Tag Archives: value stream map

Did You Leave Some Value Along the Road?

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Let’s start off with a scenario. Let’s say you are preparing for a cross-country road trip. Before you head out, you are responsible and change the oil in your car. You prepare your playlist, grab your road trip snacks, and hit the road. You drive for a day or two and you make it through a few states before that pesky “check oil” light pops on. You’re annoyed because you just changed the oil and you’ve only driven a few hundred miles. But you don’t want to risk losing your engine, so you get off the highway, find the closest gas station and change the oil and hit the road again.

Now let’s say that happens every few hundred miles for your entire trip. My guess is that after the first or second time that “Check Oil” light went on, you would ask a mechanic to look at it to examine why you’re leaking oil, even if it meant extending your trip a few hours or a day to get it fixed.

Now, what if I told you that much like a car leaking oil slows down a road trip, IT services that leak value can slow down business growth. The difference is that CIOs don’t have a handy light that goes off to let them know an IT service is low on value. They have to look for the signs themselves.

If you’re wondering why your IT services aren’t delivering the way you planned, it’s time to check if you’re leaving value along the side of the road.

Understanding The Value Of IT

Before you check to see if you’re leaking value, you have to understand how you are creating that value to begin with.
The difficulty with value is that it is a perception. There is no one single definition of it. Value needs to be defined by every stakeholder in the organization — customers, partners, suppliers and internal stakeholders. Business leaders should be working with these stakeholders to define value and ensure that value is understood across the organization.

Once you have a definition of value inside the organization, you can begin to understand how IT co-creates that value with other stakeholders.

For IT leaders, this means understanding how the outputs IT delivers connect to the larger outcomes the organization is achieving. This will require you to work with other stakeholders in the organization to understand their projects, initiatives and goals, and how IT supports them. If you are able to connect how IT helped marketing hit its revenue goals, then you’re understanding where IT co-creates value and you can optimize your work, investments and priorities to increase that co-created value. If you are able to do this for every project you work on, then you’ll be running a value-driven IT organization.

Are You Consistently Delivering Value?

Now, many organizations may already do this. They already define value and IT has already worked with other departments to ensure they co-create value through their services.

But your job isn’t done.

Business doesn’t operate on a consistent basis every single day. No matter how tight our processes, how smooth the services are; there will be evolutions in services, products, and how the organization operates.

And sometimes, those evolutions are forced upon a business due to forces outside of their control. For example, a global pandemic can hit and everyday business life is turned on its head.

Other times, it’s not a major pandemic, but a slight shift in how a product is delivered, how an organization communicates, or the way technology is used.

Whether the reason is big or small, when undetected shifts within the value stream occur, IT services begin to leak value and IT becomes less effective. In other words, you have “value leakage”.

My friends at TaUBSolutions explain it this way; value leakage occurs when “solutions move from conception to customer implementation.”

Value leakage can occur when there is not adequate training, when there is poor management of organizational change, when we don’t retire services or products when we should, when there is poor employee and customer experience.

How to Avoid Value Leakage

Value leakage will always be a threat to IT’s effectiveness. It is up to the IT leader to be vigilant about delivering value and to look for the signs. Remember, unlike in your car, there is no “Value Leakage” indicator light.

Instead, IT leaders should regularly do two things:

  1. Talk with stakeholders about service delivery.
    Are they still seeing value from your services? When was the last time you checked with your stakeholders to confirm this? (Hint: if you haven’t done this since COVID-19 hit, now is the time!)
  2.  Review customer journey maps and value stream maps.
    These two tools were designed to help stakeholders understand how value passes through the organization and is realized by the customer. They will help you identify where value should be delivered or where it can be delivered.

Don’t leave value on the side of the road. Protect yourself from value leakage and check in with your stakeholders. I created a Value Leakage Indicator Tool to help IT leaders measure where they are and are not delivering value. You can download it for free here.

Additionally, if you need help identifying value, connecting IT outputs to business value or mapping value streams, please book a free 30-minute call for us to discuss how you can drive more value in your business.

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When In Doubt, Follow the Value Stream

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Every day, IT leaders address questions to help keep their team moving forward, which in turn keeps the organization moving forward.

Questions like:

  • Where should the IT team spend their time?
  • How should IT allocate resources?
  • How can IT justify larger budgets and more investments?

In the past, IT leaders have taken a straightforward approach to answering these questions. They have broken down each question and explained in technical detail everything their team has accomplished and completed, no matter how small or mundane.
In other words, IT delivered outputs.

But in today’s world, outputs aren’t enough. The old approach to making decisions based on outputs is over. Because today, IT must deliver outcomes.

If an IT leader was to list only outputs without connecting them to any business outcomes to the C-suite in the hopes of securing more resources or larger budgets, the C-suite will look at them and ask: “How did this drive business value?”

Closing tickets, upgrading technology, and troubleshooting technical issues are an important part of the success of an IT organization. But IT leaders must do more than just list outputs. IT leaders must show how these outputs connect to the organization’s bottom-line goals, and IT’s role in delivering needed business outcomes.

Before an IT leader can decide on how their team should allocate its time and resources or how IT can obtain larger investments and partake in bigger initiatives, they must answer these questions:

  • How did IT’s outputs reach the end customer?
  • How did IT’s outputs help the customer achieve their goals?
  • How did IT’s outputs increase revenue or decrease expenses?
  • How did IT’s outputs help the business achieve its goals?

