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


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.

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


Microsoft Support Services

Had a unproductive Friday with Microsoft Services, despite enrolling in a yearly support program I was rolled around multiple times to the answer desk numerous times to be triaged, forwarded and rerouted back to the answer desk.  No less than six times did I go through the answer desk relating the same information: Problem Area, Operating System, H/W and Software Versions.  I was assigned a ticket number which support staff could not open, they tried to remote to my system and it failed.  Near the middle of the day they escalated to level two, only to reschedule calling back on Saturday.

After rebooting several times, my Outlook mysteriously began to work again Friday evening…Saturday morning Tier Two called, informed them that it started working again.  The staffer decided to triage the situation anyway.  “Which account is having the problem?”   “All of these did, when it stopped last Wednesday.  However, the Outlook client is working again now….”  After poking around my system’s setup checking options, she declared victory and moved on.”   Neither of us know what went wrong or why…but its working and that’s all I care about.

Then only thing out of normal I did before rebooting was to have Norton 360 do a complete scan and virus check (it found nothing).  After posting on Friday, several others reached out to me also reporting they had similar occurrences with Outlook 2013.   Don’t know.  I had experience reporting checked on ALL my Microsoft products for years, hopefully this incident will be caught and fixed in the next update.

In the meantime my wife –who now has multiple PCs also– sees the value in doing such.  Without having my Surface(s) and another tower, I would have been stopped dead in my tracks from working waiting for support to fix my primary workstation.   I see it as a small price to pay for business continuity.  A little funny when I consider some of these issues are what I’m addressing for my clients.


BPR/M: Tools and Techniques

Hate to start out discussing tools regarding BPR/M right off the bat.  However, it looks like I’ll need to find some of my old BPR/M applications for this latest project.  While the client‘s repository can scale to a large size, the configuration management and analysis tools leave a lot to be desired.  Something to be said about building your own tools for the job you’re doing.  The MS Access Process DB application I’d build years ago and continually modify looks like will have yet another year or two of life.  The last modification was to add ITIL packaging enabling me to box up processes for my FEDE client’s Shared Services organization.

This latest engagement looks to be a reduced set of the same issues, without the built in organizational resistance.  With this engagement the internal clients already are looking for a service.  What’s missing is a solid methodology to move from IT Product Delivery to a Service Delivery paradigm.  I’ll box up all the pieces into a Service Level Package (SLP) this week to demonstrate the concept.  This may help the IT organization’s client’s to visualize what is to be delivered and how the pieces fit to accomplish the results they would like.  I’ll see this afternoon whether I’ll get buy-in from the project team.  Either way I expect to build the SLP to make it easier to create a comprehensive solution.

Modern IT Portfolio Management: Investment Profiles

Last night I reviewed of my notes interviewing investment brokers, portfolio managers the past few months and delved deeper into my growing collection of Wiley Finance Series of books.  This morning I scanned through “The Art of Asset Allocation” by David M. Darst searching for the next analogs in financial portfolio management to pair up with IT Portfolio Management.  It occurred to me the metaphors currently in usage in wall street: Bulls, Bears and other animals used to characterize investment behavior is close to but not exactly a match for IT Investment.  In a previous White paper I had researched and written for Microsoft’s Services division on Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery I had started to layout a third dimensional grid-work on the organizational decision behavior and environment.   As I re-read the insight I had working on various aspects of decision science I can see how to apply these learnings plus several other insights to IT Portfolio Investments.

Investor Profiles

The only downside to this approach is that most consulting firms prefer to adhere to the 2×2 matrix.  The logic behind such is they feel more than 2×2 or binary decision values confuses management and executives.  A little insulting to their clients if you think about it.  However, the objective is to communicate quickly to the client not show the complexity and nuance behind the analysis.  As such when I develop a more comprehensive tool, I’ll have to have it yield several simple 2×2 views of the decision for ease of understanding.  I did this with the design of the Cloud and APM Portfolio Tool for Microsoft IT Strategy and Enterprise Architecture services division a few months ago.  The feedback I got from my personal CxO advisory panel were very positive.   Expect to have a wireframe of the tool’s output to match the personas I’ve developed ready by end of next month**.  The it becomes a decision on what technology to build.

