Tag Archives: process

IT Reset: How to Re-Prioritize IT Initiatives During COVID-19

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CIOs have had their work cut out for them over the last few months. The sudden shift to remote work has put pressure on IT to create solutions for remote workers using technology that perhaps was older or less capable, support overworked and stressed out IT technicians, and, in general, keep the business moving through the use of technology.

The priority at this time must be ensuring that technology supports essential business processes. But that doesn’t mean IT leaders should freeze any other initiatives until after COVID-19 has passed.

In fact, the worst thing any leader can do right now is “freeze” and wait until life “returns to normal.” There will be no return to the normal as businesses knew it before the pandemic. Even after the immediate threat has passed and businesses can resume working in offices, the way we work will be forever changed because of this situation.

There will be an expectation for the business to provide flexible work environments, more self-service options, tighter security, and better contingency plans for addressing future disruptions like this one.

All of these shifts provide IT with a rare opportunity to hit pause, take a step back, and reassess priorities. Adobe’s CIO Cynthia Stoddard advises, “CIOs now have to rethink priorities, or at least reorder them, and we must reinvent ourselves now as virtual leaders.”

Here are a few ways you can reset your priorities and identify what initiatives you should take on right now.

Cybersecurity

One of the first priorities should be your level of protection against cyber threats. Security is imperative for continuing essential business operations but this unique situation has increased the risk of cyber threats. “Zoom bombing” became a trend over the last few weeks as uninvited guests crashed virtual meetings and get-togethers, often disrupting the session with violent rhetoric. While Zoom quickly adapted to protect its users, this may be just the beginning of more frequent cyber-attacks and threats. As more of the world moves online, hackers will most likely increase the intensity and sophistication of their attacks. CIOs should review their cybersecurity protocols and ensure the proper procedures are being followed.

Productive Remote Work Environments

In addition to cybersecurity, CIOs need to make sure that every person in the organization is equipped to do their job remotely. This might mean you need to more heavily invest or leverage self-service technology or AI. Large investments or initiatives around new technology may have been on the back burner but now is an ideal time to reassess whether you need to make those investments now.

It’s also not just about providing technology. You may need to equip your team to handle and manage it. Are your knowledge bases relevant and up to date? Knowledge bases may not be seen as high priority, but techs will no longer be able to just walk down to an office to troubleshoot a problem. More of the organization could be turning to knowledge bases to navigate technology while they work from home.

Service Delivery

Another area to review is your service delivery processes. There are many facets of connectivity that are out of your team’s hands right now, including different hardware and software being used by team members with different levels of connectivity. Like I mentioned earlier, a service technician can’t simply walk down to an office to troubleshoot an issue. If there were any gaps in your service delivery processes before COVID-19, they are likely more apparent and problematic now. Take this time now to address those important issues.

Refocusing priorities will allow you to emerge from this situation more efficient and capable than you were. This will enable you to refocus on those more urgent tasks.

I mentioned in a previous blog post that CIOs and IT leaders need to focus on enabling outcomes instead of simply delivering outputs. Even though the way we work is rapidly shifting, this is a perfect time to reassess how IT can drive outcomes. We’ll never go back to work as before. So, instead of looking at this situation as a blow to current initiatives, look at it as the perfect time to re-prioritize and prepare for the new future.

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5 Signs You’re Not Ready for AI

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We’re inundated with headlines about the power of artificial intelligence (AI) these days. AI is everywhere and most businesses know they will need to adopt it soon, if they haven’t already. A recent study from Gartner shows that 37% of organizations have implemented AI in some form. That’s a 270% increase in the past four years!

I suspect that there are many CIOs feeling the pressure from their boards or C-suite peers to implement AI-related technologies. But even with the increase in the number of companies implementing AI doesn’t mean that every organization should hop aboard the AI train right now.

AI isn’t something that you can just pop out of the box and have it work effectively. Like most technologies, it requires a little preparation. Trying to implement AI in an organization that isn’t ready is a disaster waiting to happen.

How do you know if your organization isn’t ready for AI? Look for these signs.

 

5 signs you're not ready for AI

Your processes are undocumented or unclear

You can’t just “turn on” AI and expect it to magically – and instantly – solve problems or take on those tedious, repetitive manual tasks in your organization. The algorithms that power AI can only do what they’re told to do. This means that AI needs processes – and not just any processes. Your processes need to be clear, well-defined, and well-documented.

Organizations that are ready for AI have already identified and eliminated any convoluted parts of their processes. They’ve discovered and corrected gaps in process definitions. They’ve addressed process issues that caused human intervention and eliminated any waste or bottlenecks. They’ve already documented and polished their processes so that when they are ready to automate it, that automation can be implemented easily and quickly.

Your data is a mess

AI-related technologies rely on having data – lots and lots of data. And not just any data but accurate, reliable, relevant, and trustworthy data. One of the ways that the use of AI can be effective is that the algorithms that power AI have relevant and accurate data, in the proper context, on which to take action. If your company has taken a blasé approach to data capture and quality, this is a big red flag for AI adoption. Bad data is one of the main reasons that many AI projects fail.

It’s crucial that an organization has a robust approach to data capture, management, and quality before implementing AI. CIOs and IT leaders should investigate what data they already have, why and how the data is collected, and how that data is maintained.

Like any other technology-related initiative, bad data provided to AI only means bad data – and actions – out. Trying to adopt AI using unreliable data will only result in bad outcomes – only those bad outcomes will happen almost immediately.

Your team is resistant

Even though AI is all the rage, there are many IT professionals who are fearful that AI will automate them right out of a job. Implementing AI is an initiative that requires a purposeful approach to organizational change. If one member of the IT organization is resistant, the entire implementation could be at risk.

Leaders must help their teams understand that implementing AI does not indicate loss of jobs, but that some of the tedious, repetitive work done by people are better suited for AI – freeing up people to do the things that people do best – innovate, create, think, and plan. Associates should be provided with training to grow their skillsets for use in an AI-enabled world.