To find the answers to these questions, you have to follow the value stream.

What’s a Value Stream?

Steve Bell and Mike Orzen, authors of Lean IT define a value stream as a “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.” According to Bell and Orzen, a value stream consists of “all processes, tasks and activities used to bring a product or service from concept to customer and includes all information, work and material flows.”

In short, value stream is the steps taken by an organization to meet customer demands and bring value through a product or service to that customer. The value stream is the big picture look at how value flows through the organization.

How To Follow the Value Stream

Following the value stream means exactly that – following how value flows through an organization and identifying where there may be improvements that can be made. It is about gaining clarity around how value is delivered to the end user, and how to use value streams to help you make decisions in your IT organization.

For every initiative or project, IT leaders must be able to step back and ask, “where and how does this fit in a value stream?” If you’ve followed the value stream and there is no fit for the initiative, then why is it a priority?

Often when you’re following the value stream to determine the importance of an initiative, you will end up involving other departments and stakeholders. As noted above, the value stream is how value flows through the entire organization, not just within one department. Value streams will cross departmental boundaries and a collaborative approach is mandatory. Working in a vacuum will simply waste time and resources — time and resources that could have been better spent contributing to the value stream.

Now, in this digital world, this means understanding how technology contributes to the value stream. IT manages technology and technology will always play a role in the value stream. Understanding this relationship will give you a context for certain services or initiatives.

Map your Value Streams

How do you know if a technology, a specific investment, or an initiative is contributing to a value stream?

The answer is simple: map that value streams. A value stream map is a visual representation of how value flows through the organization. This visualization enables you “follow the value stream.”

Mapping value streams will:

  • Identify cross-functional nature of work, which can avoid “siloed thinking”
  • Identify waste such as bottlenecks or delays (very important for IT!)
  • Allow teams to visualize the work and help the entire organization recognize how individuals and teams contribute to value.

How to Follow the Value and Map the Value Stream

No matter where you struggle with defining value or identifying the value IT drives, a value stream map is the place to start.

Mapping a value stream requires a cross-departmental team that includes IT. Silo thinking must not get in your way when you’re following the value stream, so include all stakeholders and make this an exercise in discovery. Map all the information including all the tasks being performed, who is performing them, and the technology involved with all of these tasks.

It’s also important to remember that value stream mapping is never a “one and done” activity. As new technology is introduced or customers’ needs change, your value stream maps will be revisited.

The next time you’re faced with a decision about an investment or project, take a look at the value stream. Using a value stream as your compass Following the value stream will always lead you to contributing value to the organization.

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Your Continuity Plan Still Isn’t Good Enough

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Continuity plans have been in the spotlight for businesses across the globe over the last few months. If your continuity plan wasn’t done or hadn’t been reviewed in months, then you probably felt that pain over the last few weeks. Even those with up-to-date continuity plans are refreshing theirs with their lessons learned from COVID-19.

“Continuity planning” has been topping lists of must-do’s for CIOs and IT leaders. But someone has to ask the question: even with a 2020 update, is your continuity plan good enough?

From what I’ve been reading and seeing, probably not. The good news is that you can still shore up your continuity plan so that it actually helps your business in the event of another disaster.

The Problem With Continuity Plans

For CIOs, continuity plans mean including the obvious things:

  • How many laptops does our team need to work remotely?
  • What needs to be moved into the cloud or onto a collaboration platform?
  • What cybersecurity systems need to be set into place?

These are important items to address. They will help your business continue in the event of an emergency. But they’re not the solutions to the real concerns. They are band-aids. These things only address the symptom but not what causes the symptoms.

A continuity plan needs to address what your business needs to do to stay running most effectively and how vital business functions can continue operating during a disaster.

On their own, none of the above components reflect how they connect to vital business functions or business needs. They’re just a list of outputs. They don’t tie it back to the business need or driver or requirement. They’re not outcomes. Our continuity plans should focus on the outcomes we must deliver to support vital business functions. Then we’ll know what outputs we need to produce in order to provide the outcomes that are needed.

I’ll use one of my favorite metaphors to explain the difference between outputs and outcomes. This one might feel familiar to you if you’ve been ordering takeout food recently. You probably have a favorite pizza delivery place that you choose over any other. What is it that makes that pizza delivery your favorite? Because the output from every delivery service is the same. The output is the pizza that you receive. But the outcome of pizza delivery is that the pizza was delivered warm, the driver was friendly, it was delicious and you enjoyed every second of eating it. The output is simply what you expect because it’s what you paid for. The outcome is the entire experience and value that was delivered.

To have a good continuity plan, you need to identify the outcomes that are necessary, not just the outputs that simply keep the lights on.

We need to start with the business impact analysis which quantifies the impact of the loss of service. A business impact analysis collects relevant data and analyzes the operational and financial impact of a disruption of business functions and processes. These can be as detailed as we need it to be. The more detail, the better because we’ll be able to make better business decisions.

The business impact analysis starts us down the path of identifying those outcomes because it assumes that every part of the business is dependent on the continued operations of the other parts of the business (which it is).

Is this starting to sound familiar? When we think of business impact, in particular the holistic approach to end-to-end value, we’re really identifying the value streams.

If you read my previous article this month, you know that I’m a proponent of Value Stream Management, which is the holistic approach that applies lean thinking – optimizing the flow of products and services through entire value streams across technologies, assets, and departments – across an organization’s value streams. Instead of just looking at functions and features, value stream management looks at and manages value streams from end-to-end.

