Tag Archives: Service Management

What’s The ROI of Service Management?

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IT service management has typically been seen as yet another cost inside of what is perceived to be a cost center known as “IT”. Why? Because many IT organizations still view service management as operating overhead…and nothing else. The potential business value of good ITSM is ignored.

Many IT organizations could start becoming a strategic organizational partner if they understood the ROI of their work. ROI, or Return on Investment, is an important financial metric that most value centers use to measure success. Unfortunately,  90% of all technical support organizations fail to measure ROI. 

But, a simple shift in thinking about service management and ROI will create major opportunities for IT.

Why is ROI important to IT?

Why should IT leaders care about ROI? Simply put, ROI is the language of the business. Everyone in the C-Suite understands ROI and how important it is in making business decisions. When IT leaders start discussing ROI with peers, they are taking the “techno-speak” out of the discussion.  As a result, ROI makes IT more relatable and understandable to the rest of the business.

Relating IT in terms of ROI within the organization can lead to bigger budgets, better staffing, and improved service relationships. Data shows that top performing IT support organizations produce a ROI of 500% or greater on an annual basis!

Understanding the ROI of Service Management

Measuring the ROI of service management starts with quantifying work. But not in the ways that many typically think, like counting closed tickets or tracking time to resolution. Rather, quantify service management in terms that truly demonstrate business value—measures like savings (or “costs avoided” as an early CFO of mine schooled me about) through better processes, improved productivity, or investments in innovation.  These are the kinds of topics business colleagues care about – not IT operational measures. 

Here are three examples where you can illustrate a business-relevant ROI of good service management. 

ROI Area #1 — Time is Money

According to estimates, the global impact of unplanned downtime is 14.3 billion and employees lose an entire day of productivity due to unplanned downtime. 

Many ITSM leaders measure IT productivity in terms of number of incidents resolved and time to incident resolution. This is a flawed approach.  An incident is not a “value-add”. While there is (limited) value in resolving an incident, the real business value is not having incidents at all

So how might good service management practices produce an ROI?  Let’s take an example. Company XYZ implemented service management improvements during quarter two. These changes included improving change enablement practices and developing and publishing self-help knowledge articles regarding the most-frequently encountered issues. 

Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4
12,792 12,374 10,556 9,843

Because of these changes, XYZ saw over 4,700 fewer tickets in Q3 & Q4 than they had in Q1 & Q2. 

Now let’s apply money to the scenario.  Let’s say every ticket costs the company $10 in productivity loss (of course, it’s much more than this!).  By implementing these improvements, IT helped the organization avoid nearly $50,000 of lost productivity. That’s where the real value and the ROI of service management begins to show itself. 

ROI Area #2 — Avoid unnecessary cost with self service 

Another ROI-enhancing area for service management is the concept of “shift left.” Shift left means moving support and enablement activities closer to those doing the actual work.  For example, moving incident resolution or request fulfillment from a desktop support team to the service desk or from the service desk to Level 0 (self-help), can help an organization avoid unnecessary escalation-related costs. Unnecessary escalations result in support costs that are not directly reflected in performance measures.  Because these escalations appear to be just ‘business as usual’, the cost associated with those escalations go unnoticed. 

How many tickets are unnecessarily escalated that could have been solved by Level 1 or by self-help? According to TechBeacon, a typical service desk ticket can cost around $22. But escalating a ticket can cost an additional $69, making the total cost of the ticket $91. If you are handling tens of thousands of tickets, these costs add up quickly.

But when self service offerings are provided for those repeatable and predictable support and enablement activities, your organization avoids the costs associated with ticket escalation.   

ROI Area #3 — Spend on innovation, not support

This last area is perhaps the most important but often the most forgotten. It’s where poor IT service management practices drain resources from innovation.

To understand how good service management facilitates innovation, let’s start by understanding the basis of IT budgets. Generally speaking, IT budgets have three categories of costs:

  • Fixed costs, like salaries, support contracts, and other operating expenses. These costs typically do not change dramatically year over year. 
  • Innovation, in the form of new projects and improvement initiatives.  These costs represent outcomes that the organization would like to realize through investments in technology. 
  • Maintenance and support, which includes application and software updates, responding to incidents and requests, security monitoring and patching, and other day-to-day activities needed to maintain reliability and availability. 

Again, let’s use some easy numbers for illustration. If an IT budget is $1000, then typically fixed costs make up $500.  Innovation is budgeted at $300, and maintenance and support is budgeted at $200. The organization is optimistic about realizing new value through innovation.  Support costs are acknowledged and seem reasonable. 

Until the impact of poor IT service management practices become evident. Poor IT service management practices result in poor change implementations.  Lots of fire-fighting.  Too many meetings to discuss and decide what should be simple requests.  Automation that just doesn’t work well. Confusion regarding how technology enables current organizational outcomes.  Duplicative products and services. 

And suddenly, the IT organization is spending more time in maintenance and support, and less time innovating. And what part of the IT budget absorbs that additional cost?  The budget allocated for Innovation. Innovation is sacrificed to cover the (unnecessarily excessive) cost of simply keeping the lights on.

Good service management preserves that innovation budget, by doing the right things well when it comes to maintenance and support. 

What is the simple shift in thinking that enables service management ROI? 

How is it possible to realize ROI with service management, rather than looking at it as cost? 

The answer is simple.

It starts with a shift in thinking.  Rather than viewing service management as a means of control, begin viewing service management as a business enabler.  

While the IT operational aspects of service management are important, it is not why organizations need to practice good service management.  

Good service management enables organizations to achieve business outcomes.  Good service management enables organizations to realize value from its investments in and use of technology.  And one of the key ways to enable this shift in thinking is to talk about service management in terms of ROI.  

Tedder’s Takeaway – Why It Matters

Shifting how the organization views service management is a critical enabler for discussing the ROI of service management.  Moving the conversation from cost to results, then attaching ROI to those results.  Having the ability to discuss ROI with organizational peers not only makes IT more relatable, it also repositions IT as a strategic enabler, with a tangible way to understand the impact of good service management. 

Is it time to shift your thinking about service management?  Are you reporting operational measures instead of business outcomes?  What would be possible for your organization if you could illustrate the ROI of service management? Let Tedder Consulting help!  For more information, contact Tedder Consulting today.