Communication and transparency across all levels are key for successful AI adoption. It’s important that those who will be working with AI are involved in the implementation process as early as possible. Team members will be more likely to engage and support the initiative when they have all the information upfront about how AI will be used.

There’s no business case for AI

The use of AI is trendy and exciting, but as I’ve pointed out already, AI is not a magic bullet.

It requires an investment of time and money. For an organization to realize the value in AI and for it to be implemented and managed correctly, AI implementation must solve problems that result in improved business outcomes. This is the only way AI is going to provide any ROI.

Yes, there are some eye-catching headlines around the use of AI out there. Don’t chase them. Look for the problems and opportunities in your company where AI use would help. Look for cases where the use of AI meets a need of your business or enables the achievement of a valuable business outcome. No, it may not be the most exciting use of AI – but it will be the most valuable.

You’re afraid to experiment

This is a real fear, especially among IT teams. You are too afraid of failing, so afraid of costing the business money and being unable to show any ROI, that you are paralyzed from experimenting with making AI work in your organization.

There are going to be stumbles and pitfalls along the way with AI adoption. They are unavoidable and inevitable, just like with any new or emerging technology. The key is to fail fast and learn so you can innovate, evolve and continue moving forward. You have to experiment to determine the right data infrastructure, the volume, and quality of the data, and getting the right people into the right roles. Adjustments will be necessary. AI will evolve and your business will evolve with it. Bottom line: be prepared to make those mistakes, find the learning opportunities and share those learnings across the rest of the business.

AI is not a passing fad. It’s only going to become more embedded in our world. So while there may be pressure to begin implementing AI right now, don’t make the mistake of getting in a race you’re not prepared for – it’s the fastest way to lose.

It’s not about being one of the first organizations to use AI. It’s about using AI correctly for your organization. Look for these signs to see if you are ready for AI and fix the foundation before you zoom off into an AI future. By starting from a strong foundation, you’ll be assured of success with AI.

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Flipping the ESM Switch: Pressure Off, Ease On

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There’s a buzz around Enterprise Service Management (ESM) these days and with good reason! I see Enterprise Service Management as the future of Service Management. With the ever-increasing business reliance on the use of technology, more organizations will need to adopt Enterprise Service Management.

But what exactly does ESM do for your business and, more importantly, how can you start to implement it without complicating it?

At its core, ESM is applying IT Service Management concepts to the entire enterprise. It makes it easier to provide solutions to colleagues within your organization and to deliver value to customers outside of your organization.

While ESM is not about reinventing the wheel, it’s certainly not about force-fitting every department into established ITSM processes and workflows.

Implementing ESM is about leveraging what you have to make your tools, processes, and teams work better so that you can drive the same business value across the organization. It should flip the switch from pressure to ease.

Let’s look at some areas where ESM will ease the pressure within your organization.

Pressure:
“Other teams will insist on having it their way and using their tools and processes.”

Every department has its own defined set of processes, tools, and workflows. This can create a power struggle where each department is certain that their way is the best option. This can create difficulties during ESM implementation as each department could try to force others into adopting their processes or tools.

Ease:
“We are all working toward a common goal so there is no longer ‘my way’ and ‘your way’ – it’s now ‘our way’. “

The fundamental shift that must occur for ESM to be successful is to let go of the notion of independent goals and objectives. Every department, every team, every individual must be aligned with the overall goals of the organization. No matter your role in the organization: HR, accounting, marketing or IT, everyone is working to serve the customer. Department leaders and the C-suite must coach their teams to stay focused on these goals. If the organization is aligned on shared, common goals, it will be easier to adjust processes and workflows that work best to meet customer demands.

Pressure:
“My department is unappreciated and burnt out.”

Contrary to popular belief, it is not only members of the IT organization who often feel burnt out and unappreciated. In many organizations, every team member can feel as if their work goes unnoticed and unappreciated. When teams are focused on internal goals and not on organizational goals, teams fall into working in their own silo. One of the results of this silo mentality is that no one is clear on who is accomplishing what within the organization, which makes it difficult to understand how everyone contributes to organizational goals.

Ease:
“ESM results in clearly defined end-to-end processes, which means every part of the team will understand who contributes and how.”

Good ESM makes it easier to assign and see responsibility and accountability across each service or product. Not only does this hold everyone accountable for completing their piece of the process, but every team will be able to clearly be recognized for how they contribute. This can be the motivation that many team members need to keep contributing and to respect the other departments also involved in the delivery of services and products.

Pressure:
“Our department does its job and meets our part of the process – it’s other departments that drop the ball.”

Ease:
“Enterprise Service Management provides increased visibility and performance and helps management understand what has been achieved.”

Good ESM processes help provide insight into the value that each business function provides and communicates that value to customers and other business stakeholders. With Enterprise Service Management, no one can drop the ball because everyone knows who is in charge of what aspect of the process. There are clear communication channels and a high degree of visibility and transparency. Leaders must encourage their teams to embrace this as it will identify gaps, provide clear insight into contributions, and eliminates “blame” culture.

If you feel any of these pressures, then it may be time to introduce the ease of Enterprise Service Management. How can you start implementing it in your organization with ease instead of friction?

1. Justify Enterprise Service Management in business terms

ESM doesn’t always sell itself. Just like any change in an organization, the benefits need to be articulated in business terms. Explain the actual business benefits including revenue, competitive advantage or enhanced customer experience. Look at how many hours ESM can save from eliminating inefficiencies and miscommunications and how it can bring even more value to the organization.

2. Don’t treat ESM as ITSM

ESM cannot be an IT project. ESM is not about simply extending ITSM into the enterprise. It’s an organizational change that impacts every member of the team. Remember, ESM is about leveraging what you already have in place — and that includes every process and perhaps tools other departments use, as well. It must feel collaborative and inclusive to everyone in the organization

3. Respect the holdouts

It’s natural for some departments in your organization to fully embrace ESM and for others to be more resistant to this change. Instead of marginalizing the departments who are holding out on ESM, work with them to show how ESM can benefit their team. If ESM is going to be successful, every team needs to be willing to accept and try it. Forcing Enterprise Service Management on a department will only cause problems down the road. By continuing to emphasize the collaborative nature of ESM and the ability for every team member to be heard, you will be able to win over those holdouts.