In terms of continuity plans, if we reflect on the value streams, our plan has to become more than the technology that supports the value stream. It will encompass the entire end-to-end lifecycle of business value and the outcomes of each value stream.

This where you’ll begin to focus on things like the roles of the people involved and how they interact with one another and the end customers to deliver value. Your continuity plan becomes comprehensive and more impactful.

How To Make Your Continuity Plan Valuable

Now that you understand what really needs to be in a continuity plan, there’s a second piece that needs to be addressed.

You can’t just drop this plan into a drawer and cross your fingers that you won’t need it again anytime soon. If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s that unthinkable scenarios can occur. We may not see another pandemic in our lifetimes but we will see another disaster of some type.

Your continuity plan cannot be a one and done scenario. It needs to be reviewed, updated, and addressed on a regular basis. Each time you map your value streams or add new value streams, go back to your continuity plan, and evaluate that it’s still up to date.

We can’t know what the next disaster is awaiting businesses but we can be better prepared for any disaster. The best time to prepare for the next disaster is right now.

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No, Value Stream Management is Not the “New ITSM”

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Every few years it seems like there’s some new trend that seems eerily similar to ITSM. There are so many buzzwords and trendy practices in IT. It’s hard to determine what practices are worth evaluating and implementing.

This year, the newest contender in the digital space is Value Stream Management. Is Value Stream Management the new ITSM? Is it just another trend that will fade into obscurity in a few years or is it worth investigating?

What is Value Stream Management?

According to the lean.org website, lean thinking “changes the focus of management from optimizing separate technologies, assets and vertical departments to optimizing the flow of products and services through entire value streams that flow horizontally across technologies, assets and departments to customers”.

Value Stream Management helps organizations optimize and manage its value streams by applying lean thinking in a consistent way across the organization.

Value stream management identifies and examines value streams as opposed to specific “features and functions.” A value stream consists of the steps an organization takes to continuously deliver value to customers. Many IT organizations need to start identifying and understanding their value streams instead of their features and functions so they can demonstrate how they drive business value. Value stream management will help them to do that.

With value stream management, we can see where value is created and where it is lost so it allows an organization to optimize the delivery of products and services by reducing waste and improving efficiency. It’s truly a holistic end-to-end approach that many organizations need.

Since it is an end-to-end approach, value stream management also links technology efforts with the business outcomes to support better collaboration. For value stream management to be effective, an organization must understand how its products and services are related to business goals. For IT, value stream management identifies where it must collaborate with the rest of the organization on these products and services.

How does Value Stream Management relate to ITSM?

Value stream management is the superstructure and IT service management (ITSM) fits within that superstructure. Value stream management monitors and manages entire value streams. ITSM is one component of those value streams.

Value stream management can make your ITSM practice much better. Because it monitors entire value streams, value stream management will identify the opportunities and weaknesses in your ITSM approach.

But ITSM doesn’t just need value stream management to be effective. Value stream management needs IT service management, as well. While value stream management shows how workflows through organization including where there are delays and opportunities for improvement, it doesn’t provide specific details regarding how technology outputs contribute to valuable outcomes. That’s the role of ITSM.

Once value stream management has identified opportunities for improvement for each value stream, ITSM can then create the proper processes and services to improve those value streams, which in the end will deliver more value to the customer.

In short, value stream management illustrates the bigger picture that shows how ITSM contributes to the business, where ITSM can be improved, and why those improvements matter.

How Can You Incorporate Value Stream Management and ITSM into Your Organization?

Many ITSM implementations have gotten too far down in the weeds with how IT manages its products and services. Value stream management can help resolve that issue.

Value stream management will help leaders and the C-suite see the full picture of how and where technology is driving business value. They’ll be able to better understand why investments in ITSM should be made because value stream management shows where ITSM plays a vital role in delivering value to the customer.

To start incorporating value stream management in your organization, start by identifying the value streams within your organization and create a simple value stream map for each. A value stream map will help “connect the dots” how the different areas of the organization work together to deliver value.

Also, become an expert on the business of the business. This includes learning the language of the business; what the business does to deliver value to the customer; and understanding how the parts of the business interact to deliver that value to the customer. This will also help you gain the support and credibility you’ll need from your business colleagues.

Value stream management is not the new ITSM – but it will improve your ITSM and bring more value to your organization as a whole.

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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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Future-Proofing Higher Education With Employee Experience

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Higher education is facing many obstacles. The entire industry has shifted over the last few years and many higher education institutions are having to adjust how they operate to meet those changes. This article will explore how employee experience and good service management can help higher education institutions overcome those obstacles.

The Changes in Higher Education

One of the biggest changes in higher education is the shifting student demographic. Just a few years ago, student populations were made up of 18-22-year-olds, who lived on campus, went to school full-time, and were working toward a 4-year degree. Today, many students are adult learners, part-time students or taking classes completely online. Many individuals are questioning whether a traditional higher education degree is worth the financial burden and are opting out of traditional higher education altogether.

Additionally, students on campus are dealing with different struggles than past students. Many students are forced to balance multiple jobs while in school to make ends meet. This has resulted in students struggling with increased financial pressure and higher education has become plagued with mental health problems.

And on top of all of those changes, higher education is struggling with decreased funding, increased competition, and budget cuts. Higher education institutions must find innovative and cost-effective ways to engage current, prospective, and past students. The best, easiest and smartest way to do that is by engaging their employees.