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The Curious Case of the Missing IT Strategy

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IT organizations often get stuck in a vicious cycle of never-ending work. IT implements solution after solution, fixes one problem after another, and no matter how many times they do it, those solutions and fixes never seem to stick. IT often finds itself just trying to keep up with what appears to be a constantly changing business. IT is often seen as the anchor slowing business down and has earned a reputation of being the slowest path toward technology implementation.  And when budget times come around, IT never seems to manage to get its fair share. 

These are signs that an IT organization is missing strategy.  This is a massive problem for both IT and the organizations that IT works within. Why are so many IT organizations missing a strategy?  What can be done to establish a viable IT strategy?

One thing that is certain – the strategy can’t just be “do”.

The Missing IT Strategy

Of course, no leader intentionally avoids developing strategy. It’s usually a consequence of a number of factors. However, in the case of the missing IT strategy, the CIO has to establish a business-technology (not technology alone) strategy, talk and share that strategy with other leaders, incorporate and underpin the larger business strategy, and drive the IT organization forward following that strategy. If a CIO spends too much of their time doing or supervising the day-to-day work within an IT organization instead of delegating, she won’t have the time (or energy) to be strategic. If a CIO has to spend more time supervising the daily activities of IT than ensuring business outcomes and value, that’s usually an indicator of a missing IT strategy. 

The second indicator of a missing IT strategy is the lack of true service management. Why? Because if the service management foundation is not strong or well executed, IT can never be strategic. If IT ignores:

  • Defining services in terms of business value and outcomes
  • Creating workflows that are based on services, not technologies or organization charts
  • Publishing performance reports that are relevant to and meaningful for the business 

then IT is setting itself up for failure.  Many organizations look at service management as just something that a service desk does.  But good service management provides the capability of relating technology investments to business outcomes.  This makes good service management a critical part of the foundation of IT. Having a solid foundation is what keeps IT relevant, reliable, and able to scale to meet business needs. WIthout good service management, IT will waste a lot of time just trying to keep up with service requests and putting out fires instead of enabling the realization of business strategy.  

Finally, the third indicator of a missing IT strategy is a “one thing at a time” mentality. To stay on track, IT organizations often choose to focus on just one initiative at a time. This might help your team feel less overwhelmed, but it often comes with the cost of missing a holistic view of the organization. The ability to see the birds eye view of how the organization relies on technology to create better outcomes for end users and customers is one of the most important skills for an IT leader.  Having this big picture view enables the IT leader to be even more strategic.  

Why does IT need a strategy?

IT operating as only a support team is no longer an option for any business. The speed of business has increased significantly over the last decade, due in a large part to the introduction of new technologies, such as automation, mobile computing, cloud-based services and machine learning. IT has to be the driver and enabler of technology. Whether it’s realized or not, technology has become “baked into” every aspect of the organization. 

The question is “has IT become ‘baked in’ as well?”  Without a well-defined IT strategy, the answer to this question is usually “no”.   

Defining, socializing, and executing a strategy strengthens IT’s role within an organization. It’s what separates the IT organizations that are treated as order takers from the IT organizations that are treated as valued partners. 

How to solve the case of the missing IT strategy

Here are three things that IT leaders can do to solve the case of the missing IT strategy.

What is the business strategy?  How can technology enable realization of business strategy? To shift from a “support only” team to a strategic asset, IT first has to understand the goals and objectives of the overall organization – and how technology can be used to enable realization of those goals and objectives. IT’s strategy must be tied to these business goals and objectives. IT leaders have to take a step back from the inner workings, day-to-day activities of IT and look at the bigger picture of the organization. 

Elevate to real service management, not just some arbitrarily selected processes.  Once IT understands the role of technology in achieving business strategy, IT must then elevate its approach to service management.  Service management is more than just fulfilling requests and resolving outages. An effective approach for elevating service management is to identify and map the value streams of an organization, then identifying how technology underpins those value streams.  Value streams help identify the products and services that IT must deliver. This exercise not only lays out what service management must enable and deliver for the organization, it is also a great way to align what IT is doing to the overall needs of the business. 

Report IT performance in business terms. Once you’ve elevated your service management and understand the goals and objectives of the company, then you’ll be able to produce and publish performance reports that reflect how IT contributions enabled achievement of business goals and objectives.  Having this capability is significant for a number of reasons.  First, it demonstrates that IT truly understands what is important to the organization.  Secondly, it provides the ability to evaluate if IT strategy is meeting business needs.  And lastly, it begins to change the perception of IT as just being a “support team” to a strategic asset.

Thinking and working strategically is transformative for an IT organization. After you’ve seen how IT integrates with the rest of the organization, you won’t be able to go back to working only in a ‘support’ role.  By defining and executing an IT strategy , your entire business will become stronger.  

Need help developing an IT strategy that is aligned with your business objectives?  Let Tedder Consulting help!  Tedder Consulting will first visit your organization to understand your business, goals, and current IT situation.  Tedder Consulting will then conduct an analysis of your IT services and practices to determine how they are operating. Finally, we deliver a plan for aligning your technology strategy to your business goals.  For more information, contact Tedder Consulting today.

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Are You Due for an IT Health Check?

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If I asked IT leaders what it was like the week the world went remote in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I would guess 90% of them would have visceral reactions to the memory of that time. Many organizations were caught without any kind of technology contingency plan – and they felt the pain of that.

That hectic period should have taught every IT organization a valuable lesson – you can never predict when an IT emergency is going to hit.

Unfortunately, not every IT (or business) leader got the memo. They made it through COVID-19 disaster and went right back to the day-to-day grind, promising (hoping?) to get updated or new recovery plans in place when things slow down.

The problem is that the next disaster could be just around the corner. My apologies if this sounds fatalistic, but that is exactly what happened nearly 18 months ago. Organizations around the world were faced with a scenario that, while no one could have anticipated, very few had any kind of contingency. What will the next disaster look like? Could it be the moment that budgets are being reviewed and IT is suddenly on the chopping block? Or your supply chain breaks down and IT has to scramble to ensure customers receive their services?

IT disasters can be like heart attacks. There’s never a good time for one. But they can often be avoided – even prevented – by developing good healthy habits along with conducting regular health checks.

Three Healthy Habits of an IT Organization

How can you protect yourself and your IT organization from these IT “heart attacks”? Much like with your personal health, it all starts with developing healthy habits and regularly conducting IT health checks. Here are three of the top healthy habits you should develop in IT.

