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Want to get started with IT4IT? Pick any IT pain point


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In my work as the director for IT4IT consulting services at HPE Software Services, I often speak and blog about IT4IT. I meet people all the time who ask me, “I hear about IT4IT, so how do I get started?” They’re hearing all this enthusiasm in the industry about IT4IT, but don’t know how they can use it in their organisation. At first glance, it might seem like a tall order: IT4IT is a new reference architecture put out by the Open Group for the business of IT. Looking at managing IT holistically, rather than in terms of process silos, it considers the entire IT Value Chain and the four key activities within it (plan, build, deliver, and run).

At HPE, we've taken an IT Value Chain approach with customers for several years, and we contributed to the Open Group's effort to create this new architecture. With the value chain approach, we have a blueprint for how to design, procure, and implement IT across the entire service lifecycle, and can support both core/traditional and fluid/agile IT.

Great—but IT4IT is relatively new, having formally launched in October 2015. And aside from HPE and a few other founding members, there aren’t many experienced practitioners out there. How do you embrace a new reference architecture? To my mind, that's not the question. IT leaders should not be sitting around pondering new reference architectures. They should be solving actual IT challenges. It just turns out that IT4IT is great for that.


The IT Value Chain and four value streams. (Source: The Open Group)The IT Value Chain and four value streams. (Source: The Open Group)

First, understand your current state

When I meet with clients interested in IT4IT, I first get them to back up and tell me what they're trying to deliver, and what they're trying to achieve. Are you a cloud service broker or an internal IT service provider? Are you a hybrid or bimodal IT org? Some really struggle to articulate an answer. Some just say “all of the above.” I tell them, “Then why are you jumping at IT4IT? You can't know whether IT4IT will help until you've articulated the outcomes you desire and the pain points you're experiencing.” And if the answer is “all of the above” are you incurring the same pain in every context?

Sometimes this discussion starts at a very high level. A client recently boiled down his challenges around cloud adoption as, “I want to consume cloud.” I pointed out that he also, therefore, wanted to integrate it with other services and resources in his organisation. I said, “So you're a service integrator,” and he said, “Wow, I hadn't thought about that.” And from there, we had a more complete perspective on his needs, which let us start identifying real pain points.

Here’s another interesting example of focusing on the real problem: If every time the business wants to order a service through IT's catalogue or portal and finds it a tremendous pain (and I don’t mean just the ordering element, because the provisioning element is part of what the customer will see as the entire service) you can see why one may jump to the conclusion that the catalogue is the problem.  But it could be fine! It could be the provisioning element that is supporting the delivery of the order that is at fault. Or, it could be that a vital integration of the various tools being used to deliver this service has not been created.  Looking at this through the lens of IT4IT's value streams tells us this is a “Request to Fulfill” problem, and there's a framework there to approach the challenge. (To learn more about IT4IT and service brokering, check out our ebook, Ignite innovation in IT: Take an IT4IT approach to brokering services, accelerating application delivery, and delivering cloud services.)

Taking this example back up a level: If the customer had said they were having issues with ordering service through their cloud service provider, this again could be a “Request to Fulfill” challenge. But using an IT4IT approach would also make you think more about the value chain across cloud service providers. And in this case it could be a technology issue that is causing the pain, or it could be something like a contractual issue where a responsibility has not been clearly defined.  So the same architecture and value streams are just as useful in this case, although with a slightly different context.


IT4IT applies to everyone

The value streams underlying IT4IT apply to any IT organisation. Every IT org has to plan, build, deliver, and run services. And however you're doing so, there are common needs and dependencies. Patterns emerge to which IT4IT and the value streams concept can be applied.

  • If you are the classic, old-style IT service provider, I guarantee that problems within “Detect to Correct” are crippling you; it's always the case. Classic IT constantly wrestles with Detect to Correct, which is why ITIL has been around so long. That value stream is a great starting point for applying IT4IT.  (Notice I am being bold here …. I guarantee.)  I have come across several organisations who have told me that Detect to Correct has been working for years, but as soon as we go through the architecture and the value streams I always find something missing and uncover areas where significant improvements can be made.
  • If you utilize multiple cloud service providers, Request to Fulfill always becomes a challenge (such as in the earlier example), and may be the first place to bring IT4IT concepts to bear.

Of course, an organisation will face multiple challenges, and bimodal or hybrid organisations might have any or all of them. In all cases, you triage the individual situation and start where help is most needed.


Start by applying IT4IT to your pain points

It's not about “whether you need IT4IT.” You need to solve the problems that are slowing IT down, degrading service quality, and preventing you from providing full business value. When you or your business feel pain from IT, something in your value chain isn't working right, and the IT4IT architecture helps you identify and remediate it. Is it even easier if you've fully adopted IT4IT and applied it wholesale to your IT organisation? Yes, but that doesn't have to be your immediate undertaking. Apply IT4IT's value streams to the problems you and your business colleagues need to solve—and keep moving forward.

To learn more, see our ebook: Ignite innovation in IT: Take an IT4IT approach to brokering services, accelerating application delivery, and delivering cloud services.


Tony Price is Director WW IT4IT Strategic Consulting Hewlett Packard Enterprise Software Services. Follow him on Twitter at @TonyPriceAtWork.


Related links:

HPE Software IT4IT Consulting Services

Blog post: The secret to IT success—delight your customers so they come back for more

Blog post: IT4IT and the path to continuous service innovation

Blog post: IT4IT: Why the new way of managing IT requires a cultural shift

Blog post: To optimize cloud services, follow this plan of action






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