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May 25, 2005

Gartner Symposium Recap: How To Solve Pressing CIO Problems

Boris By Boris Pevzner

Now that the Gartner Symposium is over and I had some time to reflect (read: enjoyed a few lengthy plane rides across the country), it’s time to ask: What was the main takeaway from the show?

Here is how I would summarize the dominant line of reasoning that was threaded through the entire event:

  • CIOs have top-priority problems (they always have, of course): insufficient Business / IT alignment, ineffective communication within IT and between IT and the Business, compliance is hard to achieve, “I've cut as much as I can cut, and now I am asked to cut some more... now what?," etc.
  • If you think about these problems systematically, you will realize that they all have a common root cause: complexity.
  • Perhaps if you could “fix” complexity, you would help to address CIO’s issues?  The Gartner folks think so.
  • So how do you address complexity in a practical, incremental, non-disruptive? – through the “IT Productization” transformation.
  • And what is the current best-practices way to help implement IT Productization? – it’s service delivery management based on an actionable Service Catalog.

In one form or another, this message came through loud and clear in many Symposium talks, some of which I had a chance to summarize in this blog.  Based upon the audience’s reaction at the conference sessions and on the trade show floor, it appears to have resonated quite well.

One closing thought.  To paraphrase the eminently quotable Steve Mills (IBM’s software chief, who gave a keynote at the conference), “Some firms use labor to solve complexity” – and they will invariably be the ones at a competitive disadvantage.  It’s those that “solve complexity via technology” (such as the service catalog) that will be the ones to carry the day.

Posted on May 25, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 18, 2005

Productizing Change

Boris By Boris Pevzner

There has been a lot of talk at the Gartner Symposium about “Productizing IT,” but most of it focused on defining the service catalog, enabling business users to request services from it using “business speak,” translating them into “IT speak,” provisioning them in a workflow-driven repeatable way, and measuring the resulting improvements IT delivery performance.  Countless case studies have been presented to illustrate how this results in faster, more cost-effective, higher-quality IT delivery environment.

However, as we all know, 80% of what a typical IT operations shop does is managing changes to running services rather than implementing new ones.  So if we only figure out how to “productize” requests for new services, all we’ve addressed is 20% of the overall service delivery problem.

This is exactly the issue that Kris Britten and Jim Duggan addressed in their Gartner Symposium talk today “Change Management Battles Complexity.”  Kris pointed out that, in addition to establishing and maturing change management processes, IT organizations should start “productizing” changes, starting with the most common change requests that can be fulfilled in a repeatable, workflow-driven, cost effective way.

Responding to a question on whether it is possible to productize certain types of changes just like we productize IT services themselves, Kris said: “Absolutely yes.  We see many of our clients today crafting service catalogs that, in addition to service descriptions and service levels, contain processes and definitions for productized IMACs and productized self-service requests (such as password resets).”

The trick to implementing a “productized change” framework? – a rich service catalog, which provides a common taxonomy across all services delivered by the IT organization, encourages consistency in the definition of change management, integrates with the IT process framework and the underlying Configuration Management Database (CMDB), and becomes an essential part of the overall IT request governance framework.

The result? – “productizing” change will enable IT organizations to make a step-function improvement in the speed, quality, and efficiency of managing change – which is critically important, as that’s where the bulk of the IT operations dollars are currently spent.

Bottom line: Having helped a number of large IT organizations to “productize change” around an actionable service catalog, and having seen the compelling business benefits that resulted from this transformation, I can certainly testify that this is well worth the effort!

Posted on May 18, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 17, 2005

The Key to Effective IT Process Improvement

Boris By Boris Pevzner

You can often overhear us IT folks complaining about shortages:  a shortage of resources to do a critical project, a shortage of skills resulting in the pressure to outsource, a shortage of time to complete an infrastructure rollout on schedule.  One thing you will never hear an IT person complain about is the shortage of IT standards.

This is particularly true in the area of IT process improvement, where standards proliferation has been particularly notorious: that is where we've got Six Sigma, ITIL, CoBIT, BS 15000, CMMI, Baldrige, EFQM, ISO 9000, Scorecards, and an assortment of other process improvement frameworks.

