’s successes,” comments Wolter Smit, the director of TOPdesk. 2008 was a year of growth in terms of staff as well – 68 new people were hired, bringing the total to 311 employees. Wolter Smit continues: “Our Consultancy department, in particular, grew dramatically. When it comes to improving a service desk, the demand for practical guidance and training continues to rise. it is no longer just about an implementation.”

TOPdesk office hours TOPdesk, Delft netherlands

28 - 29
The Service Desk & iT Support Show earls Court, london england

Visit TOPdesk uK at the Service Desk & iT Support Show
Once again TOPdesk will be exhibiting at the Service Desk & iT Support Show in london at the end of April. You can find us at stand 310. We would be pleased to show you the latest TOPdesk developments and services. Check out demontrations of our additional modules, learn about a maintenance-free SaaS version of TOPdesk, or just have an informative chat with one of our TOPdesk specialists. We are looking forward to seeing you! Date: 28-29 April 2009 location: Brompton Hall, earls Court 1, london, Stand 310 Opening Times: 9.30 am – 5.00 pm More information:

Future outlook
Despite the current economic climate, TOPdesk expects to continue growing in 2009. TOPdesk has survived earlier economic downturns and even experienced significant growth during the economic crises of 2001 and 2003. Organizations that were accustomed to paying stiff prices for software and consultancy began turning to TOPdesk. “We believe that good software does not need to cost an arm and a leg,” says Wolter Smit. “Offering high-quality standardized software at reasonable prices attracted even the big companies. When they realized that we didn’t compromise quality for low prices, people started taking us a lot more seriously. We expect the same sort of phenomenon this year as well. Our expensive competitors will have a harder time this year.” There is no talk of lost jobs, hiring freezes or shrinking budgets at TOPdesk. “Due to high demand for our products and services our search for new employees is ongoing. indeed, 2009 can turn out to be a successful year for us.”

TOPdesk office hours

iTil/SlM forum Rhein-Main-Hallen, Wiesbaden, Germany


TOPdesk office hours TOPdesk, Delft netherlands

9 - 10 GC expo earls Court, london england

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Coding, Coffee and Rock ‘n roll
form entirely new objects. Of course the big difference lay in the origin of both software and music. The latter usually starts with analyzing a problem or request and ends with programming the solution. Music, on the other hand, stems from inspiration and ideas which are melded into a chorus, verse or theme. Consequently, you would think the process of software development is more structured, but i find writing music to be even more so. Most songs are composed of recurring chord patterns and the melody is a string of notes from one specific scale. Contrary to this is the software development trend of doing things the “Agile” way. This means taking a step back from the traditional development process involving rigid rules and long term strategies and making way for ever-changing client wishes. The Agile methods arose in the nineties, when software development was becoming a booming industry. it was a response to the Waterfall model: a top down programming process based on large amounts of documentation. At the top of the ladder were the decisionmakers and at the bottom were the actual coders. One objection to the Waterfall system is the developers’ restricted creative freedom. Just imagine musicians sticking to preset rules and chords; all songs would sound the same. The Agile method, in contrast, values new development, personal interaction and working in close collaboration with clients. Despite most Agile methods being focussed on smaller, customized products, TOPdesk has included this Agile method in its software development strategy. We involve our clients in development decisions through the TOPdesk Community and appoint them as beta-testers. furthermore, requests for new software functionalities can be directly implemented in the latest version, as the help desk is located next to development. Another important element of Agile is personal communication. Our teams are relatively small and each is responsible for different modules, but within these teams we cooperate closely and individual input and solutions are truly encouraged. furthermore, we try to maintain personal contact with our development team in Kaiserlautern by phone, chat, webcam and regular visits. The Agile Manifesto really stays true to the TOPdesk operating method. We stimulate individual creativity and motivation and collaborate with our clients in developing software which facilitates their personal needs. in that sense you could somewhat compare software developers to rock stars: sometimes you gain the best results by doing the unexpected and letting your creativity run wild.

A One-of-a-Kind Implementation
last summer saw the completion of a very special implementation: the Viafrica foundation began using TOPdesk in Kenya and Tanzania. This article includes all the details about this unique implementation.

The driving force of the future
Viafrica is a foundation that is committed to helping set up iT projects in Africa. Their focus is on practical applications of iT within a local context and their long-term management. Viafrica Tanzania and Viafrica Kenya have been set up as local branches to serve this purpose and operate as independent enterprises. The foundation was established in 2003 by Joost Dam. After receiving his degree in Social Geography of Developing Countries, he found himself immersed in the iT world with jobs at Pink elephant and the university of Amsterdam. Regarding the Viafrica idea, Joost says that, “After finishing school, i wanted to work in and with Africa, but not in the traditional way. My idea was to do something with iT. i wanted my work to be geared towards the middle class, not the poorest of the poor, as are the Millennium Development Goals. in my eyes, the middle class will be the future driving force of economic development.”


i work as a software developer at TOPdesk and eat, sleep and breathe almost everything to do with music. i play in a couple of bands, write a reasonable amount of music and am a frequent concert goer. You might think that these two aspects of my life - software and music – have nothing in common. But when you dig a little deeper, there are many similarities between composing music and developing software. The most important similarity – and personally the most exciting – is the intrinsic creative nature of both activities. i am constantly amazed at how order is created from mere nothingness. ideas and problems flow into patterns, rules and systems which, when combined,

enthusiastic volunteers and seventeen paid employees – eleven of which are located in Tanzania, four in Kenya and two in the netherlands. At the moment, they are working on ClASSworks (which stands for Computer learning and Sustainable Support Works) projects in Kenya, Tanzania and Senegal. These projects are designed to enable secondary schools to integrate iT into their lessons. Joost Dam: “Viafrica believes in durable solutions. A school invests in good infrastructure, teachers and security, and Viafrica supplies the hardware and software and trains the teachers. The school then signs a service contract for the maintenance and user support.” Joost continues: “By bringing in TOPdesk, i want the local Viafrica branches to be able to operate as professional service providers. We are already supporting 85 schools. Another 30 will be added to that number in 2009, and the amount will continue to grow in the future. it therefore became necessary to implement a professional tool – firstly to be able to keep an eye on the infrastructure and,

secondly, to be able to provide adequate support to the users.”

