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Tag Archives: IT strategy

IT’s Case for Service Catalogs: Why do you need one?

by Les Viszlai

I’m surprised by how often I come across IT organizations that still aren’t fully persuaded of the value of using service catalogs. There is a lot of conversation around the value to the Business but I would like to jump in and outline the advantages of service catalogs from an IT Organization’s perspective.

First and foremost, service catalogs defend IT spending and budgets.

Without a service catalog, IT owns the generic technology line items that keep other parts of the business running. It’s not unusual for the software, hardware, and external IT services used by finance, marketing, sales and everyone else to get lumped together and tracked within IT’s budget. This bundling makes the IT Department’s spend look like a massive cost center compared to other departments within the business.  This then suggests that IT is overspending and ripe for an across-the-board cuts.

Under the generic model, finance teams looking to cut business costs by a target amount across the board start with IT.   To add insult to injury, I have found that IT departments are normally understaffed compared to other departments within the business and often underpaid based on industry benchmarks.

Moving to a full services catalog model changes that game. A successful service catalog defines all of the various offerings individually provided by IT to the business and aligns the software, hardware, and external IT services components needed to provide each of these offerings.  The services catalog should also clearly communicate the costs and service-level agreements associated with each service, giving IT the ability to show-back or charge-back the other departments.  This isn’t as monolithic a task as it may sound.

How does a service catalog make life better for IT?

Service CatalogLet me give you an example of how this changes behavior.   A company I was involved with in the past was running a number of different CRM products as a result of company acquisitions over time.  We kicked off a project that justifies the consolidation of the various CRM tools for both cost and efficiency (see my blog on ROI for tips on building such a business case).

Consolidation projects usually transition various users off of the legacy CRM tool onto the new consolidated centralized tool. Inadvertently a core group of users (usually tied to the original acquisition) resist the migration for some good and some bad reasons.  The net result is that our IT team is stuck supporting two tools.  The difference now with a defined Service Catalog is that IT can clearly charge the hold outs for both CRM product services. The corporate sanctioned CRM tool and the legacy CRM tool can be clearly tied to the holdout business unit.   In addition, IT is now in a position to defend the costs related to this and any additional Service Catalog items now tied to the end user or department that uses the service.

Now, let’s fast forward to budget time.  The CFO asks IT to reduce costs by 15%. Where before the dialog might be framed around reducing head count on the networking team, it can now be about which services in the service catalog the company wants to go without.

From a purely selfish point of view, that insulates IT from demands that are all-but impossible to satisfy. It gives the organization the ability to clearly signal when proposed cuts will damage the business. Additionally, the business also benefits, because they have now a less opaque window into their IT spending and its impact on, and interconnection with, their business functions.

Benefits for both IT and the Business

When we look at the broader case for service catalogs from the business perspective, that interconnection goes deeper.

On-Demand Access and Reliability

Service catalogs, of course, allow us to move to a model where end users click on a service they need and then just click once more whenever they need it again. Even at the end of the quarter, or when there’s some looming deadline, those end users always have the extra resources they need available without having to wait. So they’re gaining reliability, especially during times when IT resources traditionally got bottlenecked.

Speed

This model also opens the window for IT to add additional automation to any service. Say your SLA for providing an FTP-based service for file uploads and downloads is three days. With automation in place, you may be able to speed that up to hours, if not minutes. What’s more, you can offer this service as soon as the initial automation is complete and then keep fine tuning it by adding new tools, capabilities, and resources as they’re developed.

Efficiency

Standardizing clients, logging, auditing, and security, and adding system-relevant restrictions based on user profiles, restricts on-demand access so you only get service requests from people with a valid reason to ask for them. This saves IT money and time.

More Growth Potential

That automation and simplification story hints at the other major win for IT here. With a much more streamlined process enabled by its service catalog, IT has more resources available to manage growth more efficiently than it would have been able to under the old model.

Improving Business and IT Alignment

At the core, what both IT and the business are gaining when they adopt a service catalog is better alignment to needs.

When you have a common language and supporting data to communicate with the business the conversations around budgets fundamentally change.  Whereas before IT might have just presented a shopping list for approval, they can now say to the business, for example: “We’re creating ten times more FTP sites than we anticipated and they have to stay around three times longer. We’re out of storage, though. So, we need storage for the FTP site service.”

Similarly, the business can explain to IT that it needs IT’s four day process for creating an FTP site to be reduced to four hours. And because IT thinks in terms of services, it can easily budget out the resources it will take to make that happen.

Both conversations are now about the substance of the services that IT offers. Framed that way, they’re likely to be much more productive for each side – helping IT make good decisions about where to place its resources and allowing the business to understand how they can positively impact the services they are getting from IT.

Breaking Down Silos

When IT sets out to deliver a new service, like the simple FTP examples above, it’s very likely to involve people from a number of areas – in this case, networking, storage, and servers. In the past, everything and everyone was siloed. The network guy would work on the job then hand it over the hill to the server gal, who would hand it over the hill to the storage guy. With the new model, that behavior is broken down, because the network, storage, and server people are collaborating and sharing IP, all aligned to this one service, not their own specific technology silo.

Furthermore, by moving to a services model, IT is now aligning those various siloed resources in a way that enables knowledge transfer and increases overall efficiency and speed of delivery, and very likely lowers costs too.

Overall, the services model offers a route for IT to give business what it needs, but on terms that don’t compromise performance. Supported by the productive dialogue with IT that the model enables, the business can stay agile and scale up to meet demand, all while getting the most bang from its IT buck. That leads to growth, which IT, under this model, will be ready to support. Which of course is a good thing for everyone.

