Transition – IT has to educate the people who will be most affected before new solutions go “live.”
During the transition of any solution to live status, one of the biggest complaints from the business is that IT makes flawed assumptions and plans that result in the transition not being very smooth. For most end users in the business, the testing part of transition is their first contact with IT for a new implementation (whether of a product, platform or a service) and any problems in transition simply feed a negative impression that lingers for a long time afterwards.
IT can address potential issues in transition by engaging in detailed transition planning involving business stakeholders. IT must ensure the plans are realistic and take into account business concerns with the aim of standardizing on the approach, from small modifications through to large deployments, to ensure the correct level of due diligence is performed.
Throughout the whole transition period IT and the business need to work collaboratively by providing initial pilot support through to end user training. A diligent approach to risk management is also very useful in this context, so that when risks turn into issues, there is a plan to mitigate that can be set into motion quickly.
Learning Point: Engagement to plan, prioritize and test changes requires significant effort and involvement from the business and IT
Operations – Once solutions and services are live, a common problem faced by the business is inconsistent levels of service.
IT can mitigate this by adopting a common engagement model that is based on service level agreements (SLA). IT needs to work closely with business leaders to understand the relative priority of services and define service level agreements to reflect the business priorities.
Once service levels are defined and agreed with the business, closely track adherence to these service levels and develop a highly visible plan to address any short-comings. Maintenance activities are usually undervalued by the business, yet this typically represents a high proportion of the workload for IT operations team. It is important for IT to clearly show the value these activities provide in contributing to sustained service levels.
Learning Point: A formal engagement model will identify these service level requirements at the Design phase, so that they are well understood before the solution is delivering value , and operations can focus on managing the service. Of course, the engagement model will also have regular service reviews between IT and the business
Governance – Having an effective governance framework that covers decision making at all relevant layers within the organization is absolutely critical to success.
In our experience, governance models can become ineffective if either side lets them deteriorate into “food-fights” over budget and resources. In such cases, representatives from the business merely use the IT governance forum to push for more resources and budget to support their priority initiatives and IT loses control of how its scarce resources are allocated.
There may be circumstances where IT has to push out a project — to close a security hole, for example — and they must be able to use the governance forum to discuss this priority. In order to avoid such a fate, IT must engage the leadership of the organization within a formal governance structure and define clear rules for engagement as well as mechanisms for the prioritization of requests and allocation of budget. This helps to ensure that the business representatives take a holistic view of the business, rather than a parochial view of their own constituency.
IT must also use its knowledge of the business strategy and technological innovations in the market to help define the agenda for technology within the organization. This does not mean pursuing technology for its own sake, nor does this imply wasting budget on a never-ending pursuit of the next, new thing. Instead, IT leaders can take a practical view on ways to meet the strategic needs by leveraging the most effective technology and present these options to the senior leadership.
Learning point: By defining clear rules for engagement and helping the business in setting a technology agenda that helps meet strategic needs. IT can help establish an effective governance mechanism to govern technology decisions in an organization.
In conclusion, changing the corporate mindset towards IT is achievable but it is a two-way effort between the business and IT; both need to change. By making the changes we have suggested throughout a service lifecycle from strategy, design, transition through operations, supported by effective governance IT can act as an effective partner to the business and help change the corporate mindset.
Nilesh Chandra is an experienced technology consultant and an expert in helping clients define strategy and implement their large enterprise programs. Nilesh is passionate about helping clients get value for their investments and his deep understanding of processes and technology in areas of Finance, HR and supply chain enable him to successfully deliver results for clients. Nilesh holds a MBA from Cornell University, NY with a focus on business strategy and manufacturing. He is an accredited Lean expert and also holds a Six Sigma Green Belt certification. Nilesh can be contacted at [email protected]
Derek Lonsdale is a highly-experienced IT professional with more than fifteen years in the industry. He is an ITIL® v3 Expert, an ISO20000 consultant and has contributed to the design and deployment of service management solutions for numerous clients, including 3 global initiatives in the Health, Energy and Finance sectors. Specializing in delivering complex service management solutions and associated organizational design, Derek is an accomplished change agent, working comfortably at CIO level.
Chris Gallacher is a Consultant at PA Consulting Group. Chris works within PA’s US IT consulting practice advising clients around IT service management principles and organizational design to help companies develop and deliver their IT portfolios while maximizing the value IT can provide to the business. Chris holds a Masters in Information Technology and is an ITIL V3 Expert.