A gift
investing in iT education is important to TOPdesk as well. Consequently, TOPdesk sponsors many student associations and offers discounted educational licenses. When lydje Snieders, a Customer Relations Manager at TOPdesk, got in contact with Viafrica, she was immediately impressed with the foundation. She wanted to find out if TOPdesk could support Viafrica. After discussing the particulars with Joost Dam, TOPdesk decided to offer the software to Viafrica free of charge. in addition, the Viafrica foundation also received three days of consultancy and a number of training courses at the TOPdesk office in Delft as a gift. TOPdesk assists the employees in Kenya and Tanzania in providing ample support to their clients. for the

Today, Viafrica consists of twenty

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has been tested and whether it is ready to be distributed to the schools. When the hardware is delivered to a school for use, it is linked to that school. Viafrica also takes care of the processing of old hardware. Schools can turn in the outdated equipment and Viafrica transports it back to the Netherlands where it is disposed of in an ecologically sound manner.

Joost Dam travelled to Africa in August 2008 to look after the introduction of TOPdesk. Joost: “The implementation in Kenya and Tanzania went smoothly. In a technical sense, there were no problems. But we still had to see how quickly the application would

become a part of daily working life.” Assisted by existing TOPdesk course documentation, Joost put together training material that could be used on location in Africa, so that the users could properly prepare themselves for using TOPdesk. Joost Dam: “I did a lot of role-playing to explain the TOPdesk essentials, to which the reactions were positive. But I know from experience that these kinds of systems require constant attention because many people are inclined to let things go without registering them.” Now that the programme has been in full swing for a few months, Joost has noticed a change for the better: “Since the programme has finally clicked with the users, they are beginning to see the benefits

of registration. For example, they like being able to transfer a task to a colleague by means of an incident.” In addition, Joost affirms that the employees have also picked up the processing of stock items and the registration of hardware quite well. “I feel like it is catching on. It is a slow process for which you cannot see an immediate result. At the moment I am waiting for the first lists that contain the actual stock levels for the bookkeeper. We are now ready to take the next step: running reports in TOPdesk and using that information.” Do you want to find out more about the Viafrica Foundation? Visit their website at

purpose of distributing hardware to the schools, a centralized location has been set up in both countries. This location also functions as a service point, which schools can approach with their questions or problems regarding the hardware and software.

Priority number one
Reality, however, can be a different story. When visiting schools, employees of Viafrica often find that equipment is broken or that teachers are having problems using the software. Under similar circumstances in European countries, it is usually considered normal behaviour to seek help from a help desk or support department. In Africa, on the other hand, many users are hesitant to seek help. They are often worried that they will be blamed if something does not work and are not accustomed to sharing their lack of knowledge or understanding with others.

For that reason, more information was needed to improve user support. For example, if the most frequently asked questions were discernable, the teacher training could be modified accordingly. And to provide better local support, Viafrica employees wanted to know what hardware was present at the schools, so that they could bring along the correct parts and information during school visits. Additionally, more insight into the stock levels at the service points was required and the processing of hardware from the Netherlands needed to be optimized. During the implementation in Delft, the situation in which TOPdesk would be used was recreated as much as possible. It was set up simply, to give the introduction of TOPdesk the biggest chance for success. Priority number one was ease of use for the people that would be working with TOPdesk. For example, optional fields were used so that

all mandatory fields on Hardware cards would appear on one tab.

Peripheral equipment and parts
The Viafrica Foundation is now using the Incident Management, Configuration Management and Stock & Order Management modules. Incident Management and Knowledge Management are used to register and process problems and questions. Stock & Order Management is used to keep track of the stock of various pieces of equipment. Configuration Management is used to follow the complete life cycle of each piece of hardware. The cycle begins in the Netherlands with hardware that is then delivered to Kenya or Tanzania. This data concerning the hardware is read in with an import in the local TOPdesk database. A record can then be kept of whether the equipment still works when it arrives, if it

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In the Spotlight:

Configuration Management

TOPdesk software is mainly comprised of incident Management (or Call Management) and Configuration Management (or Asset management), which enables you to manage countless objects and company assets. But which options does the module offer and how can its full potential be reached? To answer these questions we will examine this multifaceted module and provide tips and tricks on getting the most out of your Configuration management. Some of the following options are only available in TOPdesk 4 enterprise, but most are applicable to TOPdesk 3 lite and TOPdesk 3 and 4 Professional.

organizations merely choose to register the amount of objects instead of registering each one seperately. This can be useful for objects that do not require individual registration, such as types of office chairs and tables for facilities management purposes. Object cards contain additional fields for registering these amounts, but if you experience a large turnover of objects, the Stock and Order management module can further assist you.