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Les Viszlai is a strategist with VMware Advisory Services and is based in Atlanta.

Quantifying the Business Impact of IT Agility

Harris_SeanBusiness ImpactBy Sean Harris

Let’s examine a story I see often in my work with customers as part of the VMware Advisory Services team.  The names and details have been changed to protect the innocent.

Jessica, the new Head of IT Service Delivery at ABC Banking Corp, was frustrated with being told that the cost of delivery of IT was too expensive. She wanted to show that had she massively reduced the cost of IT delivery with the new private cloud that her team had delivered.  Not only that, but the elastic demand and agility of the service had generated so much value to the business, in terms of revenue and market share, that the business should be investing considerably more in this solution going forward than they had done to date.

She worked with VMware’s Advisory Services to build a model that showed the true value of the private cloud solution in terms of time to market, market share (as a result of being earlier to market) and revenues over a 3-year period.

They first built a model that looked at supply and demand and showed the impact of shortage of supply on the loss of customers to competing services (so reducing demand and market penetration).  Once they understood the organisation’s ability to service demand they were able to estimate the revenue impact from lost customers, using the metric for average revenue per customer.

The Assumptions

The model did not consider the application development time of the service. It was assumed that this has already been done.  There is another value model that can be built to show the benefits of time to market through agile and cloud native application development vs traditional application development approaches, but that was out of scope for this exercise.

For a traditional service delivery model, it was assumed that capacity would be built linearly over time.  You need a certain capacity before the capability is available and/or there is a marketing decision made to delay the launch (availability) of a service (to prevent customer dissatisfaction due to disappointment when the service is actually not yet fully available).

For the cloud (public, private or hybrid) service it was assumed that the capability can be delivered from day one.  The agile elastic capacity of the private cloud infrastructure means the service receives the infrastructure capacity that it needs on demand.

The final key assumption was that they existed in a competitive market place and so there were other equivalent competitive services available to consumers. This means that if demand out strips supply and some consumers are unable to get the service when they want it a percentage will go to a competitive service and never return.

The Results

Business ImpactArmed with this model, Jessica could show her leadership team that with a traditional service delivery approach they were unable to deliver the service from day one, resulting in demand outstripping supply.  This would have resulted in a loss of final market share of 10 points (down from 40% to 30%) and a loss of 3 year service revenues of around 25%.

By switching to a private cloud delivery model, that allowed supply to match demand from day one, they would not lose out on revenue to their competitors.  Not only that, but she proved that a private cloud significantly reduced the TCO (total  cost of ownership) of infrastructure delivery at ABC Banking Corp. and that while some competing public cloud solutions were comparable in price, they were not fully compliant with (sometimes unique) security and audit requirements of the business and external regulators.

The lines of business and marketing were now able to clearly see the value to the business of the new private cloud infrastructure service and quickly approved additional investment in current private cloud.  They added private cloud services as well as directed a multiple new projects to target Jessica’s private cloud platform.

What can we learn from this story?

Providing on-demand infrastructure absolutely increases the agility of the business, and that agility has far reaching benefits throughout the organization, particularly for the bottom line.  A well-researched business case has proven to be the linchpin of success for many of the transformation initiatives, making it easy for the business to see the massive return on investment they will realize through shifting to a private cloud delivery model.

Like Jessica, many IT leaders have limited or no direct experience of creating business cases that go beyond IT costs and into revenue, market share or margin impacts to the business itself  If that’s the case for you, contact your VMware representative take advantage of the deep expertise of VMware Advisory Services.

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Sean Harris is a Business Solutions Strategist in EMEA based out of the United Kingdom.

Today @ VMworld – Two Can’t Miss Customer Stories

VMworldVMworld is here!  The packed schedule today starts with our CEO, Pat Gelsinger, who will present  the general session, “Competitive Advantage in the Multi-Cloud Era – Connecting People, Apps & Data to Propel your Business Forward”.  

If you are still working out what breakout sessions to attend this afternoon, you shouldn’t miss these two sessions from VMware customers who are going through their own multi-cloud transformation and have built out strategies to transform their organization for the digital era.

American Tire Distributors:  Our Journey to a Modern Private Cloud

Monday, August 30th, 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM
As an organization experiencing rapid growth, American Tire Distributors (ATD) recognized the need to modernize their infrastructure platform to support the changing needs of their business.

Starting with a holistic assessment of their IT organization across people, process and technology, ATD worked with VMware to create an actionable and collaborative roadmap for the modernization of their private cloud.

Join ATD’s VP of IT Operations, Ravi Ramaraj, as he shares his experiences and practical advice across:

  • Value found in starting with an actionable assessment
  • Establishing a strategy and plan for SDDC transformation
  • Modernizing their data center
  • Adopting a service oriented IT model with defined services, automation and security

Add session SDDC8930 to your agenda.

Sun Trust’s Cloud Journey:  IaaS, PaaS and Beyond

Monday, August 30th, 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM
How can a Southern Bank compete with Wall Street? They need to be fast, agile, and drive a culture of innovation and change.

SunTrust has built an environment that will create immense value to its customers by delivering on a vision of a stable and efficient cloud that enables its development team to build world-class applications.

Listen to Bryan Clements, Senior Vice President of Sun Trust, discuss how he has created an internal focus on innovation and testing new ideas to help their customers.  Bryan will discuss:

  1. His vision of the multi-year transformation journey that he is enabling and how the new wave of applications are creating opportunities for his business.
  2. The operational efficiencies needed to build their forward compatible cloud, and the value of the developer-focused model.
  3. How a DevOps model is influencing the culture changes needed to drive this type of platform.

