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Why the IT Value Chain is your blueprint for strategically regaining control of IT


Erik van Busschbach.JPGBy Erik van Busschbach


Erik van Busschbach is a CTO in the HP Software Professional Services Strategy and Solutions team with 15 years in IT enterprise software development and delivery. With experience across the entire software value delivery chain he knows what it takes to turn strategy into results.


I’m presenting at HP Discover Barcelona about how to regain control of your IT service lifecycle. And I’ve got a lot of great advice for people—all based on what we’ve seen customers do to transform their IT service delivery. But what makes this significant to me is that when I talk to customers I’ve got a way to talk to them about IT—a conceptual framework that presents a strategic vision for how to proceed and gives them a sense of the incremental steps they can take to success.


This framework is something I’ve helped develop at HP Software Professional Services, called the IT Value Chain. Now value chain thinking is a concept borrowed from the management principles that transformed manufacturing. Applied to an IT context, it’s a way of thinking about IT that connects end-to-end everything that IT does and helps IT leaders break down silos. Our HP Software offerings all roll up into this value chain idea. When you have a value chain conception of your organization, you’re able to apply this thinking to your operations and see where your weaknesses are, where the bottlenecks are and where your greatest opportunities are to improve.


The 4 value streams that make up the IT Value Chain

In setting out a strategic vision for IT we made sure not to develop the IT Value Chain concept in a vacuum. We worked with a consortium of customers to develop the concepts and language. The IT Value Chain consists of four precisely named value streams that relate to four key activities familiar to everyone in IT:


  • Strategy to portfolio: Plan
  • Requirement to deploy: Build
  • Request to fulfill: Deliver
  • Detect to correct: Run or operate


You can simplify these concepts even further. Typically, people talk about changing the business and running the business. The first two streams—plan and build—are all about change. Deliver and run are all about running. So this is an even more abstract way to look at the entirety of IT.


How to use the IT Value Chain

What’s the value of the IT Value Chain framework, and how do you use it to the benefit of your IT organization? When I meet with customers they’re focused on a particular pain point and want to get it resolved. Their concerns fit into four major areas:


  • Service lifecycle governance and management
  • Increasing enterprise agility, reducing time to market and breaking down the silos between Dev and Ops
  • Hybrid service creation and delivery, which implies management of multiple suppliers
  • Integrated security in all aspects of the service life cycle to protect the business


While they are aware there is a bigger picture, they are not clear on how it all relates and where to go next after they fix their current problem. And often they don’t see how these four areas tie together. But each of these real-world problems benefits directly from a value chain approach. Apply a value chain perspective to the difficulty you may have managing multiple suppliers, for example, and you can see both the small steps you need to take to improve, as well as the big picture.


Think big, start small

One way to think of the IT Value Chain is as a blueprint, a picture that you can hang on your wall that shows you the end stage. Now, to get there, you need a method that gets you from one step to the next. We like to call this method “Think big, start small.” In any transformation you need to have a strategic vision for where you’re going—otherwise you wind up with a series of disconnected step changes. But if you have the end picture, you can take that journey in a series of small steps.


Every organization is different. But if you really want to get the precision you need to drive your portfolio to be more services-centric (and increase your customer satisfaction) you need to start fixing your problem at the beginning of your value chain, in the domain of strategy to portfolio and financial management. When you start there—an area I call IT services strategy—you have all the elements you need to drive the change in the other value streams. That’s where it starts, and that’s where you get control of your IT service lifecycle. I’ll write more about this in future blog posts. In the meantime, if you’ll be attending HP Discover Barcelona, I invite you to attend my session “Regain control of your IT service lifecycle.” Or contact HP Software Professional Services for more information.


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