4. IT- Focus on yourself first

IT can drive ESM, but there is no point extending sub-optimal service management practices outside of IT. If your ITSM processes are not meeting your needs, or if your own team is struggling with certain aspects of ITSM, focus on cleaning up in-house before trying to extend service management into the enterprise. If you are having successes from ITSM efforts, then your argument for ESM will be more impactful and you’ll have an easier time extending it throughout the enterprise.

ESM is not a passing fad. As more customers expect more personalization and self-service, the need for ESM is only going to increase. The best way to maintain a competitive advantage and keep your customers happy is to start implementing ESM in your organization today.

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5 Ways Processes Make SMBs More Agile

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“Processes” often sound like a dirty word for small and medium-size businesses (SMBs). When you’re working in a small organization, your team has no choice but to work together to ensure maximum productivity.  Many SMBs worry that processes will actually hurt productivity.

The common concern goes something like this:

  • Having a process will just slow down projects by requiring approvals and meetings 
  • Once a process is in place, the organization will need to pivot or focus in another direction because they must be nimble – and processes will only get in the way of pivoting
  • Defining and implementing a process takes too much time and most people don’t stick to it – so why bother implementing it?

These worries result from badly implemented and poorly designed processes. Good processes won’t cause the above problems. In fact, good processes make your company more agile. 

Here are 5 ways that good processes will improve your organization.

1. Processes increase transparency within organizations

Even in SMBs, there can be silos and lack of communication on goals and initiatives because everyone is so focused on their individual roles. A proper process ensures effective collaboration between everyone. When everyone is clear on process and more importantly, the reasons for a process, they are more likely to support that process from their respective position.

But that’s not all.  This second part is especially important for SMBs. Often, team members understand what everyone else is doing but not necessarily why they are doing it or how it drives business. A process breaks down those communication barriers so that everyone is confident in each role and the projects that are driving the company forward. 

2. Greater accountability 

Usually in SMBs, everyone wears many hats. Your marketing person may also be in charge of sales and web development and your HR person could also be in charge of customer service.

This can be a great thing and it can make your company extremely agile — sometimes.  But when people handle many different responsibilities, it can be difficult to see who is really doing what. 

Generally, when a small group of people are doing many different things and the processes aren’t clear, projects can get dropped or mistakes are made. With so many overlapping responsibilities, it’s easy to point blame on everyone or no one. You may often hear: “I have so much going on that I didn’t realize that project was on my plate” or “I just assumed So-and-So was handling that.”

Processes eliminate this problem because they make everyone’s responsibilities very clear. With a process, no one can say “I didn’t realize that activity was on my plate to do” because they – and everyone else – will know exactly what falls under their roles and responsibilities.

3. No More Throwing Spaghetti at The Wall

A common problem among SMBs is that employees often feel there is no time to actually find long-term solutions to issues.  As a result,  they’re constantly forced to fix things quickly and making it work “for now.”

But, the “for-now” approach actually leads to lost time and less productivity because you are constantly having to go back to fix that same problem over and over again. In short, you’re just throwing spaghetti at the wall just hoping one of these solutions will stick.

Processes create clear paths to reliable and repeatable long-term solutions. When you create a process that efficiently creates a long-term solution, this results in your team having the time to take care of their other projects and responsibilities.

4. Your budget will go farther

SMBs have limited budgets – everyone knows this. Processes help you to do things more efficiently and effectively, with more of a focus and connection to the bottom line.

When you have haphazard projects, you’re “throwing spaghetti at the wall”.  There is no accountability, and it is very easy for your team to be working on things that don’t connect to the bottom line.  

This means your team is working hard – they might even be overworked – but you’re not actually growing your business. 

What then happens is one of two things: your team feels overworked and under-appreciated and their work starts to decline or you hire more people to get more work done, even if it’s for projects that don’t necessarily provide value to the organization. 

Either way, you are paying for a company that might not be delivering as much value as it could.

Developing efficient and effective processes helps ensure every project connects to the bottom line. This way your team won’t be wasting their time or energy, and you won’t be wasting money paying for work that doesn’t actually grow your business!

5. You can be continuously improving

In an SMB, many owners and team members are often just trying to stay afloat and put out fires as they come up. They are finding quick fixes, squeezing by on tight budgets and just trying to stay ahead of the competition. 

It can be hard to see much growth or understand how the business is actually growing. With a process, you can establish a baseline from which to measure improvements. You’ll be able to say “This is where we started and this is where ended up and here’s what went right and what went wrong.”

Defined processes give your business a chance to improve. You’ll have a clearer picture of what decisions you as the business owner need to make.  You will enable your team members to feel empowered about what they are able to accomplish and it provides a greater sense of responsibility and contribution to the company’s success.

The point of this is: the right process can help your organization accomplish more and grow faster. So instead of questioning the value of processes or avoiding them all together, take the time to establish the right processes or improve the ones that you already have. By defining processes, you actually become more agile – you can quickly and confidently identify and implement the operational changes required to quickly respond to changes in the market and keep you ahead of your competition.

Looking for more support?

Tedder Consulting’s new Process Improvement Workshop can help you quickly and effectively improve your processes in your organization! Learn more about it here!

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4 Surprising Reasons ITSM Really is for SMBs

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There is a nasty rumor going around the IT world about ITSM. Some professionals and organizations think that ITSM is nothing more than a bureaucratic mess of processes that only inhibits productivity and can only be effectively implemented by large organizations.

But we’re going to let you in on a secret: Good ITSM is every SMBs secret weapon.

ITSM doesn’t have to be complicated. After all, ITSM is simply a set of defined practices for implementing, managing and delivering IT services that meet the needs of the organization.

Good ITSM looks like:

  • Reliable, consistent and relatable services from IT to the customer
  • A measurable contribution to business value from IT
  • Efficient, data-driven, defined and documented processes

Now, that doesn’t exactly sound like something that is is only beneficial for large companies, does it?

