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EdifyIT Blog
17 Apr

 

Digital Transformation is the force businesses are using to develop ways to unify the competencies, be more people focused, and customer centric, while operating lean and mastering innovation. 

 

Digital Transformation has evolved from aligning technology to the business to technology being inclusive in the business.

 

I’ve been in IT for twenty-five years and marvel at the thought of IT being aligned because logically speaking; when was technology separate from the business?  Technology is a major player to business, it always has been but the advancements in automation elevate the status it has in the business.  In the past, the business knew IT existed however there were no formal paths of interconnectedness between IT and the rest of the business.  That has changed and technology is essential for businesses to operate, compete and grow. 

 

Digital Transformation stems from three building blocks –

  1. The Customer Experience
  2. The Operational Processes
  3. The Operational/Business Models

 

These three building blocks are ever changing with a multi-dimensional structure.  Ever feel like your swimming against the tide while adopting frameworks and models to be more agile and efficient?  That is because by the time you reach a milestone it seems another aspect is now of importance to consider and it affects the entire plan and changes the results.  It creates a cycle of chasing and fire fighting.  Digital Transformation isn’t something new, however it’s meaning has more significance to what “we” (the industry) has learned over the last two decades when it comes to being lean, efficient and innovative. It comes full circle highlighting the criticality of the customer experience, putting people back at the heart of business, and instill an operating/business model in which you can mature and refine for growth. 

The three building blocks to Digital Transformation - 

1.    The Customer Experience

The customer experience can only be established when you truly understand the customers, how and where they interact with your company. The platforms used to understand customers are done through target marketing, surveying, geographical studies, and social platforms as a way to understand what leads to customer dissatisfaction and what attributes make the customer happy.  Digital media and marketing is an acceptable approach to understanding the customer better.  

Another aspect to customer understanding is to learn how the customer views your brand.  Branding most often is driven by demand and behaviors of the customer are affected by various technologies.  One key point to highlight, the customer experience is quite different from the user experience.  The user experience is far removed from cost investment to the service level expected which the customer has knowledge of and the customer experience is far removed from day to day delivery experience users are accustomed to. Balance both for the best experience possible. 

The customer experience is one area you want to focus on the most.  If you had to prioritize the building blocks, then this one comes first as TOP priority to transform.  The people aspect is the most crucial factor to pay attention to.  Making life easier for the customer will streamline the experience they have with your business.  Make use of crafty automation to streamline customer-facing processes.  Making your service useful to customers to solve issues and eliminate their pain points will open the pipeline to growth. 

Customer experiences are the most visible so make it a better experience than you would expect.  Customer experiences are the most challenging because it requires you to fully comprehend their view of your company’s brand, service delivery model and support model.

 

2.    The Operational Processes

Transformation characteristics are formed from renovating operational processes.  What is your methodology for aligning processes to the organizations strategic plan?  This question must be addressed first.  You may be surprised to discover there will be different views on the methodologies used between the different areas of the business.  A business must be able to align itself to the strategic plan in order to achieve effective transformation and alignment of the Operational processes. Once processes are aligned intentions, goals and measures can be utilized to assess progress.  The second building block succinctly forms an operating work flow which is clear and functional in instruction, design, handoffs, escalations, notifications and the customer experience.

Operational Process Transformation Requirements

  • Recognize organizational functional capabilities and break down any functional barriers.  Increase organizational buy-in with inputs from various levels in the business.
  • Identify process interactions, integrations, touch points and any inconsistencies to understand how the existing processes work in the organization.
  • Identify any negative feedback systems in place.
  • Identify and understand the processes that have the most importance on the businesses success.

 

3.    The Operation/Business Models

Organizations frequently evaluate how their functions work and look for ways to improve upon them. How functions interact is even more important than how the functions work.  A crucial point to Digital Transformation success is to ensure the operation/business models are continually evolving the functional boundaries and activities for a cohesive design.