1. Regularly Discussing and Agreeing Business Value
IT has to understand the business value of their work. One of the healthiest things any CIO can do is to regularly connect with business peers to review value. Value is one of the hardest things to define within an organization, and may shift over time. The only way to confirm IT value is to review and discuss that value with other senior managers and leaders within the organization.

2. Regularly Review IT Service Definitions
Another healthy habit is clearly defining IT services in terms of business outcomes. Defining services demystifies what IT does and connects what IT does to business outcomes and value. Additionally, well defined IT services enable the organization to take advantage of its technology capabilities for competitive advantage. Regularly reviewing IT service definitions with other senior business managers not only positions the organization for taking advantage of current IT capability, but also to help identify and plan for future technology needs.

3. Regularly Map And Review Value Streams
Finally, having up-to-date value stream maps is a great health check for an IT organization. A value stream map illustrates how materials and information flow through an organization, and helps the entire organization clearly see how value flows in the organization. Value stream maps also provide a way for IT to identify where and how technology contributes to the value stream. Mapping and reviewing these value stream maps further enhances business relationships and also ensures alignment between IT and the business it serves.

Signs your IT organization needs a health check

  • Not sure if your organization needs a health check? Here are few signs that it’s time:
  • Your peers question the value and usefulness of IT products and services.
  • Your IT organization just can’t seem to get ‘caught up’.
  • You’re challenged to provide a clear ‘line of sight’ between investments in technology and business results.
  • IT is usually handed solutions, not opportunities, for solving business challenges.
  • Working in IT is chaotic and unrewarding. IT seems to spend more time “fire-fighting” and less time “innovating”.
  • No one asks questions about IT performance reporting.

IT Health Checks Don’t Have to Be Overwhelming

Much like eating a low-cholesterol diet and exercising more frequently, these IT health checks may initially feel like a pain that restricts your fun (or innovation, in an IT world). But the truth of the matter is if IT does these things on a regular and consistent basis, it stops feeling like a chore. You’ll have a shared understanding of business outcomes and the role that technology has in achieving those outcomes. You’ll have transparency between investments in technology and business value. And both the IT organization and the business overall end up with better outcomes, better investments, better relationships, and better businesses.

That’s why I strongly recommend scheduling regular periodic health checks for your IT organization. These healthy habits can’t be developed in a vacuum. They can – and should – be built into all your other initiatives.

At the end of the day, these “health checks” are service management activities. Service management shouldn’t be viewed as something that is done in addition to your work. Service management is how good IT organizations get work done in a manageable, reliable, and predictable way.

Need an IT Health Check?

Need help with your IT Health Check? We can help. With over 20 years of service management experience, Tedder Consulting can provide your organization with the objective assessment of the health of your IT-business relationship, and an actionable plan for instilling those healthy habits that will have a positive impact on your organization! Contact Tedder Consulting today!

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What Ever Happened to Critical Thinking?

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As businesses grow, so do the size and complexity of their problems and challenges. To solve those complex challenges and problems, leaders need to employ more critical thinking from themselves and their teams.

However, the world seems to be lacking critical thinking at a time when businesses need it most. And the lack of critical thinking isn’t just anecdotal tales told by frustrated leaders. There’s research to back it up. So, whatever happened to critical thinking and can we get it back?

Critical Thinking, Defined

First, let’s address the big question: what exactly is critical thinking? In the broadest terms, critical thinking is the ability to think reasonably, removing your own emotional attachment and personal bias.

Critical thinking requires individuals to rely on data and take the steps to analyze and evaluate data to make a decision. According to the Foundation for Critical Thinking, “critical thinking is self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking.”

It’s important to note that critical thinking helps you to avoid doing things simply because they’ve always been done a certain way or because a certain way seems easier or faster.

What has happened to critical thinking?

Has there really been a decline in critical thinking? There is research that shows this is a reality for many higher education institutions and businesses.

A Wall Street Journal analysis of standardized test scores given to freshmen and seniors found that the average graduate from prestigious institutions show little or no improvement in critical thinking over four years.

That trend extends into the business world. In May 2016, a survey by PayScale and Future Workplace found that 60% of employers believe new college graduates lack critical thinking skills, based on a survey of over 76,000 managers and executives. Additionally, about half of employers rate their employees’ critical thinking skills as average or worse.

There is no one main reason for this decline in critical thinking. Most experts attribute it to a combination of things.

To start off with, there is not a clear definition of critical thinking and therefore, many professors, instructors and employers lack a way to objectively assess critical thinking skills. And many teachers struggle to teach critical thinking so many simply don’t do it. The Education Post found that only 1 out of 10 educators teach critical thinking and that teacher usually teaches at a selective school or to a select group of students.

And some experts say technology is one of the reasons for this decline. According to research by Patricia Greenfield, UCLA distinguished professor of psychology and director of the Children’s Digital Media Center, Los Angeles, as technology plays a bigger role, our skills in critical thinking have declined and our visual skills have improved.

Anecdotally, I think it’s important to point out that a decline in critical thinking in business might not be the actual decline in critical thinking. Rather, the decline in critical thinking is due to a lack of opportunities (or ignoring opportunities) to encourage critical thinking.

Many businesses are only looking for the fastest (and sometimes cheapest) way to a solution. Such an approach is an anti-pattern for critical thinking. When you’re always looking for shortcuts, you’re cutting out the time to critically think. When you’re too quick to say something isn’t working and that you need to change directions completely, you’re sabotaging critical thinking.

All of this probably sounds like bad news for those looking to increase critical thinking in their organizations. The good news is that critical thinking can be taught and if it’s encouraged enough in an organization, it will be taught!

How to Improve Critical Thinking

Contrary to many opinions, critical thinking is not a soft skill. It can be learned and it must be practiced to be developed. Here are a few steps that will help you tap into critical thinking.

  1.  Gather more and better data
    Critical thinking is the ability to remove your own bias from problem-solving and the best way to do that is to look at the data. Many organizations are trying to make decisions with poor data. As an organization, you need to prioritize having as much high-quality data as possible. And as the IT organization, you must collect this data and ensure that the organization is using it to its fullest ability.