While many people recognize the benefits of great ITSM, let’s talk specifically why ITSM is great for  SMBs.

1. Customer Experience

Customer expectations have drastically changed over the last few years due in part to new technologies. Customers expect real-time responses, personalized journeys and continual innovation from businesses. 

Let’s take Amazon as an example. You may think that customers shop at Amazon simply because it’s Amazon. While that may be the case now; originally, customers started shopping with Amazon because Amazon made it convenient to shop with them. Amazon started doing things like offering personalized shopping requests, providing immediate shipping notifications and maintaining a responsive customer service. An “Amazon experience” is now the customer expectation with every business.

Of course, most small businesses run with limited staff, so “Amazon-like” expectations may be difficult for SMBs to meet. 

That’s where ITSM comes in. ITSM helps SMBs provide faster and more reliable services without requiring extra manpower. In the end, it means a smoother, more cohesive customer experience without extra overhead from a bigger staff. 

2. Agility 

The business world is incredibly competitive. Technology has enabled every business to move faster and grow quicker. If you’re not ahead of the curve, you’re already falling behind – so agility is an absolute requirement for SMBs. 

ITSM helps organizations to structure their workflows so the most pressing and important needs are handled quickly. ITSM helps eliminate distractions and nagging problems that constantly need to be fixed and it helps teams stay focused on the outcomes that help the business get ahead and stay ahead. 

3. ITSM can be easier to implement at SMBs

As we addressed above, SMBs must be agile and nimble in order to keep up with their competition. SMBs must focus on the projects and services that will drive revenue and grow the business bottomline.

Because of this, SMBs are uniquely suited to see wins from ITSM faster than larger companies do. In an SMB, teams are smaller and they must work together more frequently on the most valuable and important projects. They often see the results of their efforts more directly than those working in large organizations.

Therefore, there are fewer people to convince to support ITSM implementation, fewer instances of siloed-thinking to overcome, and a greater understanding of how everyone works together.

4. Your budget will take you further.

Contrary to many myths, ITSM is not about the newest and greatest tool. It is about creating process and workflows so that the entire organization works better to enable a seamless customer experience.

Creating efficient processes and well-defined services ensures that your business is growing at a healthy scale. When you have the right processes and clear services, you can rest assured your team is focused on driving business. So that when it becomes time for you to grow and hire more team members, it will be because the business is growing, not because your team is too busy and stressed out but not actually driving business.     

Additionally, great ITSM doesn’t start with the tool. It starts with focusing first on business needs and then identifying and defining the needed processes, services and workflows to meet those business needs. By starting from this perspective, you will avoid wasting money on tools that will never support your business. You will know that when you do invest in a tool, it will work within the processes you’ve already defined and it will be used correctly 

How to Start to Implement ITSM In Your SMB?

If you are ready to begin implementing ITSM, it’s important that you start by answering some questions. This will help you have a clear understanding of how ITSM can fit into your business. 

Remember what we mentioned above, ITSM is not about buying the latest and greatest tool! Avoid diving straight in with purchasing a fancy tool – start with the defining service and the needed processes! 

Avoid the common mistake of messing up ITSM before you even get started with it! The answers to these questions will help you much more than any expensive tool will at this stage of your ITSM journey.

  • Identify how does your business utilize or depend upon technology? 
  • What are common activities that your team performs in supporting your business in its use of technology?
  • Are you able to measure the contribution that technology brings to your business?  Are you able to measure and discuss how your IT team contributes to business success – in business-relevant terms?
  • What could be done differently in how IT contributes to business success?
  • What small improvements could result in big wins for your company? 

Once you have answered these questions, it’s time to start learning about the different ITSM frameworks and how you can get started with it. Attend webinars and user group meetings to learn what good ITSM can do for your business, talk to experts, or read blogs and white papers about the best way to get started with ITSM.

It’s the beginning of the year and many SMBs are still bright-eyed with big goals and exciting plans and timelines, so now is the time to get ahead of your timeline and ensure that you hit every goal you have this year!

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Why Your Process Isn’t Working “As Designed”

Share twitterlinkedinmailAlmost everything in an organization is a sequence of tasks. In fact, many people describe a business as the “sum of all its processes.” This is why many IT leaders and consultants focus on process design.

However, many IT organizations find that their processes rarely work “as designed.” No matter how flawless the design or how much time they spent designing the process, many IT leaders find that their processes just aren’t delivering the expected results.

When addressing why your processes are working “as is” instead of “as designed”, there are some red flags that might appear. Avoiding these could save your process.

1. No ownership

Ownership and accountability may be the most important piece of process design. IT leaders need to not only own the process but require their teams to own their roles in the process as well.
Without clear ownership and defined roles, your team will find it easy to blame others or blame the process itself. Lack of ownership creates a blame culture where team members are too busy pointing fingers than actually dealing with the issues that need to be addressed.

2. No documentation

Clearly defined processes may seem like they hinder productivity but they can actually help improve productivity. Documenting a process offers several benefits. It solves the above problem of no ownership and gets everyone on the “same page.” Documenting your process also lays the basis for cost-justifiable and continual improvement.

In addition to have a thoroughly detailed process, it should be easy for anyone in the organization to locate this documented process. It should be stored in an easy to access place and easy to read through so that everyone can learn the process and utilize it.

3. No communication

It is not enough to have defined processes, processes must be communicated consistently inside and outside of IT. IT leaders can easily communicate processes through having clear documentation..

The C-suite and rest of the organization should understand each process but also, why each process is important to the overall effectiveness of the organization. If other departments understand how a process makes their jobs easier, they will be more likely to adopt the process and incorporate it in their workflows.

4. Silo mentality

Proper communication should reduce the silo mentality but it’s essential that leaders work to eliminate silo mentality in the organization. When departments are out of the loop on what each other is working on, the entire company fails.

IT leaders need to work with other leaders to share data and information and encourage teams to work together.

Incentives must be aligned when it comes to processes. For example, why does it pay for the sales team to pay attention and integrate with the IT team’s processes? How does the entire organization improve because of a process? When other departments are clear on the benefits and incentives of their processes, they will be more willing to adapt to that process.

