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Why you should run IT like it’s a cafeteria




By Erik van Busschbach


In my last blog post I wrote about the three complementary transformation journeys that IT needs to take to achieve continuous service innovation. To accelerate value realization, you need three roles in your organization: service broker (service integration and management), DevOps, and cloud provider.


Ultimately, we want to get your IT organization to the point where you can go to your line of business and say, ‘Do you have any more work for us?’ Because now we are so agile, so secure, so smart in the way that we run IT that we can take on more work. It’s about delivering that end result to your line of business faster than anyone else. But it needs to be good quality, it needs to be a secure application, and it needs to be cost effective.


In other words, you want to deliver IT the way a cafeteria delivers sandwiches.


What IT can learn from fast food

If you go to a lunchroom or fast- food sandwich shop like Subway, every customer asks for a special sandwich. The people behind the counter take the order, do their activities, and then you get your special sandwich. What is really interesting to observe is that you’ve got a queue of people with their own demands, but it doesn’t take the sandwich place a long time to make my sandwich versus yours. The frequency with which they deliver those sandwiches is basically the same. That’s amazing.


How can IT deliver in the same way? First, you have to understand it’s all about the sandwich. You’re only satisfying customers when they can walk out and say, 'Wow, this is a great sandwich.' Then your customers want to come back for more. Let’s also take a closer look on how they do this.


The catalog offers many possible lunch combinations, but add constraints to optimize the team performance. The sandwiches are custom built, yet you can choose your drink, fruit or candy options provided by a third-party supplier. All are paid for at the same cash register, the shop is acting like a service broker/integrator who manages the contracts with all its suppliers and sets the goals for the team.


The people behind the counter are set up as a well-integrated DevOps team. Each adding their own skills to the team, yet jointly are responsible for delivering your lunch.


And the various trays with bread, butter, fish, meat, pickles etc. are always replenished right on time by the person responsible for this high-volume commodity service – just like a cloud provider.


These are the 3 key roles each new style of IT organization will have to play when becoming a business innovator. These roles are grounded in the IT4IT reference architecture: It’s all about the end result.


Getting started with the IT4IT journey to value

The customers I talk to grasp the concept of three simultaneous transformation journeys immediately. They’re living this, so it’s not abstract to them at all. But where people need help is in two areas:


  • Experiencing what it actually means to think of the end result: Thinking about the end result really requires a different mindset in what your job is. If you’re used to being a department manager and your job is to run the help desk or you run the development team or the test team, this is a completely new approach. As an IT leader you have to help people see and understand differently.
  • Analyzing their organization to understand where their IT Value Chain is broken: The second thing that needs to happen is you need to look at your software toolset and your priorities and then evaluate these in view to your overall IT Value Chain.

In HP Software Professional Services, we have the Journey to Value approach for analyzing an IT organization to understand where the gaps are. We take those gaps and then look at customer priorities. What is it you want to do? Priorities typically fall into three categories: You want to be cheaper, you want to be faster, or you want to control risk better (in other words, the quality aspect). So depending on the priority, you can now say, looking at your end-to-end value chain and all the tools you use to run your IT4IT business, I can then identify where your weaknesses are, where your gaps are. And based upon that, I can give you advice on where you should be going next.


But it’s got to be orchestrated in small, achievable steps. The days of waiting 18 months for results are over. So even though you’ve got an end vision, you’ve got to take incremental steps toward it.


As one of the founding members of IT4IT, HP has embedded IT4IT in its offerings and acquired years of experience in helping customers define their journey to value. To find out more, visit our IT Service Strategy page. Or learn more about our perspective on IT transformation in this Frost & Sullivan report, Helping IT Transform: The Rise of Management of Organizational Change Services.


Erik headshot.JPGErik 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. Follow him on Twitter at @ErikBusschbach.



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