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Troy DuMoulin, VP, Research & Development

Troy is a leading ITIL® IT Governance and Lean IT authority with a solid and rich background in Executive IT Management consulting. Troy holds the ITIL Expert certifications and has extensive experience in leading IT Service Management (ITSM) programs with a regional and global scope.

He is a frequent speaker at IT Management events and is a contributing author to multiple ITSM and Lean IT books, papers and official ITIL publications including ITIL’s Planning To Implement IT Service Management and Continual Service Improvement.

 

The Guide

"This blog is dedicated to making sense out of the shifting landscape of IT Management. Just when we thought we had a good handle on managing technology, the job we thought we knew is being threatened by strange acronym’s like ITIL, CMMI, COBIT, ect.. Suddenly the rules have changed and we are not sure why. The goal of this blog is to offer an element of sanity and logic to what can appear to be chaos."


Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy

"In many of the more relaxed civilizations on the Outer Eastern Rim of the Galaxy, the Hitch Hiker’s Guide has already supplanted the great Encyclopedia Galactic as the standard repository of all knowledge and wisdom, for though it has many omissions and contains much that is apocryphal, or at least wildly inaccurate, it scores over the older more pedestrian work in two important respects.

First, it is slightly cheaper: and secondly it has the words DON’T PANIC inscribed in large friendly letters on its cover."
~Douglas Adams

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

When ITIL Projects Collide


Just Because ITSM Projects / Processes Share The Same Parentage Doesn’t Mean They Talk To Each Other

Over the years I have worked in the ITSM field, as an advisor and teacher, there is one phenomena of organizational behavior that still amazes, bemuses and saddens me.

The phenomena I am referring to is when an organization has finally found the political will power and resources to adopt a Service Management approach and then kicks off a set of formal projects around process improvement and deployment but does so without consideration of integration.

What typically occurs is that a Senior Management team becomes convinced of the necessity and benefits of implementing improvements around processes such as Incident, Change and Configuration Management etc. They make a company-wide announcement about how committed and serious they are about improving customer satisfaction, IT functional collaboration and service availability.  To demonstrate their executive commitment to these concepts they resource, energize and commission several highly skilled and talented teams to define formal projects to implement the new enterprise policies, processes and tools.

This all sounds great up to this point, right?

However, what is not realized (or maybe it is but it’s ignored for political reasons) by this highly energized and well meaning organization is that every single process described in the ITIL Service Lifecycle model is integrated with other processes at an activity, model, data, and tool level.  What occurs in this situation is that each project team defines their processes, classification schemes and tool requirements separately and then realizes that integration of these processes, after the fact, is difficult if not impossible. The fallout of this approach is that many of the benefits of adopting an integrated Service Management approach are not achievable without significant re-work and lost investment.

Over the past year I have posted on several examples of these key integrations such as:

These posts are only a limited set of examples but they help to illustrate the point.

The critical take-away from this post is that everyone understands that it is imperative that your ITSM initiative be understood and led as a program of integrated projects as opposed to a discreet collection of process improvement activities!

Please also consider that it is wise to build into your process design and tool decisions the requirements for processes that you have not yet implemented but intend to in the future. It will save you untold hours of redesign effort if you build into your design place holders for the processes you have yet to tackle.

Think of it like roughing in the plumbing for that basement bathroom you plan on getting to someday. Having those pipes there ready to go will make that dream much easier to obtain.

The article so far has focused on the downside of an un-integrated approach to a set of ITSM projects. However it will not take you long to also realize the ongoing management issues surrounding processes that in effect operate in silos. These silos can occur within geographical or functional boundaries of the organization such as the example I gave around the recent posts related to the “Rise and Re-Integration of the ERP Empire”, or they are siloed in the sense that they do not integrate with the other processes as discussed in this post.

The irony of the timing of this post is that while I was writing my thoughts I received an email from Karen Ferris who is the Practice Manager of ProActive Services. She was very kind to share with me her recent paper which I enjoyed called. “OUT OF ONE SILO AND INTO ANOTHER!”

It seems I am not alone in observing this tragic approach to IT Service Management.

Troy Thought’s What Are Yours?

”The system of life on this planet is so astoundingly complex that it was a long time before man even realised that it was a system at all and that it wasn’t something that was just there.” ~ Douglas Adams

 

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Rise & Re-Integration Of The ERP Empire - Final Post

Trends For IT Tools (The ERP Model For IT Management Tools)

The range and sophistication of tools to support ITSM has grown rapidly in recent years in correlation with the growing businesses’ dependency on IT services.  The rapid convergence of the industry driven by almost monthly acquisitions and mergers have allowed the software vendors to offer new levels of workflow and process integration that was impossible only a short time ago.

However, while this vision of an integrated system of IT tools makes sense, it rarely represents the reality of most IT functions today.  This is again in part due to the transition our industry is currently undergoing – from a focus on managing and optimizing technology domains to one focused on understanding, managing and supporting end-to-end services.

The primary reason why an organization has multiple point solutions for automating processes and managing data is a result of history, politics and IT procurement that values best of breed over integration. Based on a traditional technology management view, each IT domain is managed as a unique function and procures tools for its own needs.  For example, the database group has a database on databases.  The server group has one database for Unix boxes and another for Wintel Machines.  The application groups track their applications; the network group is just concerned with network components, etc.  From this perspective, each group has built separate process tools and data sources to manage their own assets. For the SAP group, this is represented by the tools built into the SAP system itself using solution manager.