Add session SDDC8975 to your agenda.

VMworld 2016: IT Strategy Sessions

VMworld

Download a PDF Guide

At VMworld 2016, IT leaders will join their peers to learn about strategies for meeting the growing requirements of their businesses in the digital era.

In addition to the valuable networking and thought-provoking conversations that happen at VMworld, you can take advantage of a full slate of breakout sessions. These sessions can help you build a comprehensive IT strategy and roadmap for digital transformation.

Add these sessions to your agenda

 

Monday, August 29

11:00 AM SDDC7616 Strategizing Cloud Business Management Using vRealize Business
11:30 AM EUC7870 VMware’s Solution Strategy on Mobility’s Evolution to Internet of Things into 2016 and Beyond
2:00 PM SDDC8930 American Tire Distributors: Our Journey to a Modern Private Cloud
3:30 PM SDDC8975 IaaS, PaaS and Beyond – SunTrust’s Cloud Journey
3:30 PM SDDC8994 Taming the Hydra: IT in a Multi-Cloud World
5:00 PM SDDC8214 Case Study: VMware’s Private Cloud Journey to Over 100K Virtual Machines

Tuesday, August 30

11:00 AM SEC8730 NSX Security and Micro-Segmentation Customer Panel
1:00 PM CTO9036 Providing Management Tools for the Emerging IoT Infrastructure
2:00 PM SDDC8357 If They Come, Are You Ready? Strategic Demand Management for Cloud Services
2:30 PM DEVOP7859 Real-World DevOps Customer Panel
5:30 PM CNA8145 From Today to “CNA”: VMware Technologies and DevOps Frameworks as a Service

Wednesday, August 31

8:00 AM DEVOP8924 Building an Actionable Strategy Around DevOps and Platform as a Service (PaaS)
10:00 AM MGT8884 Our SDDC Journey: See How SDDC Transformed IT in Just 12 Months and Changed How We Think About “Automation” at Johnson & Johnson IT
11:30 AM SDDC7692 Tips for Realizing the Full Value of Your SDDC Transformation
12:30 PM DEVOP9093 Unpanel: How I Survived the DevOps Transition
2:00 PM MGT8969 Forrester Research POV on DevOps, Automation, and Virtualization Maturity Trends
3:30 PM SDDC9971 Experience the Business Impact of IT Innovation and Transformation in This Live Interactive Simulation
4:00 PM SDDC7886 Implementing an Operating Model for Agility: A Customer Success Story

 

Wed @ VMworld – 2 Wildly Different Ways to Discuss Next Gen IT Strategy

Reg LoLively discussionBy Reg Lo

The theme of VMworld 2016 is be_Tomorrow.  As we’ve talked about in many previous blog posts, it’s no secret that the demands on IT are changing and that IT leaders need to evolve their strategies or risk the decline of their company’s market position and the loss of relevance for internal IT.

For IT leaders attending VMworld, I hope to offer you a couple of unconventional ways of fostering discussion with your peers around the pressing challenges you’re facing today.

Unpanel:  How I Survived the DevOps Transition

Wednesday, August 31st – 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM

If you’ve ever joined an Unpanel before, you know you’re in for some lively discussion – and to be prepared at any moment to jump up on stage!

Join me and my colleagues, Ed Hoppitt of Battlebots (and VMware) fame and Tom Hite who leads VMware’s DevOps and Open Cloud Services team, as we moderate a dynamic exchange between IT practitioners and their development counterparts. You will hear about the dos, don’ts, and gotchas from both perspectives.

We will invite you to participate with your opinions and insights, and you might become part of the panel.

Add session DEVOP9093 to your agenda

Experience the Business Impact of IT Innovation & Transformation in this Live Interactive Simulation

Wednesday, August 31st – 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM

Join your peers in IT leadership for a live interactive simulation where you get to experiment on what series of IT initiatives will lead to the greatest impact on business revenue and IT costs. This is a unique experiential learning session.

Using a software-based simulation platform, I will team up with my colleague, Andy Troup of VMware Operations Transformation Services, to present you with a variety of IT innovation project options, representing a wide spectrum from developing cloud capabilities to advanced micro-segmentation. Acting as a company with a set budget for operating expenses and innovation, your team will choose which projects to focus and then see the results of your selections.

Will revenue increase because you were able to speed time to market? Will your operating expenses increase or decrease? Will you experience set-backs if you focus on one area but neglect others?

Test your IT strategy theories, participate in lively discussions about today’s options in IT, and walk away with tips for how to build a roadmap for innovation that will work for your organization.

VMworld_ITStrategy (288x300)Add session SDDC9971 to your agenda

I hope to see you at both of these sessions at the end of this month!

Download a full agenda of VMworld breakout sessions that will help IT leaders build a strategy for the digital era.

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Reg Lo is the Americas Director of VMware Accelerate Advisory Services and is based in California.

CIO Imperative: Master Customer Experience to Remain Relevant

Begin a New Life as an Innovation Services Team and Deliver the Experience Your Customers Feel Entitled To

Heman Smithcustomer experienceBy Heman Smith

What is meant by customer experience – for those whom IT serves?

Today’s customers are used to immediate access to an app, typically via a mobile device, immediate ability to execute a task, and immediate results.  This delivers satisfaction and a positive customer experience.  Every industry is experiencing this, with nearly any transaction type you can imagine: banking, healthcare, retail, hospitality, travel and more. Surprisingly, this perceived expectation of immediacy is also spreading rapidly to sectors commonly considered slow to change and respond to change: public sector, utilities, military, etc.