5. Complacency

Processes have a lifespan and cannot be designed to last forever. Your business is constantly evolving and changing, and your process designs must change and evolve as well. If you and your team simply accept a process or worse, begin to ignore it, then the process will no longer deliver the results that it was initially designed to do.

Teams should adopt a continual improvement attitude and regularly ask “Is this process still working?” Teams should identify which parts aren’t working and play a role in improving and adjusting the process so it works “as designed.”

As an added bonus, including teams in continual process improvement, empowers them to create processes that they will want to implement and use.

What can IT organizations do to ensure that processes work “as designed”?

For a process to work as designed, it should be part of the culture. Just like anything else in business, the process should fit the culture.

If your culture is broken, no process will fix it. Your organizational culture must encourage communication and collaboration for any process to work correctly. By working with other leaders to encourage interdepartmental collaboration and empowering teams to take control of their processes, you can begin to improve the culture so that every process works as designed.

If you are truly not sure if your processes are working as designed, then a process audit will show you how to evaluate your processes. This is the first step to addressing your processes “as is” state and identifying gaps in your process or your culture.

Start improving your team’s effectiveness – download our free Process Rescue Kit to start improving your process designs with your team.Share twitterlinkedinmail

Warning: You Might Be Already Disappointing Your Customers

Share twitterlinkedinmailWe have bad news for some IT organizations. You might already be disappointing your customers. The Fourth Industrial Revolution has already occurred and customer expectations are higher than ever.

Most of these increased customer expectations are due to new technologies. Customers expect and want innovation from the brands they do business with and they are more informed than ever about the different options available to them. They want more and if they can’t get it from a certain brand, they will go to a competitor. 76% of customers now report it’s easier than ever to take their business elsewhere.

This means that brands and specifically, IT teams, need rethink how they manage their services and technologies. IT teams need to act more efficiently and be more in sync with the rest of the organization. Above all, they need to understand their customers’ expectations.

There are four things customers expect now that every organization needs to address.

1. Connected Processes

Customers see a connected brand, not an individual department. This is why connected processes are crucial and why every part of the organization must work together and technology must seamlessly link every piece of the customer’s journey.

70% of customers say connected processes, including seamless handoffs or contextualized engagement based on earlier interactions are very important to winning their business.

Device hopping is prevalent among most consumers. They jump from phone to tablet to computer and back to phone again. They expect to have the exact same experience with a brand, no matter how they are connecting with that brand. 60% of consumers change their contact channel depending on where they are and what they’re doing. So, if they have a conversation on Twitter with that brand, they expect the call center representative to know about it when they call in the next day.

For IT, that means they need to create connected processes that include every part of the organization.

2. Personalization

Personalization may be the most important customer expectation post-Fourth Industrial Revolution. Online, everything is personalized. Just look at the way Google personalizes search results! So, consumers expect their customer service experiences and buying experiences with a brand to be personalized as well.

84% of customers say being treated like a person and not a number is very important to winning their business. They expect personalized offers based on their purchase history, retargeted offers in ads or emails and user-generated content.

Companies now must design multiple personalized experiences for each single product or service. More importantly, organizations must end silo behaviors so that everyone in the organization has access to communication history, buying habits and customer preferences.

3. Innovation

If you’re not innovating, then you are already falling behind. 63% of customers expect companies to provide new products and services more frequently than before.

Just look at how expectations around cell phones have changed. The iPhone and Android competition have led consumers to expect constant innovation. If your phone is over a year old, it’s already considered “old”. If either one of these companies don’t put out a new model every year, they risk losing a huge chunk of the market. Customers expect new and better models all of the time. If you don’t meet customer expectation, you can bet that your competitors will.

For IT organizations, this means they must improve their processes so they can shorten product development cycles and complete projects faster than ever. This is not news for many CIOs as 65% of IT teams say innovation for competitive differentiation is a high priority.

4. Response Times

Social media revolutionized how buyers communicate with brands. Consumers are always on and always connected and they want to answers quickly. 77% of US consumers rank “Valuing My Time” as the most important part of online customer service.

Even when they can’t reach a call center using traditional means, customers are reaching out in different ways and they expect your customer service team to have all of the information about their customer journey and their needs. This, of course, brings us back to the importance of ending silo behavior and improving connected processes.

Customers also expect self-service options when it comes to their needs. They want self-checkouts and access to their data and accounts. IT organizations need to be prepared for the customer’s desire for data and provide the correct tools that consumers can use.

What can IT do to improve?

It’s clear that customers expect more. How can IT organizations change to support these new customer expectations? In a recent survey, 62% of execs said they had a management initiative or transformation program to make their business more digital.

Embracing VeriSM™ can help IT organizations lead their organizations into digital transformation. VeriSM™ stands for Value-Driven, Evolving, Responsive and Integrated Service Management. It’s a business-oriented approach to Service Management. It’s designed to keep the entire business connected and evolving so that it provides more value to the consumer.

VeriSM™ does away with the “one size fits all” approach and facilitates a tailored approach so the organization can focus on using the right practices that will fit the business’ needs. Not only will it keep the organization focused on business goals, but it will also help break down silos within the organization.

Whether you choose to embrace VeriSM™ or another service management approach, it’s clear that consumers are already in the digital age and IT organizations must keep up. IT leaders need to focus on faster project timelines, improved processes, better interdepartmental communication, and delivering a superior customer experience.Share twitterlinkedinmail

Are Processes Killing Your Productivity?

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Every IT organization knows that good processes are critical to the success of a company. The right processes can improve efficiency and create an organized workflow. However,when taken to the extreme, processes can kill productivity and ruin your team’s morale.

Let’s take a step back and talk about processes and why they matter.

Processes are a defined sequence of tasks that keep the organization running smoothly. Processes provide organizations with a way to measure progress and productivity, which can help a team feel more efficient and accountable for their work. Standard processes create a consistency of work and provide a foundation for continuous improvement. Lastly, defined processes enable automation, which helps IT become more responsive to business demands.

