Many of us have heard the urban legend of the organization that was trying to figure out who was using a particular IT resource by simply unplugging the resource and waiting for the complaints. Today, many IT organizations struggle to understand who is using IT services, why they are using those particular services, the cost of using those services, and the value of the IT services to the organization. We can go further with this scenario by examining the consequences organizations face when they move customized changes forward into new releases of IT services without a comprehensive understanding of the actual need, or without even knowing if the need still exists in support of a business service. Organizations that have experienced these challenges know that they affect many areas in operations, especially operational costs, which in turn affect growth funding, which affects competitiveness.
Services, and components of services, do not need to exist if there is no customer need for them. An unneeded, unused service should die. Service suppliers clearly understand this concept, but it is hard to govern without metrics, factual data, and knowledge related to the delivered IT service. Project management best practices constantly warn organizations against “gold-plating” a project, which simply means adding enhancements beyond the project’s value. Other best practices such as Lean and Six Sigma try to help industrialize organizations by reducing unneeded or inefficient processes and activities. Then there is ITIL®, which tries to help organizations understand ITSM for creation and management of effective, efficient, and economical service value chains. IT today is constantly warned against having projects that have no business value. Yet, even with these warnings, it is still challenging to deliver and support efficient and effective services that are needed and consumed by the business.
So, how can you see (and eventually bury) dead IT services? An exhaustive service catalog can help you identify services that have negative ROI and high TCO, and that provide questionable value to your customers.
Here are a few things to know when building a service catalog:
- The first projects usually revolve around creation of a “requestable catalog” to improve the users’ relationship with IT and to give IT operations insights into demand and usage of IT resources. There are also “product catalogs” (e.g., Definitive Media Libraries – DMLs); IT maintains a product catalog of all the approved software versions to support production baselines.
- The next initiative is usually service modeling or IT service modeling to support change and release management.
- Later, organizations start building updated IT service catalogs utilizing the models. Then they relate this information to service level agreements, operational level agreements, underpinning contracts, and elements of service warranties.
These initiatives are precursors to improving portfolio management, service costing, service pricing, and overall project management. During every project initiative mentioned, IT gains insight and collects metrics into what matters for the customer for better decision support. IT is then better able to see dead IT services and matures to be more service oriented and customer-value focused. The organization matures, and with the understanding of IT capabilities and resources, makes more effective business service decisions.
Want more details? Attend my breakout session at Pink14 in Las Vegas: “Plan, Design, and Operate your Service Catalog,” Track 14, Session 514, on Tuesday, February 18, 2014, from 10:30–11:30 AM. For quick updates, follow me on LinkedIn and twitter @anthonyorrAtBMC.