Perception is reality – because people make decisions based on what they perceive to be true. Customers (internal and external) will now often choose the path to easiest results and lowest cost, with less loyalty and commitment than ever before.

What must be done for IT to regain its “preferred provider” status?

Whether we like it or not, IT is not always seen as the business’ preferred provider.  In-house IT is no longer seen as a “must-have”.  Alternatives not only exist, but are expanding and becoming equivalently mature and capable (SaaS, cloud-native apps in the public cloud, etc.). What must IT do now to develop and provide new value to replace its old role and charter?

Optimize Core Services

Immediately and aggressively optimize the core services IT offers that support easy application development, deployment, access and consumption:

  • IaaS, PaaS, Environment as a service, etc.
  • Open and flexible application access
  • Support any app/any device/anytime/anywhere (ie: EUC via solutions such as VMware’s Workspace ONE)
  • Application-focused security based on modern, multi/hybrid cloud-data center network models (VMware’s Airwatch, NSX, etc.)
  • IT-as-a-Business practices: show-back, charge-back, etc.

Embrace the Innovation Services Brand and Mindset

Move away from the legacy name and identity of IT (Information Technology), and adopt a new stance or brand as “Innovation Services”, leading the charge to provide capabilities-as-services needed by the business, using a best resource model as appropriate (developed, or brokered). Much of this change is leadership and culture driven, with process re-design and technology choices supporting the decisions made.

This approach requires the practice of teams counseling together to create an ideal process for delivering more ideal outcomes; both (1) internal to the teams themselves, making their lives easier, and (2) external to the end customer, making their lives easier.  This delivers better customer experience to each party!

Because of this shift in stance, the choice of technologies made by the team(s) is determined by the needed outcome, and how well a technology can rapidly, easily and cost effectively enable that outcome.

Will that cause a lot of technology loyalty shift? Yes.

Must vendors respond by being on-point to support that speed and adaptability in order for their IT customers to deliver better experience and outcomes? Absolutely!

The applications people use, coupled with ubiquitous mobility – are driving the pace of business and IT. DevOps is a response to that opportunity and pressure.

Develop Your DevOps Model… Now

IT must leap into supporting and accelerating the successful adoption of an appropriate-fit DevOps model in order to be of real value to the business. If Infrastructure Services teams don’t clearly understand this mandate, and rapidly take the stance of championing DevOps, then the application development side of the house will find other resources. This change is not optional; it is already underway, and will occur rapidly in the near future whether or not traditional IT teams want it.

If IT doesn’t rapidly respond to this need and change, its chance to be the business’ preferred provider will disappear because some new, successful, out-sourced or internally-stood-up alternative will be entrenched, and change will be seen as too difficult, or unnecessary.

What does this mean for me as an IT leader, and what can I do today?

Delivering exceptional customer experience must be the new mantra and reality for any effective IT leader, and thus for their IT organization. Becoming an “Innovation Services” team, instead of old-fashioned technology maintenance team is the key.

Focus on reducing friction in how any “consumer” (internal / external) accesses and consumes the new services (EUC, IaaS, PaaS, DevOps, etc.). The very mindset of IT staff must shift from habitually operating from a “keep it up and running” mentality – operations first, and adopt a new framework.

Innovation Services now focuses on:

  • How can we make “this” (whatever service “this” may refer to) easier to do, access, support, etc.?
  • How can we make consumption more appealing, more cost effective, more transparent?
  • How can we make us and our services as invisible as possible?
  • And, as I often hear during consulting conversations with frustrated IT leaders: “How can we function more like, so we can compete with, Amazon?”
  1. Mindset is a critical first step: Words have power. So take a stand, make a commitment, and step up to a different future. Craft a vision of opportunity, and invite each member of IT to step into becoming part of the new Innovation Services organization.
  2. Thinking through, and adopting a proven model for change as an Innovation Services provider is the second step. VMware has leading practices and services that assist with this.
  3. Re-organize based on service delivery function, not technology silos.
  4. Stick with it through the challenges of change. Partner with those who know and can coach you to success.

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Heman Smith is a Strategist with VMware Accelerate Advisory Services and is based in Utah.

If They Come – Are You Ready?

Part 1:  Optimizing demand management to deliver “Just in Time” cloud service provisioning.

Bill IrvineBy Bill Irvine

Demand ManagementA common phrase overheard during the creation of new cloud based innovation environments for modernized applications is “build it and they will come”.

The surprise for many IT organizations is that they do come and the challenge becomes dealing with that success and the on-going management of their new environments. Many organizations do not operationalize their capabilities or establish the governance processes they need to be successful as a cloud service provider by the time the technology goes live.

Common Complaints about Cloud Services

In my work with customers designing solutions to address the needs of their business via cloud-based innovation, we hear a consistent list of concerns.

“We are always blindsided by requests that we don’t have the capacity to fulfill – it came out of nowhere”

“We never get enough specific information from the business on what they want until it’s too late”

“They always want to over-provision the environments – we’re always in negotiation mode on resource requirements”

“There’s never enough capacity to meet the business and operational demand”

“Nobody ever gives back resources – even when we know they’re not being used”

“There’s never enough budget to buy capacity when we need it”

“We are always getting escalations about the speed of provisioning and spend most of our time reacting to delayed and unfulfilled requests”

“We have to wait for approvals for every piece of the PaaS puzzle”

 “Everything we do is custom which makes it impossible to automate”

These and a host of similar issues relate to a common theme – the need for effective demand, capacity and request management to ensure a standardized, streamlined, consistent and automated approach to service provisioning.

