By Dick Stark
Mark Schwartz, CIO at US Citizen and Immigration services (USCIS), is one of the leaders in the government’s move towards agile. Specifically, Mark is a proponent of continuous delivery as a way to shorten the software development life cycle by automating the delivery process (think Atlassian toolset) and making software releases smaller and more frequent (think Amazon). Mark is also author of a new business book, “The Art of Business Value.” What is business value and how can we be sure that RightStar is delivering it?
Mark tells a story about when he was a CIO at Intrax, and responsible for a transformative project, one that was a true collaboration between the IT organization and the business line. The launch of the project was a disaster. Mark defended the project to the CEO saying that it had been delivered on-time and budget and met the requirements of the business unit. He stated “The issue is not with project delivery, but rather with the business requirements.” The CEO responded, “I trusted you with an investment in an IT system. Your job is to make sure I get a return on my IT system. I am not getting a good return.”
This begs a question. Is RightStar responsible for executing projects, or delivering business value? I like to think, and most customers would agree that we are responsible for business value, not just project delivery. In fact, RightStar’s mission is to be our customer’s expert advisor in the service management and DevOps space, AND to deliver value back to the organization. How do we do this?
After a recent Remedy 9 upgrade and MyIT rollout, I met with the customer to ask about business value. I wanted to know about improved efficiencies, customer satisfaction, or cost savings, especially as it applied to a reduction in calls to the service desk (also known as shift left.) Instead, the customer’s perception was that IT is a service broker, responsible for networking, data storage, help desk services—in general “keeping the lights on.” This wasn’t what I was expecting to hear.
According to Mark Schwartz, “the real value—and the real effort—lies in helping business managers identify how to change the business and then helping them play their roles in implementing those changes.” In other words, we cannot afford to be “software guys with screwdrivers.” We must help ensure that real value is obtained through better up-front process analysis, and then post-implementation reviews.
So, how does value apply to RightStar and our implementations?
- Our ITSM customers, no matter how small or immature, have a desire to move up the maturity model and drive real value. We can help them get there, by first mapping out an IT strategy and deploying tools such as Remedy or Remedyforce in a phased approach.
- Our DevOps customers, may have higher expectations, even transformative expectations. It is up to us to properly set those expectations up-front and then help them play their roles in implementing those changes.
- Finally, we need to continue with post customer interviews and surveys to help us understand not only the customer’s perception of value, but what impact our solution had on organization value, and what gaps still exist. Continual improvement is an important objective for RightStar and our customers.