Methods: Designing a new Service

Had a great brainstorming session yesterday with a colleague discussing how to apply DSM techniques to the Service Design activities we’re involved in. [Going to have to update my methods PowerPoint again]  Came up with using DSM to identify and cluster functions across various customer requirements and then a simple prioritization using Risk DSM and Business Impact [ Risk * Business Value = Priority ]

Brainstorming DSM

Clustering activity is initially based on common functions. These are later categorized into one or more basic causes using Fishbone (Iishikawa) diagraming and 5 whys:  Capability, Capacity, Schedule, and other.  The context is total throughput (i.e., “The Goal” ).  This sets the context to prioritize which areas to address first.


Afterwards I when to my whiteboard to draft a model of the service I’m working on using Osterwalder’s Business Model Canvas.  Once I summarized the Business Process models I created before and extracted key components, it became obvious that the context needed to be changed.  The business in a business model context yielded some strange relationship issues.  Once internal supplying and receiving groups became Key Partners everything snapped to the grid perfectly, even then cost structure and revenue stream categories which are often hard to identify in internal business models: especially in IT where chargeback is often applied inconsistently.

Business Model Canvas


Today’s Applied Research Agenda

Today’s agenda: R&D around Capacity Management for Services and Processes.  My presentation on metrics and measurement for processes went well, but I know risk and capacity management are a significant lack in this field.  Somehow everyone has gotten the opinion that Moore’s Law will bail them out…that hope is what the other engineering disciplines know now leads to unsustainability.  Received old book I ordered from Amazon Market [Computer Systems Performance Modeling, 1981 –Sauer]   that covered some of this in regards to computer systems.  Coupled with Meadows Limits to Growth (Systems Dynamics that Forrester introduced) I believe I can develop an approach to monitor, measure, and manage processes in more than a reactive way currently the industry norm.  While it will not likely be Nobel Prize winning stuff, I think it will help make Microsoft more competitive and responsive to customer needs     

Working Insights: Process Analysis presentation creation and the movies

Finished my presentation deck for Wednesday’s Business Architect call, sent it out to my manager & colleague, and other friends for comments.  The topic is business process analysis methods.  Its a short 20 minute presentation on the benefits and some methods of value for analyzing processes.  During developing I rediscovered what I already knew: Difficult to compress 2 hours of material into less than 20 minutes.  Makes me truly appreciate movie editors and directors…it take a lot of skill to cut things down to the bare minimum and no more.

Which has me reconsider my thoughts around BPR/M compliments I get in the form: “I’ve never seen anyone but you be able to diagram a process on the fly while we’re discussing it” or “How can you trim these processes down so well that there are minimum steps and each one contributes real value so easily?”  Often I just smile and say thank you, but really don’t think much of it its just what I do.  But I guess its because I’ve spent years honing my craft like editors and movie directors learning how to cut away what’s non necessary to the accomplish the job; in once case telling a story and in mine making a highly efficient and effective process for an enterprise.  I’m sure by now my colleague Sarah is smiling, nodding her head, and saying of course.

Structure in Threes: IT Business Models


Yesterday on the way back from client’s site I started pondering the intersection of Service Quality, Brand Value, and Business Models with regard to Information Technology.  Traditionally, IT functions had been focused around a product development model with operations being dragged in tow as a little more than after market support.  The only difference was that IT had a captive market or so the unconscious bias appears to be within these organizations.  As the IT industry has aged, other goal expectations were placed upon these organizations.  These ranged from being the gatekeeper to precious information, the controller for allocating technology & resources, and the integrating force between other parts of the organization. Whether it is possible for one function to successfully execute on all three missions is a topic for another post.

These expectations struck a nerve with me as I was reading Step Guide for Building a Great Company .  I have been researching business strategy, models and processes for most of my career.  As I read through the first few pages I wondered if IT Functions were not using the wrong business model.  In the past decade many IT functions are desperately trying to change their culture to a service oriented business.  Initiatives such as ITIL, COBIT, and SOA seek to inject a service mindset.  I think the objective is a laudable.  Having experienced a slightly less than customer / service oriented environment decades ago (a story for another time over a beer).

However, the typical service model that is put in place is one for a stabilized or mature business.  A business that has a standardized set of services that are being optimized, not a service that is constantly evolving which has been the nature of the IT function over the past several decades: Mainframes, PC/Workstations, Network, Internet, and now Cloud and BYOD.  This would not be considered a stable and mature industry as the technology keeps changing.  The  consider as the technology keeps changing new services are being either asked for or developed constantly.