In this blog series, we will cover each of the key processes in the lifecycle and their importance in creating an IT service brokerage model that can always support the dynamic business demand. The expectations on IT have never been greater.

Communication is Key to Demand Management

The primary goal of demand management is to understand the pipeline of service requirements from the business and to interpret these needs into a predictable forecast of consumption. This forecast becomes a vital part of ensuring that IT always has the capacity to fulfill the evolving requirements and requests.

Sounds easy enough, but the challenge in predicting demand for most organizations is the difference in language between the Line of Business (LOB), the development teams supporting them and the infrastructure providers charged with hosting the services.

IT capacity planners want technical specifications and details of the individual resource components (CPU, Memory, Storage etc.) required in order to ensure the appropriate configuration of resources in the correct “landing zones”.

The business representatives however, typically present their needs in terms of market growth, marketing initiatives that may drive increases in transactions or potential decreases in business volume based on the seasonality of the service supported. These needs are rarely static by nature and evolve over time from conception to reality.

The conversion of business and service needs into technical resource requirements is often more art than science and relies on effective communication and collaboration between a broad group of stakeholders to continuously interpret, structure and mature demand data into knowledge that can be acted upon.

IT needs to interact proactively with the stakeholders to identify demand as early as possible at its source. This source data should be documented in a system of record so that it can be tracked, aligned by service and updated as more detailed information becomes available.  Demand data is progressed through a maturity funnel where requirements are codified, refined, validated, prioritized and compared against historical patterns & trends. This enables the initial business data to be transformed into technical resource requirements and actionable plans.

Demand Maturity Concepts

In order to create a comprehensive and contextual picture of current and future business and service demand, requirements should be subjected to a series of analytical steps to refine the demand.

demand management maturity
Fig 1. Demand Maturity Funnel

  • Capture data from all available sources. Different sources will have differing levels of specificity from business concept to actual service performance data.
  • Understand the sources (e.g. LOB, Service data, etc.) to enable comparisons and correlation with past requirements. Grouping requirements by service should become the overall organizing principle to help make sense of the overall demand.
  • Develop, configure and size a logical grouping of resources into a service offering (e.g. Infrastructure or Platform as a Service) to simplify the calculation of future needs and enable IT to better standardize and automate the provisioning processes. Pre-defined service offerings also provide the opportunity to steer the customer towards preferred solutions that are more efficient and cost effective.
  • Identify patterns of business activity (PBA) for each service and develop educated assumptions as to future needs through the analysis of past requirements, requests and configurations. It’s OK to make assumptions, the business is often guessing at the early stages. Even placeholder information can be valuable especially early in the funnel. Assumptions can be validated and adjusted over the life of the requirement.
  • Develop LOB user profiles and analyze their service usage patterns to further refine the understanding of the needs and requests.
  • Understand existing patterns of business activity, prior demand and the technical profile of related platforms consumed by the specific business unit, the applications supporting the service and the volume of transactions to form an evolutionary pipeline or funnel.

Demand requirements managed through these activities will provide IT the confidence to commit to more aggressive service levels and guarantees regarding capacity and associated cloud resource provisioning.

Key Demand Management Roles

As mentioned, there are many parties and stakeholders involved in managing demand effectively. The most obvious and often overlooked stakeholders are the lines of business themselves. IT’s continuous interaction with the business is key to their improved understanding of the customer needs and to break the cycle of being reactive and unresponsive.

Two of the key roles to ensure this ongoing relationship and demand based dialog are the Business Relationship Manager (BRM) and the Service Owner. These roles are critical to understanding the patterns of business and service activity and ensuring appropriate capacity and capability on a service-by-service basis.

The BRM has a primary responsibility to represent all of elements of IT and the associated service provision and performance to the business function. They are responsible for orchestrating the capture of demand from the business and assisting in the conversion of these needs into the technical capacity that meets the expectations. BRM activities in support of demand prediction include:

  • Identification of customer needs
  • Capture of planned projects and initiatives
  • Communicating changes in service profiles or volumes
  • “Selling” the improvements in service capabilities and helping to influence customer behavior and optimize the business usage of the services provided.

The Service Owner ensures that there is an understanding and awareness of the service as a whole, who utilizes the service, how it supports the business functions, the service capabilities and the current service performance. The Service Owner will be responsible for:

  • Quantification and codification of the overall service needs, resource proportions, configuration and operational dynamics to optimize the performance of the production service
  • Key input into decisions regarding resource capacity and configuration changes required
  • Creation of the environment profiles and service offerings used in the downstream environments (e.g. Dev, Test, QA) as required by the development and operational functions

Demand Management Benefits

Implemented successfully, demand management will enable improvements across all aspects of service provisioning but especially in the areas of capacity and request fulfillment.

Some of the key benefits include:

  • Increased customer satisfaction with services and requests being provisioned without the delays inherent in a reactive environment
  • Improved and faster understanding of service and business requirements with demand being objectively quantified
  • Capacity based risk is identified and addressed throughout the course of the above activities
  • Accurate demand and capacity trending will reduce “over-provisioning” and provide more accurate budgetary planning data to optimize resource / infrastructure costs
  • Basis for JIT (Just In Time) purchasing and release of capacity using confidence-driven forecasts
  • Improved alignment with business goals giving an accurate “picture” of demand activities required to enable business goal attainment
  • Increased confidence in allocation of IT resources and their readiness for service provision

Next Steps

So how do you get started with improving demand management? Some proven initial steps developed with our customers include:

  • Start talking to the business customers and associated development teams to open the dialog and establish the process
  • Enhance standard requirements capture with each line of business defining their requirements by service
  • Capture future needs and updates earlier in the lifecycle to feed the forecasting process
  • Update the guidelines for all requirements capture to be consistent regardless of type (e.g. innovation, run, grow etc.) in a common format for input into demand planning
  • Establish improved methods for collecting trend based run and growth requirements by service.
  • Develop Patterns of Business Activity for each service and monitor key performance and consumption metrics to model current and future operational needs.
  • Analyze and redefine the real-time metrics you collect to better track and report against ongoing capacity use, headroom requirements and growth

In my next post in the series, I will discuss the capacity management stage of lifecycle, focusing on the conversion of demand into capacity requirements and optimization of the overall capacity plan.

