Tag Archives: Service Portfolio

The 2-Step Method to a IT Service Portfolio

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There are two types of IT organizations. One type of IT organization takes orders, manages service tickets, and provides technology and technology support. The other type of IT organization is a strategic partner within the organization that makes impactful contributions to the bottom line is part of business innovation discussions and facilitates real business outcomes and value. 

While there are many differences between these two types of IT organizations and how they earned their perceived reputations, one of the biggest differences is that the strategic IT organization takes a business-like approach to operating.

A foundational element of IT operating like a business is having an up-to-date IT service portfolio. Think about it – successful businesses define and maintain a portfolio of products and services.  They use this portfolio to help make decisions regarding how they serve various market spaces, to understand their strengths, and make decisions regarding strategy and where and how to invest. But unfortunately, many IT organizations ignore their service portfolio altogether – much less define services in terms of business value and outcomes. 

The service portfolio can kickstart a whole new era for the IT organization—and it doesn’t have to be time-consuming!  In fact, I have an easy, two-step method for getting started. 

What is the IT service portfolio?

According to ITIL®, an IT service portfolio is “the complete list of services that are managed by a service provider. The service portfolio is used to manage the entire lifecycle of all services.”

In short, the IT service portfolio has all the information about the products and services IT offers, used to offer, or that are in development – all in one place. The service portfolio is – should be – a critical source of information to enable organizations to make data-informed decisions about investments in technology.   But few IT organizations develop and maintain their service portfolio.  Why?

  • They feel overwhelmed – Some IT organizations find themselves consumed by day-to-day work.  As a result, they may feel that they are just too busy to take on an initiative that may not seem like it would have an immediate impact on daily work.

  • They struggle to elevate their mindset – Some IT organizations have become accustomed to being reactive rather than proactive when it comes to the strategic planning and use of technology. It may be difficult for those organizations to envision a world in which IT is aligned within the business, shares the same vision, and collaborates to plan and manage technology investments.


  • They don’t know how to start – Technology use is already well-established within an organization, and defining a service portfolio appears to be too big of a challenge. 


Why is an IT service portfolio important?

A service portfolio is where strategic IT organizations begin to set themselves apart.  Of the many benefits of an IT service portfolio, one of the most important is that it helps establish IT as an integrated, strategic partner.  The service portfolio becomes the source of truth for the organization, providing critical information regarding what and how technology is used within the organization. 

Other benefits of defining a service portfolio include:

  • Relates technology use and investments to business results – A good IT service portfolio connects how the use of technology delivers and enables business outcomes.  This helps organizations use facts, not perceptions, to answer questions like:
    • “What investments have we made in technology?” 
    • “Do we realize business value from our use of technology?  Are we incurring unnecessary technical debt?”
    • “Are our technology solutions effective?  Are we realizing our organizational goals?”
  • Enables a holistic view of technology use  – Organizations – regardless of size – often suffer from not having a big picture view of its use of technology. That’s because technology solutions are typically implemented to address a need or challenge for only one part of an organization.  Could there be opportunities to leverage an existing capability in a new or different way to address a challenge in another part of the organization?  A service portfolio would help organizations answer that question. 


  • Enables data-driven strategic decisions regarding technology – The IT service portfolio serves the same purpose as a business portfolio when it comes to organizational technology-based products and services. Just as a business portfolio provides critical strategic data, the IT service portfolio provides the definitive source of truth for making decisions about technology investments, new and existing products, and services, withdrawal of existing products and services, identification of technical debt, and customers and stakeholders. 


My 2-Step Method for Starting Your IT Service Portfolio

You’re probably thinking that an IT service portfolio has to be in-depth. After all, it’s supposed to include the “complete list of services” that IT provides. 

So where do you start? It can start with two simple steps.


  1. Map your top 2-3 critical value streams


Mapping value streams is one of the most important exercises for any organization, regardless of whether you want to define an IT service portfolio.

Value stream mapping results in identifying, visualizing, and mapping all the steps in a product delivery process. It’s a cross-functional initiative that is crucial for everyone’s success.  And instead of only a few people knowing how value is created and delivered within an organization, many people know.  It’s a great way to get everyone aligned and recognize the cross-functional nature of work within an organization.  

So start your IT service portfolio initiative by mapping the top 2 or 3 critical value streams within your organization.  Why critical value streams?   Because by identifying those critical value streams, the initial service portfolio makes the most significant impact for the organization – and shows immediate, tangible value. 


2. Identify the IT products and services that support those value streams.


Once these critical value stream maps are defined and documented, then business and IT leaders can identify the IT products and services that support or enable these value streams. This is the opportunity to define the business outcomes and value of those value streams.  And those definitions can then be applied to the IT products and services supporting those value streams. What are the business outcomes of these value streams?  How is the value of these value streams determined?  How does technology enable those outcomes?  What should be measured that would indicate value – and can these measures be captured and reported by technology? How are decisions being made along the value stream?