2. Question assumptions
This is the most important piece to critical thinking — and it’s often the most difficult part. Don’t just look at the “what” of the problem. Ask about why it’s happening. Be wary of the assumptions you may bring to the table and when you come to a conclusion, ask yourself if you’re basing the conclusion on the matter at hand or on previous experiences. Additionally, it’s important to separate data and facts from assumptions and inferences. Often, leaders will make an assumption and then treat it as fact. Dig into the why and use data to protect yourself from inferences.

3. Look for opportunities and potential
Critical thinking isn’t about shutting down opportunities or ideas. It’s about seeing possibility and potential based on data and without assumption. For example, failed initiatives and major service interruptions are opportunities to revamp processes or rethink strategies to create something better.

4. Look for new perspectives
To be a critical thinker, you have to get out of the echo chamber. Engage in active listening when discussing problems and solutions. Engage with and actively listen to colleagues with opposing views in your own organization. While most people dread having to speak to someone who simply does not understand their role, it can be an excellent exercise to obtain new perspectives that can give more context to problems, examine your own biases and spark more ideas. Additionally, as a leader, you may benefit from learning from other industries or experts from other organizations. Be open to new perspectives or ideas from unlikely avenues.

5. Manage ambiguity
Finally to improve your critical thinking skills, get comfortable with ambiguity. We are all operating in rapidly changing environments. The data we have will change. Your own perspectives will shift, as well the perspective of others. You have to be comfortable identifying that you are making the right decision today, but the way those decisions get made can change in the future. Getting comfortable with this type of ambiguity and being able to practice critical thinking despite this rapid pace of change will help you to make better decisions for your organization in the long run.

Critical thinking doesn’t have to be a lost art. It can and should be encouraged at all levels of the organization – but it must start from the top. If you’re wondering whatever happened to critical thinking in your organization, perhaps it’s time to take a step back to examine your own critical thinking approach.

Is your organization suffering from a lack of critical thinking? Has your organization found ways to nurture and encourage critical thinking? Please share your thoughts!

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Don’t Go Chasing Electrons

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One of my biggest gripes about service management is that the work of service management has become synonymous with service management tools. This has really become an Achilles heel for service management. While service management tools are useful, they typically don’t take a value and outcome-based approach to identifying and defining services.

Because of this, many IT organizations have found themselves executing superficial service mapping initiatives that hardly get the complete job done. Rather than first critically think about services in terms of the value and business objectives that must be achieved with the use of technology, they buy and implement a service management tool. Then they use the tool to chase electrons across the network, map where those electrons went and what was found, and call it done.

Here’s why chasing electrons with a service management tool to define services can be the kiss of death to any real service management success.

What Service Management Tools Actually Do

I want to be clear that I am not “anti-tool”. Good service management tools are a vital and necessary component of any successful service management initiative. But those tools only address a part of service management challenges.

In its simplest form, using a service management tool to identify services is an exercise in chasing electrons. This approach focuses on the technology and seemingly puts order to that technology… so you can keep chasing more electrons.

But it’s this use of the tools that frequently causes the biggest problems with service management within organizations. Sure, this approach will find whatever is active on the network. It will group what it finds by application or system. But it also perpetuates the perception that service management is just about the tool… and not how good service management enables and supports the outcomes and value needed by a business from its investments in and use of technology.

Network maps don’t mean much if you can’t connect them to real business outcomes. Capturing what software is found on what hardware does not articulate the business value provided by that technology. An electronic discovery will never find the people, practices, or processes involved (and absolutely critical!) in delivering services within the organization.

What you’re left with is a reinforcement of a gap between IT and the business.

The Consequences of Relying on Tools to Define Services

Here’s what happens when you implement a service management tool without doing the prerequisite work:

  • IT spends a chunk of money on an expensive tool.
  • IT spends a large amount of time and money implementing that tool.
  • Because of the investments in both time and money, IT and the business as a whole feel they need to stick with their tool, no matter if it’s actually solving their problems.
  • When the initial tool implementation is done, IT and the business think that service management work is “done” as well.

Well, it’s not “done”. In fact, it becomes an ongoing issue. And the longer businesses ignore what should be service management, what should really be defined as services, the harder it becomes to fix it. As a result, IT will keep struggling with a reputation of being technology-oriented order takers. Yes, IT does more than configuring routers, writing code, and resetting passwords…but the tools don’t demonstrate that in business terms.

At some point after implementation, IT leaders have to ask themselves, “Have the accomplishments we’ve achieved with this tool helped us improve the value proposition of technology investments for my organization?”

How IT Can Stop Chasing Electrons

Defining services in terms of value and outcomes and implementing a service management approach that is actually about the business (not the technology) isn’t an out-of-the-box solution. But if you treat it like it is, you’re going to get stuck with definitions of services that don’t reflect the business needs of the organization and a burgeoning gap between the business and IT.

  1. IT needs to define services in terms of business value and outcomes

This is a point many would prefer to ignore, but it simply can’t be ignored. You can’t shortcut your way to defining IT services – and do it the right way. Tools will come into play at a later date and they will streamline the work, but they can’t do it without the right collaboration between IT and the organization.

Doing the work to articulate how your services enable or deliver business outcomes also positions IT to evolve as the business evolves. If we’ve learned anything over the last year, it’s that the way we do business can turn on a dime and IT has to be able to adapt to the ever-changing nature of how business does business. You can get ahead of the curve by having defined services in terms of business value and outcomes, then having ongoing conversations with your business colleagues about the value and outcomes needed from investments in technology, not just the technology.

2. IT needs to define the buying criteria for tools

You have to think about the long game with IT tool investments. It’s not easy to do, but it’s what builds the solid foundation of an IT organization that contributes to the bottom line.

IT has to define its tool-buying criteria based on business needs, not what the IT industry is seemingly telling them to buy. Every business is unique and solutions aren’t one-size-fits-all. Engaging key stakeholders to understand technology needs and business goals will help create buying criteria that will shortlist the tools into those that could actually work for you.

Additionally, establishing this buying criteria can help you improve your tool implementations. Often tool vendors or consultants will want you to implement a tool following some predefined technology playbook. But in reality, the best thing for your business is likely configuring the tool differently and in a way that best fits your business.

Before investing in a service management tool, ask yourself:

  • How does this investment answer the business value question?
  • Do we understand the types of outcomes that must result from this investment?
  • Why should our business want to invest in this?
  • Are we prepared to leverage the functionality of the tool?