More tips
• When the information in your CMDB is accurate, TOPdesk can provide reports with valuable information. You can generate these reports in the menu option ‘Reports > Report Wizard’. • Take a look at the System settings for Configurations and Objects. You may find extra options that could be of use to you, such as lease information, automatic numbering and additional maintenance information. • The value in the ‘Model’ field in an Object card can either be entered manually or chosen from a drop-down list. The manually added values are then automatically added to the drop-down list. This option saves the manager a great deal of work as the diversity of

products which come and go do not have to be added one by one in Searchlist management. However, when you choose to activate the option ‘Choose only from predefined list’ only the fixed list from Searchlist management will be available to users. This means less flexibility but increases uniformity and reduces spelling mistakes. • Customize the Configuration Management module to your liking. The ‘Optional fields’ option enables you to add extra fields to an Object card, which can usually be reported on. TOPdesk enterprise and Professional offer you the additional option of adding extra object groups, so-called ‘free objects’. This allows you to define objects such as keys, installations and plants in addition to hardware, software and telephone systems.

Should an objectperson link be used?
linking objects to people is useful when employees take objects with them during workstation moves (e.g. a mobile phone or Blackberry). for some objects, such as PCs, it is more efficient to link them to a location, as moving them with an employee entails too many transactions.

How do I fill my CMDB efficiently?
Maintaining the Configuration Management DataBase (CMDB) can save your service desk a lot of time and money. for example, the incident Management module can help you spot company asset problem areas. As filling your CMDB might be timeconsuming, we offer two easy tools to import your company asset data into TOPdesk: TOPsis and the barcode scanner solution.

information is saved directly to the card. More information on TOPsis is available in the TOPdesk management manual.

will find some considerations for the structure of your own CMDB.

What is the purpose of a Configuration card?
Configuration cards are mainly used for grouping related objects that undergo the same transactions. You can achieve this by linking objects to a configuration which is in turn linked to a person or location. A server rack with multiple servers can be registered by linking multiple Object cards (servers) to one Configuration card (the server rack). in case of a pantry, multiple objects (for example, a printer, coffee machine and refrigerator) are linked to the ‘Pantry’ configuration. Previously, Configuration cards were also used as pc-monitor combinations, but linking objects to one another has been proven easier.

Barcode scanner
The Barcode scanner is another useful tool which allows you to scan various objects, locations and assets in your organization. The data can then be entered into TOPdesk. TOPdesk is compatible with most scanner models and the required barcode stickers can be printed from the database.

How do I keep my CMDB up to date?
filling the CMDB is the first step, but keeping it up to date is also important. This often proves to be difficult and demands a great deal of discipline; new PCs should be registered straight away and written-off PCs should be immediately noted in the CMDB. The copy button is a practical tool if multiple similar objects are involved. Appointing a maximum of two dedicated people for maintaining the CMDB is advisable, as more than two people can be counterproductive. it is also important that they see the benefit of the work. They can keep check on the CMDB and even fill it from scratch in the case of a large backlog.

TOPsis is TOPdesk’s automatic inventory program. it scans one or more PCs on the network for existing hardware and software and saves the data on the concerning cards. One option for obtaining the most recent information from all running PCs is to perform the network scan at a fixed time. Another option is to scan the PCs during start-up (in TOPdesk 3 this is called scanning ‘through central storage’) while TOPsis retrieves the last saved information. in TOPdesk 4 the

How do I structure my CMDB practically?
Questions will inevitably arise while filling your CMDB with data. Should we link objects directly to a person, via a configuration, or to a location? Should we transfer SiM card data to the mobile phone card or should we create a separate card? The CMDB structure that works best for your organization is strongly dependent on what your aim is for the gathered data. Our consultants can help you create your ideal structure. Below you

Is it really necessary to register each object?
Registering is always a means and never a goal in itself, so only do this if it is helpful to you. Some

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Working Together Successfully on Facilities and IT
These days, more and more iT and facilities management (fM) departments are joining forces and working together with one software tool. The reasons can be financial or logistical in nature or it can be that, by working together, a higher level of service provision can be attained. in this article, we will discuss how we can best go about succeeding in such a collaboration effort and the factors that need to be considered. We will start out by taking a look at the business case.

then the project will be able to proceed more quickly than it would if all the processes need to first be established or revamped. Departmental familiarity with TOPdesk is also a determining factor in the duration of the project. Most departments are responsible for multiple service management processes, but it has been found difficult to simultaneously implement multiple processes. We have learned from experience that it is much wiser to take things one step at a time. in practice, we do this by dividing the project into different phases in which one process is implemented per phase.


Formulating reasons in a business case
Whatever the project may be, it must always begin with a motivation. There needs to be a clear reason why the current situation should be changed – and that is formulated in the business case. During the implementation of a project, it

Step 3: Involve those concerned
and process-based working. Regarding cost savings: Researching whether departments and business processes can be run more efficiently is a commonplace activity, and definitely so in this period of economic uncertainty. Support services such as iT and fM are often (unjustly) targeted in that fM managed ordinary telephones, but the introduction of VOiP meant that iT and fM needed to start working together on the same terrain. likewise, copiers have evolved into multifunctional objects that have email capabilities and can place files on the network. Moving workstations also involves both iT and fM. Regarding customer-oriented and process-based working: A significant advantage to two or more departments working together is that you can combine the best of both worlds. iT is often characterized by structured and process-based working, while fM is often praised for their customer-oriented employees. ensure that everyone that needs to be involved in a project is informed well in advance. Our projects require a lot of collaboration with staff; it is therefore essential that they have time available to do so. Staff availability often proves to be one of the largest obstacles to overcome when implementing project plans.

