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The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the IT Galaxy and Beyond
Don't Panic



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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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Theory of Constraints & Continual Process Improvement

In “The Goal” Eli Goldratt presents the Theory Of Constraints (TOC). TOC introduces primary measurements for the analysis of systems based on productivity and ultimately, profit. The core truth of TOC is that every system or process has at least one constraint or bottleneck, and that the identification of this constraint should be the focus for any improvement activity.

TOC advocates that organizations take a three-dimensional view of three core business concepts, Inventory, Operating Expense and Throughput. Although executives from financial and manufacturing organizations are familiar with these terms, IT managers are less likely to apply these indicators to their world. To relate these financial terms to IT one needs to expand the definitions beyond their traditional concepts. In essence, you need to be able to map all activity related to a system or process in terms of one of these three factors.

Inventory: All of the money, investment, outstanding issues, pending changes, unresolved incidents, excess capacity, etc. an organization has tied up in an un-sellable, un-finished, un-resolved, undeliverable, or pending state.

  • Pre Process Inventory:Stuff that is currently waiting in queue in a raw or input state that is to be handled or transformed by a system or process. I.e.: Calls that are waiting in the ACD system or emails that have not been answered by the Service Desk.
  • Active Inventory: Stuff that is currently within the system or process and is currently being transformed into a desired or sellable output state, i.e.: Change Management records that are currently being assessed, authorized and scheduled.
  • Post Process Inventory: Stuff that has been successfully transformed into a desired output but has not been delivered to a client, sold, confirmed resolved, or generated profit, i.e.: The Service Desk’s feedback calls back to the users to confirm that an incident, which has been resolved, can be permanently closed.

In TOC, the concept of Inventory contradicts the conventional balance sheet definition of Inventory as an “asset” and redefines inventory as a “liability.”

Operating Expense: All of the money, time, energy, thought, resources, overtime, etc. tied up in the process of converting raw data or inventory into the output of the process. Increased inventory in any state requires a proportionate increase of operating expense to carry the increasing levels of inventory. The natural outcome of increased operating expense is the reduction of cash flow for the organization. In respect to processes that deal with intangible inventory such as un-resolved incidents, cash flow can be translated into reduction of time or resource availability.

Throughput: Defined as the speed at which inventory is moved through the end-to-end process, and delivered to the customer in order to realize the goal of profit, resolution, deployment, etc. By increasing the rate of throughput, the inventory is reduced by moving it in, through and out of the process. By realizing the goal of the system or process, the organization realizes the coveted return on investment, which could mean cash in the pocket or more time to work on other things.

Goldratt observes that these three core principles are inseparably linked and that a change in any one of these three dimensions will automatically result in a proportionate change in the others. The perspective taken by TOC is that the biggest gains are realized by increasing throughput. However, to increase throughput the bottlenecks to the process need to be identified and eliminated.

To do this, an organization needs to look at the process as a set of multiple mini processes, which in turn have inputs, activities and outputs. These mini processes will then pass on the post-process inventory to the next step in the process. When the overall process is viewed in this way one can begin to identify where inventory is piling up in a pre-process state due to a lack of adequate capacity in the downstream activity.

Question: What occurs when you remove a bottleneck?
Answer: Another bottleneck appears elsewhere in the process.
Result: The identification of the next area for improvement to Increase throughput, and the cycle of continuous improvement continues.

In conclusion, Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints places a practical tool in the hands of individuals involved in the ongoing management and improvement of business processes.

Troy’s thoughts what are yours?

I’ve come up with a set of rules that describe our reactions to technologies:

  1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.
  2. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.
  3. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.

~Douglas Adams,  The Salmon of Doubt

Posted by Troy DuMoulin on 12/18 at 12:59 AM






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