The Need for Engaged Employees

Perhaps most worrisome among higher education institutions is that they are struggling with employee engagement. Simply stated – many higher education faculty and staff members are not engaged. Gallup performed a detailed study on employee engagement across several industries. After performing 258 million interviews including 75,000 with faculty and staff members, Gallup found that just 34% of faculty and staff within higher education are engaged at work. This engagement score is lower than most of the industries that Gallup measures.

Unengaged employees could be costing institutions at the bottom line. The faculty are often the institution’s frontline for their students. An engaged faculty can provide students with tools they need to overcome the obstacles they’re facing, which will not only help students stay at the institution, but can help create a dedicated and successful alumni network.

Also, engaged employees are more likely to stay at the institution. Studies have shown that focusing on employee engagement can result in better retention rates and cost savings over time. In fact, according to the American Council on Education, Iowa State University estimates an average savings of more than $83,000 per faculty member retained when engagement practices are applied. Employee turnover can be costly – so imagine how much that adds up over time when good faculty members are retained!

The Institution’s Role in Employee Experience

The question is what can the institution do to support employee experience? Mike Bollinger, global AVP of thought leadership and advisory services for Cornerstone OnDemand notes, “Faculty and staff members help create the student experience, and it’s up to the institution to provide their employees with the learning curriculum, professional development opportunities and recognition they deserve to help both higher education employees and their students succeed.”

Higher education institutions can leverage technology and services to create a better employee experience that includes professional development, learning opportunities, and better operational management.

Digital is an obvious choice for most of these experiences. Higher institutions are already successfully implementing digital-first experiences like digital workflows, online onboarding, training programs, and online learning management systems.

But future-proofing higher education with employee experience requires more than creating digital-first experiences. Technology alone won’t guarantee an exceptional employee experience. Good service management is necessary. The service management I’m referring to is not just IT service management. I’m referring to the holistic approach of delivering value through the use of services, based on the use of technology. Some refer to this as Enterprise Service Management. Whether you call it Enterprise Service Management, service management, or IT service management, one thing needs to remain the same: you must focus on how organizations can co-create value and then deliver that value using technology.

What can higher education leaders do to create exceptional employee experiences?

Institutions must acknowledge the silos that exist among their faculty and staff before they can begin to consider the technological needs. Silos are culturally embedded in higher education institutions. There are silos between faculty and staff. There are silos among adjuncts, full-time professors and tenured professors, as well as, silos among departments. Working to create open lines of communication and to empower the entire institution to collaborate to run higher education as a business. It’s important that both faculty and staff adapt their thinking and actions in terms of value and outcomes instead of activities and things.

This is where IT can take the lead within an institution. Higher education CIOs can work with the rest of the institution to understand the overall goals and determine how technology can help the institution meet those goals.

There are two steps a CIO can take to begin this process.

Identify, map, and manage value streams
When a CIO maps value streams across the institution and identifies where technology is used to support those value streams, they can begin to identify and eliminate redundant spending and waste. They can also begin to find process improvements that can support better employee experience.

Establish an experience center
An experience center is a little like an expanded IT service desk. It is a single point of contact for reporting and managing service issues. Successful experience centers have well-defined processes supporting defined value streams. The experience center can benefit both the student and the faculty and staff as it supports the entire engagement lifecycle of both the students and the faculty. It reduces any frustrations or problems using technology so they can be quickly solved.

Higher education is evolving and the evolution isn’t going to slow down any time soon. While there are many questions about the future of higher education, one thing that remains certain is that the time is now to engage employees and strengthen the brand, operations and bottom line of an institution. This approach of addressing and improving the employee experience of faculty and staff on the front line can create a ripple effect that will leave the end-users, the students, feeling satisfied, cared for and supported by their institutions.

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Good AI Will Not Fix Bad ITSM

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If you google “AI ITSM,” you’ll receive almost a million results of various articles, predictions, and guides detailing how AI will transform ITSM.

The promises in every headline are exciting:

  • You can learn how AI can “make great things happen in ITSM”
  • There is a guide to how AI can “make your service desk great”
  • There’s an article on how AI-based ITSM apps deliver friction-less employee experiences

And that’s just a few of the hundreds of thousands of results!

As an ITSM consultant with decades of experience helping organizations implement healthy and effective ITSM practices, all of these articles make me feel confident and excited about the future of this industry.

But at the same time, they also raise deep concerns in me because I see history repeating itself. I’m concerned this initial excitement about the transformative power of AI will have IT organizations rushing to fix every problem they have – this time, it will be with AI.

And that just won’t work. It’s going to cause bigger problems down the line. AI is not a silver bullet. It won’t solve all of your problems and no matter how powerful your AI technology is, it simply won’t fix “bad ITSM”.

In order for AI to deliver the maximum benefits, you may need to clean up your ITSM act first.

What is Bad ITSM?

Before we get into everything AI can do for ITSM, let’s first take a look at bad ITSM. You might be wondering if you are suffering from bad ITSM.

Does any of this sound familiar?

  • Services are not defined. The IT organization has a list of applications, systems, and activities, but there is no discussion of how these things interact to add or enable business value.
  • There is no documentation describing the value of what IT is doing or how that value is measured.
  • Projects are not evaluated according to desired outcomes or opportunities for involvement. Instead projects are evaluated strictly by cost or resource requirements. Instead of doing the right things, IT is trying to do everything.
  • There is no business case for ITSM or a clear understanding of the return on investment on ITSM.
  • Solutions are “frankensteined” together with data from one area, tools from another, and whatever resources can be afforded. Or perhaps even worse, there are multiple systems (which means higher costs) that essentially deliver the same solutions.