“iT and fM are particularly affected by the evolution of technology”
is essential to keep the business case at the forefront of activity, and to revise it if necessary. The collaboration of iT and fM is a good example of a project in which we at TOPdesk are getting more and more involved. When it comes to interdepartmental collaboration, three important motives can be distinguished: cost savings, overlap of services and improving customer-oriented this endeavour, since they do not directly contribute to core business processes, but do indeed play a supportive role. Among other factors, license and maintenance costs can be saved by integrating iTSM and CAfM applications. Regarding overlap of services: iT and fM are particularly affected by the evolution of technology. for example, it used to be so

that large changes have on an organization’s people is left out. The next article, “The Psychology of Collaboration,” sheds some light on that subject. The following steps outline how you can put together a clear, realistic project plan.

experience with these sorts of projects, our consultants can anticipate common problems and know how to avoid them.

“employee availability often proves to be one of the largest obstacles to overcome when implementing project plans”
We delegate an experienced project coordinator to assist in drafting a project plan.

Step 1: Appoint a project committee and leader
Creating a sensible project plan requires a joint effort, as the probability of success increases when all the concerned parties are represented and are able to contribute. including the supplier’s consultants at an early stage in the planning process also increases the chances of success. Specifying distinct milestones is an important aspect in creating a clear, realistic project plan. As TOPdesk has considerable

if two departments are facing an intensive collaboration, it is very important that everyone is convinced of its goals. in regards to work routine and culture, fM and iT departments can differ quite a lot – for that reason it is important to get everyone together on the same page. An effective way to go about doing that is to start the

FM and IT in one tool: the introduction
As we have discussed, a successful project begins with a sound business case and a well-considered project plan. Too often, though, the impact

Step 2: Formulate a detailed project plan
The exact formulation of the project plan depends on the current situation. if one or more departments are already working with well-defined processes,

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project with a collective kickoff in which the project leader and project coordinator present the project plan. This ensures that everyone knows exactly what to expect as well as what the short-term and long-term goals are. A kick-off is a good way to get everyone warmed up for the upcoming changes so that more support is created.

different terminology needs to be used to avoid confusion. The next step is to examine all the existing processes and make them suitable for an environment in which FM and IT can work together. For many processes, this can be achieved by applying ITIL principles in a less rigid manner. However, even though more facilities departments are starting to use CAFM tools, their employees are not always used to working with them. For that reason, the plan must take into account adjustment time for facilities employees

Starting the implementation
Now that all the preparations have been completed, the project can officially be started. There are three essential factors here: the process, the tool and the people.

and application. It seems like it should be a simple step, but it is very important that the introduction of TOPdesk goes well. First of all, it is essential that employees are properly trained to work with the new procedures. Enrolling employees in TOPdesk training courses and providing clear instructions for process managers can make a big difference. Secondly, turning the introduction of the newly combined service desk into a big event, by launching it amidst all your employees and clients, can have a positive effect. As has been said before, you do not get a second chance with

there should always be a designated group of people that follows these changes and guides the department in the right direction. The processes and set-up of TOPdesk need to be frequently evaluated and adapted accordingly. Extra process coaching in combination with periodic TOPdesk audits and customer satisfaction surveys can help things run smoothly.

Combining IT and FM together in one service desk offers many opportunities to improve your service management processes, but these changes

Process mapping
Multiple processes must be set up within TOPdesk. It may seem that the processes and activities in which departments are involved vary a lot from each other, but they are actually quite similar. Except for perhaps the terminology (for example, IT refers to ‘incidents’ while FM refers to ‘calls’) and the exact approach, the process is the same: a client’s problem or request is logged and processed and results with a solution. For years now, IT processes have been designed in accordance with the best practices of ITIL. Based on years of experience, TOPdesk knows that the ITIL framework can also work well in other departments. It offers a solid basis for support departments and it specifies how these organizations can handle the various activities that are necessary to effectively render services. To work with ITIL theories in a facilities environment,

“Except for the terminology (for example, IT refers to ‘incidents’ while FM refers to ‘calls’) and the exact approach, the process is the same: a client’s problem or request is logged and processed and results with a solution”
to become accustomed to working with such tools. first impressions. Emphasizing the new procedures and the advantages of working together – such as having a single point of contact for all service matters and faster service due to more efficient procedures – will help make the launch a success. do not happen overnight. A sound business case, a project group that is representative of your employees and a clear, realistic project plan will greatly determine the success of such an undertaking. The changes have a big impact on employees and should not be underestimated by managers. Working with new procedures, a new tool and in a new environment are big steps, particularly for those who have grown accustomed to working a certain way after years on the job. In the end, service management is performed by and for people, not machines, which is why the participation of all those concerned has remained at the forefront of every point in this article.

Setting up TOPdesk
Once the processes have been mapped, they can be translated into a set-up plan for the tool. Since one tool will be used for two departments, the needs and desires from both departments need to be harmonized. This includes details such as authorisation structure, shared search lists and system settings.

TOPdesk is live – now what?
Even though the project has been completed and TOPdesk is now live, the changes continue to go on. Many organizations underestimate the time and attention these changes require. Service management processes revolve around people and must adapt to the needs of both the client and the internal organization. Consequently,

Realization of the collaboration
While much is achieved by completing the preceding steps, the employees still have not started working with the newly designed processes

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The Psychology of Collaboration
TOPdesk software supports both IT and facilities processes. Recently, many clients have been approaching us to cooperate with them on merging these two processes. While some clients appoint the term ‘shared service centre’ to this merge; others prefer to use the term ‘service point’. Prior to such collaboration, a grand project plan – which should save time and money and enhance efficiency - is usually formulated. The fundamental psychological impact of this merge for the employees is, however, often left out of the big picture.

People who spend years working together often seem to develop their own identity, which includes values and rituals. Merging with another team that has its own identity might create friction and conflict. What should a team leader or manager take into account to ensure a smooth collaboration?