The answers to the above questions will indicate what information needs to be collected and maintained within the IT service portfolio.  

And that’s how to start an IT service portfolio in two steps.

You can do this!

The idea here is that you don’t have to overcomplicate the process. Many organizations don’t even attempt to create an IT service portfolio because they believe it’s overhead that distracts from the “important projects”. In reality, how can you evaluate the true impact and value of a project without the information that would be found in an IT service portfolio?  

And don’t try to complete your service portfolio in a single go. In fact, when developing a service portfolio, I would advise following the ITIL Guiding Principle of “progress iteratively with feedback”.  Approach the service portfolio as a living document that gets updated every quarter using this 2-step method.  For each iteration, identify the (next) 2-3 most critical value streams, map those value streams, then identify how IT products and services support those value streams.  Then write it down.  Viola!  You’ve just grown your service portfolio without overwhelming your IT team – or your business colleagues.  And you’ve added more valuable information from which your organization can make strategic decisions about technology investments and use. 

Tedder’s Takeaway: Why It Matters

An IT service portfolio is the foundation of a strategic IT organization. It provides facts and transparency regarding IT products and services and elevates IT beyond being “order takers” and into trusted partners. 

Need help building your IT portfolio? Let Tedder Consulting help!  From value stream mapping to identifying and defining IT products and services, Tedder Consulting can get your IT organization on the path of strategic business partner!   For more information, contact Tedder Consulting today.

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The Opportunity of Failed IT Plans

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What went wrong in 2020?

I know, it’s a big question and most people would probably say “Everything.” Or at least, many CIOs would confess that the original strategic plans they had for 2020 were not executed.

There were many initiatives that just failed to get off the ground in 2020 due to COVID-19.

Now that 2020 is winding down — what happens to those initiatives? Should you try to execute on them in 2021? Are they even still valuable to your organization? Will you still have the capital for them? How can you afford them?

Smart CIOs know they can’t carry on as normal. Just because something was on the plan for 2020 doesn’t mean it should continue to be on it for 2021. Yes, strategic projects are still strategic, but it’s time to address whether the strategy has changed. If it has, the CIO has to know how to protect IT’s budget while shifting initiatives.

This is where the opportunity of a failed plan presents itself and where innovative CIOs can reset their priorities, align themselves with the rest of the organization, and ensure budget protection for 2021.

Revisit Your Organization’s Existing Strategic Plan

First, it’s important to understand what impact COVID-19 has had on your organization. This means more than just a workforce that is now working remotely. How did it impact the way your business operates and delivers value to customers? Did business models change? Did you add any new capabilities that are still contributing to ROI?

Now look at your existing IT strategic plan. Does it incorporate the changes made because of the impact of COVID-19?

It’s possible you could have some major changes to make to the IT strategic plan. For example, if your organization has added new revenue streams, then you may need to completely change the strategic plan to incorporate those new streams.

Look for Opportunities in your Value Streams

As you review what has changed in your organizations, you should also be identifying the opportunities for IT inside of this new strategy.

This exercise is best if you know the value streams in your organization (whether they are brand new as a result of COVID or they were already in place). If you don’t know the value streams of your organization, then now is the time to map them along with other members of the executive teams.

Remember, this is a chance for meaningful, impactful change. It’s no longer “business as usual.” We can’t say “Well this is the way it’s always been done” because organizations have proven they are capable of agility and making big changes quickly. When mapping value streams and looking for opportunities, don’t be afraid to open up to possibilities that might have seemed impossible a year ago. After all, most people would have said taking an organization completely remote in 48 hours would have been impossible this time last year but by now, most IT organizations have accomplished exactly that!

Fix any Value Leaks

Now, after you’ve reviewed value streams and are fired up about the new strategic projects you could bring to the organization in 2021, there’s a big question to answer: Where do you find the budget for it?

Some IT organizations were fortunate enough to have larger budgets this year while they enabled remote working — but those checkbooks won’t be as open in 2021.

Here’s what you can do right now to protect your budget in 2021

Look for the value leaks in your organization. Value leakage is a common problem in every organization but few leaders know to look for it. Businesses don’t operate on a consistent basis every single day. Value leaks can occur when changes in business workflows aren’t reflected in technology workflows, or people weren’t trained on new products or features, or when services or products aren’t retired appropriately. Value leaks occur due to poor communications, or when the organization fails to fully understand the costs and risks of any change, no matter how slight it may seem. If no one is monitoring value streams and measuring how value is delivered, then value will start getting dropped along the way.