Don’t Short Cut It

Tools are often marketed as an easy shortcut for your service management issues. But you have to think of investments in service management tools like running a marathon. A service management tool is like having a really good pair of running shoes. It can enable you to succeed. But if you haven’t done a pre-marathon training program, having good running shoes will only get you a few miles into the race – and then you will find yourself struggling. Good shoes alone will not help you complete the marathon.

Just like in running a marathon, you have to do the necessary work ahead of time to prepare yourself to win. You have to do the work to define your services in business terms, ensure you understand and can deliver the needed business outcomes, and that the work your team is doing is aligned with the business. Then, implement your tool and it will work better in the long run!

Good service management is not just about opening a ticket. It’s not just about resolving an issue or implementing a change. It is about how people, processes, and technology work together in a repeatable, measurable, and holistic way to consistently enable business outcomes and value realization by the entire organization. If service management isn’t doing this for your organization, I can help. Contact Tedder Consulting today.

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You’re Talking About Value Wrong

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“Value” is one of the most overused and misunderstood terms in business today.

It is often thrown around in meetings and on company websites but while many organizations talk about value, very few get it right.

Why is that? What is the problem with value? For starters, value is a perception. What is valuable to one organization -or one person – may not be as valuable to another. And many organizations don’t define value at an enterprise level. As a result, company initiatives are fractured and less impactful because everyone within the organization is using their own value measuring stick.

The second problem with value is that too many organizations equate value only with cost savings. This is a misconception that can cost organizations a lot of money and time with little to show for it. Fact is that organizations, just like people, are happy to pay for things that they perceive as being valuable – cost is secondary.

If you’re talking about value wrong or worse, not talking about it at all, here are three points that will help you reframe the value conversation.

Value does not equal cost savings.

When thinking about value, it’s easy to just think in terms of dollars and cents. It’s straightforward and unlike value, everyone knows exactly how much dollars and cents are worth.

Now, cost is a factor in value but it should not be the leading factor of value. Because in addition to a price tag, there are intangible costs with any transaction. These intangible costs include things like time to make the purchase, the ease of making a purchase, the time to get set up with a product or service, etc. These intangible costs factor into the value and depending on the end-user, they could mean much more than a specific dollar amount.

When you’re discussing value — whether it’s the value of your product or service, a new technology, or your own IT services, don’t forget the intangibles and factor those into the value.

Outcomes by themselves don’t deliver value.

In an article for SysAid, I explained the difference between outcomes and outputs in reference to ordering a pizza. The outputs are the operational measures, like when you order a pizza and it arrives on time and at the agreed upon price. The outcomes are the results that show the value of that pizza delivery, such as did you get the pizza you ordered, was it hot and fresh, did it taste good and so on.

More IT professionals are beginning to focus on outcomes instead of outputs, which is very important! However, outcomes alone don’t get the job done when it comes to value. Competition is too intense these days and consumers have a lot of options, and high expectations.

So what combines with outcomes to create value? The experience of the transaction.

Part of value is experience.

If you don’t provide or enable a good experience, you’re not offering value. The experience is just as important today. In fact, Salesforce found in a survey that 80% of customers say the experience businesses provide is just as important as its products and services. And Gartner found that 81% of businesses compete primarily on customer experience.

Customer experience is more important than ever and if you want to deliver value through your products and services, you have to offer a seamless and personalized experience for your customers.

The Role of Service of Management in Value

By this point, it’s clear that value isn’t just about a price tag. It’s a combination of understanding what’s important to your consumers and consistently delivering those results – along with a great experience. In short, someone finds value when they can say “I got the outcome I needed and expected and I had a good experience while doing it – at the price I was willing to pay.”

The connection between the experience and outcomes lives in your service management foundations. Service management is how you can monitor the experience and ensure you deliver the outcomes that a customer wants so they can recognize the value of your products and services.

Is your service management approach strong enough to deliver value? Have you done these things in the last 12 months?

  • Met with your key stakeholders to review and agree on a shared definition of value
  • Mapped your value streams with all stakeholders, not just IT
  • Audited your workflows to identify and implement improvements
  • Implemented continual improvement strategies

Service management is an ongoing initiative but it can — and will — help to deliver value if it’s done properly with buy-in from the entire team.

If you’ve been struggling with showing how IT delivers value to the bottom line and you want to elevate your IT organization, you need to be sure you’re talking about value correctly. Review your service management approach. Examine the customer experience. You may just find the areas where IT can fill any gaps and deliver the value your customer needs.

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Want ESM? Start with VSM

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Enterprise Service Management (ESM) has been gaining traction over the last few years — and for good reason.  With technology driving businesses forward these days, organizations must be able to holistically drive value to the bottom line of the business. And ESM can help them do just that.

The question is where to start with ESM? How can you implement ESM into your organization so that it actually sticks? While there are multiple approaches for implementing ESM initiatives, there’s one tool that you might already be using that can form the foundation for good ESM. 

Why Is ESM Important?

Enterprise Service Management is an organizational capability for delivering value in the form of products and services by facilitating outcomes leveraging the resources of the entire organization in a holistic manner.

It’s important to acknowledge that ESM is not just simply extending IT Service Management (ITSM)  into the enterprise. You can’t just take your ITSM tools and workflows and apply them across the organization- and expect success. Instead, ESM is about integrating everyone’s activities within the organization and managing those workflows holistically.

So why is ESM so important?  Because organizations are now digital.

Technology plays a role in all parts of every organization.  Businesses have become so reliant on technology to deliver products and services that it is impossible to separate the business process from the technology.   Therefore, it only makes sense that digital organizations adopt ESM.

Barriers to ESM

But organizations face challenges in adopting ESM.  Perhaps the most significant of these challenges are silo behavior and a lack of understanding of how work flows through the organization.

Organizations can’t afford to have siloed departments working in isolation.  Everyone within the organization has to understand not only how their work contributes to success, but also the upstream and downstream impacts of their work.  

The best way to identify and break down silos and understand how work flows through the organization is value stream mapping.  

What are Value Stream Maps?

Value stream maps represent the internal, end-to-end view of how information, products, and value flows through the organization.

A value stream is the sequence of activities required to design, produce, and deliver a good or service to a customer, and it includes the dual flows of information and material.

An organization will likely have several different value streams.  And in only very rare occasions do value streams not cross department boundaries. However, the people that work within those departments may not recognize or even be aware of that.  