Collaborating equates with bidding farewell
Departments that merge must take a step back from their former traditions and focus on new goals, agreements and collaborations with people with whom they are not yet familiar. These changing

rituals and agreements spark a range of new questions: Should we work from nine to five or have flexitime? Do we eat lunch together or separately? Should we joke about technology or even our own colleagues? Are football or politics proper topics of conversation? Many people tend to think “we’ll work that out when we get to it, right?” In reality, rituals (and often implicit and unwritten rules) can form an obstacle for pleasant teamwork and even more so for developing a new collective identity. This is why formulating clear rules from the get-go and upholding new agreements in a disciplined manner are important. A manager can play a crucial part in this transition. A new collaboration may be viewed as a threat because it can be difficult for some people to bid farewell to their old habits. These emotions are legitimate and it is up to the manager to recognize and acknowledge them.

quickly. Furthermore, new shared rituals can develop – formal ones, such as meetings and discussions of progress, but also informal ones, such as coffee breaks and birthdays. The latter is important for developing a new collective identity. Organizing a teambuilding day at the start of the collaboration supports the manager in speeding up the adjustment process. This day is then entirely focussed on getting to know each other better.

Trouble in collaboration paradise
A smooth collaboration and positive results will result in a new collective identity. When projects are delayed or the atmosphere is not as good as expected, this can be a sign of flawed collaboration or unsatisfied employees. Possible causes are incorrect assumptions about colleagues, division of tasks or work agreements. A manager should then research whether the problems are grounded in work processes or animosity amongst colleagues. Especially with the latter, he or she should intermediate as soon as possible and not let the situation run its course. Discussing the problem with the people involved is an effective way of nipping the problem in the bud. If the manager does not intervene (in time), then the two teams might drift apart. While it should not pose a problem if old rituals are transferred to the new team, it is crucial that mutual goals are crystal clear and new joint rituals are formed. This article was written with the help of Marleen Korten, organizational psychologist and trainer at Schouten and Nelissen.

The managers’ role
Managers can stimulate the merge of two departments by informing them of the goals ahead of time. Facilities and IT departments, for example, are witnessing increasingly more overlap in their services. The merge will then reduce costs and simplify activities. A manager can emphasize these advantages and provide solutions for possible disadvantages. By propagating this common interest, the two teams are placed on the same wavelength. By assembling the teams in one office and getting started right away, the chance of a successful collaboration is increased; mutual dependence is immediately apparent and the first results are produced

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HR Workflows in TOPdesk
TOPdesk software automates the knowledge intensive processes that are present not only in IT and facilities departments but those that can be found in HR departments as well. Living up to the motto ‘Practice what you preach,’ the HR team at TOPdesk has been using TOPdesk software to improve the quality of their services for the last few years. It has been quite successful: TOPdesk employees are so pleased with their company and HR department that TOPdesk was chosen as the most fun employer in the Netherlands in 2008. For this article, we talked to our own HR team to see how their processes have been streamlined by the introduction of TOPdesk. “The software’s workflow system is the foundation on which we ensure that our activities are completed accurately and on time,” says Rik Prins, head of HR at TOPdesk.

HR processes that are supported in TOPdesk
Call management and services • • Questions and complaints Workflows (new staff and the like)

Self Service Desk • • • • Call registration and tracking News portal Who’s who Knowledge base

Staff files • • Asset registration (laptops, telephones, key cards, etc.) Document storage

Assessment management • • • Planning for annual reviews Planning and registration for training programmes Employee surveys


Reliable request processing
“Every month, we receive dozens of emails containing various requests,” tells Rik. “Many of the emails are requests for information – such as the details of the educational budget we offer our employees – but we also receive requests for things such as contract changes.” These requests are registered in TOPdesk’s Incident Management using the mail import module. Implementing this procedure has led to more structured and reliable request processing. Rik: “We can easily prioritize requests

that require extensive research. A big advantage to using incidents instead of emails is that you can indicate a status and operator. Consequently, we cannot forget about requests, or even worse, lose them.” TOPdesk can also be used to schedule requests that need to be processed in the future. For example, this could be an email informing HR that the sender is going to move in two months. “We want to begin sending the pay slips to the new address at the right time. That means we have to change the address in our administration in six weeks time. The system

automatically sends us a message that reminds us to do so.”

Equipment management
When a new employee begins working at TOPdesk, and when old employees leave, HR must ensure that items such as laptops and key cards are issued or returned. “A lot of different people need to do a lot of different things before someone can officially start working,” says Rik. “For example, login accounts need to be created, hardware needs to be ordered and set up, a training programme needs to be planned and photos need to be taken. Now that we use TOPdesk,

everything is automated.” When someone leaves the company, an HR member runs a report, which provides an immediate overview of all the items that correspond to that employee.

criteria first-year employees used during their job searches. We then use that information in our recruitment campaigns,” says Rik.

Recruitment • • • Registration of applicants Registration of job openings Workflows

Transparent administration
According to Rik, a nice by-product of using TOPdesk is that the administration has become more quantifiable and transparent. “We are now better prepared to satisfy our accountant’s requirements. He needs to see, for example, how pay raises and contract changes are processed and authorized. All these things have been documented in TOPdesk.”

Document management • • • Send letters and mailings Post registration Email imports

Effective recruitment
Since our software is so widely applicable, we do not just use it to carry out administrative changes and serve our colleagues; we also use it to support some of our recruitment needs. “We use the Survey module to gather recruitment information from our colleagues. The ‘Starter Survey’ is used to find out what kinds of

Visitor registration Reports

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The Hype is Over:
The Rise of the Shared Service Centre
Bringing multiple departments together under one roof in a Shared Service Centre (SSC) has turned out to be not just another passing trend, but a serious solution to the problems that many organizations face. Setting one up, however, is not always successful. Research shows that a third of all SSC projects do not live up to their expectations¹. The primary reasons are a lack of standardization, insufficient process specifications and inadequate policies regarding the purpose and functioning of the SSC.

