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Troy DuMoulin, VP, Research & Development

Troy is a leading ITIL®, IT Governance & Lean IT authority with a solid and rich background in Executive IT Management consulting. Troy holds the ITIL Service Manager and 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 acronyms like ITIL, Lean, Agile, DevOps, 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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Business Acumen The Most Critical Skill’s Shortage in IT?

When You Don’t Know Where You Are Going Any Direction Will Do!

Businesses increasingly faces an IT skills shortage - a shortfall between the supply of qualified IT professionals and the necessary IT skills. In this blog article, I explore the business implications of what I personally see as the most the most important and growing skills gap. Despite the availability of numerous Governance and Service Management frameworks little progress seems to have been made over the last decade in closing the age old problem of a lack of general business acumen within the IT profession.

  • What business problems are created by this skills shortage?
  • How does the IT skills gap affect the bottom line?
  • What specific problems do businesses face as a result?
  • How do current advanced Computer Science degrees contribute or help with this issue?

When most people consider the question of an IT skills gap, they focus on the skills and knowledge required to leverage the current and emerging technologies. What often is overlooked is that the primary skills gap for the IT profession is business acumen. An IT skills gap in this area often results in a “language barrier” and failure to translate business objectives to technology strategy.

This issue, often referred to as a “failure of alignment”, can be the root cause of a much more troubling problem than the lack of specific technology skills (which can be sourced through third party solutions if necessary). Without the required skills, processes and knowledge related to managing the relationship of demand and supply, businesses are unable to take advantage of and build upon established information to help get ahead in an ever competitive market. Instead, precious time is often wasted on people trying to understand each other (and sometimes not understanding at all!) or trying to re-invent the wheel. This time could have otherwise been spent on problem solving on issues related to quality, speed or cost of current services or introducing new offerings related to competitive advantage!

The issue of being “lost in translation” is further compounded by the fact that many, if not most, advanced Computer Science degrees focus on technology skills and teach our emerging young technologists very little about the business of running an effective business within a business. They understand the fundamentals of coding, building data centers and configuring a network. However they have limited to no skills related to defining services, managing a portfolio process, establishing demand focused budgets and agreeing on common support models across the various internal and external technology silos.

As a big Douglas Adams (of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy fame) fan, I love referencing the “Babel Fish” as an ideal solution to this translation dilemma – an amazing fish that once stuck in your ear translates all foreign language into something you can understand. But until we can get our hands (and ears) on one of these, the next best thing we have for understanding each other across different geographies is the adoption of a common definition of terms using business focused and accepted IT Service Management frameworks such as ITIL, COBIT, CMMI, etc. Education and skills in the use of these frameworks have at a minimum the benefit of establishing a common language across technology silos. In the ideal situation, these skills will focus IT attention on the outcomes being delivered by technology solutions rather than the current myopic focus on the technology assets alone.

In my opinion, the adoption of a common definition of terms is one of the most important enablers of this increasingly global economy. It is imperative for businesses to have access to this level of knowledge in order to become more efficient and able to compete with growing global market pressures.


Troy’s Though’s What Are Yours?


“Technology advances at exponential rates, and human institutions and societies do not. They adapt at much slower rates. Those gaps get wider and wider.” ~Mitch Kapor


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Posted by Troy DuMoulin on 11/27 at 11:52 AM
  1. This is a huge issue in my current workplace.  We’re even planning on embedding “process” or “business” people into the technical teams so that they can establish some basic order to what is normally complete chaos.  The technical people there are either incapable or don’t want to take the time to write anything down or establish a smooth, effective process that would speed up their delivery and satisfy their customers.

    I struggle with this.  Should the technical people learn these skills and make it part of their job description or should we just give up and find someone to do that work for them?  At the moment, we are choosing the latter.  The long-term outcome to this decision is that we would be able to teach them to become self-sufficient.  (hopefully!)

    This will be an area that I am going to focus on in 2016, so I’ll be searching for any ideas I can find.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/14  at  12:17 PM
  2. Dave

    A very good point, in my perspective a big part of Lean Thinking is to understand the context of the value system in which you work.

    For individuals in IT not to understand the context of business objectives, priorities and basic concepts of profit vs loss is a high risk for any organization.

    In other words Agility is a good trait as long as each of the players on the same team are all being Agile in the same direction. If each team / dept has it’s own priorities, objectives and sense of what is truth the entire system cannot operate or flow well.

    My suggestion is that you look into Lean Training for your team as a great way to instill this perspective.

    Troy

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/14  at  01:37 PM
  3. Hi Troy, thanks for the quick reply.

    Interestingly, it was Lean that got us this far.  We’re now ready to move to the next level.  Basically, Lean was “done to them” and process improvement ownership still remains in the hands of Liaisons/BRMs.  We need to drive the accountability to the people doing the actual work instead of to us amateurs who don’t have the technical skills.  It’s a hard sell since most IT people think Lean is either for manufacturing or something “those process people” do. I think we will need to get more into RACI to establish better ownership. Meanwhile, we are buying workflow tools these days and it will be inevitable that teams will need to think through their processes more thoroughly. And yes, they certainly need to understand the business drivers in order to understand the bigger picture.  There are many times where we build solutions and none of us ever know what that solution does.  We just assemble the individual parts and have no idea whether it’s the right thing for the customer.  Anyway, you get the picture, as you’ve likely seen this many times.  Thanks again.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/14  at  03:07 PM
  4. Dave

    The way I see it you have a challenge and an opportunity. The challenge is one that most IT organizations face which have a mythical sense of separation from the business they serve. (When all business processes are automated IT cannot truly be seen as non-core competency but has to to understand and be understood as “The Line”)

    Your opportunity is that if Lean got you this far then the actual correct application of Lean will definitely be something you can build on.

    Your two points:

    1) Lean has been something that has been done to them: The Lean Principle: “Respect Every Individual” focuses on the fact that it must be the people who do the actual work which identify the improvement, assess the root cause and take ownership of the solution. This means that Lean done from above is not really Lean but externally driven process improvement.

    2) They feel that Lean focuses on Manufacturing: Over the last 10 years Lean has been adopted and applied to the Service Industry and great things are happening in Health Care, Higher Education and now IT as a Professional Service. Last year a new association was established promoting the application of Lean to IT Value streams. My recommendation is to look into using the materials & publications you will find free on this site to support the discussion on how Lean does indeed apply to IT Services and Processes. http://www.leanitassociation.com

    Also here is a Link to a Bright Talk webinar I delivered that will provide you some additional support.

    https://www.brighttalk.com/webcast/534/83229/using-lean-it-to-enable-it-service-management

    Posted by Troy DuMoulin  on  01/15  at  09:06 AM
  5. My 2 Cents (US):

    The frameworks referenced in the penultimate paragraph have offered some - but not neary enough assistance in forming the necessary bond between business and IT.

    The reason COTS vendors and other third parties fare better with our business partners is that their survival is entirely dependent on the business partner understanding their product/service well enough to make a purchase. Internal IT is perceived as “already bought.”

    How many IT organizations include any business factors in their hiring/promotion profile, job interviews, or performance assessment criteria? Dave’s mention of Lean is interesting. It appears to have focused on the analytical (Value Stream, etc.) and to have missed things like active empathic listening (not my strength either) in gemba and kaizen. 

    Thanks for the post and comments, Troy and Dave.

    Martin

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/18  at  10:43 AM
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