To realize how vital it is to transform in order for the business to survive puts the aspect of transformation into the appropriate context.  It isn’t about the way or how fast a business changes technology; it’s all about modifying the way you do business and the high performing and functioning of the organizations competencies.

The methodology you use for the framework of the operation/business models isn’t as important as the Governance to the model. How you manage and govern the policies in the business create a more solid operating model that works and handles technologies more effectively.   

Digital strategies in the organization must be developed with a focus on transforming the business.  When evaluating the operation/business model in building block number three, be sure to expand the focus from individual technologies to the integrated suite. 

Digital Transformation requires a new mindset that it isn’t about the technology at all!  People and process presence in the business drive and advocate change.

In order to effectively approach Digital Transformation instill a strong leadership presence in the business to drive and advocate change.  Remember, the structure of the three main building blocks is ever changing and multidimensional.  The multi-dimensional layers to the three main blocks each have their own branches and layers to it. Ever changing isn’t implying rapid change to the point of instability, it means being attentive and willing to change for the betterment of, the customer experience, the operational processes, and the operational/business models.   

 People Colloborating 

Focus is important and it isn't necessary to tackle all three building blocks at once.  To succeed continue to identify and apply new ways to work in the digital era without compromising people and process!  

31 Oct

The first thoughts when you think of ITIL® are not "I think I'll practice yoga". It's funny to hear an IT Leader in the industry for twenty-four years to compare Yoga to ITIL. It is funny, but when you compare the two a little more closely it's relevant and it inspires creativity to adopting ITIL which appears to be stuck, stagnant and losing it's single purpose to continuously improve value to the business through infrastructure and application services. Unbeknownst to me I've been practicing yogic ways long before I formally took to the physical and mental practice of yoga. As I continued to practice there was a shift in awareness in me which created more flexibility in my body. A bonus was my busy mind which had me chasing squirrels and quick fixes is more focused. The mind is full at times, however the state of being mindFUL is better. Feeling revitalized through a regular practice of yoga, I decided to study Yoga Philosophy & Science and acquired a teaching certificate in 2012. I continued my yoga studies and expanded them to Energy Medicine/Anatomy. It was during my studies after certifying it came to me, ITIL and Yoga Philosophy have many characteristics in common. And there it began and Yoga & ITSM© was created and since then bringing revitalized energy to transcending IT Service Management. Through a regular practice of yogic thinking in ITSM, it will bring more flexibility to mature ITIL, such as a regular yoga practice does for the body.

You do not need to know and practice yoga to leverage this concept. You just need an open mind and willingness to be flexible, because like yoga ITIL is flexible. During my eighteen years of using ITIL in the real world I have experienced it successes and failures. I've learned from each experience and have acquired knowledge to succeed in designing, using, adopting and maturing ITIL practices. I guess you can say I sort of grew up with ITIl in my professional journey in IT.

Before I explain the connection, consider having an open mind from the resistance we experience when any form of cultural or organizational change is prevalent. To succeed, the culture of the organization is vitally important due to the nature of being flexible which is opposite of what we're accustomed to. Using the concept keeps our focus on the business need and growth. I'm not suggesting we are rigid in our industry nor am I recommending to be soft and over-pleasing in order to succeed. What I am suggesting is to let go of the ever ending search of quick fixes, and the acceptance of fire fighting to succeed. Focus on the business and what the business needs in an infrastructure to succeed.

The Yoga and ITSM Connection

Some of the general problems in ITSM are demonstrating value, finding meaningful metrics, build strong processes which people will follow and adopt, effective training programs, where to put CSI, people issues, and bringing in the right mix of tools, technology and management information systems. The Yoga & ITSM connection is an essential fresh way of addressing these issues. 

