ITSM India Podcast


Sunday, 26 May 2013

Take control of your ABCs to make your governance initiatives successful!

What is your company culture? How does your organization view change? Is change accepted or do employees drag their heels and fight it like a child throwing a temper tantrum? COBIT5.0 talks about seven enablers; one of these is “Culture, Ethics and Behavior”. Today I want to discuss Attitude, Behavior and Culture (ABCs) and discuss their impact on your organization.

company-culture.jpgWhy is culture important?

The adoptability of change is determined by the culture of the organization. This adaptability can include:
  • Enterprise risk appetite
  • Organizational appetite to change enablement
  • History and legacy of the organization
  • Deep rooted values and principles governing the business
  • And many other factors
With many organizations having global presence, one size does NOT fit all and initiatives have to be tailor-made to suit to the culture. This is the only way to gain acceptance and facilitate institutionalization.

Culture has a bearing on the communication methodologies to be adopted (Vocal/Non Vocal), preferred leadership styles and above all, understanding what appeals to the task force to get things done. When I conduct Management of Organizational Change (MoC) programs, I spend considerable time and effort understanding the culture of the organization. When I design a facilitate approach for enabling change, I look at their previous success with enabling change, their organizational structure and leadership styles.

How do Ethics and Values contribute?

Ethical behavior cascades from the CIO or executive board of the organization down to the people. Employees closely follow how the senior management addresses unethical behavior as they conduct business with customers/partners and fellow employees. When upper management takes serious actions against undesirable behavior and immediately communicates it to the task force, it sends a strong message. Employees hear, “Be vigilant and on-guard; or else be ready to meet dire consequences.”

business-ethics.jpgMany organizations have mandatory trainings and refresher courses on “Ethics and Compliance” every year to reinforce the standard of business conduct and encourage people to conduct business in fair and ethical manner. The CEO and the leadership team must walk the walk and implement the values of the organization in all dealings. This helps to institutionalize it as part of the organizational culture

The spirit of upholding the organizational values must be acknowledged and rewarded among employees to set the precedence and follow in day-to day practice. In addition, there has to be an Ethical and Compliance Team that provides assistance for employees and people to solicit advice anonymously and take decisions appropriately. These aspects will strengthen the code of discipline and institutionalize a value system throughout the organization culture.

How do you inculcate desirable behavior?

Behavior of the people is driven by four essential parameters:
  • a) Policy
  • b) Process
  • c) Values
  • d) Objectives

These have to be linked together and feedback has to be solicited to promote desirable behavior. If there is a report of non-adherence, it is important to identify the true reason and rational behind not following. Then work on a consensus to make amendments for people to adopt and follow without inhibitions.

A good starting point would be to have a mandatory training on “Professionalism and Etiquette of Corporate life” for all employees/partners joining the organization to illustrate desired behavior. A handy handbook at the local Intranet site would serve as ready reckoner. In order to demonstrate consistent behaviors, it has to become a habit to get the desired behavior. This means providing a platform to reward employees with the right attitude. Remember, you can train people and get them the required skills and competencies, but attitude has to come from within. With this understanding, an organization’s hiring process should lay emphasis on attitude more than aptitude to recruit the right resources with positive attitude and reliance on team work.

You need to take control of your ABCs (Attitude, Behavior and Culture) to make your Governance Initiatives successful

What has been your take on Culture, Ethics and Behavior in the context of IT Governance? I want to hear about your experiences, share them in the comments section below

