Business & IT Alignment in Sweden

Published on Wednesday 7 November 2012 by in News with no comments

This is a news item created together with one of our Swedish partners Onbird.

How do we achieve Business  IT-alignment? That was the question stated at the 2012 Support Summit at KISTA-mässan, Stockholm. Onbird arranged for 9 IT-professionals to apply their skills and ability to align the IT Service Delivery to the needs of the business. In this case, it was the Company named Grab@pizza and the format of the venue was a business simulation.  The team gathered to try to realize the business strategy, in which IT was a critical enabler to growth….or a barrier and risk to the business. During the simulation the team gained some critical insights into why business and It alignment is currently failing and identified some critical success factors for success.

For more than 10 years Business & IT alignment has been in the top 3 concerns for senior IT managers. However IT organizations all over the world are still struggling trying to align their IT-delivery with business requirements. The problem however is that most IT organizations are failing and the credibility of the IT-organization in the eyes of the business is eroding quickly. With the growing importance of and dependency on IT for all businesses it is essential that we learn how to solve the business and IT alignment problem. In the simulation the participants learn what Service Management processes must be under control in order to ensure credibility but more importantly, they also learn the critical success factors for transforming the organization.

  • We need to have control over our Change-process,
  • We need to have efficient support processes,
  • We need to manage business dialogue and expectations and agree on the terms for the service delivery
  • We need to keep track and control of costs.

In the simulation the team gained valuable insights in order to bring their organization closer to being a Partner to the business rather than being considered not excess luggage.

Quotes from the game a Support Summit 2012.

Who Quote Remedial action Recognition
Business Life became significantly easier when we understood who was our contact Clearly defined role with the responsibility to communicate directly with the business and turn business requirements into IT-solutions Recognition of need for a Business relationship manager role and Service level manager role.
Support We realized the SLA actually was important for us, now we know which tickets to prioritize and we can easily make the business case for more problem resources Established link between SLA and Helpdesk tool.Ongoing analysis of tickets based on business impact.Operations and Support discuss regularly where remedial actions for capacity risks should be focused.Agree and define the cost of incidents with the business.

 

Recognition of need for processes such as Portfolio management to gain more knowledge and understanding of business strategy, drivers and impacts, also recognition of need to engage more with the business to align and agree ‘priority’ mechanisms in processes such as Change, Problem, Incidents, operational activities. This was an important learning point for the group – gain a better business understanding, most IT organizations are still too internally focused, which is one of the global top scoring ABC worst practice cards in surveys.   Another quick action – ‘send ALL IT staff into the business for 1 day to understand how the services are used, when they are important and what the business impact is with delays and outages’.
IT Operations We never saw which changes were made? We just tried as hard as we could to get our thru first Shared change tool and common documentation of changes.  Ongoing shared discussion on what changes to be prioritized, based on Business priorities. Recognition of the importance of business involvement in impact decisions, also a recognition of the need to balance the portfolio of changes. A service is all about Value, Outcomes, Costs and Risks. The change portfolio is not ONLY changes to realize new business value and outcomes but also changes to help reduce costs and manage business risks. IT must also learn to make business cases for IT changes that may create business risk. The business must understand this and also use it to prioritize changes.
Change Mgr Oh, I can plan changes for next month as well? Change calendar used in order to plan ahead, regular meeting with IT ops, Helpdesk and the business to discuss and agree on priorities to submitted changes Recognition that implementing  Service Management principleas and specifically for the Change Management process that it will bring the ability and capability to not only prioritize and manage risks involved, it is also a core competence to become proactive and plan ahead.
IT Manager/CIO Half the time I was just trying to figure out how people perform their work Process managers that report to IT-manager on the process efficiency and effectiveness. Roles with clearly defined tasks, responsibility and accountability for the performance of tasks and activities in established and shared processes. The recognition that Process Managers play a central role in developing the core capabilities of an organization to manage and provide services. Without these end-to-end-design and implementation of processes is very hard, if not impossible, to attain.
Financial Mgr Why wasn’t I given any training in the tools I was supposed to use? Processes are manifested in tools that we use. With no training, no process definition and no assurance, we cannot provide adequate quality. Train staff in internal tools, after we have decided how and why they should be used. The recognition that both our users and our internal IT staff must be trained in the tools we use. It is only by adopting an integrated approach of 4 P’s (People, Partners, Process and Products) that we can be successful in our Service Delivery.
SLM Suddenly I saw that we had agreed with the business only use one Service Window per year. I had never seen an SLA that quoted something outside how we manage tickets Clearly described SLA that takes into account all of the business requirements. Not just helpdesk management of “tickets”. Resoultion times, regulation around changes and reporting structures to customers are the key elements. The recognition that an SLA is nothing more than a Performance management tool driving the internal IT-processes towards customer value. This should be considered and described as a 5th P in the 4P approach.

This business simulation, by bringing business and IT together, helps them both recognize their responsibilities and gain concrete take away actions for dealing with these key barriers.

The team was reminded again of the definition of a service (Values, Outcomes, Cost and Risk) and suddenly they were able to steer, control and prioritize their activities. By having the ability to state the business case for each activity and improvement they made, life became a lot simpler.  Examples of this in the game were:

Service component

Initiative

Business Case

Value Advertisement at Superbowl This will provide significant revenue to the business and even more bad will if we fail
Outcomes RFC for new e-service supporting super bowl advertisement Without this new service, we won’t be able to manage the workload manually. This is a prioritized initiative by the business and they agree to halt everything else,
Cost Invest in new problem tool – Known error db We can solve X% more incidents
Risk Upgrade NW backbone at $20M We can choose not to and accept a higher risk. The risk analysis defines the willingness to pay

Many of the players were ITIL qualified IT service management employees implementing ITSM improvements. The simulation helped identify weaknesses and gaps in their current approaches and gave them concrete insights into pragmatic improvements they could take away and use. As one delegate said ‘We can play this with our IT and Business managers, it is a great way of also showing the business their responsibilities and helping IT managers get a better understanding of business justifications for everything we do’.

TOP chosen ABC worst practice cards worldwide reveal:

  • IT has too little understanding of business impact and Priority
  • Everything has the highest priority according to the users
  • Not my responsibility
  • Too little business involvement in requirements specification and testing

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