Simon Mingay, a Gartner Research VP, did a great job positioning all these different frameworks in his presentation at the Gartner show today: some of these are general business frameworks, while others are more IT-specific; some take a more “holistic” view while others are more akin to “point-solution” guidelines.  The three clear “winners” in the IT process improvement context in the last two years have been ITIL (in the service management domain), CoBIT (in the compliance domain), and CMMI (in the outsourcing domain), although Six Sigma is now starting to gain steam in the IT context.

Simon made two very important points in his presentation.  The first point was that, while implementing a performance improvement framework could well be a worthy goal, IT organizations should not let it become a religion.  For example, while “ITIL compliance” could be the mantra du jour at your shop, the real reason we are implementing ITIL is to create a more agile, more efficient, and more business-focused IT organization.

Simon’s other key point concerned the importance of a clearly defined service catalog in IT performance improvement initiatives.  “Fundamentally, if you don’t define what it is that you are supposed to be doing, it’s very difficult to have a view of how it is improving,” Simon remarked. “Which is why we encourage IT service catalog definition as the very first step of any ITIL implementation.  It’s an absolutely critical first step, and it’s fundamental to any IT performance improvement initiative.”

Posted on May 17, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 17, 2005

IT Service Delivery Models

Boris By Boris Pevzner

I love models and frameworks.  They give context to individual activities and pieces of data, let us see the forest behind the trees, help us to achieve better understanding, spark creativity, and ultimately drive us to “make things better.”  (Besides, as a trained physicist, I find models to be intellectually satisfying, pure and simple!)

Which is why I was looking forward to the talk by Colleen Young at the Gartner Symposium today.  Colleen is Gartner’s Distinguished Analyst and is the driving force behind the ISCo (Internal Service Company) model.  But even more importantly, she is a remarkably clear and structured thinker and communicator on the subject of IT service delivery.

Coleen’s presentation didn’t disappoint.  She took the audience through what she called “the model muddle” of IT service delivery and constructed a neat “model stack” consisting of the IT Business Model, Operating Model, Service Delivery Model, and Organizational Architecture.  Here is a quick synopsis.

  • The IT Business Model is determined by how the business views the value of IT.  This calls for the IT organization to adopt one of the three dominant IT business models: utility-oriented (“IT supports the business”), enablement-oriented (“IT enables the business”), or transformation-oriented (“IT drives the company”).  None of these are “better” or “worse” than others; they merely reflect the expectations of the business from its IT organization.  Of course, these expectations are not static; in fact, according to Colleen’s formidable sampling of large IT shops, most businesses are now in the process of migrating from the “utility view” to the “enabling view.”
  • The next layer of the “model cake” is the IT Operating Model.  From the operational point of view, an IT shop can be centralized (“one CIO”), decentralized (“multiple independent CIOs, one for each business unit), or hybrid (“a federated approach, where multiple business unit-aligned IT organizations are managed in a coordinated way, usually with some shared functions”).  Which IT Operating Model is right for you? – again, the answer depends on the business culture, and whether the accountability pattern is more heavily weighted toward the enterprise as a whole or the individual business units that comprise it.
  • The third model dimension is the IT Service Delivery Model, which reflects how the IT organization chooses to address its service delivery functions.  It could be siloed, process-based, organized around shared services, “Internal Service Company” (ISCo), or profit-based.  The goal here is to pick the model that is most efficient and best aligned with the business objectives.
  • Finally, at the very bottom level of the “model stack” is the actual Organizational Architecture, which includes IT organizational structure, sourcing decisions, process automation, governance, and human capital management.  These are essentially the “implementation details” that emerge almost organically from the more deliberate decisions around the models described above.

Depending on where you are in the “model stack,” the recipe for driving improvement is different.  In most cases, however, it includes the drive to increased standardization, clearer definition of services and development of an enterprise IT service catalog, and active process improvement initiatives.

Posted on May 17, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 16, 2005

IBM perspective: “A Better Way to Manage the Business of IT”

Boris By Boris Pevzner

IBM today announced an IT Service Management solution stack, which consists of several enhanced and better integrated Tivoli systems management product modules, with a shared federated CMDB layer on top of that, and an ITIL-aligned consulting and integration service offering topping off the stack.