This article was published at HP Software Blog on 25th January

Top 10 Considerations for your ISO 20000 Certification Journey

Many Customers that I have consulted across the globe are quite apprehensive of the fact that ISO 20000 consumes laborious effort and investment to achieve the milestone. In reality it is not a difficult proposition, if you have the basics and fundamentals right. This blog talks about some key aspects one has to take control to lay a strong foundation.
  1. ISO 20000 Certification is a Journey & not a Destination
    Getting an organization certified on ISO 20000 is not the end destination. It is a journey that requires continual service improvement & sustenance. So the buck does not stop once you reach the certification. Hence do not burn yourself for getting certified. Collectively as a team, plan for it and continue to strive for improved business outcome and consistent delivery for your customers.
  2. Focus on why you need to get ISO 20000 Certification
    The number one reason, organizations fail to deliver value even after ISO 200000 is lack of purpose. Obtaining a certification, just for means of satisfying your customer is nothing but digging your own graveyard. The culture of the organization must be tuned to the intended purpose of delivering against customer expectations and bring about true business value.
  3. ISO 20000 goes beyond ITIL V3
    Though ISO 20000 has a fair share of processes picked up from ITIL V3, it contains elements of ISO 9001 and ISO 27001 that cannot be ignored. Also your existing Quality Management System has a great bearing to help you on your certification journey. So have them accountable to drive the initiative within the organization. Start leveraging from your existing quality management frameworks and documentations instead of reinventing collaterals.
  4. Embark on management of organizational change program (MoC)
    This is a critical element to start from the beginning to get the Communication & Engagement Process appropriate for the organization. Everybody in the organization have a role to play, but the important question is “why should the people change ? “and “what do they get by institutionalizing the change”?. So design an appropriate MoC program understanding the culture, value and behavior of the Implementing organization. If your people do not participate, you are not going to make it happen. It is important to work as a team, identify gaps and work towards a consensus.
  5. Start with small number of services
    Organizations are ambitious to have all the services added to the scope for certification and this is humongous task and likely to fail. It is recommended to start with 4-5 services first and have them ready for your first certification. You can always expand your scope of services in the surveillance audit that happens once a year.
  6. Operationalize the processes in phased manner
    It is recommended that processes are logically grouped and operationalized before moving to the next set. E.g) Incident, Problem, Request Fulfillment & Configuration can be done as batch 1 to get them not only operationalized but also identify areas for improvement and take remedial action.
  7. Assess maturity of processes
    After operationalization of processes, it is recommended to do an Independent Assessment of maturity of the respective ITIL Process in terms of effectiveness and efficiency rather than documentation. This gives the ground reality and road ahead to accomplish your milestones.
  8. Do not underestimate the Power of Internal Audits
    The Internal audits serve as your magnetic compass to guide you in the right direction of compliance. These internal audits are recommended to be done by the quality management/Service excellence team which does not have vested interest in your compliance. The internal audits have to be stringent and apply draconian measures to get you geared up for the actual audit. The Idea being, if the Internal audit has captured all the possible areas that goes wrong, your organization stands a great chance to face the external audits with more ease and confidence
  9. Enablement using training & Interview sessions
    It is recommended that process owners and service managers are trained and certified on the respective ITIL processes, preferably at intermediate Level. This will enable them to create the right value proposition. Rigor has to be built through awareness session, scenario based discussions and Interviews to get the task force ready to face audits.
  10. Reasonable Time Frame & Tracking Progress
    Based on the process Maturity of the organization, the whole effort of getting certified might take anywhere between 10 to 24 months. So it is critical to manage the project with buy-in from stakeholders with a reasonable time frame and measure and report progress against schedule and cost variance.
In my experience, I have seen these steps lay a solid foundation for Customers to gain the Certification be it 2005 or 2011 standard and would love to hear from others to enable customers achieve this important milestone. So what has been your experience with customers?

This article was published at on 22nd Jan 2013

IT Governance - 5 Ingredients to kickstart your Value Delivery

Stephen Mann's "Top 10 ITSM Challenges for 2013" considered “IT cost transparency” and “value demonstration” as two top ITSM challenges. This blog talks about ways to help you address these challenges.
IT investments are growing, and the growth is increasingly being scrutinized by business. Business perceives IT cost to be exponentially increasing without clear evidence of the value derived from it. In simple terms, IT is considered as a “black hole.”
Value demonstration as a term means something different for various stakeholders. It could include cost reduction, increased customer satisfaction, more value for money, and much more.
Let’s talk about five critical factors that enable you to kick-start value demonstration.