A value stream map allows people to visualize the steps and corresponding data flow of how departments interact, which is what makes value stream mapping so powerful.  A well-formed value stream map identifies where there is friction or waste, such as bottlenecks, missed hand-offs, and ineffective processes, within a value stream.  A value stream map is a great tool for aligning organizations on how work gets done and where there are opportunities for improvements.  When done correctly, a value stream map is a powerful tool for breaking down and eliminating silo behavior within an organization.  

How do Value Stream Maps enable good ESM?

So how do value stream maps enable Enterprise Service Management?

Well, even without maps, value streams already exist in every organization. But they might not be well-understood or the steps involved in the value stream may not be documented. Some members of the organization may not understand their role or contribution within a value stream. 

Value stream maps illustrate how everyone contributes to a value stream, but also what activities and people depend upon those contributions for achieving their own contributions.  Miss a step, or if a step doesn’t happen as expected, and the value stream breaks down. And when a value stream breaks down, not only is the organization impacted, but the customers of the organization are impacted as well. 

This is where good ESM helps. 

Good ESM delivers the repeatable, consistent, and measurable workflows and underpinning technologies that support the work done within value streams. 

Value stream mapping also helps organizations avoid what I call “enterprise silo management”.  Enterprise silo management results when organizations take a technology-first approach to ESM.  Examples of “enterprise silo management” include approaches like providing access to the ITSM tool to colleagues outside of IT for logging and tracking tickets. Or an organization has purchased specific “modules” for its ITSM tool or provided separate instances of its ITSM for use by a non-IT department, such as HR or Facilities.  In many cases, this results in no end-to-end, cross-departmental views of the flow of information, work, and value.   In fact, these approaches only reinforce departmental boundaries and cause friction within the organization…the opposite of what effective value stream maps would illustrate. 

Start ESM with VSM

Effective ESM connects the parts of the enterprise together to create a better working environment and deliver improved results. After a year of remote work with many organizations still grappling with how to deal with hybrid work environments and higher customer expectations, businesses are feeling the pressure to find better ways of working.  Progressive organizations recognize that each part of an organization must be part of those better ways of working and contribute for organizational success. 

ESM is a holistic approach that will improve the effectiveness and efficiency of any organization. 

But to do ESM well means starting first with identifying and understanding how the work flows through the organization.  Value stream mapping illustrates how work and value flows through an organization.  With this information, CIOs can begin to build their business case for ESM and gain buy-in from other leaders. 

Starting ESM implementation with value stream mapping is a powerful start that will set your business apart today and in the future. 

 

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The Consequences of Undefined Services

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Delivering IT services is at the core of any modern IT organization. IT provides services to deliver or enable business outcomes and value. It seems straightforward.  So then, why do so many IT organizations struggle with undefined services?

As it turns out, what an IT service is actually is often misunderstood by IT professionals – and as a result, services do not get correctly defined.  Instead, many IT organizations identify things like laptop computers, password resets, and installing software as “services”.  And while these service actions (which is actually what these things are) are important for the end-user, none of those things indicate a business outcome.  The consequence of not formally defining services in terms that business colleagues can recognize as business outcomes and capabilities could be causing cracks in their organizations.  

Let’s break down what an IT service is – and isn’t – and examine just how impactful well-defined services can be for an organization.

What are IT Services?

As defined by ITIL4, a service is “a means of enabling value co-creation by facilitating outcomes that customers want to achieve, without the customer having to manage specific costs and risks.

Add the phrase “through the use of IT” to the end of the above sentence, and you have the definition of an IT service. 

Specific IT services will differ from organization to organization depending on their industry and their business needs and requirements.  But any service definition always has its basis in creating value and delivering or enabling business outcomes.

Think about it.  A laptop computer – by itself – provides little value.  But when a laptop computer is used to securely access a corporate network, enabling use of a system that controls the manufacturing of widgets, which in turn, are sold to end-customers….now we have a different perspective.  It’s not about the laptop computer – it’s about having the capability to manufacture widgets. 

In other words, the laptop by itself does not deliver a business outcome.  But combined with all of the other things mentioned about (and more!), a business outcome (widgets to be sold to customers) is enabled.  And achieving that business outcome provides value. 

Why do IT services matter?

If we look back at our earlier definition of value, the important part of it is “delivering value to customers by facilitating outcomes customers want to achieve.

Harvard Business School marketing professor Theodore Levitt famously said, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!”

The value is achieving the quarter-inch hole, not in the drill. 

To put it in IT terms, it isn’t about the network or the cloud or AI or the laptop or having a password reset.  It’s about the result. And if that result is considered valuable.

IT services deliver value to customers and enable customers to achieve business outcomes. It’s a vital capability, especially today when customer expectations are so high. 

But it’s more than that.

Having well-defined IT services demonstrates to the rest of the organization how well IT understands the business of the business. 

Well-defined IT services speak the language of the business.  Colleagues that work outside of IT can quickly recognize and understand the expected business value and business outcomes from the use of that service.

And well-defined IT services illustrate how IT contributes to the organization’s success.  

This all means that  IT must have a strong understanding of what outcomes the business needs to realize or enable, and how the people, processes, and technology delivered by IT contributes to those outcomes. Many IT pros struggle with this. It’s not enough for IT professionals to primarily focus on systems and technology anymore. They have to understand how what they do – and how they interact with others within (and outside of ) IT – contribute to the success of the organization.

It’s not about the drill.  It is about all of the things that work and are delivered together that results in the quarter-inch hole. 

But unfortunately, many IT organizations only talk about the drill. 

Why Do Organizations Resist Defining Services? 

Why do so many organizations struggle with defining their IT services? 

The first reason is that IT sometimes struggles to understand the customer’s perspective. Simply put, many IT professionals don’t understand the business of the business.  Therefore those IT pros are unable to articulate what they do in terms of defined services, and how those services provide a real business value to the customer. 

Another reason why many IT organizations don’t define services is that they have a resistance to governance. They look at governance as being overhead or something that gets in the way of getting work done. When you define an IT service, you’re creating a structure and setting good expectations for how IT enables business success.  And governance – done well and as appropriate – enables organizations to achieve their vision and objectives. 

But some IT organizations take governance too far.  Those organizations tend to stand up processes for process sake.  As a result, no one ends up following processes (much less understands the intent of the process to begin with) or using services as has been defined.

Defining IT services also helps the organization understand if its investments in technology are meeting the needs of the organization and helping the business achieve its vision and objectives. 

