How Do You Show the Value of IT to the Business?
August 09, 2011

Jason Rosenfeld
Cask, LLC

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What is the core business that your IT services support? Your vision should be mapped to the overall business goals of the company or organization. If you cannot map a goal as part of the vision, it probably doesn’t belong. This is a great exercise to build IT goals that will truly transform your IT services organization into a true business partner.

Top Down and Bottom Up
Whose role is it to drive improved maturity? It is a combination of efforts. Senior leaders of an organization must understand the roadmap and strategy of the organization. This entire leadership team must “get” the big picture. If they do not, there will be an “us” vs. “them” mentality within the organization leading to the “silo effect.” These senior leaders should be visible throughout the journey, communicate the same message, and be able to articulately describe the phases of the transformation, the services their organization provides to the business and the end-state. Regular conversations with staff are critical to ensure their understanding. It is also important to drive the maturity from the bottom up as well. The feet on the ground are the ones that will ultimately be executing the work day-to-day outlined in the vision. Identify a person with authority and ability to promote change within the organization to act as the Program Champion and select the “right people” that are on the ground to carry your message and act as Change Agents within the organization. Involving different levels of the organization to design the services and processes will ultimately shorten the time to see results and transform the culture.

I like to use the approach we have modeled at Cask, our aSM™ methodology, including five phases – Assess, Design, Adopt, Improve, and Control, although any process following a Plan-Do-Check-Act model will work. These phases should be applied in a continuous loop ensuring IT is able to keep up with the changing business goals of the organization.

Understand the environment you are dealing with. If you are working with an existing organization (which you most likely are), it is critical to hit the specific business problems that can have the greatest positive impact. An assessment (internal and/or external) is a great way to baseline your organizations ability to deliver services to the business. Ensure that the outcome of your assessment report includes SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely) goal recommendations that map to the business vision of the company.

Have you defined business services required to meet the vision your leaders have built? Have you designed these business services including cost components, scope, dependencies (i.e. supporting people, process and tools), critical success factors, measurements, commitments to the business (i.e. SLAs), and mapped IT services? This is a critical step to move to a service-based approach to IT. During the assess phase you defined which business problems should be addressed to have the greatest impact. We suggest to begin the first loop of aSM™ with designing the services that address those business problems.

Adoption is a critical component. You can design the best services in the world, but your success will be dependent on both top down and bottom up support. Involving the “right people” from different layers of the organization from the very beginning was presented earlier in this paper. However, understanding the ways to communicate them prior to implementation of the actual service is equally important. Involve your internal marketing and/or communications staff to build a campaign around each new service you introduce to the environment and make it clear to how it impacts different members of the business. At the end of the day, most people will be focused on “What’s in it for me?” as that’s just human nature.

Execute, execute, execute! Once the vision and roadmap has been created, service(s) and underlying support mechanisms (i.e. processes and tools) have been designed, and the people in your organization have adopted the vision and plan created you are ready to get moving. Creating a runbook to identify how the key actors will support each service is an incredible way to ensure standardization of the service execution. We recommend piloting first to a group of users to gain critical initial advocates of the Service Management program.

If there are not control mechanisms put in place to ensure the services offered are consistent and improve over time, your Service Management program will fail! In the design phase we determine what measurements are critical for the service. Within the control phase, we begin collecting these measurements, identifying control limits and defining Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). The information derived from these measurements should be directly correlatable to the business goals that the service supports, enabling IT leaders to clearly articulate the value IT brings to the overall business and shifts the focus of IT from a cost-center to a true business partner.

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Jason Rosenfeld is the Service Management Practice Lead at Cask, LLC
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