So we can all agree that processes are a good thing in business. Except for they when they get in the way or go out of control. Many studies are showing that processes are beginning to hinder productivity across the globe.

In a study of U.S. and European companies, The Boston Consulting Group found that “over the past fifteen years, the amount of procedures, vertical layers, interface structures, coordination bodies, and decision approvals needed…has increased by anywhere from 50 percent to 350 percent.”

The same report found that in larger and more complicated organizations, managers “spend 40 percent of their time writing reports and 30 percent to 60 percent of their time coordinating  meetings.”

This does not leave much time to actually accomplish the work that needs to be done.

How can you tell if your process is working or if it is killing your productivity? There are a few ways you can test your processes.

1. Does the process accommodate all projects?

Processes cannot take a narrowly-defined, “one size fits all” approach. l. As an IT organization, your team is most likely handling a wide variety of projects. Your processes have to accommodate the variety of projects while at the same time providing needed consistency.   

Agility is just as important as having a standard process. Today, new technologies are coming to market at lightning fast speeds.Businesses are adopting technologies quickly and demanding that the IT department keep up with supporting these new technologies.

IT needs to be able to react quickly to these needs. If a process was not designed for agility or to accommodate the variablity found within a specific project, IT cannot react quickly. When you insist the process stay exactly the same for every project, you are asking your employees to try to sprint while attached to a ball and chain.

Too many organizations fall into the “process for process sake” mindset. They insist on maintaining every aspect of a process for every project, even when it doesn’t make sense.

If you find that your process has worked really well for some projects but did not work well for other projects, we recommend examining where the process stopped working. Take a look at the areas where flexibilty or a different approach is needed. Don’t lose sight of the end-goal for the process and the goals of the projects.

2. Are you focusing more on the process than the people?

No matter what innovative technology exists, it’s the people who make your business run, not the technology. Process should enable people to take advantage of the technology, not inhibit the use of technology.

When leaders focus too much on the process and ignore the needs of their team, the team doesn’t feel empowered to do their job effectively.

It’s not empowering when individuals are given more responsibility yet still have to obtain a large number of approvals and sign-offs to get anything done. This signals a lack of trust to your team.

Leaders need to start relying on their team’s expertise and experience just as much as they rely on the process. When you start to do this, you can often improve your processes because your team feels empowered to do so.

It’s critical to empower with action, not with permission. When your team is empowered to take action to get the job done, they feel a greater sense of pride in their work, are more invested in the project and more appreciated by their bosses.

When jobs depend on meeting metrics or process approvals, the creativity and innovation of teams suffer. The last thing you want is a team who can’t – or won’t – find ways to innovate and improve.

3. Are you relying on tools too much?

We’ve seen it time and time again. Organizations invest in a very pricey tool. They implement it one way and create a process around it and then they try to force that tool and process onto every problem that arises in the business.

Tools are fantastic but they are not problem solvers. People are problem solvers and your tools and processes should be built around the people and the problem that needs to be solved.

Processes built around tools are doomed to fail but processes built around problems and supported by employee action will always work.

4. Do you have process silos?

Organizations that are siloed will always struggle with processes. For example, what happens when IT has a process for onboarding a new employee and HR has their own process for onboarding and they are completely separate? Undoubtedly, it causes unnecessary extra work and possibly, some confusion for the new member who is being onboarded.

This is where cross-departmental communication and collaboration must come into play. Linking processes across departments and achieving buy-in from team members in both departments will avoid wasted time and energy.

Again, this will rely on your process being agile (see the first point) as you may need to adjust several of your processes to become cross-functional with other departments.

Work with other department leaders to understand their processes and determine how you can combine the two into cross-functional processes. Then clearly define and document these processes so that there is no confusion across teams.

5. Have you avoided process audits?

If you’ve learned anything from this article, we hope you’ve learned that processes are ever-evolving. They are constantly shifting to adapt to the growth of the organization and the specific project at hand.

So it’s necessary to perform regular process audits to ensure your processes are working to the best of their ability and improving the productivity output of your team.

How do you perform a process audit? It’s best to start by looking for any drops in productivity during the process or where output slows down. Additionally, monitor for signs of unhappy teams. Do you see resistance from the team at any certain stage?

Look at your processes and determine if any piece of it does not add value. If you’re unsure, speak with your team on this. Since they are using the processes, they will know what are the most valuable and impactful parts of it.

Let’s be clear on one thing: I am an extremely big fan of having documented, well-defined processes in your organization.

But I want to encourage you as the business leader to always be monitoring processes and keeping your eyes on the end goal and the people implementing and using the processes.

Focus on people and improving communication and innovation so that you can solve business problems. The process will fit naturally and be more powerful when they are viewed as the means to a goal and not the goal itself.

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What is DevOps?

Share twitterlinkedinmail“What is DevOps?”

Taken at face value, the question may seem a bit rhetorical, but allow me to explain.

There is no single definition of “DevOps”. If you ask five people “What is DevOps?”, you’ll likely get five different answers.

Need some examples?

Here’s how Gartner has defined DevOps[1]: “A change in IT culture, focusing on rapid IT service delivery through the adoption of agile, lean practices in the context of a system-oriented approach.  DevOps emphasizes people (and culture), and seeks to improve collaboration between operations and development teams.  DevOps implementations utilize technology – especially automation tools that can leverage an increasingly programmable and dynamic infrastructure from a life cycle perspective.”

 Take a look at “The DevOps Handbook[2] by Gene Kim and others.  It states that DevOps is “…the outcome of applying the most trusted principles from the domain of physical manufacturing and leadership to the IT value stream.  DevOps relies on bodies of knowledge from Lean, Theory of Constraints, the Toyota Production System, resilience engineering, learning organizations, safety culture, human factors, and many others…the result is world-class quality, reliability, stability, and security at ever lower cost and effort; and accelerated flow and reliability throughout the technology value stream, including Product Management, Development, QA, IT Operations, and InfoSec.”