The growing popularity of SSCs is thus a reaction to a saturated market and the high costs associated with the decentralized organizational model; however, it

seen as the enabling technology, without which the current massive expansion of SSCs would not be feasible. After all, information technology makes it possible to

market continued to expand. Now that the profit margins have dropped, the alternative, standardization, has become

“Service management software can bridge the gap between various support departments”
also accords well with other recent developments in the business world. Ever since the nineties, there has been a strong movement towards professionalization within support services – business processes are conforming to models such as ITIL, certification and training is playing a larger role and more and more support departments are defining their own goals and purposes. Increasingly more services are being mapped out, which makes it easier to bring the different departments together in one SSC. The structure of the SSC is also a solution to the growing demand for knowledge sharing and transparency within organizations. store, edit and transfer data across large distances without affecting the quality”² (Strikwerda, p. 66). Service management software can bridge the gap between various support departments such as Facilities and HR. By doing so, not only is information shared, but costs as well. To put it simply: if five support departments such as IT, Facilities, HR, Purchasing and Finance all use the same application, your costs will be five times lower than if each department purchases its own software package. more attractive. To keep costs down, increasingly more companies are choosing standard software over bespoke software.³ Process standardization is also in full swing; process models and best practices such as ITIL, ASL and BiSL have been developed for the IT world and other fields such as Facilities Management are beginning to examine the applicability of such guidelines.4 Legislation is also standardized in the industry with norms such as ISO. More and more support departments are standardizing their processes and software, but in practice such standardization can prove to be a problem when


In order to explain the rising popularity of SSCs, it is first necessary to examine their roots. The rise of the SSC in the nineties was not in line with the trend of decentralization that began after World War II. In the decentralized organizational model, each branch has its own support services such as facilities and financial departments. This kind of localized support is attuned to the specific needs of the branch and enables each branch to concentrate on its own activities. Localized support also means that coordination costs are low and opportunities for employees to develop career-wise are greater because staff and support services remain in close contact.

However, because support departments in this model are focused on just one branch, collaboration between support staff departments is far from efficient. For example, each facilities department has its own processes, systems and assets that differ from the other facilities departments. The SSC is a means to improve the poor collaboration between various departments at one branch. IT, Facilities and HR departments all work with similar processes – they all provide services to their colleagues – but they have their own systems and administration. Since each support department at each branch purchases its own supplies,

the costs for the organization as a whole are relatively high. For quite a while, these high costs did not equate to a large financial burden. There was significant growth in the market in the last century and the profits that could be made by expanding with the market were many times greater than the savings that could be made through internal reorganization. Since 2001, however, increasingly more organizations have been facing saturated markets, which, consequently, are less profitable. To increase their profit margins, many organizations are trying to keep costs down through internal reorganizations, of which the formation of an SSC is an example.

It is currently the case that many departments still have their own, separate IT infrastructure

“Research shows that the failure of an SSC project can, in many cases, be attributed to incompletely defined processes and a lack in system standardization”
IT as enabling technology
IT developments in recent years have simplified the process of support service centralization, paving the way for SSCs. According to Dr. J. Strikwerda, Professor of Business Studies at the University of Amsterdam, the circumstances are so ideal that “IT can even be and processes. That should not be very surprising since the idea that “specific products and services require specific software” (Strikwerda, p. 66) has been around for a long time. The high costs for both the software and the maintenance were tolerated as long as the setting up an SSC. Research from KPMG shows that the failure of an SSC project can, in many cases, be attributed to incompletely defined processes and a lack in system standardization.5 One of the interviewees, the head of Finance at Continental, formulated it as follows: “When setting up an SSC,

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services are often decentralized because people think this will reduce costs. But they forget to standardize their processes. And it takes a huge amount of work to then bring departments together.”

A certain degree of standardization is essential for the success of an SSC. However, complete process standardization for many different departments has proven in practice to be extremely time-consuming and complex. For that reason, Renske van der Heide, Senior Consultant at TOPdesk and specialist in SSCs, recommends first harmonizing the processes in consultation with all involved departments. “You do not necessarily have to set up an SSC so that various departments will work together more efficiently,” comments Renske. “Efficiency is, for the most part, a matter of making arrangements. Take the example of moving a colleague’s workstation. The facilities department needs to take care of moving the furniture and the telephone, the IT department needs to make sure the hardware and software is in order, and the provider needs to be alerted to ensure that the phone and computer are connected. By reaching a mutual agreement in regards to planning, you can ensure that such a manoeuvre is coordinated successfully. A facilities employee can then tell an IT employee, ‘You pick up the computer and I will move the desk, and then you can take care of the rest after I’ve moved it.’ It seems like a simple arrangement, but in practice, that

employees have never worked in internal functions outside of the SSC. According to this research, such a lack in career perspective can lead to a relatively large turnover of employees, making it difficult to establish lasting relationships with clients.

Satisfied employees
To prevent a rapid turnover of staff within an SSC, it is important that not only the clients are satisfied, but the employees as well. “When implementing an SSC, career opportunities for the employees need to be factored in,” comments Renske. “You have to consider what sorts of positions you would want to strive for as an employee. A new SSC means new tasks and responsibilities for everyone. Those who enjoy contact with clients should perhaps work in the front office, while those who prefer to focus on technical problems would be better suited in the back office. If managers are familiar with employee preferences, they can be accounted for in the reorganization. This increases employee satisfaction.” Strikwerda notes that introducing an SSC is generally not seen as just another forced organizational change. In most cases, many people are involved in the policy forming, and the purpose of the SSC is made clear from the very beginning. If SSC employees can see the advantages of the changes for themselves, they will be sooner prepared to stand behind them.

organization to decide. It is clear that there are enough advantages to be had, but they will not mean the same thing for every organization. It will be interesting to see what the future has in store for the development of the SSC. Will companies cut back to the extent that they will not want to invest in a project that does not deliver any short-term profit? Or will the falling market compel companies to do just the opposite, hoping to bring down costs in the long run? According to some6, a crisis is the right time to invest. If that is true, we can expect to see the growth of SSCs explode in the coming months and years.