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Bill Irvine is a Principal Strategist with VMware Accelerate Advisory Services and is based in Colorado.

IT’s Payback Time – Part 2: Avoiding the risks that prevent ROI realization on IT innovation

Les ViszlaiBy Les Viszlai

ROI In part 1 of this two-part series we discussed how economists use many formal models to calculate ROI (Return on Investment), TCO (Total Cost of Ownership), as well as some of the methods for determining IT Business Value and payback periods.  In this post we’ll dig into the areas that can delay or prevent you and your organization from realizing the projected benefits from this ROI activity.

It’s critical that your ROI initiative has a communication plan that clearly communicates the status, timing and risks to the ROI initiative on a regular basis.  It’s not unusual for IT organizations to spend a lot of upfront effort to get business approval to proceed with an initiative, disappear and later back pedal on why the ROI initiative failed.

Potential Risks to ROI

There are a number of risk areas that can potentially impact the realization and value of an ROI initiative.

Financial

Changes in the business may cancel/delay the ROI initiative.  The initial ROI may be based on spending money that has a longer payback period then the business is now willing to take on in the current budget reporting cycle.  

Human Resources

Describes the people component of ROI initiatives.  A lack of training or not having the right people to execute and manage the project results in project timelines that are delayed.  Additional unplanned staff costs can be incurred in order to rework or complete the initiative.  Consider adding the cost of using Professional Services firms that have the expertise to accelerate the project as part of the initial ROI calculations to avoid these often costly unplanned costs.

Legal/Governance

Requirements change due to unforeseen circumstances or new industry related compliance requirements that present themselves after project kick off, and additional resources (Technology/People/Funding) are required to complete the ROI initiative.  This additional resource requirement may wipe out any of the original ROI benefits due to unplanned delays or costs.  

Management

Priorities can simply change and management’s commitment to support and funding can be delayed or cancelled. Having a solid communication plan in place keeps the initiative on managements radar and reduces the chances that their interest will wane.

Market

Market changes and competitive pressures or new customer demand may cause management to delay or cancel the project.  Resources (people/funding) can get diverted from IT to other areas of the business.

Organization

Political infighting or parent company relationships may limit ROI benefits. There can be a dependency on the business unit to use technology/services that benefit the parent company, increasing costs at the subsidiary level and reducing the ROI benefit. For example, if the parent company institutes an accounting package that enables simplified reporting across all of its subsidiaries, the costs increase to maintain and implement this system and impacts any resource savings.

Dependencies

Reliance by the current ROI initiative on a different project or initiative is a common risk.  Key resources (people/time/money) can be tied up which can impact the projected ROI of our current initiative.

Technology

Implementation related ROI activities can be affected by chosen technology that is not compatible with an existing system (not uncommon).  Or the new technology could have limited scalability and can’t handle the current or projected system demand.  A simple example is the case of existing switches that can’t handle the new call center phone system volume, or a new cloud services provider can’t handle the volume the business is generating.

Users

ROI benefits may be based on when and how users will utilize the new capabilities.  Anything that prevents them from doing so will be a risk.  The ROI initiative should have a strong end user communication component that describes why/how/when the transition will happen, and don’t forget the end user training if its needed.

Vendors

When you engage vendors to provide critical services/technology, sometimes they won’t execute as promised or go out of business before the initiative is completed.

Keep Your Guard Up

ROI RisksBe aware of the potential risks that may impact your ROI initiative during the initial analysis phase and factor that contingency into your planning.  A strong predefined communication plan will go a long way in preventing and/or minimizing the impact of many of the potential risk areas described in this blog. I personally like the traditional high level red/yellow/green dashboards that give a snap shot of risk over time, but use whatever works best for your organization to keep these risks top of mind.

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Les Viszlai is a principal strategist with VMware Advisory Services based in Atlanta, GA.

Successful Transformations Require Clarity in Strategy and Execution

Heman Smithby Heman Smith

blog_graphic_CIO_clarityThe recent “The State of IT Transformation” report by VMware and EMC is an up-to-the-minute overview of how companies across multiple industries are faring in their efforts to transform their IT organizations.

The report offers valuable insights into the pace and success of IT transformation over the last few years and outlines where companies feel they have the most to do. But two specific data points in the report – highlighting gaps between companies’ ambitions and their actual achievements – struck me in particular. Here they are:

  • 90% of companies surveyed felt it important to have a documented IT transformation strategy and road map, with executive and line of business support. Yet over 55% have nothing documented.
  • 95% of the same organizations thought it critical that an IT organization has no silos and works together to deliver business focused services at the lowest cost. And yet less than 4% percent of organizations report that they currently operate like this.

Both of these are very revealing, I think, and worth digging into a little deeper.

Taking the second point first, my immediate reaction here is: Could IT actually operate with no silos? Is that ever achievable?

