July 2011 Archives

At a vendor-sponsored event earlier this year, I spent some time with IT and business managers that had participated in a simulation workshop. The object was to help managers and operation staffs become familiar with a private Cloud operating environment, ITIL v3 best practices and a new set of integrated management solutions. It was an interesting and informative experience in and of itself. Reviewing the lessons learned during the workshop, it occurred to me that there were some too often overlooked insights that apply to organizations and enterprises pursuing a BSM operational environment.   

In any simulations involving multiple different groups, one of more effective lessons learned is about gaining new perspectives. This workshop took place in a room-sized environment that meant all of the participants could witness how different groups in the "company" were affected by different events, as well as where each group focused their attentions. In this case, IT operations staff were 'shoulder-to-shoulder' with service desk staff, business and IT managers. Unlike the 'real world', the efforts, interaction, inefficiencies and the impact of decisions made by each group were visible to all parties very quickly. When a newly introduced service failed, the disruption was compounded by the fact that no one had told the Service Desk that the new service existed. Both business and IT management knew about the new service, and IT operations implemented it. But no one thought to notify the Service Desk. The importance of a communications process was immediately apparent.


Each round brought new insight into the interdependencies, interactions and need for well-defined processes to make sure things were done that needed to be done and that communications between the group was open, effective and complete. Business managers gain insight into just what IT does along with a better understanding of their fundamental value and contribution to business performance. IT staff gain an understanding of how their business counterparts' focus on revenue, cost and profitability is central to the operation and success of the business.


It becomes clear that realizing the potential to positively impact business performance requires IT managers to understand and focus on business priorities, in order to make the right decisions for the business. Both functions need a better understanding and appreciation of their colleagues' perspectives and the metrics by which their colleagues are measured if they are to successfully work together to maximize business performance.


A major tenant of BSM it facilitate and accelerate a shift in IT focus from simply providing access to and maintaining the infrastructure (essentially 'fixing things when they break and managing to operational performance goals)' to an environment where IT promotes and orchestrates the application of the infrastructure in support of business (whatever the business is - education, retail, government, etc.) goals. The shift is from monitoring to assure things are up and running to creatively managing and applying IT infrastructure to assure that business goals are met.


If IT is to focus solving the problems and delivering services that advance and facilitate business success they must understand the metrics for success. They have to know what it takes for their business user/client to be successful - then focus on providing the IT and technology services that contribute to that success. 

Another lesson learned, that applies to BSM, is the need for well-defined processes. Operational efficiency and effectiveness  result from  following and taking action based on well-defined processes and having defined and documented those processes  a head of time makes all the difference when operating under pressure. However, don't let consistency become a trap - review and update to eliminate what's not needed. During one session, a manual process introduced during an earlier round - almost sunk the revenue stream because it interfered with a newly defined automated process. Review, evaluate, communicate - all applicable in implementing any BSM program.


In short, if BSM is to pay off, it is important that IT and business works as teams. Today, emerging technologies in IT are more likely to penetrate the consumer space before they hit the enterprise (think iPads, Smart phones, etc.)  As this consumerization of IT continues, business staff will demand more from IT operations. IT needs to be pro-active in identifying where and how they can contribute to business success. In commercial enterprises, this requires being knowledgeable about how, when, why of how revenue (or the major success metric) is earned. Be and act as a part of a team that includes both business and IT personal. Know and understand the relationship, interaction and interdependencies between IT and business operations, that is the path to successful Business Service Management.


In her recent post Getting Ready for Agile 2011, Anne Mullaney gave an outline of my forthcoming sessions at the conference. Specifically, she highlighted the emergence of new forms of Agility:

"Super-Fresh Code" is a term Israel coined (an extension of the "Super-Fresh Web" concept) to describe code that results from seizing upon the opportunities opened by combining recent advances in Agile software methods, cloud computing, mobile applications, and social networking. With the right mix, a company can outgun, outclass and outmaneuver its competition through real-time requirements management and superior business designs. Essentially, super-fresh code becomes the source of competitive advantage. This is a workshop that will make you think about Agile in ways you never have before.

Viewed from this perspective, devops becomes an integral part of Agile methods. One starts an enterprise level Agile roll-out in order to, well, gain Agility. The metaphorical wall between dev and IT ops puts a damper on end-to-end agility. Hence, applying Agile principles to the cusp between dev and ops becomes an essential part of the Agile initiative. In fact, Cutter recommends to its clients to integrate the two all the way down to the backlog stories.

Appropriately enough for the anniversary year of the Agile Manifesto, my strong conviction indeed is that we are just about witnessing Agile going beyond being "just" a software method. Markets are becoming hyper-segmented. There is no way to reach tiny, granular market segments economically without sophisticated software. Moreover, markets are becoming ultra-fluid. It takes a high degree of software-based business agility to penetrate market segments that form and collapse at the speed with which social networking groups emerge (and disappear). Hence, software is becoming a bigger and bigger part of just about any business -- avionics, financial services, healthcare, retail, transportation, telco, and so on. In fact, in many engagements Cutter consultants carry out, the software is the company. Unless Agile methods are used strategically, the ability of a company to generate value for its customers and capture profit for itself might be in jeopardy: the company simply cannot adapt fast enough when dev and IT ops operate as two silos.

I can't wait to discuss these topics with you and other Agile 2011 participants in just about two weeks!

Rapid, breathtaking technology advances are forcing radical changes not only in how IT organizations function, but also in terms of their culture, leadership, and even careers. Combined with business, social and global trends, as well as technology investing (spending), IT organizations must accelerate their organizational change plans in order to survive and thrive. They must assess and plan for complete transformation - strategy, structure, people, processes, and tools.

Are we preparing our IT professionals to plan for and make these changes? Are we helping them position themselves and their organizations for success in this dynamically evolving world?

This Cutter Consortium article assess and addresses the impacting wave of the rapidly changing IT and business trends on traditional IT careers, positions, and skill sets.

This wake-up call is best described by a quote from four-star US General (Ret.) Eric Shineski: "If you don't like change, you'll like irrelevance even less."

This direct and powerful call to action for the BSM Review audience focuses on: 

  • The urgent and undeniable need for IT professionals to examine their skill sets today against those required tomorrow;
  • The significance of industry and business changes as they radically impact IT organizations, cultures, professionals, and careers over the next five years; and game-changing developments, including cloud computing (hosted services and software solutions), the virtual desktop, mobile computing, IT sourcing, and remote / virtual workers.
"As IT leaders, we must coach our IT professionals out of and beyond their comfort zone, raise the bar on their expected ingenuity and vision to meet future challenges, and establish a sense of urgency in them. We must help them reevaluate and retool themselves for the limitless opportunities and possibilities in front of them to deliver business value, competitive advantage, and customer loyalty." 

A free download registration page is available for you to receive a complimentary copy of my article entitled the IT's Change Imperative in PDF format.

It's located here: http://www.cutter.com/offers/changeimperative.html.

Embrace the change.


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