I will explain. Yoga is a philosophy, which means "union" a means to integrate mind, body and soul. The practice of Yoga is both an art and a science dedicated to creating union between body, mind, and spirit. A Guru named Patanjali rewrote the anciet scriptures of Yoga named the Yoga Sutras. The Yoga Sutras provide guidance to enhance the vital life force that exists in all of us.  Sri Patanjali, living in the second century BC, is considered the greatest expounder of Yoga philosophy, These sutras, or guidelines, were developed into an eight-limbed path of practices which when followed lead to self-realization or “enlightenment.” The core concept in Yoga is to be present and mindful to heighten self-realization and live a life to its full potential and purpose. So you’re thinking: how does this relate to adopting ITIL for IT Service Management? 

ITIL serves an identical purpose in IT Service management as do the Yoga Sutras in the path to enlightenment. ITIL is a five-limbed path, The five limbs are Service Strategy, Service Design, Service Transition, Service Operation, Continual Service Improvement. Using the five limbs of ITSM practices will attain “enlightenment” in IT. Enlightenment in IT occurs when one realizes the difference between unconscious and conscious human behaviors in the day-to-day IT operation which triggers us to chase quick fixes.

The core concept in ITSM is to effectively manage the infrastructure components that make up a service. ITIL can transform your IT organization to run as a revenue enabler of the business without sacrificing value to your customers or inflating overhead. Yoga is an art and science bringing union of mind, body, and spirit. In the Yoga in ITSM model, ITIL is the art and science to create union between the limbs of Service Strategy, Service Design, Service Transition, Service Operation and Continual Service Improvement to strengthen the service lifecycle uniting IT Service Providers with the rest of the business. 

A “success-based” attitude to adopting ITIL is more useful than a “failure-based” attitude. Yoga in ITSM helps improve the skills and abilities of you and your staff by influencing the culture to commit to the same things.  

Yoga, ITSM, and Continual Service Improvement (CSI)

Patanjali does not tell you specifically how to carry out the eight limbs in the Yoga Sutras—that’s up to you. But if you align your life with them, they’ll lead you to your highest aspirations: balance, peace, truth, abundance, harmonious relationships, contentment, and acceptance—the essence of happiness. 

It’s the same with ITIL: it does not tell you specifically how to implement service transition plans and processes—that’s up to you. But aligning your IT organization to the principles and guidelines of ITIL will create flexibility in the organization to achieve the highest aspirations of excellence in delivery and cost management—the essence of balance. 

ITIL is an ongoing initiative with no end. The concept comparing yoga to ITIL realizes that to succeed in ITIL, a thriving and realistic CSI plan and process is essential. A common mistake businesses make in ITSM is investing a large portion of the funding into the launch and implementation of ITIL. Instead, the bulk of funding should be invested in CSI, because CSI is where the real benefits are obtained: cost reductions, cost avoidance, enhanced value in service delivery, and customer satisfaction. Too often, organizations raise the white flag of ITIL defeat when that strong desire for instant gratification isn’t met or is lost after the implementation phase. Instant gratification is a symptom of unconscious (non-mindful) decisions stemming from specific work beliefs.

Progress doesn’t always come quickly. Progress may seem excruciatingly slow. There may be times when you attach to the outcome, the results, and the improved metrics that you want. This will make it difficult to be fully mindful in the day-to-day process. It’s impossible to be mindful when obsessing about the future.  Stay the course, "slow and steady wins the race".

Small steps moving forward are far better than no steps—or than trying to get there in one giant leap. Once you release the attachment to the outcome, things will start to shift. Value benefits will happen naturally, such as:

• IT Staff work less on autopilot, becoming more mindful in day-to-day decision-making, and work toward the same goals.

• Communication between IT organizations improves. 

• Customer credibility of your support organizations improves. Customers expect technology issues, but credibility lies with how responsive your support organization is in addressing the issues and the quality of communication during a crisis situation. This means establishing and maintaining credibility with your customers. Their first interaction feeds their beliefs about your service. 

• Service delivery, service operations, efficiency, system automation, customer satisfaction improve. This is a huge area of beneficial gain. The ability to improve at a consistent rate within a fiscal year keeps the ITIL journey alive in attaining measurable longer-term benefits and sustainability. 