They positioned it as an offering to help IT organizations along their journey from Resource Management to Systems Management to Service Management.  “Making ITIL Actionable” is one of the taglines.

An interesting customer testimonial they presented was one from Patty Medhurst of Royal Bank of Canada.  Patty described how fulfillment of IT requests at her shop used to involve multiple uncoordinated manual tasks across dozens of disconnected systems.  She remarked that the first step to ITIL was documenting the service catalog, which she called a “gruesome but necessary” process.  But once the service catalog is in place, implementing automation around the services in it is the most efficient way to delivering these services faster/better/cheaper.

Posted on May 16, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 16, 2005

Gartner Keynote – Conquering Complexity

Boris By Boris Pevzner

They really hit the nail on the head this morning: IT productization is the key to conquering complexity.

To quote Colleen Young, Gartner’s Distinguished Analyst and a keynote speaker: “IT organizations must realize that they are in the manufacturing business.  But instead of manufacturing goods, they are manufacturing services.  And manufacturing is based on process.  Thus IT needs to make a transformation from the technology view to the process view.”  The key to building this, Coleen continued, is the drive to standardization: having a clearly defined set of IT products that strike a balance between user needs and IT’s capabilities to satisfy these needs in a predictable, repeatable, cost-effective way.

Collen et al also discussed the relationship between complexity and business value: increased complexity may increase or decrease business value.  Therefore, a useful question to ask is this: “Does the increase in business value resulting from introducing a new IT product exceed the complexity resulting from this product introduction?"  This provides a useful overall decision framework for enterprise IT service catalog design!

(For another take on the Gartner Symposium keynote, check out Tim Jarrett's blog.)

Posted on May 16, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 13, 2005

Conquering Complexity with Gartner

Boris By Boris Pevzner

Next week, I'll be blogging *live* from the Gartner Symposium/ITexpo in San Francisco. The theme of the event is Conquering Complexity, a topic near and dear to every CIO's heart. Why? - because complexity is costly. Very costly. In a widely publicized quote, one analysts estimated that "This year alone complexity will cost firms worldwide $750B"!

So if complexity is the desease, what's the cure? - Read this blog over the next few days to find out.

Posted on May 13, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 6, 2005

The Henry Ford of IT

Boris By Boris Pevzner

I was giving a talk to a roomful of Chicago area IT executives the other day.  As the conversation unfolded during the Q&A, I remarked that, paradoxically, while most of the large IT organizations have by now embraced IT Service Management, few have formally defined the very IT services they are delivering to their internal users.  This is like a manufacturing organization implementing an MRP system without defining Bills Of Materials for the products being manufactured.  Without a clearly defined BOM, is there any chance the product will be manufactured on schedule? to specifications? cost-effectively? – I don’t think so.

Similarly, how can you “manage” (deliver, support, plan for) IT services before formally defining what these services are?  This seems like an obvious point, and yet most of the folks implementing ITIL and other service management frameworks still do not have a service catalog in place!

I explained to the audience how we have been working with large Global 1000 organizations to help them productize their IT offerings, define them in a service catalog, and deliver them as a repeatable, cost-effective, workflow-driven “IT Factory.”  I highlighted the benefits and the significant business impact of making this transformation.  I showed some recent case studies of the “IT Factories” we helped to build.  I saw the eyes opening wide, heads nodding, and understanding setting in.

Then an IT executive from a large financial services conglomerate made a comment that made everyone smile.

“Aha,” he said.  “So you are the Henry Ford of IT.”

“Thank you,” I said. “I certainly appreciate the complement!”

Posted on May 6, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 2, 2005

Off to Chicago!

Boris By Boris Pevzner

It’s time to take the show on the road – again!  This time, I am off to Chicago, speaking at the CAMP IT Expo there on Thursday May 5.  The topic is "Service Catalog: The Key to Effective ITIL Implementations."  I plan to highlight some real-world examples of companies who were able to use the “IT produtization” concepts to shorten ITIL implementation cycles, achieve alignment between business and IT and dramatically increase the value of ITIL implementations.

If you are in the Chicago area next week, stop by to say hello.  (You can register for free at the CAMP IT web site.)  Otherwise, I will post some excerpts here when I get back!

Posted on May 2, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack