By Gene Likins
Focus on outcomes, not technology
As the New Year approaches, I find myself thinking about some of the lessons learned from 2014. Of course, IT executives are perennially interested in lowering costs, increasing security and control, and achieving superior service delivery—and 2014 was no exception. However, the emergence of public clouds has given “rogue IT” new life and forced IT organizations to think about how to compete. As a result, IT organizations are revisiting a concept that has been around for several years – Information Technology as a Service (ITaaS) to drive broad, deep IT transformation within their companies.
Urgency is a critical ingredient to change and transformation. Best practices almost always point to executive sponsorship, planning ahead, setting realistic expectations and getting a firm grasp of current state. But when IT transformations fail or stall, what are some common culprits? Here are three to avoid if ITaaS is on your radar for 2015:
1. Resist the temptation to lead with organizational changes. When we see the potential advantages of ITaaS, many organizations want to move very quickly. Demands for speed and efficiency are driving near-universal experimentation with IT operating models and organizational designs. There are plenty of theoretical, future-state organizational models available from the various research companies.
However, proceed with caution. The CEB published a study around a new model for IT service delivery, which reported that:
- Nine out of 10 CIOs have recently changed their model or structure or have plans to do so
- The changes affect all IT sub-functions, with more than 70 percent of EA, infrastructure, security, and PMO groups undergoing or recently completing a redesign
Source: CEB CIO Executive Board: The New Model for IT Service Delivery
That’s why it’s critical to take the time to build a framework around service definitions and establish an operating model for how services will be delivered. For example:
- How will processes change and how will the operations look on “day two”?
- Are you embracing a new technology and/or solution only to attempt to retrofit it into your current operational model?
Once you have developed a solid plan for these issues, the organizational structure and the detailed titles, roles, and skill sets will be quite obvious.
2. Reduce friction between service management and infrastructure. More and more frequently we’re seeing a lack of coordination in this regard. For example, does this sound familiar?
The infrastructure group develops a service and publishes it into the service catalogue. The service management team reviews it and determines it doesn’t meet the criteria of a service. Perhaps it’s not customer facing enough. Perhaps it’s not a robust enough service. Either way, it represents wasted time and frustration for both groups.
It’s important to understand what services are going to be offered and what resources are available to support them—and to ensure that all the parties are aligned in support of the service catalog. Service management and infrastructure are both a part of IT, it helps if there is greater communication and collaboration between the two functions.
3. Aggressively market and communicate IT success. As IT takes a larger responsibility for high-level business outcomes, it’s more important than ever to build a formal IT marketing and communication plan with customized messages to sell BUs and other users on your services.
Alex Salicrup, VMware Transformation Architect, noted in his recent blog on IT Marketing that, “it’s very important that IT staff understand a unified vision/message. They should become active ambassadors of the IT brand and the services the team provides.”
The vision must be both ambitious and “strategically feasible.” Don’t be afraid to act like marketers with videos, go-live parties, prizes for focus groups, etc. It’s better to err on the side of being a little “corny” and gaining awareness rather than quietly being unnoticed.
Stay on the leading edge of ITaaS
As the concept of IT transformation moves beyond the “early adopter” stage and gains traction with a wider cross-section of companies, these red flags and best practices will continue to change and evolve. Stay tuned to this blog to find out what we identify as the year unfolds.
For more insight on the subject right now, refer to these posts:
- Jose Alamo: How to Avoid 5 Common Mistakes When Implementing an SDDC Solution
- Alex Salicrup: Managing Your Brand: Communications and Marketing for Today’s IT
- Reg Lo: ITaaS: Transofrming How We Manage IT
Gene Likins is the Americas Director for VMware’s Accelerate Advisory Services