With that fact I wonder if the business model IT functions should use is that of a Startup or possibly a bifurcated model that has service groups start out in incubators and move into optimization models as the service matures.  This is very similar to the extension’s I developed for another employer with regard to managing business portfolios.  I had based much of the initial work on The Alchemy of Growth: Practical Insights for Building the Enduring Enterprise adding another horizon and much more recently figuring out how to tie each horizon portfolio together using Real Options and Cluster Analysis.

In this recent expansion new services in ideation are considered a new business opportunity or new technology opportunity.  This determines if they are a Horizon 3 or Horizon 4 portfolio member.  As the internal market/business develops or the technology becomes understandable and stable enough to pilot these opportunities move onto the next portfolio where different operating rules and metrics are applied to manage these.

The result of using such a model makes the IT Function vertically integrated business incubator going from Founder & Angel Investor, to Startup & Venture Capitalist, to an stabilized operating line of business.   Which leads to yet another simulation model to build for my clients and possible discussion at next April’s Engineering Conference.

Structure in Threes: Service Design\Service Quality Part 2

This morning’s R&D started white boarding merging ServQual with Cluster Analysis & Stakeholder Analysis/Management methods to develop a measurement system for Service Value Management.  Reached out yesterday to an old IBM colleague — Bradford Hobbs, now running BizBrand Foundry– in connect to some R&D we did together on measuring brand value in a more objective verse subjective manner.   Like Brand Value can influence sales price on products (e.g., Firebird vs. Camaro which were essentially the same vehicle) Brand Value and what influences it will influence sales price of services (e.g., Brand X Business Management Consulting Service vs. McKinsey both may perform the same activity and to the same quality but the later receives a premium from its Brand Image.  I can foresee the same factors and phenomenon equally working in the IT Services arena:  IBM Cloud, Microsoft Cloud, Amazon Cloud, Apple Cloud, Google Cloud, etc.

What will separate the prices paid and the margins enjoyed by these corporations for providing these services will be more than just the actual technical performance.  The Brand image of the company, experience the user enjoys and expects which will either enhance or detract from the Brand image and perceived value which will ultimately influence the price a customer will be willing to pay.  While there are subjective studies on measuring Brand Value of products, I’m literature search so far on Service Brand Value has yielded very little other than subjective measures of service quality.  As such it looks to be a interesting area of Brad and I to collaborate upon once again.

Modeling and Simulation

A friend and colleague reached out yesterday to ask about modeling and simulation tools.  Then went on to ask about consistent notations as a desire for the practice he supports.  During the span of my career I’ve had to learn various methodologies and notations around BPR/M as both the discipline has matured as well as terminology.  During BPR’s big push during the late 70s courtesy of the USAF’s Mantech program I was introduced and became a modeler for an Aerospace firm.  Dennis Wisnosky -who led the program- gather a few of us at various prime vendors with the objective of creating a generic model of an Aircraft manufacturer.  As part of the program Softech developed IDEF0 a modeling notation / methodology.  Today there is more distinction between what is a notation and what is a methodology.

During that same year I had to create various diagrams for systems, IT applications, shop floor processes and manufacturing processes.  This demand to learn the latest notation continued till I joined IBM, at which time my employer started sending me to various conference, consortiums and programs to develop methodologies and notations due to the years of build models.  Two years ago at a Summit meeting I presented the topic of Accuracy and Precision.  Topics that are closely related but as another of my mentors, Harrington pointed out these are different concepts and when building models one should understand a few things:

  • The greater the level of detail the more complex and expensive it is to create
  • Greater detail does not always translate to greater understanding or the ability to communicate that understanding

Since then when I’m asked about modeling and simulation engagements, the first question I have is what’s the point of the model or simulation?  If its to communicate to executives or other people that requires one level of detail; If its a step by step procedure for people to follow that’s another level; and it is for automating a process that’s still another level.

The next question I typically asks is what is the target audience’s level of experience with models and various notations; show typical line of business executives UML just won’t cut it, show programmers BPMN may or may not be helpful as they are often wanting more technical detail than process –though in my opinion that’s a big flaw in logic, as the process gives a programmer context which will help drive better design decision (enter the latest trend to build scenarios and user personas).

Lastly on my top three scoping questions is usually how much time is planned for the activity and due date for the deliverables.  With such questions notation and methodologies decisions become a little easier.  The only big question left is whether the enterprise as chosen a one size fits all standard or has a taxonomy of notations to use for specific purposes and all those involved have the needed training to use.

Process Modeling

Spent most of last night and this morning creating some generic {high level} Service and Change Management BPMN process models to customize for an engagement.  I’m particularly happy with the way the Change Control Board process turned out:


Change Control Process


Change Management Process


Service Management Process