However, what do you do when you realize that managing each domain in mythical isolation prohibits you from understanding the relationship of dependency between them? It is only when an organization begins to move to service orientation does this question become a burning issue.  Unless an IT organization can understand how any technology component connects to another, and how they both impact a business process outcome, it is very difficult to claim alignment with business objectives.

This paradigm shift requires the creation of an integrated ecosystem of IT tools that share data and provide the capability of Business Service Management.

Consider that we started this discussion with the concept that ‘ERP’ is defined as an integrated application solution.  Each business unit had separate applications to support business processes, such as accounts receivable, inventory management, procurement, payroll, etc.  Each unit had their own separate databases on different platforms which needed to be connected through complex integrations; however, IT stepped up to the plate and said, ‘would it not make sense to have a suite of integrated applications all getting their data from the same primary central source with federation to other internal and external sources applied when necessary?’ 

The Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) suite was born!

If we preach this as a good strategy for the business, what makes IT any different?  The answer of course is that we are not, and we are following the same pattern of realization and action the business has already acted on based on IT’s guidance.

Effective and efficient delivery of IT services is likewise dependent on the development and implementation of an integrated suite of capable service management tools.  These service management tools must be capable of underpinning processes described and presented in ITIL.

Summary

The results of the SAP user survey provide an interesting context within which we can understand the impact of ITIL implementation at an industry level.  Consider that an ERP group in many ways presents us with a mirror micro-climate within the greater enterprise IT function.  Many of the drivers that caused the initial creation of these organizations and the subsequent adoption of best practices around people, process and technology now also apply to the larger enterprise.  The results of this survey can serve as a model for predicting similar trends and challenges facing the IT industry in general as it moves from a reactive silo-based model to one focused on the proactive delivery of highly available and reliable end-to-end services.

Troy’s thoughts, what are yours?

“The great thing about being the only species that makes a distinction between right and wrong is that we can make up the rules for ourselves as we go along.” ~Douglas Adams wink

Context: This series of posts represent a companion white paper I developed based on collaborative research conducted by Pink Elephant and BMC. The goal of this research was related to understanding the adoption of IT Service Management within organizations that support a major ERP suite. The results of this survey can be found on the Pink Elephant website at the following link: Survey Results

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Rise & Re-Integration Of The ERP Empire - Part 5

THE CHALLENGE OF CULTURAL SEPARATION (A TALE OF TWO CITIES)

As organizations look for ways to re-integrate the ERP group back into the processes of the IT enterprise, they are hitting a common and passionate cultural resistance.  This can perhaps be attributed to the fact that these two separate groups developed very differently over the past two decades.

The separate ERP group did not become a reality in most organizations until the industry moved to a client server platform. This shift in computing supported the proliferation of the technology out into the business units and away from the glass rooms and mainframes carefully protected by their diligent technologists. When SAP was at Release 3, the client server technology supported the full development and deployment of the suite into multiple business units.  In large organizations, each business unit often implemented its own discrete ERP implementation based on its own customized processes.  This in itself later became an issue which many companies are struggling with even now as they move to consolidate their financial and HR processes and tools into common systems. (Sound familiar?)

Development of these applications was placed into the hands of business managers and analysts who were focused on process and lived it as part of their daily lives.  These analysts were performing complex customizations of standard out-of-the-box software to make it fit their unique business processes that spanned many business silos.  While doing this work, the ERP developers developed a solid understanding of the IT/business linkage and dependency while at the same time developing a healthy respect for the power of process and procedures. (Or failed miserably in their projects if they did not).

Over time, the ERP IT groups became less technology-focused and more business-oriented.  Customer Service quickly became a priority and most of the help desk tickets ended up being related to business process questions as opposed to technology-based failures.  It was well understood that there was no such thing as acceptable downtime because of the complex web of users spread across the organization and time zones. 

As Y2K was approaching, the ERP group had the ear of all the executives because mission critical systems were predicted to fail at the stroke of midnight.  The power and the timing were right to argue for the complete separation of these key systems from the general IT environment due to the painful lack of general controls such as Change Management.  During the intervening period of the last ten years, the ERP groups flourished and absorbed any IT person with a penchant for business knowledge and process or turned super users into technologists. This separation and differences of focus (business process automation vs. technology domain optimization) has made the cultures of the ERP and Shared Infrastructure groups quite different and caused issues around collaboration and communication.

What is interesting is that the ERP groups had influence around the boardroom table long before their counterparts from other areas of the IT organization. Perhaps this is because they and more importantly their business customers understood clearly how their IT services directly impacted the business processes they automated.  Needless to say, many organizations struggle with this difference in management culture as they look for ways to re-integrate.


Troy’s and Frances’s thoughts, what are yours?


I would like to thank my fellow Pinker Frances Price, CMA,  who personally led major ERP implementations and has the benefit of both the financial and IT background for her insights I have captured in this post.

Context: This series of posts represent a companion white paper I developed based on collaborative research conducted by Pink Elephant and BMC. The goal of this research was related to understanding the adoption of IT Service Management within organizations that support a major ERP suite. The results of this survey can be found on the Pink Elephant website at the following link: Survey Results

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