1 See report entitled “Finance shared services – Delivering the promise”, resulting from research conducted by KPMG LLP, 2008. 2 Strikwerda, Shared Service Centers, Van Gorcum, 2007. 3 Nieuwsbank, “KPMG: meerderheid bedrijven kiest voor standardsoftware”, inp/2000/01/0110R046.htm 4 For more information about process models for facilities management, see ‘Facility management moving toward ITIL’ in this edition of TOPdesk Magazine. 5 KPMG LLP, 2008. 6 Automation guide: “Crisis is de tijd voor strategische investeringen”, http://www. crisis%20is%20de%20tijd%20voor%20 strategische%20investeringen.aspx.

is not always the case. Moving a workstation is a simple example, but when an entire department relocates, you have to apply the concept on a much larger scale.” Renske continues, “Introducing one tool for multiple departments to harmonize these processes can be the solution. The various departments can operate independently of each other, but log their data using the same tool. Installing a new workstation, for example, can then be mapped out in a template in the software. By using one software program across multiple departments, you can also offer clients one all-purpose portal in which they can address their concerns regarding IT, facilities and HR. This can be set up as an SSC, but it does not necessarily have to be. The advantage,

though, is that well-structured mutual agreements between departments can be made and that processes are harmonized.”

Change or improvement?
The introduction of an SSC can be an answer to specific problems – such as high costs, inadequate transfer of knowledge or lack of transparency – within your current organizational structure. However, an SSC is sometimes viewed as a tool that will automatically lead to overall improvements, but that is not always the case. Implementing an SSC means a large-scale reorganization and, just as with any other organizational change, a number of things need to be considered for the project to be a success. Apart from standardization

and clearly defined processes, a customer-focused staff is important for an SSC. A report from KPMG indicates that less successful SSCs do not focus enough of their attention on the satisfaction of their clients – more than half of the companies surveyed did not conduct customer satisfaction research. They have too little insight into the quality of their services, which leaves them unprepared to make improvements. Another issue that needs to be considered is the potential for career development for employees of the SSC. This is an aspect to which many companies have not given sufficient consideration: four of the five companies surveyed by KPMG indicated that their SSC

The future
Whether or not an SSC should be set up is for the individual

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Facilities Management - Moving Towards ITIL
Working with predefined process flows is not a common practice for Facility Management. While ITIL process models seem to dominate the IT world, Facility Management does not seem to have its own process model. We are all familiar with standards such as ISO 9001, but these are standards or certifications and do not structure processes. This comes as no surprise: IT works according to process flows such as ITIL or ASL BiSL, while Facility working methods are more task-oriented. That gap is now closing, as Facility Management is working with ITIL more frequently. Facility and ITIL: can and do they match?

According to Jaap Bregman, newSolutions consultant and specialist in the area of facilities management, the last few years have seen a shift within facilities management: “Today’s facilities manager is less preoccupied with operational services and has become more of a director.”1 Facilities management can then no longer escape the reality of working with process flows. Despite this shift from an entirely operational focus to a more directional focus, facilities management processes have still not been fully developed. Bregman further writes that methods such as the Facility Excellence Model enable visibility of costs and other figures within facility services, but that the methods do not manage or structure these costs. They are also familiar with the structural registration of complaints, wishes, information and errors, but it usually ends with registration.

A marriage of convenience
Jurgen Koster, facilities management account manager within TOPdesk, notes that facilities management and IT are moving towards each other: “There are a number of new developments within facilities management. Firstly, suppliers of Facility Management Information Systems (FMIS) are moving increasingly towards IT service management. With this, they use (ITIL) terminology which was formerly only used by service management suppliers. Suppliers of IT service management software indicate a similar movement towards facility management.”2 When facilities management and IT cooperate even further, they can profit from each others strong points; facilities management can borrow process models and match them to their specific needs. Why would you want to re-invent the wheel when your

neighbour already has the answer?

Facilities and ITIL
Bregman has signalled a process model in ITIL that can support facilities management in professionalising even further: “Facilities management is not yet familiar with standardised operational or tactical processes for managing assets or processing information about services. ITIL can change this and lead the way to process oriented working.” A survey by Jurgen Koster has, however, shown that facilities managers are getting acquainted with ITIL at a very slow pace. Of the one hundred questioned managers, 47% did not use any process model whatsoever and only one in four was familiar with ITIL. Merely half of those who did know ITIL saw the usefulness of this process model. It seems a shame that ITIL is not better known as especially Asset management

Rudolf Kamphuis and Astrid Luijten, Eurest Services

(Configuration management in ITIL terms) and Incident management can be applied to facilities management processes with great success. Many organisations put a lot of time and money into describing their so-called unique processes - it seems in this case that ignorance is bliss. Koster furthermore says: “Compared to IT, where ITIL is the standard process description and working process-based has come a long way, facilities

management methods are much less developed. Nevertheless, this process oriented working method has definitely caught the attention of the managers.” Managers of facilities departments then seem to be interested in working with processes as they search for models they can implement themselves. But why does Koster’s survey tell a different story? According to him, the introduction of process oriented working and thinking is not as easy in the rest of the organisation.

