The Journey to Service Integration

In my last blog post I discussed how to manage service providers while running IT as a service broker. I mentioned that most companies go for a hybrid service integration model maintaining integration leadership and skills. I also pointed out this is a journey and not an easy one.

Starting the cultural change

The culture and working relationships in the IT organization have to change. Indeed, the teams have to move from a technology to a service thinking. That sounds easy, but it is not. As I described a month ago, many aspects have to change and this will take time. So it is good to start it straight away. Get your IT teams to start thinking about the end-users as customers, no longer as nuisance. Put a satisfaction survey in place and measure your teams on it. You may have to help them understand users’ frustrations by brokering meetings between end-users and developers, or end-users and the support team. Such approach may initiate change and take the teams on the journey.

Implement communication

Complement the above with regular communications helping the team to understand why you’re doing this. A variety of communication means should be used. They may include posters, short videos, focused presentations with questions & answers. The importance is to initiate the dialogue and have the teams noticing something is changing.

Future mode of operations

In parallel with this activity, assemble a small team to think through the future operating model. You should have representation of the users in that team. You may want to use the IT4IT reference architecture as a basis to think through all aspects of how IT operates. The IT4IT Reference Architecture provides prescriptive, holistic guidance for the implementation of IT management capabilities for today’s digital enterprise and delivers:

  • Provides prescriptive guidance on the specification of and interaction with a consistent service model backbone (common data model/context)
  • Supports real world use cases driven by the Digital Economy (e.g. Cloud-sourcing, Agile, DevOps and service brokering)
  • Embraces and complements existing process frameworks and methodologies, (e.g. ITIL®, CoBIT®, SAFe and TOGAF®) by taking a data-focused implementation model perspective, essentially specifying an information model across the entire value chain

Design the operating model that addresses the needs of your users and is agile and flexible enough to adapt to the evolution of your business. Doing this well is really critical. It gives you a vision of how the future will look like. Start at a high level and dig deeper as you move forward. The picture here under identifies the key processes and how they align with IT4IT. Notice that I have not spoken about which functions are performed within the enterprise and which ones are outsourced. Frankly at this point in time that does not matter. It will however when we get to the actual implementation so it is good the team starts thinking about that. However building the operating model should not be affected by what is performed in-house versus outsourced as things may evolve over time and different services may be addressed differently. Indeed, critical differentiation services may be treated differently from
mainstream support ones.


Set Standards

To ensure smooth operations at the lowest possible cost, standardizing processes and tools is of the essence. So, take the time to research your alternatives properly and make conscious decisions as which tools you will use for what process. Also have a team properly defining the process and potentially design them in a tool such as ServiceNow. Tooling standardization should also include areas such as API management as these will influence the effort required to integrate with suppliers. Lastly, standardizing your measurement tools and your dashboards while identifying how you will measure the improvements of your IT department enables an objective and transparent management of the journey.

Set-up the Governance

We now have a future mode of operation, we have a set of well-defined business processes and we have agreed on a number of standards. It’s time to start the transformation. However, one last element remains to be done and that is the implementation of the governance. Set-up a small team, representing both business and IT, with appropriate decision power to supervise the implementation of the journey. This team will be critical to ensure your efforts are recognized and accepted by the wider organization, so choose the members wisely and make sure they have a dedication to make the journey a success. Establish a regular meeting cadence and ensure they have access to the dashboards so they can monitor progress. It’s important all this is done with full transparency.

And now, where do we start?

You can actually start in many places in the above diagram. However there are two places I prefer and those are “Architecture & Standards Management” and “Service Portfolio Management”. Standards have already been defined, they now need to be enforced. We know however things evolve so our list of standards may grow or change in function of new requirements or the arrival of new technologies. In parallel with that, developing an architecture (Business, Functional, Technical and Implementation) to identify where new services fit in the way the company is operating is extremely useful and will give us lasting benefits by highlighting duplication, gaps, overlaps etc.

Many IT departments are swamped by requests from the business and, because they are unable to deliver in time, are seen as being slow and unresponsive. This results in the business going past them straight to suppliers without thinking integration, security and management. Having a proper service portfolio management function, defining what are important requests and prioritizing those, is critical to run IT as a business. Simply asking the business teams to define the benefit of a new function and prioritizing accordingly is a revolution in many companies. However such approach is critical to enable IT to really add value and become a true partner of the business in an ever more digital world.

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