• Usable, workable, and maintainable processes develop. Processes are living documents and should be updated once per quarter or twice a year at a minimum. Use KPIs and CSI information as inputs to process improvement. 

• Change Management environments are manageable in the present, enabling organizations to react successfully to changes in the environment. This is a benefit which equates to cost avoidance thereby reducing overhead costs. 

In Summary

Using the concept comparing yoga and using it's philosophy will be a fresh turning point in how you see and manage your ITSM environments. You won’t look back at the past, as each new day will bring your organization one day closer to yielding a sustainable, manageable, IT environment that reaches new heights daily. 

Who is Beverly?

Beverly Weed-Schertzer illuminates and inspires innovative thinking in ITSM. She has 24 years’ professional experience in IT. Her areas of expertise are business improvement, specializing in the areas of IT Service Management, support services, infrastructure management, and implementing best practice methodologies (ITIL, ISO, COBIT). She has formally worked with ITIL since 1998 and is ITIL V3 Expert Trained. She is experienced in ISO 20000, 9000, 9001, IT Governance and Strategy planning, Global Business Transformation & Quality Performance Improvement. In addition, she is an Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher (E-RYT) with the Yoga Alliance. Director of Energy Flow Yoga School and the creator of The Art of Practicing Yoga in IT Service Management. 

 

12 Sep

Take some time to reflect on these issues and analyze them.  

No one has to the ability to predict precisely what will happen in the future and the promises of vendors claiming to "solve issues" with the latest and greatest fad isn't all that magical.  You don’t have to have a crystal ball to identify the challenges which might lie ahead for IT leaders. All we have to do is apply what issues IT Leaders struggled with historically within the industry and unite it with the current trend to likely foresee the problems that lie ahead. 

Each year IT has been among the most challenging areas of the business and each year brings about a new set of triumphs and mishaps. But does it really?  The one thing that remains constant in my twenty something years in IT, are the issues and what changes is the technology.  The industry is being scrutinized by their peers each claiming they have the end all be all solutions to the perils of detriment in IT day to day operations.  This places additional pressure upon IT Leaders to be more focused and watchful than ever before.  Why is that?  Because, in IT every project, service improvement plan and decision is approached from the technical aspect.  Everything must make sense and if you can't see it, control it, deploy it then it doesn't exist. With technology advancements IT people are struggling still with the same ol-same-ol problems that existed over 20 years ago.  How can that be?  When do the leaders in IT "get it" that people are at the heart of every activity therefore the focus and the answer to "how to" solve said issues lies within the people in the organization.  

Here are three critical issues likely to confront IT Leaders that which impacts the organizations capability to service the business successfully: 

1. Chasing fads and trusting vendors "false promises"

In the market today there isn't a lack of vendor support for just about every aspect of IT.  Vendor services are vast and vendors are in demand for customers.  Something to remember when a sales pitch has you believing customers need them as they promise their solutions are the best and cheapest available on the market. Vendors marketing savvy conforms to the desperation of IT Leaders willingly leaving the burden to solve the issues they face in the vendors hands.  Big mistake! Vendor talk is smooth, exactly what you want to hear, and almost always their product/service delivers about 50-60% of what they promised it would do.  IT Leaders must step up and be accountable and expect the same from their vendors.  Choose based on need, not on want or fantasy wishes. Unicorns do exist in my world, but I realistically know they do not exist in IT.  There are no magic potions, or heros on horses saving the day and making everything right within IT.  

Some ways to spot false promises and select the best vendors for the business. 

1. Define the criteria on which IT management will select vendors on and document it.  This will provide a level of consistency on vendor selection through out the IT organization.  Any vendor interested in becoming authorized to provide services will need to apply for it.  You shouldn't engage with a vendor without knowing who they are and what they do. Use this document to evaluate vendor promises effectively through the selection process. 

