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The Impact of ITaaS on Request Fulfillment

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By John Worthington

 Automation and standardization benefits IT…and the business

 

Advances in technology are rapidly enabling new levels of standardization, cost control, pre-authorization and automation far beyond traditional IT environments. This makes it possible to deliver IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS), with IT focusing on the outcomes the business needs and functioning much like a business itself. This is particularly true for change request fulfillment.

To boost efficiency, the request fulfillment function utilizes a library of pre-defined and pre-authorized service requests. This can include change requests that have been adequately standardized, but in traditional approaches, many change requests are too complex and risky to be effectively standardized. In these cases, requests need to be handled via the core change and release process, and manual provisioning to fulfill the request can take weeks.

ITaaS allows provisioning to be designed as a standard change that can be handled as a service request and automated via the service catalog management and request fulfillment process instead of via change and release management. This approach can reduce the time-to-provision to hours or even minutes—without involving IT staff.

ITaaS for request fulfillment is vitally important to the success of your organization

The impact of technology-enabled ITaaS on request fulfillment is broad-based and very significant to both the business and IT. In addition to vastly more efficient provisioning, other benefits include:

  • Automation of end-to-end delivery and management of infrastructure that allows IT staff to be more productive
  • Application deployment and releases that are accelerated
  • The ability to leverage re-usable components and policy-based governance that allows for right-sizing of resources or applications at the appropriate service level
  • The ability to manage multivendor, multi-cloud infrastructure and applications while leveraging existing infrastructure tools and processes flattens the learning curve
  • Reducing time-consuming, manual processes that results in consistent, automated delivery and management of IT services
  • Request fulfillment that can establish a library of request models for all users—both business and IT

While these are usually thought of as ‘IT benefits’ they also drive universal business objectives including faster time-to-market, reduced costs, better service levels, and accelerated innovation.

Benefits also include the impact on related processes such as change, release, incident, and access management. These might be such things as:

  • Reduction in the backlog of change requests
  • Enhanced customer satisfaction, perhaps tied to a specific request model
  • Reduction in the use of unauthorized hardware and software, non-standard and variant builds that increase complexity, support costs and risk to the business services
  • Fewer exceptions reported during configuration audits
  • Fewer incidents caused by request model errors (i.e., incorrect access settings, incorrectly executed fulfillment plan, etc.)

These metrics can be used to compliment base level metrics for request fulfillment depending on the focus of the request models added to the request catalog. As with all metrics, they should be linked to the critical success factors, objectives, and the goals that they support; this can help measure the benefits of improvements to the process.

Planning for success: key terms and roles

A transformation plan is critical as you look to leverage automated, on-demand cloud infrastructures. For example, accelerated ITSM can help bridge the gap between traditional infrastructures and cloud automation by clearly identifying how existing processes, roles, and governance will need to evolve as part of your implementation plan.

As you move forward you will also want to ensure that your team has a solid understanding of basic concepts as well as the increased role that request fulfillment will play in the design stage of the service lifecycle. Taking the time to understand and define some of the terms and roles involved can improve communication and coordination as you consider your ITaaS strategy:

  • The service catalog defines the end-to-end processes and supporting IT services that are available. The service catalog management process must ensure that any links and interfaces between the service catalog and the request catalog are maintained.
  • The request catalog lists available request models that can facilitate self-service for all users—including IT staff. The request fulfillment process must manage the library of request models and must assume ownership of the request catalog.

Request fulfillment and service catalog management

Figure 1. Relationship between request fulfillment and service catalog management

  • In an ITaaS approach, the number and complexity of request models may increase significantly. The request fulfillment manager must optimize the requests associated with IT services, and make them easier for customers to request, and more efficient for IT to fulfill. To that end, the request fulfillment process owner establishes what specifications must be captured for the request model during the design phase.
  • Service owners work with service catalog management to ensure that IT services are well defined, and that standard service requests being fulfilled are associated with the IT service for an easy request process and effective fulfillment. For example, the service owner is accountable for making sure the right subject matter expert is completing the specifications during design.

Ready for a change?

The benefits of an ITaaS approach to request fulfillment are many and far-reaching. But maximizing the benefits requires a studied approach to transformation. Carefully defining IT Services, Standard Service Requests and the supporting processes can help design a catalog architecture that meets your current and evolving requirements.


