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Posts Tagged ‘IT Service Delivery’

Steve Jobs, Apple and ITSM

November 21st, 2011

There has been an avalanche of copy written about Steve Jobs and Apple, so I apologize in advance for adding to it. This post is about some reflections on Steve Jobs biography, and how certain parallels could be applied by IT Departments looking to improve how IT services can be delivered.

As an aside, I found the Walter Issacson biography of Jobs to be a gripping read, although the format and story telling did not reflect the simplicity and focus of its subject . While I was reading through the copy it struck me there are a number of significant parallels between how Apple approaches product innovation and how we talk about these things within the construct of IT Service Management (ITSM).  A specific example is the introduction of the iPod and the musing from various industry insiders who asked the question “how on earth did Sony not invent the iPod and iTunes?”

At the time, the music industry was looking to Sony to produce a digital rights management solution that would counter the concerns over piracy and stem the decline in music sales. After two years of wrangling, the industry was no closer to a solution. As we know, Apple came along and provided a service that was completely integrated from the consumers’ perspective with the advantage that it was simpler to buy a song on iTunes for the average person that scour the web, and take chances on dubious quality alternatives.

Many people ideologically do not welcome Apple’s approach because (at the time) music purchased from the iTunes store could only be played on Apple Computers and iPod’s, however, despite your particular ideology on open vs. closed systems, the question remains; “how did Apple manage to snatch victory from Sony where they really had no business being able to do so”.  They had no history making a music device; they did not have the relationships with the providers (the artists) and they generated their money from selling computer hardware.

A large part of the answer is found in how the two companies were structured. As noted in Donaldson’s biography ‘Sony’s divisions were at war with one another’ and were continually trying to out-compete; thereby information sharing was limited and worse they would actively sabotage each other to prevent incremental increases in their organizational sphere of influence. Apple, driven by Job’s obsession in owning the user experience, saw the value in integrating its divisions. Tim Cook, then COO of Apple states “the company doesn’t ‘have “divisions” with their own P&L” and Steve Job actively encourages integrating of divisions to provide a cohesive end-to-end experience.

The parallel with internal IT organizations is apparent. Interestingly it is not from a technological perspective but an organizational one. Many efforts attempted at transforming the experience of delivering IT are hampered by Managers of silos that prevent change from occurring. In addition, Senior Managers do not push through the structural changes necessary to transform IT service delivery to be service (rather than product) as the push back from the organization itself seems too much to spend political capital on.

I don’t blame Senior Management unconditionally as our industry itself has let down IT Departments as we continue to focus on technology based solutions to attempt to address organizational issues.

IT Service Delivery can only truly reach its potential in those organizations where CIOs and CTOs step in and remove the traditional barriers by implementing a horizontal IT structure rather than what is traditionally a vertical one.

Steve Jobs is often dismissed as a ‘salesman’ or ‘marketing guru’ by many of our colleagues in IT Operations, however, we as an industry would do well to think differently about how we deliver services and the internal barriers that need to be adjusted to allow us to reach our potential of providing the right services at the right time at the right cost.

It is time for us to encourage organizations to stop investing in another ‘silver bullet’ tool but rather encourage changes to the fundamental issue of silos and hierarchical structure that impact cross communication, planning and delivery of great IT Services.

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Charles Cyna Uncategorized , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Signs that a Service Management Initiative has Stalled

November 8th, 2010

Continual Service Improvement is the fuel that provides long term momentum for any Service Management initiative. The fuel of momentum is vital; great IT Service Delivery is a journey that can take months and sometimes years to reach the productivity and cost savings that were sold at the beginning of a project. 

Many Service Management initiatives stall soon after the beginning because, as we try to achieve efficiencies we generate organizational resistance (the human condition is that most of us resist change) and if we don’t have the ammunition to overcome the resistance then the project stalls, inertia overtakes and the Service Management initiative never has the opportunity to reach its potential.

Signs that a Service Management Initiative has Stalled:

You implemented a Service Management tool a few years ago and you have not performed any significant customizations to the tool since it was implemented;

You implemented a couple of practice areas (Incident, Problem, Change) but have not been able to move much beyond those areas due to time and cost restraints;

You did a Process Maturity Assessment over a year ago and have not completed a re-assessment to measure the differences over time;

You generate reports for management but there are no defined ‘next steps’  to improve service after looking at the information;

You survey your customers but do little with the results of the survey;

You are not sure what the business outcomes are for a successful ITIL or ITSM Practice;

And if you do know the business outcomes, you are not sure whether you are meeting them.

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Charles Cyna Uncategorized , , , , , , , , ,

IT Service Delivery is a Journey not a Destination

December 8th, 2009

Organizations increasingly recognize that proven frameworks are key to improvement in IT Service Delivery and aligning IT operations to the needs of the business. Often the recognition that ‘things need to get better’ manifests itself through the purchasing of a new ITSM tool and/or the hiring of a consultant to implement some basic operational processes such as Incident, Problem and Change Management.  Meetings are held; documents are drafted, re-drafted and re-drafted again until everyone is happy with the outcome. The new tool gets implemented, the consultant leaves and those process documents that everyone spent weeks or months building get filed away in some electronic repository often never to be seen again.

If this scenario rings true, you’re not alone. Many IT departments treat Service Management or ITIL process implementation as a project and not a journey. Like losing weight, if you do not have a plan for ongoing success then the weight will come back and all the gains you made with hard work are simply lost.

Conveniently, the answer to help us through this scenario is given new prominence in ITIL’s latest incarnation of version 3. CSI or Continual Service Improvement, which was merely implied in previous ITIL frameworks, is now thrust into prominence and has its own book and its fair share of the limelight. CSI provides the process that drives the value out of your other ITIL practices. The Incident Management process in itself does not generate value – certainly, it would tell you something like how incidents can be escalated to reduce impact to the business. This in itself provides cost savings and improved productivity but it does not speak to the elements that drive a business; it does not tell us how many incidents we escalated last month, what the areas of improvement are and how we will do better next month. The incident management process assumes that everything remains constant – of course, the business changes.

CSI provides the wrapper to the ITIL processes you have in place. It enables you to baseline where you are today, where you need to be and to drive a path through to the goal. Getting a baseline for your existing performance is key, because it is difficult to get to your next destination if you don’t know where you are today. The good news is that there is a range of knowledge and resources that can be tapped inexpensively to help you through this process. For example, The ITSM Coach from ThinkITSM gives you the ability to assess your end user satisfaction and help desk maturity for free, highlighting the area’s most in need of addressing. Often we know much of this information informally but to have objective data enables the change process and gets disparate groups on board to adopt positive changes in how work is done.

CSI and Quality improvement has revolutionized manufacturing and have given automobile companies such as Toyota and Honda a fundamental competitive advantage that they translated into market share gains and profitability. It is now time for IT to embrace quality improvement processes and truly drive business value from IT Service Delivery.

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Charles Cyna Uncategorized , , , , , , , , ,