New Horizons in Business & IT alignment

Published on Wednesday 3 September 2014 by in News with no comments

New Horizons (NH)  in Ecuador organized an ITSM event in Quito to focus on the changing role of  IT in enterprises and the increasing importance of ITSM as a strategic capability. The event underpins their strategy to expand and explore new horizons in training. Evidence of their ambition to expand and explore was the fact that they invited both IT AND business managers to the event.

One of the objectives of the event was to explore the value of best practices such as Cobit and ITIL in both helping business managers better Govern IT (Benefit realization, Resource optimization and Risk optimization), and helping IT managers to effectively manage IT services to ensure these goals are achieved. An additional objective was to showcase a new simulation game offering from NH.

As part of their strategy to expand training horizons NH has embraced the Axelos vision relating to ‘experiential learning’ and partnered with GamingWorks to use the business & IT alignment simulation Grab@Pizza as part of their offering. Axelos, owners of ITIL  have stated ‘…we recognize that there has been a significant shift in the way in which people learn over the last decade. Whilst there is still a place for traditional methods…Increasingly, we see a shift from ‘learning by listening’ to ‘learning by doing’, underpinned by the increase in modular approaches to learning, plus simulations and other experiential learning techniques‘.

More than 50 delegates attended the event to experience a business simulation in action. To discover how a simulation can: help demonstrate the value of best practices to managers; help people translate theory into practice; facilitate a dialogue and shared understanding between both business and IT decision makers;  and help explore and capture concrete improvement actions they could take away and apply – making a simulation game an ideal CSI (Continual Service Improvement) instrument.

Grab@Pizza is a dynamic business simulation game in which delegates play the business and IT roles in global Pizza franchise organization. Grab@Pizza is a very successful company selling millions of Pizza’s every year. But after 6 months into the current year, the sales figures are far below expectations. IT is posing a significant business risk due to downtime and the inability of IT to respond to changing business needs (Risk Optimization). The CEO urged the Business Manager to make a challenging recovery plan. This plan is based on a 6 month strategy to bring the sales and profit back on target (Benefit realization). Existing IT capabilities are poor, resources are tied up in ‘Keeping the lights on’ rather than supporting and enabling new innovations. The IT department must ensure the appropriate capabilities are in place to execute the strategic plan and sufficient, appropriate and effective resources are provided to ensure both benefits realization and risk mitigation( Resource optimization).

To enable this delegates explore how best practices such as Cobit and ITL can be used to enable this turn around.

Delegates were split into three teams comprising of both business & IT representatives.

After playing the first game round it was evident that:

  • The business had not shared their strategy or given insight into their longer term plans to enable IT to effectively plan resources. (Benefits realization)
  • The business had not helped IT understand the impact and loss of value caused by various types of outages. (Risk optimization).
  • The business had not asked for any reports to monitor and direct resources to ensure that benefits were being realized and costs and risks were being mitigated.
  • IT had not asked for insight into the strategy.
  • IT had not tried to understand the impact of outages to the business (Loss of revenue).
  • IT was ineffective in prioritizing resource planning (investment) and usage.
  • IT processes were not aligned and sharing information (e.g SLM did not share business agreements and expectations, Change management did not inform  Incident management of changes made, Capacity management and Problem management did not work together causing double work and wasted resources).

At the end of the first round none of the teams had realized expected benefits (revenue and profit growth) and had wasted millions due to downtime and outages (Risk). None of the teams were able to complete the required amount of work in terms of realizing business demands and maintaining adequate service quality because of poor resource planning. The game leader, acting as CEO was not amused! Especially as most of the room were certified to some degree in ITIL or Cobit. The business managers in the game were also confronted by the CEO for their lack of control and involvement in IT.

The NH game facilitators helped the teams reflect and improve and guided them using ITIL and Cobit controls to identify and prioritize improvements – facilitating Continual Service Improvement (CSI). In the following game rounds all teams had significantly improved their performance.

At the end of the session delegates were asked to record what they had actually learnt and what they would now take away and do differently in their own organizations as a result of the experiences. What new insights and concrete improvement actions had they discovered as a results of ‘experiential  learning’?

Explore with Business & IT managers alignment of IT to Business Strategy; Improving communication and understanding that planning (Business & IT) is very important because it helps align objectives; Include areas of business planning and decisions (in ITSM improvement initiatives); Align (ITSM capabilities) to business processes to see ensure benefits realized (profit, productivity, reduced cost); improve strategy alignment (Service portfolio management); 9
Improve communication between teams and departments; Create buy-in for Process Changes (Importance);Ensure end-to-end processes understood by all and process flows; Organize the team; focus projects and people to the vision of the company 6
Incident Management (Need to understand Value, Outcomes, Costs, Risks (VOCR)) ; understanding business impact and urgency of incidents (Business & IT); Knowledge database management; implement management of problems (reduce outages), greater integration with the business; Improve IT process alignment between IT operation management, incident, problem and change 6
Use this (type of intervention)  to assess & capture improvements; Use this as part of Implementation initiative; Demonstrate to senior management the need for implementation of ITIL and the definition of roles based on ITIL; Add game into ITIL Training; Play game with staff of Directors (Business & IT) 6
Formation of the CAB (with strategic business involvement); create CAB to improve decision making and resource allocation; improvement management of changes (Planning, resources, prioritization, review); implement change request/advisory – involve business 5
Implement the function SLA (Business & IT facing responsibilities); Ensure Service levels known and relevant; Improve Business vs IT relationship (need for BRM); Improve communication with the area of business by a working group; 4
Prioritizing  process activities/resources in  alignment with the business; prioritize areas for improvement; better prioritization of incidents; 3
Need for improving cost management and resource management; start charging for IT services (Make costs visible) 2


“It was a great experience to see the interactions of ITIL and COBIT principles in a practical scenario. I’m truly satisfied of the outcomes of the course and hope to have the opportunity to train our membership base on it soon.” Raul Sanjines, ISACA Ecuador President.

“In all of the years that I have been training and implementing ITIL I was always looking for something that can show the real value of ITIL to our clients, something that help them to understand the benefits of an investment in ITIL, and finally I found the best solution for what I was looking for. Grab@Pizza, this business simulation game, is what we need to promote and teach the real value of ITIL in the organizations, Grab@Pizza give us a real perspective of Business and IT Alignment, Is really the best option to learn-by-doing, is very impressive to see the difference between the companies that played Grab@Pizza and the ones that just take an ITIL course or a simple ITIL implementation, they know why they need ITIL and how to justify the ROI of their ITIL Investment.” Carlos Regalado, New Horizons Infotraining ITIL Trainer & Consultant

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