John Worthington is VMware Transformation Consultant with 30 years experience in the Information Technology industry. John’s been involved in IT Service Management since 2000, is an ITIL® Expert, and holds the PMP and CISA certifications. He is an accredited instructor for all levels of ITIL® certification, as well as a TIPA™ Lead Assessor. 

IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS): Transforming How We Manage IT

By Reg Lo

Reg LoAs enterprises make their way along the journey to IT-as-a-Service, CIOs and technology leaders must consider an overhaul of how they run IT – from technology enablement, to the operating model itself. A phased approach to technology enablement, designed as a maturity model, helps provide structure to the journey.  Breaking down traditional IT silos leads to a more functional, service-focused operating model.

Based on years of customer experience, we have developed a three-phased path to ITaaS, as seen in Figure 1.  In Phase I, when IT was seen as a cost center, virtualization created dramatic CapEx savings, resulting in more efficient IT production.  In Phase II, automation results in faster business production, and implementing management tools improves quality of service and reliability.  And in Phase III, IT becomes a service broker, reducing OpEx and increasing agility.  In this phase, IT uses an “IT-as-a-Service” approach, focusing on the end-to-end services that support the business mission, and leveraging technologies and sourcing options that make providing those services reliable, agile, flexible and cost-effective.

ITaaS  Journey

Figure 1. Enabling Technologies for IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS)

It makes sense, then, that the transformation into an IT-as-a-Service approach requires more than just the enabling technologies.  IT needs a new operating model to be successful – a new way of thinking and organizing people and process.

Today, many IT organizations are process-oriented.  Their key IT Service Management (ITSM) processes are managed, process owners are identified, and their processes are enabled through an integrated ITSM tool.  But a process-oriented approach hasn’t changed how they think about managing the technology silos.

ITaaS Evolution

Figure 2. The Evolution of how we Manage IT

Mature IT organizations realize that focusing on managing “end-to-end services” helps them be more customer focused than managing discrete “technology silos.”  A service-oriented approach enables IT to link the customer outcome to IT services, to applications, and to the infrastructure.  These organizations are defining their services, publishing their service catalog, and establishing service owners.

Many IT leaders also talk about “running IT like a business.”  This brings a higher level of maturity to IT, with the same fiscal discipline required to manage a traditional business.  This entails economic transparency or even an economic transaction where the business pays IT based on service consumption and IT, in return, commits to delivering a certain service level.  In this model, business relationship managers act much like account managers in a commercial IT service provider, i.e. building a strategic relationship with the business.

This transformation from process-oriented, to service-oriented, to running IT like a business, results in a new, IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS) operating model.  Another way of looking at this transformation is Figure 3.  Note that the progression is not necessarily sequential, e.g. an IT organization may work on elements of becoming service-oriented and running IT like a business simultaneously.

ITaas Operating Model

Figure 3. ITaaS Operating Model

Many individuals might recognize elements of service management in the ITaaS IT operating model.  While the model builds on service management best practices, it emphasizes service characteristics that are associated with cloud-based XaaS services (where XaaS includes Infrastructure as a Service [IaaS], Platform-as-a-Service [Paas], and Software-as-a-Service [SaaS]).  XaaS are characterized by the quality of service being actively managed, services being rapidly provisioned (typically through automation), ability to pay for what you use, elastic capacity, and high availability and resiliency.  While service management encourages these characteristics, achieving these characteristics across all IT services is a goal of ITaaS.


Reg Lo is the Director of the Service Management practice for VMware Accelerate Advisory Services

Take Good Care of My Business (Using ITaaS BRM Best Practices)

By Jason Stevenson

Jason Stevenson“We be takin’ care of business–every day–every way!”1 At least that’s what we choose to believe in IT. Unfortunately, the reality is often far from it. The business would likely sing a much different tune — something closer to “It’s the work that we avoid. We’re all self-employed. We love to work at nothing all day.” 1 It sounds harsh, but more often than not, IT does avoid the real work of business, acting as an entity in and of itself, accountable to no one, focusing on putting out fires.

