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SMAXTEMBER: How three SMAX app challengers reached their goals and had fun along the way

by   in IT Operations Cloud

It’s that special time of the year, right now in September, when you can immerse yourself in the cutting-edge world of SMAX for an entire month of fun and learning. One of our favorite activities at SMAXTEMBER is the SMAX Studio app challenge. Everyone can take part in this challenge and experience how easy configuring an app in the low-code/no-code SMAX Studio can be.

We sat down with three freshly minted SMAX app challengers—Olivia Sultanov and Kenny Heidel, product marketing managers at OpenText, and Boglarka Ronai, SaaS operations PMO at OpenText—to discuss their experience configuring a SMAX app. We asked: Is designing a SMAX app as easy as they say it is? What advice do you have for aspiring app challengers? And what does service management mean to you now? Did we mention that our challengers had no prior SMAX experience?

What inspired you to take part in the app challenge?

Kenny: I was really interested in learning how SMAX works. I understood it to be a service desk tool, but I didn’t have a complete understanding of its capabilities. The app challenge was a great opportunity to get a closer look at our solution and learn more about it.

Olivia: Actually, Kenny and I just finished an ITIL foundations course. I saw the app challenge as a way to learn more about service management.

Boglarka: One of the main motivations for me was to improve my SMAX knowledge. As part of my job, I use SMAX to generate KPI reports and send customers notifications regarding important updates or product news. I’m also relatively new to the company, so I wanted to meet people and build new relationships. I wanted to challenge myself too, because I’m not a technical person. Could I develop a SMAX Studio app? I was very curious.

“I’m not a technical person. Could I develop a SMAX Studio app? I was very curious.”

Challengers prepared for the app challenge by watching videos on the SMAXTEMBER portal, following step-by-step guides on the SMAX practitioner portal, and asking product experts for guidance as needed. Kenny and Olivia decided to co-design an app. Boglarka wanted to challenge herself by going solo.

Sign up for the SMAX app challenge on the SMAXTEMBER portal. Training videos are available to help you. 

Our challengers chose HR-related app themes for delivering fun, easy employee benefits. Their apps are great examples of how enterprise service management (ESM) can be put into practice.

What app are you building?

Olivia: We were summer dreaming about a summer lunch. How awesome would it be to treat ourselves to a delicious meal from our favorite restaurants, paid for by the company? All we had to do was fill out a simple request form, get our manager’s approval, and stay within our budget.

Kenny: We called it the summer-lunch app. Our goal was to build a standard, efficient, and repeatable process for ordering lunch. We wanted to get our favorite meal at work with a few clicks of a button.

Boglarka: I’m building a well-being app. Employees can submit requests for gym memberships, yoga/pilates classes, mindfulness sessions, and even a day at the spa. When their requests are approved, they get an automatic email notification. I am passionate about wellness, and I hope that this app will make it easier for employees to take care of themselves.

A good app starts with good design. What was the design process you followed?

Olivia: We began by using PowerPoint to define user stories and think through the processes involved in those stories. In our employee user story—we called it “Dina is hungry”—an employee named Dina fills out a form on the service portal about what she wants to eat, what she can’t eat (dietary restrictions), and where she wants to pick up her food. The app lets her know when the order is ready—then she can enjoy her meal and get back to work! Additionally, we have a manager user story where managers can set budget limits, approve lunch requests, and submit expenses.

Boglarka: To begin, I sketched out on paper a high-level outline of what I wanted the app to do. I started defining what the user form would look like and the types of information users would need to enter on the form. I also thought about the flow of the app and how service requests, changes, and cancellations would be handled. I imagined various scenarios that might happen in a real-life. After that, I got straight into configuring the app in SMAX Studio.

Visualize your app flow in SMAX Studio.

Is designing a SMAX studio app as easy as they say it is?

Boglarka: You don’t need to be a techie to create your app. You don’t need any programming skills either. You just need to know how the different Studio elements (fields, forms, and business rules) work together. As you start working, SMAX Studio gets easier. You don’t have to worry about mistakes because you can always roll back your configurations. It’s a flexible tool.

Kenny: We spent some time figuring out how to set up a form—that’s what users interact with on the service portal. Looking back, it’s not difficult to do. We just needed to better understand the relationships in Studio, almost thinking about them like a relational database. Once we activated the app and visualized what users would see and enter, it started to click. Very quickly, we reached that place of confidence where we were not afraid of building and breaking things.  

Create user-defined, process-based apps without writing any code in SMAX Studio. 

What advice do you have for new app challengers?

Oliva: Know your business process. Come into the app challenge with good design.

Kenny: I second that. Be very clear about what you want your app to do. It’s all about understanding your business process and how the steps in your process are linked.  

Boglarka: I also want to add that SMAX Studio comes with wonderful features like automatic approvals, automatic email notification, data validation, business rules, and KPI reports. You may run out of time if you want to incorporate all these robust features. But if you have a good design, you can just improve your app later. You don't need to rebuild it.

Finally, choose an app theme that you care about. I was really motivated by the well-being theme. I thought, “OK, I really want to see my well-being app come to life now.”

After going through the SMAX app challenge, what does service management mean to you now?

Boglarka: Services are everywhere in our modern life. In the workplace, service management helps employees navigate complex or unfamiliar processes to get the services they need. Service management is also about adapting to newer technologies and ways of working, which is happening with generative AI right now.

 “Ultimately, service management is about delivering meaningful services that make users happy.”

Kenny: Service management is about empowering employees. It makes work life better by taking away service hassles. We tried to bring all this to life with our fun summer-lunch app.

Olivia: Totally. Our summer-lunch app shows that services for employees can be fast, easy, and hassle free. And you can have some fun along the way too. Because happy employees give way to happy customers, as numerous research studies have shown. On another level, service management helps us make sense of the information that’s all around us, by making that information more accessible.

 “I guess I go back to this—service management gives me the answers I need to work.”

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