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IT value chain: The request to fulfill value stream


The request to fulfill value stream focuses on how well IT manages its overarching request and fulfillment activities—the so-called operational demand. Simply put, operational demand orchestrates of the outputs of strategic demand, business-delivered strategic demand, or existing operational capabilities/assets. As such, this value stream focuses on the consuming, the buying, or the brokering of IT or business services. The goal for this value stream is to achieve self-service IT that is truly elastic in its response to demand.


What are the goals for request to fulfill?

To be successful within this value stream, you must ensure that you have a catalog and that related service requests are handled appropriately. This value stream is a great place to positively or negatively influence customer satisfaction. Clearly, requests must be done in alignment with IT governance and compliance, and must be processed according to IT policies. Meanwhile, change requests need to be completed in a timely fashion with minimal errors. As part of this, there needs to be a reasonably accurate estimation of business demand—for software licenses, in particular—so that business or user disruptions are minimized. Within the fulfillment process, not only should items acquired be added to the configuration management databases accurately, but also their configuration needs to match enterprise architecture and industry standards. This minimizes future maintenance times and mean time to repair while maximizing mean time between failures. Finally, suppliers need to perform as agreed. Suppliers impact this value chain at multiple points and must be actively managed.


A few comments on the catalog portion are of request to fulfill are appropriate at this point. Catalogs are generally of two viewpoints—business and IT. The reference architecture model is a growing, maturing model. Catalog contents should be addressed to the user viewing the content. Active Directory integrated into the catalog ensures that a small viewpoint is offered. This is round-trip architecture, assuring that what IT delivers maps precisely to what the business desires in order to enable the needed business capabilities. The same holds true for the IT catalog: If there is an IT capability that traces to a business capability, then the catalog will contain that IT capability; otherwise, it should not be published to the catalog.


Measuring how well operation demand is being delivered

You should be continuously improving IT’s quality of service for the value chain and be measuring improvement across all of the domains of request to fulfill. A key element is also managing requests against service-level agreements (SLAs) for consumers or business users, and operational-level agreements (OLAs) for IT users. IT should be working to minimize the average time to evaluate a proposal and the size of its change backlog. These three things tell us about the responsiveness of IT to all forms of demand. IT should be working to make changes, as a request type, error-free. At the same time, IT must ensure that licenses are current to avoid compliance and legal risk. For example, you should not deploy a Visio install without a license, or you will fail your next Microsoft license audit. As a part of this, IT should actively measure the percentage of changes resulting in outages; a high percentage signifies immaturity in the change process. As a balancing act, IT should also be looking at the percentage of software licenses in use. Clearly, the goal should be to have enough licenses to minimize business disruption but not so many that they are paying for licenses that are not currently needed. Lastly, IT should be looking at the percentage of assets returned to suppliers. Suppliers often fulfill requests, and you need to know how well they are preforming this function. Each failure here indicates a failed interaction with the customer.


Where do you go from here?


Start by looking at performance across your entire request to fulfill value stream. Then, make sure you are actively working to improve all elements of operational demand. This way, you can help improve your business processes—and you can ensure customers get what they need, when they need it. Assurance that the catalog represents only what the business and IT users need to complete their capabilities is critical; providing more than they need results in lost revenue, providing less than they need is called… well, “shadow IT.” The business must complete its solution, even if that involves making an end-run around IT. You are the key to assuring round-trip architecture, tracing catalog definition to business and IT capability, and the stability, profitability, and longevity of the IT shop.


Related links: Value streams: A user-centric model for the enterprise CIO

Finding your true value

Solution page: IT Performance Management

Twitter: @MylesSuer

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About the Author


Mr. Suer is a senior manager for IT Performance Management. Prior to this role, Mr. Suer headed IT Performance Management Analytics Product Management including IT Financial Management and Executive Scorecard.

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