To answer, you have to define what “silo” means. A silo can be a technology assignment (storage, networking, compute, etc..) and that’s usually what’s meant within IT by the word.  Sometimes, though, it represents a team assignment, whether by expertise or a focus on delivering a particular service, that is in its own way a type of silo.

So when companies say they wish they could operate with no silos and be able to work together, I wonder if that’s really an expression of frustration with poor collaboration and poor execution? My guess is that what they’re really saying is: “we don’t know how to get our teams, our people, to collaborate effectively and execute well.”

If I’m right, what can they do about it? How can companies improve IT team collaboration, coordination, and execution?

Being clear about clarity

The answer takes us back to the first data point, that 90% of companies feel it’s important to have a documented IT transformation strategy and road map with executive and line of business support, yet over 55% have nothing documented. A majority of companies, in other words, lack strategic clarity.

Without strategic clarity, it’s very difficult for teams to operate and execute toward an outcome that is intentional and desired. Instead they focus on the daily whirlwind that surrounds them, doing whatever the squeakiest wheels dictate. I’m reminded of what Ann Latham, president of Uncommon Clarity, has said: “Over 90% of all conflict comes from a lack of clarity.”

Clarity, in my experience, has three different layers.

Clarity of intent.

This is what you want to accomplish (the vision); why you want to do it (the purpose); and when you want it done (the end point). You can also frame this as, “We want to go from X (capability) to Y (capability) by Z (date).”

Clarity of delivery.

As you move towards realizing your vision, you learn a lot more about your situation, which brings additional clarity.

Clarity of retrospect.

We joke about 20/20 hindsight, but it’s valuable because it lets us compare our original intentions with outcomes and learn from what happened in between.

Strategic clarity is really about that first layer. If companies are not clear upfront about what they want, it’s almost impossible for their teams and employees to understand what’s wanted from them and how they can do it – or to track their progress or review it once a project is complete. Announce a change without making it clear how team members can help make it a reality and you invite fear and inertia. While waiting for clarity, people disengage and everything slows down.

I’ve seen, for example, companies say they’re going to “implement a private cloud.”  That’s an aspirational statement of desire, but not one of clear intent. A clear statement of intent would be: “We’re going to use private cloud technologies to shift our current virtual environment deployment pace of 4+ weeks into production to less than 24 hours by the end of June 2016.” Frame it like, and any person on the team can figure out how they can or cannot contribute toward that exact, clear goal. More importantly, the odds of them collectively achieving the outcome described by the goal are massively increased.

I suspect that the overwhelming majority of companies reporting that they’d like a strategic IT transformation document and road map but don’t yet have one, have for the most part failed to decide what exact capabilities they want, and by when.

This isn’t new. For the last 30 plus years, IT has traditionally focused on technologies themselves rather than the outcomes that those technologies can enable. Too many IT cultures do technology first and then “operationalize it.” But that’s fundamentally flawed and backwards, especially in today’s services-led environment.

Operating models and execution

Delivering on your strategic intent requires more than clarity in how you describe it, of course. Your operating model must also be as simple and as focused as possible on delivering the specific outcomes and capabilities outlined in your plan. Otherwise, you are placing people inside the model without knowing how they can deliver the outcomes it expects, because they don’t know what they’re trying to do.

Implementing an effective operating model means articulating the results you are looking for (drawn from your strategy), then designing a model that lets employees do that as directly and rapidly as possible. That’s true no matter what you’re building – an in-house private cloud, something from outside, or a hybrid. Everyone needs to know how they can make decisions – and make them quickly – in order to deliver the results that are needed.

That brings me to the my last observation. When companies have no documented strategy or road map (and remember that’s 55% of companies surveyed in the VMware/EMC report), they are setting themselves up for what I call “execution friction.” With no clear strategy, companies focus on technology first and “operationalize” later. They end up in the weeds of less-than-successful technology projects, and spend energy and resources on upgrading capacity, improving details, and basic IT pools, while failing to craft a technology model that supports delivering the capabilities written in their strategic model. It’s effort that uses up power while slowing you down instead of pushing you forward: execution friction. Again, it’s viewing IT as a purchase, when today more than ever it should be viewed as a strategic lever to accelerate a company’s ability to deliver.

In his book on strategic execution, Ram Charan says that to understand execution, you need to keep three key points in mind:

  • Execution is a discipline, and integral to strategy
  • Execution is the major job of the business (and IT) leader
  • Execution must be a core element of an organization’s culture

Charan’s observations underline what jumps out at me in the data reported by the VMware/EMC study: that you can’t execute effectively without strategic clarity.

Wise IT leaders, then, will make and take the time necessary to get strategically clear on their intended capability outcomes as soon as possible, then document that strategy, share it, and work from it with their teams in order to achieve excellent execution. If more companies do that, we’ll see silos disappearing in a meaningful way, too, because more will be executing on their strategy with success.

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Heman Smith is a Strategist with VMware Accelerate Advisory Services and is based in Utah.  

IT’s Payback Time – Calculating the ROI on IT Innovation – Part 1

To justify investment in new IT projects, we need to show that it pays off – here’s how to do that.

Les Viszlaiby Les Viszlai

ROI Calculation“Innovation in IT pays for itself.”  That’s something pretty much everyone in IT believes. But it’s also something that a surprising number of companies I visit aren’t in a position to prove.  Why? Because most companies don’t actually know what it costs to provide their IT services and can’t quite put a figure on the benefits IT innovation projects can bring.  Missing these key data points can make it very difficult to quantify the Return on Investment (ROI) or payback on any IT project, making it harder for IT to compete internally with other departments for scarce business funding.  Many times, approved IT budgets get frozen or delayed because the business does not understand the value of the projects in question and opportunities are missed or delayed.