This has terrible consequences for the organization!

What happens when IT Services are not defined?

One of the biggest consequences of undefined services is that it causes tension between IT and the rest of the organization. Without defined services, there are no shared expectations – either within or outside of IT. The rest of the organization have no idea what IT is capable of doing for them. Services give IT the ability to set expectations and to create healthier relationships between IT and the rest of the organization. 

Undefined services also impact value and the way IT’s value is perceived. Without defined services, IT will have difficulty articulating the value they provide to the organization. This hurts IT’s ability to justify budgets and get buy-in for investments. If you can’t articulate the value of IT, you can’t show the ROI on any tool, piece of technology, or investments in IT. 

Finally, it’s difficult to prioritize work without defining services. When you don’t define your services, everything will seem like it’s the most important thing that needs to be done…until the next thing comes along.  IT will find itself responding to requests from users and working on projects that organizational leaders may not have any interest in doing.  

How to Start Defining Services

What is the best way to start defining services and showing true integration with the business? 

Begin by understanding business needs.  That means engaging your key stakeholders and decision-makers.

To define your services properly, ask these key stakeholders and decision-makers what outcomes they need to achieve to meet business goals and objectives.  Ask how they envision the use of or how they are using technology in achieving those goals and objectives.  Ask how they perceive value – and how they would measure that value.  

Then start identifying and defining your services based on what you heard from those stakeholders. Identify what it takes to deliver the outcomes and value that stakeholders need.  Identify the costs and risks involved in delivering those outcomes – and how IT will manage those costs and risks. 

Then write it down and publicize it using terms those stakeholders will recognize and understand. Any time you talk about technology, talk about it in terms of services.

And you’ll be on your way to much better business-IT alignment

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Business-IT Alignment isn’t a 50-50 Deal

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More and more companies are transforming via digital transformation and discovering new lines of business or radically changing their existing business models through the use of technology.  What does this mean?  It means that IT and the business have no choice but to become aligned if they want to succeed.

It’s no longer just “nice to have” alignment between business and IT. If the IT organization isn’t aligned with the business, the business will go around IT to make their initiatives happen — and that can have catastrophic consequences for everyone. 

It’s one thing to have a meeting with both the business and IT in the room and claim that you’re aligned.  But the realities of what alignment looks like and what it really means for IT and the business is more complex than simply adding IT to meeting agendas. 

What does it mean for the business and IT to be aligned? Who’s responsible for creating that alignment?

From Service Provider to Solution Provider 

According to Tim Winders, Vice-Chancellor of Information Services at Purdue University Northwest, “IT is aligned with the business when IT moves from being a service organization to delivering business solutions.”

The subtle difference between providing business solutions and being a service provider requires a proactive approach. As Tim explains it, “In the reactive model, IT fixes problems but is outside of the decision-making process.”  Being proactive as an IT organization means being “a collaborative business partner delivering solutions that solve specific business problems. IT collaborates with the business to identify business problems to provide proactive solutions, improving products, customer experience, and business reputation.”

The days of IT just implementing the right technology are long gone. IT has to be an engaged part of every business strategy discussion because technology touches every piece of the business.  IT must be engaged from the beginning if that technology is to work to enable value to the business and its end users. 

Mike Gill, CIO at Marian, Inc, explains it this way, “You need to ensure your solution delivery provides value. The value is not if you have the best technology or it runs the most efficiently, the value is if it solves a problem the business has.” 

Of course, it’s easy to say that the IT organization is driving value and is aligned with the business. But what does ‘alignment’ actually look like?  How do you know if you’re aligned? 

What Does Business-IT Alignment Look Like?

If business-IT alignment is connected to driving business value, then you have to start there. Of course, as I’ve pointed out before, the problem with “value” is that it’s a perception. What’s valuable to IT might not be valuable to the business – and vice-versa.  So it’s important that value is identified and agreed by every stakeholder in the organization — customers, partners, suppliers and internal stakeholders. Defining and agreeing on the definition of value as an organization is the first step to getting IT and the business aligned. 

Once value is defined, you can refine your workflows and processes to ensure they are actually delivering business value, including the appropriate measures within those workflows to check for value. For example, Mike shared a way that he can determine if IT is aligned with the business. 

“We have an internally developed ERP system and have the freedom to implement workflows that provide maximum business value – it is a custom system tailored to our company. One sign that we are aligned is looking at transactions in the system,” explained Mike. “Are users doing all the steps in real-time or are they catching up transactions at the end of the day? Looking at the logs you can see if a process that should occur over a longer period (days, not minutes) is mirrored by a similar timeline of transactions in the system. If I see those transactions happening by different people over the course of a day or two then I know the system is aligned to the business (both function and usability). If I see all those transactions happen within minutes of each other then I know they are just catching up work into the system because they must – [which indicates that IT is] not aligned.”

The key here is that Mike made sure the technology fit and supported the workflows of the business, instead of the other way around – a key to business-IT alignment. This enables the technology to be instrumented or monitored to confirm business value – and therefore, better aligned with the organization. 

Additionally, to ensure you’re aligned, look to see if IT is being invited to new projects and initiatives at the kickoff meeting. According to Mike, “It is easy to invite IT leadership to monthly and annual executive status meetings and feel like you are giving them importance or that you are aligning business and IT. That does matter, but it matters more when the regular business projects and initiatives are inviting IT representation in the first steps. It means the business and IT are given the chance to stay aligned from the beginning rather than create the feeling that IT just does what the business says – that never leads to good outcomes.”

IT leaders must regularly check in with other company leaders to ensure that IT is involved with all upcoming initiatives.  If you do that, you’re on your way to business-IT alignment. 

What To Do About Business-IT Alignment?

Once some signs of business-IT alignment begin to appear within an organization, you have to ask yourself one thing: “What am I going to do with this opportunity?”

I believe that IT organizations struggling with business-IT alignment fall into one of two camps. The first group doesn’t know how to achieve business-IT alignment. For that organization, they need to collaborate across the organization to define and agree on value, co-create workflows and solutions to achieve that value, and work together to monitor and continually optimize those solutions.

The other camp consists of organizations that believe that they have business-IT alignment – but they don’t. This is a much larger number of companies than the number of organizations that just can’t figure out alignment.  For these companies, the IT organization is in danger of losing its influence in the company – if it has any influence at all.