Other symptoms of bad ITSM also include siloed departments, frustrated team members, and unexplainably long delivery times.

Many organizations notice bad ITSM, but they struggle to clearly diagnose the problem. They see the problem as an isolated one. But once you take a step back, you will be able to see that every symptom of bad ITSM is actually interrelated. This means that fixing bad ITSM requires a holistic approach.

What Role Will AI Play?

It’s important to note that while AI may not transform ITSM, AI can play an important role in ITSM. There are 3 common cases where AI can benefit ITSM:

  • Amplify IT resources
    • AI will enable IT staff to have more time to innovate, strategize, and focus on larger, more complex problems
  • Eliminate silos
    • The use of AI technologies will promote standardized approaches to processes and workflows.
  • Data drives actions
    • Effective use of AI requires good data and information. AI adoption can encourage IT organizations to develop good habits in capturing the data and information needed to make AI use effective. By capturing good data and information as part of ITSM activities enables the organization to take advantage of the introduction of AI.

Consider these roles if you have “Bad ITSM.” Can AI amplify resources if services are not defined or if the business value of those services is unclear? Will it eliminate silos if solutions are consistently “Frankensteined” together without any guiding process? Can AI take effective and appropriate actions when data and information cannot be trusted?

While AI can be extraordinarily powerful, it needs the right environment to thrive. Organizations with bad ITSM practices don’t have the right environment.

How can you cure “Bad ITSM”?

ITSM is not just about one process or one tool. There needs to be a bigger picture of how ITSM fits into the organization, drives business value and provides services to end users.

You can start to cure bad ITSM by using outside-in thinking. Look at your ITSM efforts from the business perspective. Define how IT contributes to the needs of the customer. Then work inwards defining the services, designing the processes, and implementing the tools needed to meet the needs of those customers.

Then ensure your organization has the skills necessary to exploit and maintain AI are available:

Process design
Do your ITSM processes consistently deliver expected results? Have you clearly articulated processes for frequent tasks? Do you periodically review these processes to ensure they remain relevant?

Value stream mapping
A value stream illustrates a process as part of the larger ecosystem and is made up of all the people, activities, and departments necessary to create and deliver value. Value stream maps establish a holistic look at the process and prevents tunnel vision.

Knowledge and data management
AI can only learn from the data you provide. If your knowledge is not properly captured or your data is not well maintained, AI will struggle.

Once you’ve cleaned up your bad ITSM, you’ll be in a better position to exploit the benefits of AI. You’ll have a solid grasp on the challenges AI can solve and you can predict the desired outcomes it can provide. Then you can make a compelling business case for implementing AI.

Remember AI isn’t a silver bullet. It’s only going to thrive in an environment that has built the right foundation, and that foundation includes good ITSM. So if you need to clean up some bad ITSM, do that work now, so your AI investment will pay off in the future.

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Why your company isn’t so excited (but should be!) about ESM

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Enterprise Service Management (ESM) describes the use of service processes and technologies across an organization.  ESM also describes business management software which provides an integrated view into business practices. [1]

And what part of any organization doesn’t rely on the use of processes and technology for running its business?  None!

But organizations have traditionally taken a departmental or system-based approach to processes and technology.  Such an approach usually focuses on the needs of a specific department, or those directly impacted by the implementation of a system.  Rarely (if ever!) does this approach address the entirety of a value chain, or the movement of work and information from a point-of-origin through the point-of-consumption.  Value chains within an organization typically involve multiple departments.  But because of a disjointed approach to processes and technology, work efforts are usually disjointed, and the organization works as a collection of parts.

ESM could fix that, as a good ESM implementation would facilitate and integrate the flow of information and activities within an organization.

Why your company needs ESM

The idea of ESM is not new, but there is now a renewed focus on the need for ESM.  Why is ESM suddenly so important?  I would argue that the most compelling reason why ESM is so important is the customer – especially in the context of today’s digital world.

A challenge often encountered by customers today is that one part of the company is unaware of what the other parts are doing, much less how their activities impact or depend on those other parts.  As a result, departments within companies often tend to work in isolation without regard for any upstream or downstream processes.  Things simply fall through the cracks.

And in the digital age, customers simply will not deal with organizations that act in this manner.  They will quickly (and quietly) move along.

An effective ESM implementation can result in an organization acting and working as an integrated enterprise.   Done well, ESM enables a frictionless and differentiated customer experience, as it reinforces an enterprise-wide, process-oriented approach for providing value to a customer.  By underpinning an organization’s value streams, ESM:

  • Can help identify and ensure that proper interfaces between individual systems are in place.
  • Brings clarity to the organization and breaks down internal barriers and silos.
  • Results in clearly defined and integrated value streams across the organization, not just within a department.
  • Brings transparency, consistency, and measurability into the movement of work and information across the organization.
  • Reflects the true picture of end-to-end service delivery.

Sounds great, right?  So why isn’t your company excited about ESM?

What is in the way of ESM?

ESM adoption has its own set of unique challenges.

