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.

Structure in Threes: Taxonomy Research for IT Service Design methodology

This morning I’ve started doing a deep dive on IT related and other standards and practices.  The end goal is to create a coverage map to ensure these concerns are integral rather than a bolt-on later for IT Service Design.    On the table so far are ITIL, COBIT 5, TIPA, SOX, CMMI, ISO 9000ISO 20000, ISO 15505, ISO 27000, and ISO 22301.  My conference table is covered with earmarked books and papers.  Will likely turn all of material into a reference database –back to my favorite mapping tool MS Access.  The interesting issue I see with most coverage maps I plan to avoid is most are keyword based rather than diving deep into the semantics; this results in either an inference of overlap where there really is not or miss overlap or strong interdependencies due to mismatched taxonomies.

I had this problem initially when I was reengineering Strategy and Market Planning processes.  The two domains overlapped and under-lapped a great deal.  Each used different terms that meant the same thing; similar terms meant something different in each context; or had similar meaning but at a different level of abstraction.  In the end I had to do a deep dive on all of the concepts as the taxonomy mapping provided by others was not sufficient for creating a catalog of methods to apply to the process.  Consider identifying an item as a power plant.  At a high level this works, but without further detail selecting and applying this item may not work:  An Item is labeled a power plant.  However, further characterization using it in a vehicle may not work.  A diesel engine in a gasoline fueled car.  Application would require modifications to other components in the system.

Governance as Process

One of the interesting insights from my COBIT 5 deep dive which I was pleased to see; the standard generalizes governance as a process.  This falls in line with the General Systems Theory (Cybernetics) perspective that Stafford Beer developed for organizations.  In which you have components that perform processes to accomplish work, components that perform processes to sense and monitor, and components that perform processes to adapted or adjust the first process based upon measures received and evaluated from the second process.

Using that simplified taxonomy an intermediate level deep dive may be possible for all of these standards and practices.

ITIL muses

Considering all the churn in I.T. organizations today around skills, delivery models, development technologies application backlogs and portfolios, I’m surprise how little time CIOs and CxOs are looking at re-engineering the I.T. function to meet today’s and tomorrows new challenges.  Talking across the industry with friends and colleagues this month has indicated to me most organizations are using a scatter-shot quick hit approach towards fixing the issue which seems to only be treating the symptoms.  The Einstein and Clinton quote appears appropriate: “Doing the same thing expecting a different results….” or maybe it is a case of draining the swamp and all the alligators.

While pondering that, the idea of using a single instance of ITIL/CoBIt across multiple provider models (i.e., ITIL Provider Types I – III) seems doable if one takes the same mindset as OS Developers have had for years: Layers of Abstraction and delayed binding:  Since the IT Governance and management functions do not require the absolute details and seven layers of precision, it is feasible.  At the highest level of governance and management I would challenge anyone to see the difference between in-house IT and Outsourcing.  The differences only become apparent when you’re at the 1st and 2nd levels of operations.  While legal and financial details are different between in-house and Outsourcing the control objectives and processes are the same, just the R&Rs and accountabilities change and are adapted to the legal structures accountable to perform.  The Service Order Management, Service Portfolio and Catalog project I’d worked on last year and blogged about prior has convinced me of that fact.

I.T. is a business within a business, but has not been managed that way.  Adopting Service Management enables switching to that perspective.  That switch of perspective permits a CIO to consider other aspects of I.T. that have been not given a due consideration.  The surround around the technical aspects of an offering in business ( (Slywotzky, 1995) (Marks, 1998) has influence on success as much and in many cases more than the technical features.

Designing the attributes of the surround is something many businesses do by default and I.T. organizations are not even aware of but could benefit greatly by addressing.

Service Management System (ITIL) using SharePoint

Spent last night working on designing the next components to ITIL solution using SharePoint my team has fielded as a Federal Department.  The first module tracked service requests from a catalog of service.  These services are higher level than the MOF services than the Microsoft System Center tracks and reports.  I had previously passed along to my friends and contacts last year the request to have some form of System Center – SharePoint integration.  They managed a first release several months ago; however, I may have to build my own as the level of service abstraction does not match what I’m using.   ITIL using SharePoint conceptual model

Fortunately, System Center uses SQL so using SharePoint 2010’s Business Connectivity Services (BCS) should make the connection easier.  The issue is that System Center defined services are servers and application programs.  These are the lower level of abstraction than what I use in the ITIL solution fielded.  The service catalog I created two years ago has services that are more recognizable to business people.  The architectural issue I deferred was creating an operational Configuration Management Data Base (CMDB), thinking Microsoft would eventually move up to the abstraction layers to supporting Service Level Packages (SLPs).  I instead created a static model using lists that related all the components into a service level package that defined each advertised service in the catalog.  MOSS 2007 was a little under-functioned to support building a truly operational catalog.  However, since services are slow changing objects it was a good compromise.  With 2010’s enhance capabilities building abstraction levels similar to the abstraction levels I had conceptualized for Activity Directory during my CIO Workbench/Digital Nervous System projects should require less code.  Presently I’m evaluating whether to have the catalog an extension of the MOF database and expose it thought BCS or create a separate database that references or has an ETL routine that synchronizes with the MOF database.  The later approach while more complicated would provide a more robust solution and isolate it from changes Microsoft makes to MOF over time.

 Other enhancements that 2010 has brought, Records Management feature, enables the addition of tracking requests and fulfillment robustly enough to create an invoicing system for chargeback models.  The Service Bill of Materials (SBOM) prototype was stripped down to a development LOE estimator only, however, I kept tracking efforts with the original module with the objective of adding that as part of the Order Management model.  Behind the scenes the prototype estimates; service creation LOE, capacity requirements and eventually capacity forecasts of inflight SharePoint Service requests.  The model is general enough to be able to adapt it to other software environments.

The approach I’ve been taking is similar to what I’ve done with my Intellectual Arbitrage Group applications hosted on Microsoft Office Online Templates: no or limited coding so the solutions are subject to limited revisions as Microsoft evolves its product lines.   

Brainstorming weekend: Information Management, ITIL, and SharePoint

Spent part of the weekend at INC500 Banquet to receive award and participating in an interview video sponsored by Chase, the rest of the weekend I continued diagraming concepts on the Information Management Methodology (IMM) I’ve been brainstorming with various peers over the course of the past several months.  My goal is to have the methodology and practice defined by April for release at Share 2012 in Atlanta.   Some of the components of the methodology will include: 

 I’ve a few more days left working on my Using SharePoint to enable ITIL white paper (draft).  I should have draft ready for discussion at SharePoint 2011 conference with the peer group assembling in Anaheim on Sunday the 2nd.   Should be a lively discussion.