 One of my favorite definitions is from Rob England (aka “The IT Skeptic”). Rob describes DevOps as follows[3] : “Agile is the approach of working with complex systems anywhere. Lean is the approach of optimizing the flow of work anywhere. DevOps is the application of Agile and Lean to the acceleration of value work through IT.”

DevOps Defined?

Perhaps the best definition of DevOps is credited to Jez Humble, one of the co-authors of “The DevOps Handbook” who coined the term “CALMS”.[4] CALMS is a conceptual framework for integrating development and operational (DevOps) teams within an organization.  CALMS is an acronym for:

  • Culture – A culture of shared responsibility
  • Automation – Automate as many tasks as possible
  • Lean – Visualization of work-in-progress; limit batch sizes; eliminate waste; continuous improvement, focus on customer value
  • Measurement – Data is collected on everything, with mechanisms for providing visibility into all systems
  • Sharing – There are user-friendly channels for facilitating on-going communications

In most DevOps thinking and reading, CALMS seems to be a common theme.  But I also encounter a lot of DevOps “anti-thinking” as well.

What DevOps is not

Here are a few examples of DevOps “anti-thinking” that I’ve encountered.  DevOps is not:

  • A standard – There is no documented “DevOps” standard.
  • A tool – There are literally hundreds of tools (I’m not sure if this is a good or bad thing) that claim to be “DevOps” tools. The point is buying a tool does not make your organization a “DevOps” organization.
  • A best practice – There is no defined “body of knowledge” or designated reference for DevOps. In fact, there are literally hundreds of books about DevOps, and some (highly visible) examples of organizations that have successfully adopted DevOps thinking. But there is no designated DevOps “best practice”.
  • Just automation – While automation is perhaps one of the most visible aspects of DevOps, automation alone is not “DevOps”.
  • A silver bullet for IT issues – Just saying that you’re “doing” DevOps is not the same as addressing communication issues, collaboration challenges, wasteful processes, poor measurement practices, eliminating technical debt, and other organizational problems.

What is DevOps?

So, what is DevOps?  At its core, DevOps is a mindset; a way of working together. DevOps is:

  • About building trust and teamwork, sharing knowledge, taking accountability – Teams build trust when members can rely upon one another. Trust is built when team members openly and willingly share their knowledge and contribute to the success of the team.  When mistakes happen, the member making the mistake acknowledges the error; but more than that, there is no blame; the team works together to resolve the error.
  • About tearing down the walls that exist between working groups within IT – DevOps can only be successful when all parts of the IT team are part of the success.
  • About creating a culture of experimentation and learning – Too many organizations work in fear of failure. Much about DevOps is about empowering and learning.
  • About improving the productivity of the overall organization – Sometimes that means searching out and eliminating waste or streamlining the process. If it’s taking too long to get code to trunk and then tested, what can be done to improve that?  If standing up a new development environment requires manual intervention, what could be done to standardize that work so that manual intervention is no longer required?

Avoiding DevOps “Ditches”

Knowing what DevOps is and is not will help you get on the road to success. Here are five ditches to avoid to achieve success with DevOps.

  • Purchasing and implementing tools before anything else – DevOps adoptions taking this approach usually fall into the old “hammer and nail” syndrome (“when all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail”). Well, just because you own a hammer and can swing it doesn’t make you a carpenter.  One of the most common mistakes with DevOps adoption is too much focus on tool implementation and automation of (often poorly or even undefined) processes. When all you have done is implement a tool without designing processes or developing teams, you’ve not “DevOps”- you’re just using a tool – and likely not getting the full benefit of that tool.
  • Getting hung up on semantics – Developers and operations both have developed their own specific languages for what each group does – and this often causes confusion. Take the time to define and agree on a shared terminology.
  • Developers running over everyone else in the organization under the flag of “we’re doing DevOps” – Once, while at a client site, I heard a “DevOps engineer” (seriously) tell a sysadmin that “I’m about to automate you out of a job.” Not a very collaborative, teamwork attitude, huh?  DevOps is about building teams whose members trust and rely on each other- not trying to dominate or control.
  • Arbitrarily throwing out existing process and procedures – Although a process may not be performing as effectively and efficiently as desired, don’t overlook the fact that there was a good reason why that process was defined and implemented in the first place. In my experience, process design and implementations have been treated as “one time” activities and rarely revisited to identify improvements or needed changes.  Before getting rid of an existing process, first understand the reason for the process, and if that reason still exists today.  Then look for ways to improve that existing process, rather than just throwing it away.
  • Ignoring the need for organizational change – DevOps adoption represents a significant change in the way IT does its work. Without good communication, appropriate training, and a shift to a “thinking / experimentation / learning” mindset, DevOps adoption will fail.

Keep CALMS and DevOps on

Knowing what DevOps is and is not is key for success in adopting DevOps.  Following the CALMS model ensures that you’re addressing the complete extent of DevOps adoption, and not just being fixated on a single aspect.

Need help answering the question “What is DevOps?”  Want to build a fundamental understanding of DevOps?  Tedder Consulting offers the DASA-accredited DevOps Fundamentals class.  Visit  our training page to register for an upcoming class! 

For more pragmatic advice and service management insight, click here to subscribe to my newsletter!

Picture Credit: Pixabay

[1] https://www.gartner.com/it-glossary/devops , retrieved 8/11/2018.

[2] Kim, Gene, et al. “The DevOps Handbook”. IT Revolution Press, LLC. 2016. Portland, OR

[3] http://www.itskeptic.org/content/laymans-definition-devops, retrieved 8/11/2018.

[4] https://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/CALMS , retrieved 8/11/2018.Share twitterlinkedinmail

Nine signs that it’s time to expand ITSM into the Enterprise

Share twitterlinkedinmailI read a lot about how organizations have stood up a centralized service desk, a self-service portal, and called that “enterprise service management”.

While these two deliverables may be good things to do, I don’t think that these two deliverables in and of themselves represent “enterprise service management”.  Such an approach only perpetuates what many organizations have done with ITSM – just address the (relatively easy) operational aspects of service management, without doing any of the needed work to identify and underpin the end-to-end flow of value within IT.