  • Success with ESM will require a change in organizational behaviors. The internal service provider/customer model utilized in many organizations must end.  The “customer” is outside of the organization, and all parts of the organization must collaborate to deliver products and services to that customer.
  • Most organizational structures are hierarchical – which is a barrier to collaboration. A hierarchical organizational structure is typically pre-disposed to not collaborate with other parts of the organization.  This is because most organizational compensation and recognition schemes are focused inwardly on departmental goals and objectives and not enterprise goals.
  • Organizations lack defined, enterprise-wide business processes. Business processes are typically defined only at the departmental or team level and tend to focus only on a particular domain or area.  How business processes interface is at best poorly defined, if defined at all.
  • Technology has been used as a band-aid. Because organizations took a departmental approach to process and technology use, additional technology was often deployed to close the gaps between disparate systems within the enterprise.
  • Lack of clarity regarding organizational value streams. No single part of an organization is independent of the rest of the organization; It takes all parts of an organization to deliver value to its customers.  But often, there is no clarity or ownership regarding value streams within an organization.

Don’t repeat the ITSM sins of the past with ESM

Some organizations have approached ESM as just an extension of their current IT Service Management (ITSM) implementations.  I would agree that many ITSM concepts, such as having a centralized service desk and taking a coordinated response to service requests and interruptions, are applicable across the enterprise.  But I would also argue that for many organizations, if the ESM implementation mimics the approach taken for ITSM implementation, ESM will fail.  Why?  Because many ITSM implementations just aren’t delivering on their potential.

  • Many ITSM implementations only addressed operational issues and not the entire IT value stream. As a result, ITSM became a barrier, rather than an enabler, for working within IT.
  • ITSM was driven as an IT initiative, not as a business initiative. Rather than identifying, promoting, and delivering business value, ITSM became an obstacle for getting IT to do any work for the business.
  • IT services were defined as “things that IT does” and not in terms of business value and outcomes. As a result, there is no clear definition or shared understanding of how IT provides business value. To the rest of the organization, IT appears to be a cost center, not a value enabler.

Three things to do to get ready for ESM

To really make a positive impact, ESM must be more than just establishing an enterprise service desk or rolling out a self-service portal.  ESM has to reflect and support the true end-to-end delivery of products and services throughout the enterprise.  But ESM will require strong management commitment and an investment of time and resources.  It will not get done overnight.  So how do you get started?  Here’s my tips for getting ready for ESM:

  • Work on getting your ITSM house in order. IT is one of the few organizations within an enterprise that has a true enterprise view of the organization.  If current ITSM processes are ineffective, or if services are poorly defined, now is the opportunity to improve and learn.  The knowledge and skills you gain from making those improvements will be valuable as your organization begins its ESM journey.  Your business colleagues will also notice the improvements as well – this is critical, because you’re going to need their support.
  • Become an expert on the business of the business. This means learning the language of the business; what the business does to deliver value to the customer; understanding how the parts of the business interact to deliver that value to the customer.  Tools like COPIS (or “backward SIPOC”) diagrams are useful for capturing how value is delivered from the customer perspective back into the organization (in other words, from the outside-in).  This will also help you gain the support and credibility you’ll need from your business colleagues.
  • Develop a strong, compelling business case. Perhaps the most important question to answer is “Why should your company implement ESM?”. How will the gains in effectiveness and efficiency from ESM adoption translate into bottom line impact across the enterprise?  Perhaps ESM will result in improvements in the cost per sale or unit.  Maybe ESM will result in the reduction of lead times for product or service delivery.  Whatever the impacts may be, your business case must articulate the clear value proposition in terms of increased revenues, decreased costs, improved productivity, company differentiation, or improved customer satisfaction.

The digital age demands that organizations execute as frictionless, integrated enterprises. But to do so will require many companies to rethink how they are organized and how they collaborate to deliver both customer and business value.  Done well, ESM will transform organizations from “collections of parts” to an integrated, customer-focused enterprises, providing both an outstanding customer experience and improvements in efficiency and effectiveness.

Worried that your ESM efforts will fall into the “bad ITSM” trap?  Want to make sure that your leverage, not abandon,  your ITSM investments as you expand  into ESM?  Let us introduce you to VeriSM – the service management approach for the Digital Age.   Tedder Consulting can help you leverage VeriSM to achieve ESM – contact us today!

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Picture Credit: Pixabay

[1] Wikipedia, retrieved May 30, 2018.

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Why Service Management must move out of IT

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Is your IT service management “future ready”?

A recent MIT Sloan Management Review article[1] discussed how organizations must become “future ready”.  The article stated that becoming future-ready requires change to the enterprise on two dimensions:  the customer experience and operational efficiency.

Of these two dimensions, the customer experience will drive competitive advantage for businesses.[2]  Is your service management ready to enable and drive that differentiating customer experience?

The Future’s Impact to today’s (IT) Service Management

For many organizations, service management continues to be narrowly focused on the day-to-day operations within IT and follows a “service provider/internal customer” approach. To become “future-ready”, this approach to service management must change.

The organizational mindset of an internal service provider/internal customer construct must change to an enterprise service management approach.  The business exists to serve customers, not just others within the same business.  In other words, all parts of the business must work together to drive business success.

Value streams are the threads that link the parts of the business together for producing and delivering products and services.

Every part of a business is part of one or more value streams that delivers products and services to customers.  Technology underpins those value streams; by itself, technology doesn’t provide value to a business.[3] But because technology use is so ubiquitous within businesses, the line between technology (or IT) and business functions have become blurred.  In some organizations, the line does not exist.

This has two implications for service management.