Now more than ever, the business has real choices in information technology. An internal IT department is no longer the only show in town and must provide measurable business value to compete with external solutions, particularly innovative solutions such as Software (SaaS), Infrastructure (IaaS), and Platform as a Service (PaaS).  IT must meet the business needs without clinging to old ways, regardless of whether that means developing solutions in-house, brokering services from appropriate providers or a combination.   Regardless of the solution, IT’s focus must be squarely on making business success easy, so positioning the IT organization as using an Information Technology as a Service (ITaaS) approach is paramount.  The foundation of this business-centric, service-based approach is business relationship management (BRM).

Who is the customer?

IT provides services to both customers and users. A customer is someone who pays for the service, while a user receives the service. In many instances, the customer and user are not the same. Service desk functions and processes like request fulfillment and incident management focus on the user. In contrast, business relationship management focuses on the customer. Often there are multiple customers in an organization including officers, executives, directors and their delegates.

What is business relationship management? 

The purpose of business relationship management is to establish and maintain a strategic connection between the service customer (business leadership) and the service provider (IT representative). Process activities include:

  • Communicating: Sharing ideas and information and coordinating communication channels between the customer (business) and service provider (IT).
  • Understanding: IT comprehending what is important to business; business realizing IT capabilities, value, and implications of changing technology.
  • Matching: Correlating business wants and needs to IT services within the portfolio to set clear expectations.
  • Navigating: Guiding business through IT organization and engagement of the project portfolio.
  • Prioritizing: Ranking IT services and projects and mediating competition for resources.
  • Tracking: Documenting customer opportunities, issues, compliments and complaints and translating desired business outcomes into service packages or solution roadmaps.
  • Escalating: Taking corrective action as needed.
  • Assessing: Continually soliciting customer satisfaction.

When and where do we engage the customer in business relationship management?

Often the means we use to facilitate business relationship management will change, depending on the participants and the length and quality of the relationship. Technically savvy customers may prefer to use a service web portal, while senior executives and officers may prefer the informality of golf or other social activities. A large organization may require a symposium to accommodate many (potentially geographically dispersed) customers. The approach and frequency should align with customers’ positions within the organization, their personalities, and what works culturally and historically within the organization. At a minimum, IT representatives should engage customers in a conference quarterly unless specified otherwise by the customer.

How do we provide business relationship management?

Transparency and trust directly relate to our human nature and are only accomplished through good old-fashioned communication. Both verbal and written communication create opportunities for IT to market how its commitment to an ITaaS approach to service provisioning benefits the business and how it drives business-focused IT decision-making. Stay tuned for an upcoming post with tips for building transparency and trust in your organization.

BRM: The Foundation

In summary, business relationship management is the foundation for ITaaS. Think of business relationship management first as a guide and translator then as a partner for the business. By balancing wants and needs with funding, we gain understanding of the business and translate that understanding into traceable business outcomes. Through integration with service and project portfolio management, IT representatives submit business outcomes in service packages to IT through an ITaaS services web portal after using multiple communication means with the customer. Now, the inner workings of IT are engaged to evaluate business value and risk and subsequently refine priority, which is then confirmed with the customer. Ongoing communication and reporting continually reinforce the relationship between the customer and IT, resulting in greater transparency and trust.

The following diagram illustrates the summary of these concepts.

BRM Governance Model

There you have it, critical success factors for ITaaS BRM. Give it a try! “Chances are you’ll go far if you get in with the right bunch of fellows.” 1


Jason Stevenson is a Transformation Consultant with VMware Accelerate Advisory Services.


© ITIL is a registered trademark of AXELOS Limited.
1 Quote from Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s Takin’ Care Of Business

Taking IT Out of the Shadows

by Barton Kaplan

Wikipedia defines shadow IT as “systems and solutions built and used in organizations without explicit organizational approval…by departments other than the IT department.” It’s been a sore point for central IT organizations for a long time, and judging from the most recent data, it’s only getting worse.

Gartner predicts that by 2015, 35 percent of technology spending will occur outside the central IT organization[1]. In a US$2.7 trillion industry[2], that’s a big number. What’s worse, CIOs consistently underestimate how much the business spends on technology. According to best practices firm CEB, business partners spend almost twice as much on technology as IT estimates[3].