Business-IT alignment can often become performative in organizations. It’s easy to have meetings, to gain an agreement on a definition of value, and to create workflows that should enable the realization of value. It’s another thing to ensure that everyone in the organization – both from the business and from IT- is following through and living that definition of value. 

The important thing every IT leader must do is identify what happens after the big discussions, after the kickoff meetings,  and understand what is really going on in the day-to-day running of the organization. Is your team clear on the value it delivers and how it delivers it? Are you enabling your team to work across departments and proactively identify and promote the value you’re delivering? Are you enabling the rest of the organization to have input in how IT is operating and to provide feedback and suggestions for what needs to be done from a business perspective?

Business-IT alignment isn’t a 50-50 split. To achieve and maintain alignment, both IT and the business have to give 100 percent to make alignment work. But before they can both commit 100%, one team has to be the one to step up and put all the effort in first. I believe that team is the IT organization.  IT has to start giving 100% toward business-IT alignment,  even before the business commits to alignment. It’s work to get into alignment and the onus will fall on IT, especially in the beginning – but it’s work that pays off.. 

And remember, business-IT alignment isn’t a one-and-done activity. It’s a continual process that has to be monitored, mapped and measured on a regular basis. 

My challenge to you is to share: how are you staying aligned in your organization? What are your methods for checking and measuring business-IT alignment? Where are the gaps in business-IT alignment that you need to fill?

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How to Master the Art of IT Partnerships

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As businesses continue to become more reliant on technology, more and more organizations have formed partnership ecosystems. Bringing in and working with multiple partners is a smart way to deliver better experiences with optimized costs and capabilities. 

While there are many pros to working with partners — there are some drawbacks as well. Operations become increasingly complex as a partnership ecosystem grows. Regardless, end users will still expect a seamless experience, and the more partners you work with, the harder it could become to maintain that smooth experience. 

This article will address how CIOs can effectively manage those IT partnerships and set up their organizations for success in a partnership ecosystem.   

Partners vs. Suppliers and Vendors

You’ll notice that I refer to “partners” and not “suppliers” or “vendors”. That’s intentional verbiage. In order to succeed in this new paradigm, CIOs need to evolve from working with vendors and suppliers in a strictly transactional sense. Strategic partners are vendors that have go above and beyond effective delivery of systems and services – they commit to helping the CIO achieve the organizational goals of the company. 

The difference between “partner” and “supplier” has become increasingly noticeable due to COVID-19. Many CIOs saw partners be more proactive in their relationships by reaching out to see how they could better assist organizations during the pandemic. 

The best partners recognize that a business relationship is about more than making a sale. It’s about building a relationship where they understand the customer’s business models and the inner workings of the company. They don’t just execute on the customer’s demands, they work with the customer to find mutually beneficial solutions. 

When Badly Managed Partnerships Happen to Good Organizations

Why should you care about managing your partnerships? When does a vendor need to be a partner? 

Silo mentality has been a frequent roadblock within many organizations –  and IT is no stranger to them. Internal silos can wreak havoc on workflows and efficiencies. When IT isn’t looped into the full scope of projects and how the rest of the organization is driving value, they are often left to catch up — and end-users always suffer. And that’s just with internal silos! 

Compound that with the fact that more organizations are reducing staffing yet increasing demand for technology. This means more outsourcing and external support.  But without a shared and agreed approach to delivering that support, IT organizations could easily find themselves in a chaotic situation.  

Finding the Right Partners

Of course, there are many vendors simply parading as partners –  so how do you know what to look for in a partner? The most important thing is not to rush into a relationship or make a decision based solely on price. Yes, it can be time-consuming to get referrals and do your due diligence when evaluating potential partners. Start off with your trusted circle of IT leaders. Other leaders are often the best source of knowledge of who is a great partner and who simply delivers a product. 

Once you have your shortlist of partners from your own research and recommendations from peers, it’s time to start establishing connections. Remember that the right partner doesn’t start the conversation about themselves or their product – they will want to first talk about your goals and objectives.

Perhaps more importantly though, you have to view a potential partnership for what it is — a partnership, not a vendor-client relationship. It’s important to not view the potential partner as just a fulfiller of work. During those initial discussions, you have the responsibility of clearly defining expectations, challenges, organizational dynamics, and the goals of your organization. Don’t limit your conversations to specifically IT or the initiatives for a particular tool or product. IT is crucial to the success of any business so any IT partner needs to have a clear picture of that business. 

This will give the partner the opportunity to create a better strategy for delivering the right products and services for helping you achieve your goals. 

How to Better Manage Your Partners 

The best partnerships happen because they’re built on trust, respect, and mutual understanding. So there is a level of “people-work” that has to go into any of these relationships. But there are some ways you can better structure your organization so your partnerships will be more successful. 

  • Keep the lines of communication open. 

 

Far too often, supplier check-ins are just quick reviews of operational metrics or updates on the tasks completed during a timeframe. These types of communications aren’t sufficient in a partner relationship – in fact, this is a disadvantage to you and your partners! You want your team to be actively communicating with your partners about what’s happening in your organization so they can continue to get a clear vision of the overall picture of your organization.

 

  • Establish transparent workflows for all your partners.

 

This might be difficult because your partners likely have their own workflows. But working with them to establish a shared process that all partners follow makes for a smoother experience for your entire organization. Again, this might be a difficult ask and could take some time to develop, but the right partners will be willing to engage in defining workflows that work for your organization.

 

  • Get your internal teams and stakeholders to see partners as part of the team

 

Silo mentality doesn’t work — even when those silos are made up of full-time employees and contractors. Your internal departments and teams should feel empowered to be a part of the partner-IT relationship. You want everyone in your organization to know and trust your partners. This might mean bringing other departments to meetings with external partners or looping your external partners into existing initiatives with other departments.  

Introducing Service Integration and Management 

If you are looking for a better way to integrate your partnerships, Service Integration and Management (SIAM) might be the best option for you. SIAM is a management methodology that is growing in popularity. SIAM will provide an organization with governance, coordination, assurance, and integration for working with outside partners by introducing a “service integrator” role. If you’re working with multiple vendors, suppliers, and partners, SIAM can enhance the experience for everyone within your organization and for suppliers and partners working with your organization.  

If you’re curious about introducing SIAM or improving your partner relationships, I’d love to discuss how to prepare your organization to thrive in a multi-partner ecosystem.

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