Home > Blogs > VMware Operations Transformation Services


Outside-In Thinking: A Simple, But Powerful Part of Delivering IT as a Service

By: Paul Chapman, VMware Vice President Global Infrastructure and Cloud Operations

Moving to deliver IT as a Service can seem like a complex and challenging undertaking. Some aspects of the move do require changing the organization and adopting a radically different mindset. But, based on my experience helping lead VMware IT through the IT as a Service transition, there are also straightforward actions you can take that are simple and provide lasting and significant benefits.

Using outside-in thinking as a guiding principle is one of them.

Thinking Outside-In Versus Inside-Out

Here’s just one example that shows how outside-in thinking led us to a very different outcome than we otherwise would have achieved.

Until fairly recently, there was no way for a VMware ERP application user to self-serve a password reset. Raising a service request or calling the helpdesk were the only ways to do it. Like most organizations, we have a lot of transient and irregular users who would forget their passwords, and this in turn created an average of 500+ password reset requests a month.

Each ticket or call, once received, took an elapsed time of about 15 minutes to resolve. That equated to one and a half people on our team tied up every day doing nothing but resolving ERP log in issues, and, even more importantly, to unhappy users being placed in a holding pattern waiting to log in and perform a function.

As the VMware employee base grew, so did the number of reset requests.

The traditional, brute force IT approach to this problem would have been to add more people (volume-based hiring) to handle the growing volume of requests. Another, more nuanced, approach would be to use task automation techniques to reduce the 15 minutes down to something much faster. In fact, the initial IT team response was an approach that leveraged task automation to reduce the resolution time from 15 minutes to 5. From an inside-out perspective, that was a 66% reduction in process time. By any measure, a big improvement.

However, from the user – or outside-in – perspective, elapsed time for password reset includes the time and trouble to make the request, the time the request spends in the service desk work queue, plus the resolution time. Seen that way, process improvement yielded a shift from hours plus 15 minutes, to hours plus 5 minutes. From an outside-in perspective, then, reducing reset task time from 15 minutes to 5 minutes was basically irrelevant.

Moving to Single Sign-On

Adopting that outside-in perspective, we realized that we were users of this system too and that eliminating the need for the task altogether was a far better approach than automating the task.

In this case, we moved our ERP application to our single sign-on portal, where VMware employees log on to dozens of business applications with a single set of credentials.

With single sign-on, those 500 plus IT support requests per month have gone away. IT has claimed back the time of 1.5 staff, and, more importantly, we’ve eliminated wait time and IT friction points for our users.

It’s a very simple example – but it illustrates how changing thinking can be a powerful part of delivering IT as a Service. Even before you reach anything like full game-changing digitization of IT service delivery, a shift in perspective can let you gain and build on relatively easy quick-wins.

Key Takeaways:

  •  You can make big gains with small and simple steps en route to IT as a Service;
  • Take an outside-in perspective to IT;
  • Drive for new levels of self-service (a ‘zero touch,’ customer-centric world);
  • Think about operating in a “ticket-less” world where the “help-desk phone” should never ring;
  • Measure levels of agility and responsiveness in seconds/minutes not hours/days;
  • Adopt the mindset of a service-oriented and change-responsive organization;
  • And understand that transition is evolutionary and make step-wise, evolutionary changes to get there.

To learn more about outside-in thinking for IT, view this webcast with Paul Chapman and Ian Clayton.

Follow @VMwareCloudOps and @PaulChapmanVM on Twitter for future updates, and join the conversation by using the #CloudOps and #SDDC hashtags on Twitter.