1. How to Define Value
As the popular quote goes, “value is in the eye of beholder,” so understanding it from your customer and user perspectives is vital for your business. Organizations need to define value based on true business outcome. What does that mean? Example: It does not make sense to commit for 99.95 percent availability for services if your customer is, say, the NYSE. A single minute of downtime could cost millions of dollars. So understanding the business of the customer and their priorities is vital to determining value. An interesting post on this line was done recently by Stuart Rance: "SLA Definition: What the Customer Wants or What You Can Measure?"

2. Prioritization and Categorization of Investments
While we have no choice for nondiscretionary investments determined by legal and regulatory compliance, it is fundamental to get the discretionary investments planned and executed with proper categorization and prioritization. Categorization can include:
  1. Transactional investment (increase efficiency and cost)
  2. Informational investment
  3. Strategic investment (real value to business, competitive advantage)
  4. Infrastructure investments (IT Infrastructure)

Prioritization has to be driven by business to select the appropriate time for execution. For example, organizations can decide to take up projects that yield more return on investment (ROI) and are easy to implement as their first priority.

3. Methodology and Best Practices
Start with strategy. It is important to define business outcomes based on the strategic direction of the organization. This could be done using blended investment program instead of standalone projects in order to fully harness the business, technology, organization, process, and people (BTOPP) required in achieving the planned business outcome.
The next step would be to take on projects and initiatives based on a compelling business cases. The business case must assimilate information from all aspects to be compelling. Business cases should be living documents that need to be updated or revisited to ensure perceived business benefits are obtained during the life cycle of project.
Next, consider setting up an investment management committee to validate relevance of projects, and a business sponsor to oversee the benefits of planned programs, to help you to take control of your IT expenses without going down the drain. Initiatives should be planned as a blended investment program instead of standalone projects in order to fully harness the business, technology, organization, process, and people (BTOPP) required in achieving the planned business outcome.
Every planned program should follow the full lifecycle governance (strategic alignment, value delivery, risk management, resource management, and performance measurement), and benefit realization processes. The results chain technique enables you to achieve benefit realization.

4. Performance Measurement
Value delivery is closely associated with performance measurement to determine if the intended plan is grounded in reality. This should include financial measures like payback period, net present value (NPV), internal rate of return (IRR), return on investment (ROI), and also nonfinancial measures like the BSC. While organizations are mature in determining financial measures, the BSC is only adopted by 50 percent of organizations—but trends suggest improvement in 2013. With the balanced scorecard approach, the board obtains a holistic view of IT performance towards alignment with strategic business objectives. This also helps IT gain the trust of the business and improve the IT-business relationship.

5. Role of Board and PMO
Typically governance is implemented with an executive board setting the strategic direction and a steering committee overseeing the actual implementation. This is done with support from technical, architecture and investment management committees.
Successful programs that yield true business value have a strong project management office (PMO) in place to review, evaluate, and guide programs to achieve the intended business value. This includes measurement of resource performance, risk management, cost transparency, and alignment towards strategic business objectives. The PMO submits the performance of programs against agreed parameters at regular intervals to ensure that there are no surprises for business.
Based on my experience, I have found that these five factors help obtain value delivery and cost transparency in all planned initiatives. So what has been your experience?

IT Governance - 5 Myths to break this New Year

IT Governance or Governance of Enterprise IT has now become the buzz word during every corporate discussion. This is not surprising considering the fact of economic recession and global meltdown.
People tend to relate governance as an element of bureaucracy/executive control that adds additional layers of approval and processes to tighten screws. It is imperative as employees / staff in the organization to understand and break some common myths to fully support governance initiatives and this article is aimed at providing those insights before your start on the IT Governance Journey.
Myth 1: Governance is Top Leadership`s business and bureaucratic

While it is true that IT governance is the responsibility of the board of directors and executive management, it consists of the leadership, organizational structures and processes that Organizations IT sustains and extends the organization`s strategies and objectives. The Whole objective of governance is to ensure that the entire organization is in alignment with the corporate strategy & objectives and everyone has a role to play to ensure successful business outcomes. Bureaucracy does not pay off in the long run and the executive Council & board are candid of the fact to set the right strategic direction & leave it to the steering committee to manage the implementation of effective governance.
Myth 2: Governance needs a formal framework like Cobit to get envisioned results
Though Cobit provides clear guidelines and best practices for effective Governance, it all starts with the overall Intent and approach of the organization embarking on Governance
Best practice frameworks aid your governance, but do not serve as substitute for the ownership/drive and commitment of the Senior Executive Management to provide seamless delivery, utilizing optimum resources and managing risks to achieve planned business outcome. So you need to have the basic 4 elements that includes Leadership, Organizational structure, Processes and Management of Organizational Change (MoC) before deep diving into best Practices.