**I like the advice I got from Alan Cooper a few years back; “Design from the outside in”.  The common sense of it seems apparent, however, so few companies and developers do such.  Today all the rage is teaching developers and consultants to use personas.  Unfortunately, the lessons typically stop at using them as sales tools to justify what has already been built rather than design tools to ensure operation and aesthetics match with the enduser’s needs and desires.

Customer Satisfaction Insights: IT Service Management (ITSM)

This morning’s activity has been an offshoot of the Business Model research I’ve been working on.  One of the possibilities of business models for Modern IT Portfolio Management is to create a “IT Service” as an addition to the advisory/consulting services that are under development.  Currently I have an inventory of tools in the form of database applications, spreadsheets and word templates that I’ve created over the years.  While I integrate these into a unified practice I continually think back to the consulting platform, B.A.S.E., I built decades ago. I had built it as a consultant’s workbench using MS Access V1, which operated much like SharePoint.  The tool has data collection forms, analysis functions, and reports that enabled a consultant to use interview and other collected information as input to multiple forms of analysis.  When I used it on several engagements it saved me days of collating, classifying, categorizing and sorting work enabling me to focus on analyzing,  developing insights, brainstorming, and recommendations for my customer which is the true added value they hire a consultant for**.

A case for customer focus in ITSM

Today the need for knowledge worker augmentation is even more critical as management becomes aware of the cost of information overload to staff.  Not only does it cause more stress on employees, but errors increase putting projects and companies at risk.  The ability to manage information effectively as opposed to just efficiently has become a critical success factor.  Corporations that fail to grasp that point are now suffering from these errors.  The recovery time for these is longer than just the remediation time of the error.  The costs go beyond that to reputation and trust.  Once a corporation has lost trust with its customers is takes much longer to regain.  Kotler points out that it cost more to acquire a new customer than retain and old.  I would profess it takes double the cost of acquiring a new customer to reacquire an old customer that has lost trust with the company, and in many cases may never be required.

ITSM Ecosystems

This bring me back to IT Service Management (ITSM).  The first point, any IT Service works in a market whether a captive or open -if the IT Service is offered to external to the firm customers.  While a captive market for IT Services appears to have less concerns, if the Service Manager and IT Executive Management look at the situation, they have more to be concerned about.  In a free market situation both customer and provider are free to goes their separate ways.  A customer can seek other providers, a provider can seek other customers.  In a captive market customer and provider are joined together.  However, if the customer is unhappy with the provider and proves the case to executive management that the service is not needed or the provider is not efficient and effective to the business; replacement or outsourcing becomes the order of the day.  The IT Service staff are gone with no prospects of finding a new customer as the virtual firm has been dissolved or they are no longer a part of it.

The second point, while researching IT Service Management implementations around the global recently, it became obvious that most IT Functions: 1)View ITSM as a operations, mainly help desk, concern separate for the rest of the function.  2) Do not see ITSM as a strategy to design, build and grow the business.  The first issue that ITSM is just helpdesk or operations suggests that IT organizations are still functioning as 1970s style product factories.  Mass production of products and a possible focus on as designed quality (i.e., did not vary from design specifications).  Product manufacturing companies that operate this way are shutting their doors every day.  Despite the disposable society orientation of the market today, if a customer finds fault with the product they’ll return it and by from a competitor.  These returns due to defects whether variance from design or various for from customer expectations –which is more important- cost the corporation significant funds.  The ITSM equivalent means line of business down time or line of business rework, either is likely to generate a complaint to the CxO suite.  The second issue, related to the first, using a systems engineering approach to design services is a new concept, but one that pays back several fold.  Looking at not only the technical aspects of service delivery but the entire surround of that service is going to provide a higher quality, more cist effective service that provides a better customer experience which in the end results in a request for more services.

Management Consulting Models

**As noted in most management consulting books, a small army of entry level consultants are typically assigned to an engagement to do this data collection and organizing.  While a productive way to onboard and develop consulting skills for new consultants, this often creates a bang/bust syndrome for the practice: Hire lots of new consultants for an engagement which results in a big bench (consultants waiting for work) at the end of the engagement.  Immediate manager doesn’t wish to lay off staff as it: 1) Indicates poor business planning or sales skills on his/her behalf  2) Lowers perceived prestige as there are less people assign to be managed.  If the firm does lay off and hire consultants in a repeated cycle it generates a poor image for the firm as well as a bad reputation with existing employees and potential candidates.