Discover Performance

HP Software's community for IT leaders // May 2013

Delivering value in a user-centric world

IT operations have never been more complicated. And excellence has never depended so much on the basics.

Delivering quality services—quickly, consistently and efficiently—has never been easy, but with the explosion of mobility, consumerization, and cloud/SaaS solutions, ops leaders have a more complex job than ever. Yet the road to mastering all this complexity may be to focus on what’s most simple and basic.

For some time, HP Software and a consortium of our Fortune 500 clients have been applying the concept of value streams to enterprise IT, to strip away such topics and trends as cloud, ITIL, SaaS, and DevOps to get to the core value every IT team must provide, regardless of how they do it.

We came up with four value streams (detailed in the free ebook released with this issue of Discover Performance) that describe what IT must deliver:

  1. Strategy to Portfolio: Driving the IT portfolio toward business innovation
  2. Requirement to Deploy: Building what the business wants, when it wants it
  3. Request to Fulfill: Cataloging, fulfilling, and monitoring service usage
  4. Detect to Correct: Anticipating and resolving production issues—throughout the lifecycle

There are two things that value streams do for ops leaders. The first is to demonstrate that typical IT silos have to be broken down, because all of these value streams operate in concert to reach one end goal: a happy end user who improves the business’s bottom line.

“Instead of talking about isolated activities, the value streams give you a clear idea of how it all works together,” says David Wheable, global lead for performance management with HP Professional Services. “It provides a great context for discussing IT holistically.”

The second is to validate a day in the life of a network operations center. For ops leaders who have been derided as bottlenecks or told that their insistence on process and structure impedes business success, we have a map demonstrating that the road to business value goes directly—and unavoidably—through the NOC. While working through these value streams will suggest ways to better attune your work to the ultimate delivery of value, they also underscore the immediate value of your role in the IT organization and the business as a whole.

Maximize your role

The two value streams most obviously relevant to an ops leader are Request to Fulfill and Detect to Correct. In both cases, you should look to maximize your ability to perform—to deliver value to the rest of IT, to the business, and to the end user. 

Request to Fulfill underpins your effort to create a single catalog of all internal and external IT offerings. This makes it easy to quickly and effectively connect consumers with what they need, through a sanctioned process that discourages nonstandard requests. With a predefined playbook, you can create time-to-value, repeatability, and consistency for any consumer who requests services from ops. This value stream helps ops transition to a mature service broker that regains control over IT services.

“Making this stream explicit is sometimes an ‘A-ha!’ moment for customers,” Wheable says. “They see the need to manage this process as something separate from deployment. This understanding is better now with the advent of service catalogs, but as an industry, we’re still not brilliant at it.”

The Detect to Correct value stream leads you to a clear view of the functional components and data associated with excellent performance. It demonstrates the value of processes that let you identify issues before they disrupt the user, so that you can prioritize fixes across all internal and external domains. This becomes not a bottleneck that frustrates developers or LOB, but a critical part of a process everyone understands.

Getting started

Digging down to the value stream level is not an ops-only initiative. Open a conversation with other IT leaders, from the CIO down. The starting point is not “dev does this, ops does that, security does that,” but “here’s how something goes from business idea to IT service to delivered business value.” From there, optimize how it gets done. That’s the sort of conversation, by the way, that makes a great case for things like automation.

Don’t talk only to your fellow IT leaders. Value streams start and end outside the walls of IT, and you need to be in dialog with business leaders, too. In March, we discussed “speaking the language of SaaS,” because outside vendors have mastered communicating about IT issues in business terms. Continue bridging that gap as you talk about value streams.

Take it higher

How you approach the value stream concept depends on how mature your IT organization is. “The challenge is putting the value stream conversation in the right context,” Wheable says: “How does this apply to me—how do I really make use of this?”

If you’re still breaking down the wall between ops and apps, or if the business units don’t engage with IT as a partner, you won’t have the ability to immediately engage at the most strategic level. But in clearing away the clutter to get to the core of what you deliver—which then informs how you can best deliver it—you can increase IT’s rate of maturity and its acceptance as a key business partner with the rest of the enterprise.

At the highest level, Wheable says, you may be asking whether your SLAs are truly aligned with the end delivery of value—are you tracking metrics that truly improve customer satisfaction? If it’s too soon to have that conversation, simply looking at your processes and how they serve the overall flow of tangible business value is a great first step. 

Download the free ebook, "Value Streams: A User-Centric Model for the Enterprise CIO" (reg. req’d). For more on transforming how your IT organization delivers value, check out the HP Professional Services page and look into the HP Performance Suite.


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