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The Workshop Setting

At Thavron, we frequently travel to clients’ sites for design workshops, discovery sessions, project kickoffs/transitions, and other learning opportunities.   While these are intensely productive, they are most often aligned with a specific client project or problem.

In order to grow  into a mature ITFM/TBM  or Service Portfolio Management team, you need to invest in opportunities where  can learn domain best practices and continue to build a network of peers who will support you throughout the year.  By getting outside of the office setting and into a workshop setting for one day, you allow yourself to focus on the material and discussion at hand without being distracted by day to day routine. 

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Learn and Lead gets a home at the Hyatt

We are excited to announce that for the last 2018 Workshop and all of the 2019 workshops, we have a new home at the Indianapolis Airport Hyatt Place Hotel

The Hyatt offers an Airport Shuttle, making transportation to and from the workshop seamless and free. 

In Addition, the hotel has comfortable spacious rooms if you decide to stay overnight, or arrive the night before the workshop begins.  Rooms are available at a special discount rate- just be sure to mention the code “Thavron Solutions” when you call 1-888-478-8955 to book your stay. 

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Government Transparency- Baby Steps

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There is no organization that at the core is more service focused than the federal government. By definition, the agencies and departments of the government exist to provide services- to each other or to the citizens. However, like most large organizations, if you were to ask a staff member or IT support staff member how much the IT for those services costs, you would like get a blank, confused stare.

This week, in an effort to consolidate and control spending on IT Capital across agencies, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) announced that it is working on a new set of Guidelines that define common language for internal IT services for infrastructure and data centers.

The Federal News Radio reports:

“The policy will help agencies better measure, manage and communicate the budget, costs and value of major IT investments and projects, such as data center consolidation or cybersecurity, Kelly Morrison, a performance analyst for OMB’s Office of the Federal Chief Information Officer, said during an April 4 panel discussion at the 2017 GITEC Summit in Annapolis, Maryland.

“We’re really thinking about … the information that both agencies and OMB need and how can OMB begin collecting the same information, so ultimately the agencies and OMB are using the same sheet of music for decision making and to provide oversight of investments,” she said.

The goal is to help agencies be more open and transparent about the IT investments they make and align those priorities with the federal budgeting process, Morrison said.”

ExecutiveGov further notes:

“She( Morrison) said the new policy aims to help agencies increase transparency about their IT investments, coordinate their IT priorities with the government’s budgeting process and implement the Technology Business Management Council’s taxonomy that seeks to standardize measurement and management of IT costs.

Morrison told the station OMB expects to release the new agency guidance by May 5 and integrate it with Circular A-11 after the comment period.”

Those familiar with the TBM Council Model will understand that that the OMB is adopting the language for “Towers” and “SubTowers” for large infrastructure spend. That is, they will have common definitions for things like “Compute”, “Storage”, and “DataCenter”. Hopefully, the new guidelines will also specify common data parameters for each of these that will allow the calculation of total costs and linkage to applications as well. We will be watching for the new OMB Circular due out on May 5.

These are great baby steps and we do not want to discourage the OMB from continuing to move forward on Service Costing transparency. This is just a very first step and should be rapidly followed with other activities for at least these two reasons:

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  • As this chart from Gartner shows, large IT Capital infrastructure is often a small portion of IT Spend. While being able to avoid duplication on large spend is important, being able to understand and avoid duplication/increase effectiveness in the larger areas of IT Spend is also important
  • Data Transparency is once again coming to the forefront both for legislators and for constituents. The reintroduction of the Open Data Act is just one example of this push. If spend is consolidated in language, but not tied to any deliverable services, the government risks being overwhelmed with lots of “Data Overload”, just like so many companies have worked through. Without an ability to tie the spend to services provided, this spend analysis raises more questions than it answers.

We are all looking forward to the details in the new circular- in the meantime, what advice would you give government agencies just starting on this journey?

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The importance of shifting the culture- not just the conversation

I just listened to Robert Shaich, the CEO of Panera Bread on MSNBC ,and his answer to why their company stock has been doing so well delighted me. He did not talk about cost management, or revenue. He said the reason they were doing well was because they focused on making the guest experience excellent. They listened to their customers and provided the products and experiences that made them happy- the rest followed.

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Today, there is a lot of discussion on the importance of shifting the conversation from the “Cost of IT” to the “Value of IT”. We first started talking to our clients and other folks in the domain about managing the customer experience over two years ago. One of those early presentations is still online. To work well, this is not just a change in reports and the language IT uses when talking to their business counterparts. This really means a culture change- like Panera, focusing on what the business needs and wants and then successfully providing it.

The first step in understanding the Value of IT is understanding the business. As the second quarter of the year launches, if you have not yet scheduled a quarterly review of business needs and changes -now is the time. During these conversations, don’t focus on being an order taker- this is not the time to find out that the business wants 500 more tablets or 3 new applications. This is the time to find out what the current and near future business challenges are. If they insist on using this time to “put in orders”, use your ‘5 Whys’ skills to get to the root cause and figure out if those new applications are the best solution to their problem. This should also be a discussion where they get to give you unrestrained feedback on what is not working. Now is when you must be in an active listening mode- receptive and not defensive. You are not doing these meetings so they hate you less at the end of the meeting, you are actually trying to get better at serving the business.

There should be no naivete here- any business has to manage costs, inventory and delivery. Modeling and understanding the cost of services is a business basic. No one should be making internal service decisions without data to back it up- cost, quality, and risk are the basics you need to start with and are the reason why platforms and tools to manage the complexities of IT data are thriving right now. They are useful and they impact the bottom line. This is not trivial

But if you want to highlight your value to the business, and be a full partner in business success, you have to start with understanding what the business really needs and wants.

Time to book your next ( or first) quarterly meeting of the minds.