Why is this happening? Recent technology trends compound the prevalence of shadow IT, and putting increased pressure on central IT to keep pace.

  • Business partners have become more tech savvy and are much more willing to take on technology-related activities. From technology evaluation to vendor management, some two-thirds of business executives express a willingness to lead.[4]
  • With the maturation of cloud and XaaS offerings, it’s easier than ever for the business to go around IT to meet its technology needs. And vendors are targeting these business buyers because they typically purchase more and procure faster than IT departments.
  • Across industries, technology is viewed as more critical to enterprise success and competitive differentiation than ever before.
  • As business speeds up and third party providers improve their ease of use, central IT is  perceived as getting even more slow and bureaucratic.

What’s worse, traditional approaches to managing shadow IT simply don’t work anymore. Historically, central IT has reacted to shadow IT in one of three ways:

  1. Police – Attempt to root out and shut down shadow IT. The reality in today’s enterprises, however, is that the vast majority of central IT groups simply don’t have the stature to adopt this approach, or the authority to enforce it. Further, much of this spend is business-sanctioned and viewed as essential.
  2. Ignore – Turning a blind eye to shadow IT isn’t an option either, given the size of the spend and the potential risks to the enterprise of it going completely ungoverned.
  3. Incorporate – Bringing shadow IT into the central IT organization is actively opposed by the business out of fear that it will result in lost agility and innovation. Fifty percent of business technology spending is on innovation, which is three times the size of IT’s innovation budget.[5]

So what should IT do? First and foremost, central IT organizations need to adjust their mindset. The days when shadow IT meant hiding a server under your desk are long gone. Today’s shadow IT has become much more sophisticated and central to the business.

IT organizations need to accept and advise business partners’ experimentation with technology, not resist it. Progressive practitioners who have had success changing their technology relationships with the business are adopting the following three tactics:

  1. Distinguish between healthy and unhealthy shadow IT. At one consumer products company, the IT organization differentiated between “shallow” vs. “deep” IT when determining whether a project should be business or IT-led. This more cooperative approach resulted in a 52 percent increase in IT investments directed at new opportunities.[6]
  2. Change IT’s perspectives on risk. IT’s typical approach to risk is one of mitigation. Less risk is always better. By contrast, business partners look at risk vs. reward tradeoffs. If the reward is great enough, it may be worth the risk. Leading IT organizations are adopting risk management frameworks that capture this more nuanced view of risk.
  3. Improve business perceptions of IT. IT needs to operate at the speed of business and devote more of its budget to innovation. According to VMware data[7], customers who are running IT as a service spend 50 percent of their budgets on innovation vs. an industry average of just 30 percent .

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Bart Kaplan is a business solution strategist with VMware Accelerate Advisory Services and is based in Maryland.


[1] Gartner, Inc. “Predicts 2014: Application Development.” Brian Prentice, David Mitchell Smith, Andy Kyte, Nathan Wilson, Gordon Van Huizen, and Van L. Baker, November 19, 2013.
[2] The New York Times. “Hard Times Could Create a Tech Boom.” Quentin Hardy, November 17, 2012.
[3] Corporate Executive Board (CEB) webinar: “Getting to Healthier Shadow IT.” January 9, 2014
[4] Ibid.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Ibid.
[7] VMware “VMware IT Evolution: Today and Tomorrow – Insight from the VMware 2013 Journey to IT as a Service Study.” August 2013.

IT Transformation and its Impact on the IT Organization

How can the “old IT” be competitive in a marketplace crowded with external cloud providers? The promise of agility, cost savings, as well as self-service capabilities requires the new IT organization to truly transform to the role of service provider.

In this video, Accelerate transformation strategist Padmaja Vrudhula explains how IT’s new role as service provider elevates the business value the IT organization can bring to the business.

 

Move at the Speed of Business with an ITaaS Model

Salicrup-cropby Alex Salicrup

I knew this would be no ordinary customer engagement when the CEO of a global food retailer announced he expected to triple revenue in five years. I also knew an ITaaS model could exploit the cost and operational benefits of a software-defined data center.

But was their existing IT infrastructure capable of meeting his business goal? Simply put—no. Read the story behind our strategic approach and the company’s progress toward an end-to-end transformation in my post on the VMware Consulting blog.