In the context of protecting the budget for 2021, you can start finding and addressing the value leaks that are happening right now in 2020. When you start to fix the leaks, you can prove to the organization that you’re creating more value. The more value you bring to the table, the more you can justify your future budget and protect the budget for those bigger strategic projects you identify when mapping your value streams.

The Key is the Big Picture

The most important thing any CIO can do to seize the opportunity of failed plans is to not lose sight of the bigger picture. 2020 didn’t go to plan for anyone and every organization experienced shifts that will impact future strategies.

Your strategic projects from 2020 might still make sense in 2021. Or they might not. What’s important now is to look at how the organization delivers value to its customers and the opportunities for IT to enable and co-create that value. Then look at how IT can create even more value by fixing existing value leaks.

I think everyone will say that 2020 changed everything. But only the most innovative CIOs will be able to say that 2020 changed everything in the best way possible.

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Did You Pivot Or Are You Just Spinning in Circles?

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COVID-19 caught the business world by surprise. And it didn’t just change where organizations work (from an office to at home) — it has changed everything: economies, regulations, timelines, employee and customer expectations, the list goes on.

So what did the majority of organizations do in response to this swift and sudden change?

They pivoted.

I know that many seasoned leaders and CIOs have rolled their eyes at the word “pivot” in the past but, it’s 2020 and well, it just might be the word of the year.

No matter the industry, businesses have had to pivot. A few examples of this include restaurants acted as grocery stores selling fresh produce, meats and beer, among other things, gyms transitioned into online workout subscriptions, and distilleries began manufacturing and selling hand sanitizer. Even Chuck E. Cheese pivoted into a delivery pizza chain under the name Pasqually’s.

In big or small ways, every business has had to pivot. When done correctly, a pivot can create new revenue streams, keep businesses afloat, and deliver even more value to their customers.

However, organizations run into problems when they think they’re pivoting but really, they’re just checking off tasks, working for the sake of being busy or failing to innovate. In short, they’re not pivoting — they’re spinning in circles.

What’s the difference between pivoting and spinning?

Business pivots are meant to help a business recover from a difficult period that made their original business model less sustainable. It is sometimes seen as a short term move, but it can have positive long-term impacts on the businesses, depending on the business. Whether it’s meant to be short-term or long-term, a pivot is a deliberate and purposeful shift to create value for the end-user.

Deliberate and purposeful are the two keywords in that definition. It’s what makes a pivot different from a knee jerk spin. A knee jerk spin will not create value for your end-user or your business, but it will likely cost you time and money.

Here’s how to know if you made a pivot versus a knee-jerk spin. You pivoted if:

  • You relied on data to make decisions about where to shift 
  • You already had a clear understanding of how value flowed through your organization 
  • You understood what aspects of the business worked and leveraged those things to create new value streams

The difference between organizations that pivoted and those that are spinning is that the pivoting organizations already had a holistic view of their organization and how it delivers value. They understood their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats before the pandemic hit.

Organizations that made knee jerk reactions were in the day-to-day, siloed operational mindset. They didn’t know where they were to begin so they could change direction to move into a better place when COVID-19 hit. 

What Can CIOs Do to Stop Spinning?

If you are concerned that instead of pivoting, you’re just spinning, it’s ok. It’s not too late to slow down and make the pivot you need. Here’s how:

Identify the value you deliver to the end-user

What is the value that the organization delivers to the end-user? How does IT contribute to that business value? Are you able to connect IT services to the happiness and success of a customer? If no, then that’s where you start. Understanding where IT creates value in the organization is the first step to being able to find innovative ways to keep delivering it. 

Communicate with all key stakeholders

Are all of your key stakeholders in agreement with the value you deliver? Does the sales department see the same level of value that the marketing department does? Do your customers see the value your salespeople see? Every stakeholder needs to be on the same page here or else you’ll end up trying to deliver too much.

Map everything out

You can use a whiteboard or create a digital version, but you should have a clear map of your value streams and your customer journeys. It is imperative that everyone on your team can visualize where value is created, where it may be getting lost, and where there are more opportunities to create value.

Creating a customer journey and value stream maps are two exercises that will provide that holistic view of the organization you need to survive this pandemic and whatever comes next. They are collaborative exercises but once completed you’ll be in a better position to take actions that will help the business pivot to where it needs to go. 

Fill in the gaps

You can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you are. The truth is, even as we continue to move through this pandemic, we have no idea what will change in the future or what the next upending disaster will be. There is no such thing as “smooth sailing” forever. Another emergency will hit organizations and they’ll need to pivot. Taking the steps now to address where you are, lay your groundwork and create that solid foundation will strengthen you to not only pivot and survive in this emergency, but in future ones as well. 


If you want to ensure you’re making a pivot and not turning in circles, let’s chat! Book a free consultation to learn how you can leverage your wins and successfully pivot your organization.

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