Evaluate vendors on need -

  • Does the product/service have the capability to advance IT so the business can be competitive.
  • Does the product/service meet 90% or more of the functional requirements?
  • Is the product scalable and will it grow with the business?  essentially, determine up front what the timeline of usage is for the product/service. Most times this is a huge detriment when the expectations aren't met in accordance to the timeline of the business and adds extra costs that weren't planned for. 

The most common fault in vendor's promises is the ideal their services are perfect to suit your business.  Well, that may be the case in theory, but does the vendor really understand the requirements and what expectation you, the customer has.  Can a vendor fully understand the requirements and if it's a good fit like you can?  No, so there is a level of trust and instinct in addition to factual research on the vendors portfolio and reputation in the industry.  A confident vendor doesn't necessarily mean the best one to choose. Do the diligence in fact checking their claims, do a background check on the company and people delivering the products/services and ensure their levels of service match the expectations of the business exactly. 

2. Recruitment and Retention

Recruiting and retaining people resources is always a challenge. Currently and into the foreseeable future, it’s going to be even harder to keep the people you have.  Good employees will be lost due to competition, routine layoffs, off-shoring, outsourcing and skill association to technology.  The most successful IT organizations do not give in to the pressures of cycling out employees (temporary resources).  They understand the most invaluable asset to IT are the people who understand the business and apply their IT skills to enable the business to be competitive.  IT Leaders are missing the boat on this one, because they are making decisions on staffing from a ledger sheet. Giving in to demands to layoff, and hire new. Dangerous cycle and trap to wasting money, and damaging productivity.  The reality turnover is expensive regardless of who initiated the separation. 

A recent article in Harvard Business Review states "Our recent research on leadership transitions demonstrates that nearly 40% of internal job moves made by people identified by their companies as “high potentials” end in failure".  The article also states that "Even more striking, 12% of all the high potentials in the companies we studied said they were actively searching for a new job—suggesting that as the economy rebounds and the labor market warms up, organizations may see their most promising employees take flight in large numbers".

Nowadays, insourcing restrictions, understaffing, and the fear of making a mistake that will bring scrutiny and perhaps termination is difficult to overcome. It will take extra commitment to human resources to overcome the perils of retaining quality employees. 

As always, strong, competent leadership and a healthy relationship with the organization will offset negativity and maintain the spirit of the business that it rightly deserves. 

Suggested ways to recruit and retain people:

  • Hire only the best players based on character.  Technical skills can be taught, character comes from nature, you want to select most of your staff based on character. 
  • Technical roles, stay technical and ensure securing the most skilled based on performance, experience, and ability to deliver on time and within specifications.  Request a technical portfolio complete with documentation they have created, references and blueprints is applicable to the job.
  • Create a values driven culture.  Having core values clearly stated that employees can get behind will bring cohesiveness within the organization which will result in higher performance.
  • Empower your staff in decision making, and creativity.  Not all perceptions of good ideas exist only in leaders. In each of us is a purpose and a wealth of knowledge and creativity.  Every individual has a unique perception and experience within the business. Utilize it to be advantageous in the business.  

3. Too much Emphasis on ROI

The objectives to ROI are to financially quantify what the increased sales or productivity would be to the bottom line. By converting the improvement measures to money and comparing that value to the cost, the IT Leader can see the ultimate contribution of the technology, service or program.  Sometimes the objective would be to break even but an ROI objective allows leaders to monitor that.  Although ROI objectives are useful, I believe too much emphasis is a detriment to effectively reaching the goals of the business.  

ROI, Return on Investment is the financial measure that also tracks the total cost of IT and used as an assessment on where cutbacks can be made on expenses. This is a danger to the business. When the focus in all decisions are continually driven by ROI, the business creates a high risk of service failure, higher cost to bringing in new resources, and the loss of customers.  Why? because IT, as a partner to the business must maintain the technical infrastructure and attain high levels of service delivery which involves a reasonable investment that aligns to the necessary requirements to keep the business competitive.  

Most often, IT leaders focus on sustainability and on keeping the business running, when instead they should be focusing on supporting the business to be competitive, and engage in a partnership alliance with the Business Leaders. 

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