What expanding ITSM could do for the enterprise

Having said that, I do think that expanding ITSM into the enterprise could have a significant and positive impact on the organization.

Expanding good ITSM into the organization would standardize how work gets done.  Standardized work improves both the productivity and the throughput of work through the organization.

ITSM would bring clarity and transparency into how value flows through the organization.  Good ITSM would result in the identification and definition of services and processes that underpin the organizational value streams of a business.

Good ITSM across the enterprise would bring repeatability, reliability, and measurability to all aspects of the organization.

All of the above are good things that expanding ITSM could do for the enterprise.

But how do you know its time to expand ITSM into the enterprise?

Nine signs that it may be time to expand ITSM beyond IT

Here are my top nine signs (in no particular order) that it may be time to expand ITSM beyond IT.

  1. Published IT performance reports depict business measures or results, not IT or technology metrics. Published reports reflect success measures that are outcome-based and relevant and meaningful to the business.
  2. Business colleagues outside of IT take an active, engaged role in service management activities. Business colleagues actively participate in CAB meetings; the ITSM steering committee has significant participation from business colleagues, and some (most) services have a service owner that does not work within IT.
  3. IT is a valued contributor and partner in business strategy development. The IT service portfolio is regularly reviewed by key business decision-makers and is a critical input to technology investment decisions, work prioritization, and managing demand.    IT personnel – at all levels of the organization – participate in business strategy and planning meetings.
  4. The IT-Business relationship is one of being “colleagues”, not “service provider and customer”.  With IT and business colleagues working as an integrated entity, efforts are focused on the true customer – the person or business that ultimately buys a company’s products and services.
  5. Business colleagues have a consistently good experience in their interactions with the IT organization. Performance is predictable and consistent. Communications are appropriate, relevant, and timely.  Issues are addressed and managed in a professional manner.  There are active, positive business – IT relationships.
  6. The IT organization is working as an integrated team. There are no “Dev vs. Ops vs. QA vs. Security” attitudes within IT, but rather a culture of collaboration. The IT organization has recognized that there is no “one size fits all approach” and has learned how to effectively incorporate and leverage the strengths of different methodologies to deliver business value.
  7. ITSM processes are lean, effective, and provide “just enough” control. Processes are as simple as possible, friction-free, and have little, if any, waste.  Roles and responsibilities are clearly defined, understood, and embraced.  Processes facilitate getting work done, rather than act as a barrier to getting work done.
  8. The IT organization acts and communicates in business terms. The service catalog articulates what IT does in terms of business value and outcomes. IT consistently demonstrates good business acumen. The business relationship management function is established and proactively ensures that the business realizes value from its investments in IT.
  9. IT promotes and communicates how ITSM is benefitting the organization. ITSM successes (and learnings) are regularly publicized – and the business is feeling the positive impact from ITSM implementation and use.

But even if all nine (or most) of these signs are present, it still may not make sense to expand ITSM into the enterprise.

The ultimate sign that it’s time to expand ITSM into the enterprise

What is the ultimate sign that it’s time to expand ITSM into the enterprise?

Your business colleagues ask for it.

Just because IT thinks this is a good idea isn’t sufficient justification for expanding ITSM across the enterprise.  Expanding ITSM into the enterprise must be a business initiative, not an IT initiative forced upon the business. Why?

Business colleagues may not know anything about ITSM.  They may not even be aware that the IT organization is doing service management.  But, business colleagues feel that they have consistent, good experiences in their interactions with IT.  They get real business value from services delivered from IT. They see how wider use of the concepts being used by IT can benefit the organization.  And, most importantly, they want to expand those concepts across the enterprise.

But to have success with expanding ITSM concepts into the enterprise, Enterprise Service Management (ESM) is not as simple as dropping the ‘IT’ and adding an ‘E’. The business must own ESM.   The business must dedicate and invest resources to ESM.  There must be commitment to ESM being successful.  There must be a willingness to do the required “care-and-feeding” across the organization, not just within a department or two.  The enterprise must adopt an attitude of continual improvement.

Getting ready to expand ITSM into the enterprise

While there is much that can be leveraged from a good ITSM implementation to jumpstart an ESM implementation, here are six steps that will ensure that ESM will be successful.

  • Build the compelling business caseBusiness value consists of five factors – increased revenue, decreased cost, improved productivity, competitive differentiation, and improved customer satisfaction. The business case for ESM must address at least one of these five factors; doing so will help you get the support and funding needed for ESM.
  • Form a cross-functional team – Again, ESM has to be a business initiative. This means that a cross-functional team consisting of both business colleagues and IT staff are required for ESM success.
  • Identify enterprise-level services – An IT service only depicts the “middle part” of an enterprise-level service. There are business activities that occur both before and after the IT service is consumed. What are those activities? Who is accountable for the quality and results of those activities?  Identifying and defining enterprise-level services is critical for ESM success.
  • Identify organizational value streamsHow does work get done across the enterprise? Just like an IT service often involves multiple parts of the IT organization, the same can be said for enterprise services.  Rarely (if ever) does an outcome or result delivered to the customer only involve a single department or work group within an organization. ESM must underpin an organization’s delivery of value.
  • Define good processes – IT’s expertise in defining good ITSM processes can be leveraged to help the enterprise identify and document its processes. But processes must facilitate, not control, getting work done. This may represent a mind shift change for those new to service management.
  • Take an iterative approach – As with ITSM implementation, ESM implementation must be an iterative activity. Start with a smaller enterprise value stream.  Define and apply service management concepts, learn what worked well, identify improvements, then repeat the cycle with the next enterprise value stream. There is no need to “boil the ocean” – make steady, incremental progress toward ESM goals.  Adoption and success will be much greater.

The digital consumer is demanding that businesses act as unified entities, rather than collections of parts.  This means that all parts of an organization must collaborate to deliver the value and results that the digital consumer wants.  Expanding good ITSM into the enterprise is a way to meet the demands of both the digital consumer and the digital economy.Share twitterlinkedinmail