Myth 3: Culture of the Org can be taken for Granted once Leadership Buy-In is obtained
This is one fundamental reason that governance initiatives fail miserably. Though Leadership buy-in is vital, culture of the organization has far more impact in the overall scheme of things. What worked for one organization might not suit the other (one size does not fit all) because of various factors like culture, risk appetite, business strategy & leadership style. Substantial effort needs to be planned through a MoC program to ensure that all stakeholders understand the impact and are committed to contribute to the overall organization`s strategy and objectives.
Myth 4: It’s all about Metrics/ Dashboards and Surveys that the Executive Council is interested
Organizations have become very good in meeting slas, operational metrics and great CSAT ratings. Gone are the days that meeting your agreed contractual obligations and prerogatives alone are sufficient to sustain momentum. Executive board and senior management are interested on five major areas. (1. Strategic Alignment 2. Value delivery 3. Risk Management 4. Resource Management 5. Performance measurement).So beyond the traditional metrics and dashboards there is a shift of focus to Balanced Score Card (BSC) & higher internal metrics for all governance areas to continually improve and deliver agreed business outcomes. The ultimatum is not the numbers, but achievement of planned business objectives.
Myth 5: Governance requires substantial investment & resources not aimed for Small or Medium Sized Business
Many organizations are not prepared to embark on Governance Initiatives claiming a simple reason “Oh that requires huge investment and more resources which we cannot to afford as a small organization”.
Governance Initiatives is aimed to make your investments and efforts yield right business value and have to be embedded on your day-to-day practice. This can be done with the existing resources, leadership and org structure. It only requires the thought process to look at broader strategic objectives and how results affect various stakeholders (Customers, Shareholders and Employees & Vendors). Start simple with an outline and then improve upon the maturity over a period of time. After all every big accomplishment starts with a single step!

The Human Element of IT

Today, we are so used to a virtualized world that the whole of IT somehow has forgotten the human element of IT.
Processes, tools and technology are all great aids to bring about transformation of IT and business outcomes. However, the simple fact that human beings are instrumental in making things happen is getting lost somewhere in our race to be the fastest.
Value to human beings as well as their own importance is losing its shine because, we have become more commoditized.

It is time we re-examine this, and give the people due recognition and empathy.
Photo credit: iStock
So where do we start?
1. Acknowledge people as real assets
Leadership has always been associated with people who lead from the front and enable followers to join hands and make things a reality. There are ample instances in history to confirm that many ordinary people have delivered extraordinary results because of their vision and dedication. Within organizations, human resource management has been entrusted to retain the talent pool amid "churn" or personnel turnover.
2. Use the power of collaboration
Even with the sophisticated technology in place, considerable work needs to be done by professionals coordinating across geographies and make technology work for IT. Strong collaboration among single-minded people with a purpose has huge benefits to the organization and can accomplish great goals.
3. Recognize contributions
As an organization, we must define specific tasks on regular basis and roll all of them up to deliver superior service to the end user or customer. Recognizing individual contributions by employees can make the Total Customer Experience (TCE) a memorable one. This will gain their commitment to work with interest and engagement to achieve big things.
4. Attitude makes the difference
It has been said that attitude measures one's altitude. Organizations are spending considerable time and effort to hire the candidates with the right attitude so that they contribute to the value chain and make a difference.
5. Help people win and enjoy the synergy
The greatest of accomplishments in this world have been possible because of the collective efforts of people to win together for higher purpose. Help them understand how the win will create a difference for each one of them and for the organization at large. This helps to gain synergy and total participation.

There is so much of history that tells us that with the power of people and their synergy, we have made a world of difference. So let’s not forget the human element of IT.
After all, the human being is the most fascinating creature in this whole universe!