In Part 1 of this blog series, let’s begin at a basic level in order to get you familiar with the topic of calculating ROI.  We’ll dig in to what you can do to calculate whether an IT project will be self-funding.

Calculating Basic ROI

ROI Increased Revenue Cost ReductionEconomists have used many formal models to calculate ROI (Return on Investment), TCO (Total Cost of Ownership), as well as methods for determining IT Business Value and payback periods.  For this conversation, let’s focus on basic ROI, and ask the question: if we spend X dollars on a new IT project or service in order to get a new or existing capability, will we spend less money than we are paying now for the equivalent capability or service that we will replace?   If an initiative does this, then we can easily make the case for moving forward with that innovation program.

To figure this out, we’ll look at these two areas:

  • Reduced or avoided capital and/or operational costs
  • Increased/Enhanced Revenue

Hard Costs and Soft Costs

Hard cost is money we have to pay. Most hard cost savings or cost avoidance opportunities are fairly easy to quantify. These savings will include the cost of hardware and software you no longer need to pay for and savings from staff reductions and licenses you will no longer need.   However, don’t forget to factor the added cost of the new hardware and software you are installing, any one time professional services fees you will need in order to deploy everything in place and any new staffing needs.  But this should all be relatively easy to quantify from a hard cost standpoint.

Soft cost savings or cost avoidance is more complex, because the benefits accrued are harder to put actual numbers on and its harder to get internal agreement on how its determined. In addition, most companies capture this information over a 3 to 5-year period, which may compete with short-term goals.

If you are already measuring soft costs today, then you’re ahead of the game.  However, you might be surprised by how often I see organizations failing to quantify them. The main reason, typically, is that nobody wants to do the work or no one understands the benefit. Quite often, I see companies look at an IT project purely from a hard cost savings perspective and say, “We can’t figure out how much time this will save, or how much happier this will make the client, so we’re not going to use these additional metrics as a measurement for this project.”

For those of you that want to start looking at this, I suggest reviewing the benefits below to see if they are addressed in the proposed project.  These project benefits are easier to quantify and can easily add up to substantial savings over time.  To calculate the savings for projects designed to improve existing capabilities, look at the current delivery time and associated costs and then subtract those numbers from the new projected delivery time and costs.

Will this IT project:

  • Provide faster delivery times?
    With simplified work flows and more repeatable processes being done more often by a machine automation, we can look forward to faster delivery times.  In order to calculate this, we multiply the current hourly FTE costs by the average delivery duration, by the number of requests on a yearly basis and compare that to the new times and costs.
  • Reduce the cost of training?
    With a simplified system, can we reduce training times for people new to the company, and likely employ more junior staff and divert more senior staff to innovation activities.   These savings can be quite high in organizations that have seasonal hiring needs and organizations that have a high staff turnover.
  • Lower regulatory and compliance costs?
    Automation and simplification activities can have a significant impact on reducing the cost of compliance, especially in regulation-intensive sectors like healthcare or finance.  These savings can be calculated by tracking the current FTE time used to manually record and document audit related activities and compare that to the improvements driven by the project.
  • Reduce human and machine errors?
    With simpler, more repeatable processes being done more often by a machine, we can look forward to less failures.  In order to calculate this, we multiply the current hourly loss, by the average downtime duration, by the number of times this happens on a yearly basis.
  • Drive faster resolution times?
    Using MTTR (how long it takes, on average, to restore a system) we multiply the number of incidents, by the time it takes to resolve, by the cost of personal on a yearly basis.

The above is the short list of soft cost savings you can use as a starting point.  They are easier to quantify and get agreement on, and collectively they can seriously add up.

Projecting Increases in Revenue

It should also be entirely possible to figure what the IT project change will do for your revenues.  Just to be clear: we’re not talking about the results of funding an entirely new product. We’re talking about the revenue enhancements that come with the cost avoidance/reductions and efficiencies tied to existing product/service lines.

Let’s take this scenario for quantifying IT Project payback: A business owner is running a web store where it takes a customer 3 minutes to buy something, but 90% of customers abandon the sale after 38 seconds. Along comes the innovative IT team, offering a project that reduces the average time-to-purchase down to 30 seconds. It’s entirely feasible, then, to figure the increased revenues that ought to accrue, all other things being equal, from the technology change and the faster buy time.

Again, the biggest thing that I see getting in the way of these kinds of calculations is that businesses first have to commit to doing them. I don’t think it really matters which method we use (ROI, EVA, TCO, they’re all fine). We just have to get agreement to pick one.

By doing the work upfront and having those numbers available for review, you put senior leadership in a better position to approve the IT project proposal.  It also leaves very little room for debate on the savings value of the project since we have established agreement within the organization on how the ROI is determined.

Key Take-Aways

  • Don’t forget to establish how you will calculate the expected ROI as you set an innovation strategy.
  • Don’t be hesitant to dive in.  Just pick an accounting method, get agreement on it within your organization, and then start doing the math.
  • This pays off!  In all likelihood it will help you prove that IT innovation does indeed pay for itself.
  • When IT innovation can pay for itself, this leads to more innovation, and that leads to increased customer satisfaction or added brand value, which of course will have a positive direct impact on your business.

Stay tuned.  In my next blog we will dig into the obstacles to watch out for that impact our ability achieve the projected savings.

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Les Viszlai is a principal strategist with VMware Advisory Services based in Atlanta, GA.