Alex Salicrup is an IT transformation strategist with VMware Accelerate Advisory Services.

4 Tips to Make Your IT Transformation a Success

By Gene Likins

Accelerate consultants are fortunate to work with a wide variety of IT organizations. Our clients vary by industry, global footprint, size, and competitive landscape. But one common theme among IT leaders has been that true IT transformation involves much more than just updating the technology. In fact, technology consistently ranks low for the challenges IT executives brace for as they push their organizations to modernize and shift toward ITaaS.

With ITaaS, the expectations and ground rules for IT are rapidly changing from “internal shared service” to “quality services at a competitive price.”  As IT, our customers are no longer captive; they can easily work directly with public clouds and SaaS vendors. This conjures up a new meaning to “rogue IT.”

With any trend or shift in an industry, there are always those companies that lead through innovation and/or necessity. Based on our experience with these ITaaS leaders, here are a few recurring themes worth considering for your IT transformation.

  1. Set up a governance structure
    This structure should empower service managers to prioritize and fund end-to-end services, rather than point projects. For example, an end-to-end IT service might focus on quarterly budgeting and planning. This is made up of infrastructure, ERP, BI, and dashboards. Strategically minimize IT point projects that are simply limited to deploying one particular technology or application.
  2. Deploy services incrementally
    Avoid the “big bang” approach to launching services—agility is the name of the game now. Two potential options are to quickly deploy a couple of simple services across a large number of businesses, thus maximizing the footprint of the impact. Another option is to focus many services on a single business unit to showcase deeper impact. Either way, the incremental approach will enable iterations, which will enable IT to monitor and refine the outcome.
  3. Avoid wholesale org changes
    First gain a sense for the services and service level agreements (SLAs) you will offer. Develop the IT operating model to deliver IaaS then ITaaS with a private cloud. Then use the operating model to gradually build a new organizational structure. There has been much discussion about cloud centers of excellence (COEs). One weakness I’ve observed with COEs has been accountability. An alternative may be to form a small greenfield team to start. This team could then generate some quick wins and slowly grow to eventually envelope the existing IT model over time.
  4. Market IT services –   Never forget, that as a services business, you must always market and promote your services. Put in the effort and invest in communication and marketing plans to ensure customers are seeing the value, and that you are advertising the successes right back to your customers. Being IT no longer gives you an excuse not to market yourself.

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Gene Likins leads the VMware Accelerate Advisory Services practice for North America and is based in Atlanta.

Look Back to Move Forward – Top 3 Infographics from 2013

As any good strategist knows, you must first assess past actions to successfully plan for the future. So in the midst of 2014 planning, we decided to take a step back and revisit a few of our top posts for the year.

The Accelerate Advisory Services team prides itself on helping to clarify and simplify complicated IT initiatives, focusing in on key goals and eliminating inefficiencies. So it makes sense that three of our most popular posts this year included infographics that break down big topics into concise, clear insights (that happen to look good, too).

Take a minute to check them out—it’s a quick look at this year’s trends, which history tells us are likely to influence the next.

Is Your Organization Ready for the New Wave of IT?

While most IT organizations have a high-level vision for their end-state cloud, and they have the people needed to implement the technology, many are missing the strategy to connect the two. What do you execute, at what stage, and how do the people and processes need to change to support that? The video below provides a strong starting point.

Don’t miss Accelerate Advisory Services strategist Padmaja Vrudhula’s great explanation of a service-based approach to change management. She provides tangible examples of how IT executives can shift the way they classify services and personnel roles to support the move to IT as a service.

Padmaja Vrudhula is a strategist with VMware Accelerate Advisory Services, based in Washington.

Constant Change in Technology Is the Steady State

The VMworld Barcelona TV crew caught up yesterday with Paul Chapman, VMware VP of Global Infrastructure and Cloud Operations. In this short video, he describes how VMware is challenged with the same IT complexities as other large, global corporations—we have to run the business on a day-to-day basis, take orders, ship products, recognize revenue and so forth. And, because internally we’ve solved real-world issues that resonate with many of our customers, we’re now in a position to share how to solve many of those problems in a game-changing way.