Enhancing your Stakeholder Management Experience

As you are well aware, every project stakeholder (project sponsor, project leader, team member, employees, project manager and shareholders) is different and has a vested interest in the outcome of the projects. Are we doing things correctly to address these expectations or will we continue to have gaps?

The following eight aspects will help you toward creating a good stakeholder management experience that results in successful project outcomes.

1. Setting the context, objective and expectations—priority number one.
Project kick-off meetings are exciting and everyone leaves energized—but that energy often wanes. stakeholders_1_col.jpgWhile we religiously follow the kick-off meeting for the project assigned, it takes more than simply a meeting for the context, objectives and expectation to sink in. It is worthwhile to have the context, objectives and expectations as your basis for all the discussions of project meeting. As we reinforce them, they become a part of employee internalization and then act as a magnetic compass to shape desirable behavior.

When considering your project stakeholders and your expectations for them, remember every stakeholder is different. Some are looking for a learning experience, some for a challenging task and some are hoping for better networking opportunities. Encourage your stakeholders by listing the benefits of the project to gain the necessary commitment and interest among stakeholders (employees and others).

Courtesy of Oxford Creativity

2. Understand the background, experience and attitude of stakeholders

This is a key aspect for every PM to understand the stakeholders better. This is by no means an easy task. There is a huge amount of homework and data to be collected; but in the end it is worth the effort. In the end you can deal better with the respective stakeholders because you have background information and can frame appropriate responses.

3. Everybody wants to be a part of the winning team

Stakeholders play diversified roles like sponsor, project leader, team member depending on the project. But one truth remains; they have an earnest desire to be part of a winning project. So as a PM, it is your responsibility to create the mental picture of how important this project is for the organization and your customers. Assure the stakeholders that they have been hand-picked based on their expertise and experience, and there is no doubt that this creates a winning combination. This makes those involved feel empowered and creates a sense of true belonging to the outcome of the project.

4. The power and influence matrix is only the beginning

We have been conditioned to start the stakeholder management exercise by developing a power vs. influence matrix to determine the necessary people to be satisfied for project outcomes. While this is a good start, it does not address the fundamental aspect of emotional disturbance. Discounting people because they neither have power nor influence only makes the situation worse. Remember, even when the numbers add up – a silent revolt or non-cooperation can break a smoothly running project.

5. Communication is key

As you know, 60 percent of projects fail miserably due to ineffective communication among the project team and stakeholders.
I have seen more vocal shareholders while some prefer not to disclose anything during a meeting. With this in mind, the communication strategy should have different channels and methods to understand, what each stakeholder mean at a deeper level. More often, this deeper understanding comes through informal coffee talks and personal rapport. While co-location is a boon, most of the time we need to deal virtually with others and so adopt one-on-one calls to personalize the connection. The tone of the communication has to be just right to convey the message without being dictatorial.

6. Recognize stakeholder suggestions

Acknowledging stakeholders for valuable insights and recommendations is important to successful project outcomes:
  • It sets the tone for people to share and contribute to the success of the project
  • It brings in the concept of collective ownership as a team to make it a success.
In my experience, the biggest insights and recommendations have helped me do Risk Management effectively and be better prepared to steer projects successfully.

7. Be open and solicit help

Projects irrespective of deal size and magnitude can be demanding. All projects might need a lot of support and cooperation from stakeholders to turn the course into the right direction. The best way to approach this is to be open to all stakeholders and say, “We have a problem and I need all your support and suggestions to overcome.” When you give people the freedom to voice for a cause, they participate actively and are willing to take on additional responsibilities.

8. Trust and commitment makes it happen!

Experience shows that the most complex projects have been successful because of the commitment of stakeholders and their trust in the project leadership. This is a sign of transcending the boundaries and making things happen against all odds. For this to happen, the whole project environment must facilitate open and honest communication without a “blame-game”. If something is not working, it is recommended to condemn the act—not the person—and help them overcome the obstacles. When the PM starts fostering an environment of collective team work and complements, it helps build trust and commitment for winning big!

I would love to hear about your experience with project management and stakeholder involvement. Feel free to share your experiences in the comments section below.