Employees are used to focussing on the job at hand and not in delegating. Koster: “You also have to deal with a thing called product-object oriented working. Being customer oriented is not something that comes naturally to facilities; they often don’t realise that they are providing a service to customers and they do not feel that their work influences the primary process, the well-being of employees or even operating results. Considering your own colleagues

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as customers is a first step towards process oriented working.”

Jaap Bregman notes the inevitability for facilities management of adjusting their task oriented working methods. Organizations are becoming increasingly complex and dynamic which requires more flexibility in facilities support. According

to Bregman this does not call for unquestioningly copying the structure of an IT department: “A facilities manager can continue to be a doer and be service minded, but needs to register and plan in order to use the information coming from within the organisation. He does not – though many might think it – have to choose between being service and process minded: he

can easily do both.” Jurgen Koster thinks that facilities support organizations will have increasing impact on IT organizations, which enables both to work with the same software. This software must be recognizable and usable for both parties: “That requires a lot from the use of terminology and package design.” >

Taking an Example from Eurest Services
> Eurest Services, part of the Compass Group PLC, is a good example of a facility department that works process-based. In The Netherlands, over 4,500 employees of the Compass Group provide food and facilities for almost 1,000 companies, hospitals, restaurants, schools and (governmental) organizations. In the Nijmegen based FiftyTwoDegrees building, Eurest Services uses the TOPdesk Incident management module and Reservations to take care of catering and cleaning, to rent out meeting rooms and deal with other facility related jobs.
Astrid Luijten, office services manager at Eurest Services: “Prior to using Incident management, our operating procedure was ad hoc: service delivery requests were on demand or via email. Now we have a structured organization and know what’s going on around us. Our incident management is structured as follows: the incidents are categorized according to service line, for example, office services, cleaning or catering. Per service line there are five to ten subcategories. Incidents coming in under ‘cleaning’ could be for example: ‘the roller towel is empty’. We also get incidents about the temperature in rooms. When our office space tenants in the FiftyTwoDegrees building call in an incident, our employees work according to the following procedures: firstly, they register the incident in TOPdesk. It then shows up as a first line incident that they might be able to solve themselves. If it requires specialist knowledge, they can put it through as a second line incident to ‘hard services’. These are all incidents that fall outside the cleaning, catering and office categories – or as I explain it: everything that needs the aid of a screwdriver. We have five operators who pass on incidents to managers of, for example, the cleaners, who try to solve the incident or pass it on to others. Rudolf Kamphuis, national manager office services, tells us: “By following these processes our work has a system. Everything is very logical, the service lines are simple and all is structured. Working according to processes prevents us running around like headless chickens. There are two main advantages: it makes us more professional and our system is more transparent. The service level is much higher and callers always receive feedback on the outcome of their incident. From the outside this improves our availability and professionalism towards the callers. Working with these processes is completely logical to me: facility management is nothing more than process management. It also isn’t complicated as there is a requested service and this service is then delivered. Processes can furthermore help make divisions and proactive thinking. Astrid Luijten: “By running monthly reports, I know what to expect in the coming months. When a cold month is due, I can respond with climate control. The reports tell me the highlights: should I provide extra service? Make extra toilet rounds? The Reservations management module then shows me what is possible and helps me advise our clients when they plan a meeting. The bottom line is that working in processes helps me anticipate.”

IT characteristics versus FM:
G. de Bruijn (Humanagement) and M. Cloudt (Inter Access)

Planner Technician Specialist Procedural (“ITIL”) and rigid Focussed on problem analysis Avoids risks Self-willed / closed

Doer People minded Generalist Ad hoc and flexible Focussed on solutions Lacks an overview Inefficient

1 J. Bregman, “ITIL: best practice voor ondersteundende dienstverlenende beheerprocessen. Effectieve procesmethodiek voor facilitaire organisaties,”in: Facility Management Magazine September 2007. 2 J. Koster, TOPdesk Facility Management, productontwikkeling voor TOPdesk 2006.

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tips + tricks
Fill in fields quickly with F9
Using the TAB key to jump to the next field is a wellknown trick amongst most users. A similar, but less well-known trick is to use the F9 key to jump to the next empty field. This can speed up the process of filling out new cards even more. It works in TOPdesk 4 as well as the TOPdesk 3 Windows client.

Reserving services
The TOPdesk 4.1 SP 1 makes it possible to order additional services without having to link them to reserved facilities. Therefore, it is also possible to order additional services for locations that cannot be reserved. This is useful when, for example, an employee is holding a meeting in his or her own office, but wants to order catering services for the meeting. Follow these steps to reserve an additional service: • Make a reservation or reservation request (not in the planner). • Save the reservation. • Immediately open the Additional services tab without linking an object or location. • Use the Link Wizard to link the desired additional service. • Open the linked reserved service card and select the location for which you would like the service to be delivered.

New functionalities in version 4.2
Here is a sneak preview of just a few of the functionalities that will be included in TOPdesk version 4.2. You can look forward to: • A new module: Long-term Planning • An ‘On hold’ option for Incidents through Contract management and SLM module • Optional ‘Urgency’ and 'Priority' fields on the Incident card • A link between the ‘Status’ field and ‘Completed’ and ‘Closed’ on the Incident card • An image functionality you can use to upload and manage images for, among others, the Stock and Order Management module in the Self Service Desk.

N.B. It will be possible in TOPdesk 4.2 to order a service directly from the Reservations Management start page without having to first create a reservation.

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Copyright © 2009 TOPdesk UK Limited. Although this magazine has been produced with the utmost care and attention, the writers cannot be held responsible in any way for any damages that may occur due to errors and / or deficiencies in this publication.