  • Service management processes must be “waste free”. Any bureaucracy or non-value-added work within processes must be eliminated. Eliminating waste, bottlenecks, and manual intervention in processes help facilitate a good customer experience – things just “work”.
  • Service management processes must reflect and support the entire value stream, not just the IT portion. IT’s contribution to enterprise value streams, while important, is only a portion of those value streams. Having good enterprise service management processes facilitates good handoffs between contributors within the value stream, enables measurability, helps drive effective workflows, and promotes viewing value and outcomes from the customer perspective, not an internal perspective.

This means that service management must move out of IT and into and across the enterprise.

What is the impact to IT?

When service management moves into and across the enterprise, what does this mean for IT?

First, having strong business acumen becomes critical for IT.  Some IT organizations are too focused on technology and lack business acumen. Business acumen must be a core competency of the IT organization.  Why?  Because the business is about the business first, not technology.  Technology only enhances or enables what the business wants to do.  Having a strong business acumen helps IT understand why, not just how, technology can help.

IT can then become the trusted advisor for exploiting technology for business advantage.  IT must help its business find the right balance between “leading edge” and “tried and true” technologies; again, dependent on business goals and objectives.  To do this, IT must internalize business goals and objectives to understand and develop competencies and awareness of current and emerging technologies.

Lastly, “order taker” IT organizations will be outsourced.  If an IT organization cannot demonstrate or promote how it delivers true business value, IT will appear to be a commodity.  And commodities can be obtained from anywhere.

But if your IT organization is practicing good service management, IT can take a leadership role in expanding service management across the enterprise.

Get Service Management “future ready”

To get service management “future ready”, here are four things you must do:

  • Service management must be (re) envisioned from the customer perspective – the true customer. The true customer is found outside of the organization, not inside the organization.  This means that you have to understand how value is created and flows through the organization (or value streams).  Service Management must underpin the entire value stream – from the customer through the business and back to the customer.  Service Management must take an “outside in” approach so you can understand how work is getting done – and where obstacles and bottlenecks may exist.
  • Shift the service management focus to the entire organization. – The objective is to ‘float all boats’ in the service management ‘harbor’, not just the ‘IT boat’.  Why? The customer does business with the business, not with an individual component within the business.  Siloed business operational models must end.  If one part of the value stream fails, the entire value stream fails. This means that service management must expand to include all parts of the enterprise so you can work transparently and deliver an outstanding, consistent, and repeatable customer experience – as an aligned, integrated organization.
  • Automate. Humans have better things to do than call a service desk to reset a password or request products to which they are already entitled and eligible to receive. Now take this idea one step further – do you really want to irritate your customers with such tediousness?   Drive toward automating those day-to-day operational activities so you can free up people to do what they do best – innovate, imagine, and problem-solve.
  • Invest in knowledge management. Knowledge management must become an enterprise-wide capability.   In the “always connected, always on” digital economy, organizations can ill afford to spend time rediscovering what is already known within an organization.  Neither can there be siloes of knowledge within an organization.  Effective knowledge management is a key enabler of a “future ready” service management approach.

Service management can no longer be about just IT.  Service management has never been about this or than methodology – frankly, there is no “one-size-fits-all” methodology – it is about delivering business value and results.  The future-state service management approach is a blend of several methodologies and practices from all parts of the business (including IT) that enable the whole business to deliver value and results.  Get “future ready” now by moving service management beyond IT and into the enterprise.

Need to expand  service management into the enterprise, while still leveraging your existing investments?  With our Next Generation ITSM consulting service, Tedder Consulting can help you get the best of both worlds – contact us today!

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

 

Picture credit:  Shutterstock

[1] Weill, Peter and Stephanie L. Woerner., “Is Your Company Ready for a Digital Future?”. MIT Sloan Management Review, Winter, 2018.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Westerman, George. “Your Company Doesn’t Need a Digital Strategy”. MIT Sloan Management Review, Spring, 2018.

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Four Steps for finding your misplaced Service Owner

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Has your IT organization defined services and named service owners?

Have you identified the right person as the service owner?

How do you know?

Let’s start from the beginning

What is a “service”?

According to ITIL®, a service is “a means of delivering value to a customer by facilitating the outcomes that a customer wants without the ownership of [specific] costs and risks”.[1]

A service is not a discrete unit of delivery, but an on-demand flow that is (should be) continually improved to deliver the outcomes required by the ever-changing needs of business.

A key service role is that of the service owner. The service owner “owns” the service – that is, the service owner is accountable for the quality of outcomes resulting from the consumption and use of the service.

Many organizations have identified IT people as its “service owners”.

But who decides if a service is delivering the desired outcomes? Who decides if the service quality is adequate and appropriate? The customer.

That confusing “customer thing”

Who is the customer?

That’s the thing that seems to cause all kinds of confusion within organizations – the term “customer”.

Who is the customer?

  • The ultimate buyer of solutions.
  • The ultimate judge of quality and outcomes.
  • Who the business is trying to entice and retain in the buying of the products and services.

This means that for many services, IT can’t be service owner.

If the service is an “IT service” – that is, the service is provided by IT and consumed within an organization, then yes, someone in IT is (better be!) the “service owner”. But many services that involve the use of technology result in outcomes that are delivered externally – to the true customer. This means that a lot of IT’s work is done in support of delivering value to a customer that is outside of the business.

But typically, IT is not directly involved in interactions with the customer.

Finding the (true) Service Owner

So, who is the service owner? How about the value stream owner?

In their book “Value Stream Mapping”, Martin and Osterling define a value stream as being “the sequence of activities required to design, product, and deliver a good or service to a customer, and it includes the dual flows of information and material”.[2] They also describe a “value stream champion” as “someone who’s accountable for the performance of the entire value stream. In a hierarchical organization, [this person] is a step or two closer to the work than the executive sponsor”.[3]

ValueStreamGlobal.com describes the role of a value stream owner (VSO) as “an experienced manager or executive servant leader who is accountable to senior management for improving the value to non-value ration of a product family within an enterprise”.[4] Among the responsibilities of the VSO are[5]:

  • Ensuring the Value Stream itself is correctly identified, defined, mapped, optimized, managed, and improved over time…. Including specific definition of the product/service family and related components
  • Coordinate with business functional areas that contribute to the creation of value in the flow.
  • Demonstrate to senior management that the outputs of the value stream are competitive in the marketplace and meet current customer* demand. The value stream must be able to quickly adapt to changing market conditions.
  • Maintain a holistic view of the organization and understand where in the large scheme of things their value stream fits… includes not sacrificing one area for the sake of optimizing another, but to optimize the whole.

“Value stream owner” …. sounds like a “service owner” to me.

Why IT isn’t (always) the Service Owner

If the service owner owns a service from end-to-end; that is, from point-of-origin to point-of-consumption, this means that (in most cases) the service owner cannot reside within IT. While IT may manage and perform activities as part of service delivery and support, IT cannot possibly own a service from point-of-origin to point-of-consumption. Why? Because IT does not have customers – the business does.

IT typically acts upon business needs. Rarely (if ever!) does IT lead business initiatives or interact directly with the (true) customer.

Therefore, the value stream owner must be the service owner. IT’s role may be that of service manager (responsible for particular aspects of the daily operation of a service), but in the situations where value and outcomes are realized by the true customer, IT cannot be the service owner. IT controls only a portion of any given value stream involving the true customer. If IT tries to take ownership of services for which it cannot adequately or appropriately be accountable, it is setting both itself and its business colleagues up to fail.

But on the other hand, since IT does own “IT services”, then IT cannot be passive and wait for something to happen or for someone else to provide IT with its “marching orders” regarding those services. IT must step up and take ownership – in the complete context. This means making the tough decisions like investing in security versus the risk of getting hacked. This means decommissioning infrastructure from the environment as services transition to a retired state.   As the owner for IT services, IT must drive value add, eliminate non-value-added activities, and also drive efforts that are necessary but non-value add – and live with the consequences of those decisions.

But the same applies for any service owner, not just IT service owners. A service owner must drive value added activities, eliminate non-value-added activities, and drive efforts that are necessary but non-value add. And live with those decisions.

That might be a different way of thinking for some. For some, it may be downright scary.

Because with ownership comes accountability and great responsibility.

What’s in the way?

The idea of a service owner being outside of the IT organization may be a bit scary to some. What’s in the way?

  • Attitude – Sometimes the thinking is that if it’s anything involving to technology, it is automatically an “IT issue”. Or conversely, if a colleague didn’t request a feature or ask the right question, then that’s a “business issue”. Organizations must look holistically at how value is created and delivered – there is no room for a “us and them” attitude.
  • Fear of losing control – Sometimes the IT organization feels that if it doesn’t own services, they will no longer have control. The fact is IT really never has been in control. Yes, IT is a part of nearly every value stream – but cannot own all value streams from end to end. It isn’t (should never have been) about control – it is about collaboration.
  • Lack of acumen – There’s often a ‘lack of acumen’ within the organization. IT often lacks business acumen – an understanding how the business works, what influences the business, or understanding the environment in which the business competes. Business colleagues often lack technical acumen – how technology works, how technology could be or is currently used within the organization, or are intimidated by technology.
  • Lack of clarity regarding the value stream – While many may have a deep understanding regarding their particular contributions to a value stream, often there are only a few that have an understanding of the end-to-end view of the value stream.
  • Services really weren’t defined – Rather describe services in terms of value and outcomes, “services” were defined as activities and things.

Four steps for finding misplaced Service Owners

Here’s my four-step approach for identifying and enabling the success of service owners.

  1. Identify and map value streams – Identify and document how value flows through an organization. Mapping the value streams provides a holistic view of the organization.
  2. Identify the value stream owner – While many contribute, who ultimately is accountable for the delivery and quality of the value stream?
  3. Understand the relationship between technology and the value stream – This provides the context for services and where IT “fits”.
  4. Define the service portfolio – Captures how technology underpins and enables value streams and enables fact-based decision-making.

Taking these steps will remove barriers within organizations by depicting how the members of the business work together to deliver value. It also moves the business to act as a complete business – not collections of parts – by enabling the mindset shift to “our value streams”.

In the digital era, all parts of the organization must work together seamlessly to deliver true customer value, and identifying the true  service owner is critical to value delivery.  Our Organizational Value Stream mapping workshop helps you visualize how value flows through your organization, so you can identify the true service owner, correct where there may be bottlenecks and missing handoffs,  and ensure smooth interactions with your customers in the digital age.

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

Photo credit:  Pixabay

[1] “ITIL® Service Strategy”. TSO, 2011. London. P. 13

[2] Martin, Karen and Mike Osterling. “Value Steam Mapping”. McGraw Hill Education. 2014. New York.

[3] Ibid.

[4] https://valuestreamglobal.com retrieved 2/13/2018.

[5] Ibid

*There’s that word again!

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