IT business planning is an increasing important topic in the world of today's IT professional. We continuously see problems arising from not including IT operations early enough in the planning process which leads to services being designed with little thought given to operational concerns and serviceability. At the extreme end of the spectrum, this can lead to entire ROI and business case plans being developed that look only at the upfront costs of the project without consideration for the longer-term operational and support costs. Having devoted a couple of posts discussing our thoughts around IT governance and another that started an excellent discussion around the audience, I thought today I would give everyone some insight into what we're thinking of as the first phase of the lifecycle and an early look into our high level thinking around the processes and functions that comprise it. So, much like with IT governance, I'd like to propose a definition for IT Business planning to you and request your feedback and input:
"Maximizing the value of IT by gathering clear requirements and delivering a service plan that aligns to organizational strategy."
With this definition in hand, once a customer comes to IT with a business need, we can then develop a workflow with four main process-focused stages:
In each of these workflow stages, there will live several Service Management Functions. Some of these are new to MOF and some have been around for many years.
I have attached a short PowerPoint presentation that goes into a little more detail about this while also presenting a graphical representation of the workflow with the SMFs integrated.
Yet, as always, I have a few questions I'd like to ask you to answer as you consider the above.
Thank you again for your continued participation and involvement. I assure you we are reading your comments and requirements and that they are directly impacting our planning. Please click on Comments below and continue to share your thoughts. And if there's anything I can do to make this process easier for you, please let me know.
A couple of thoughts came to mind as I read through the post. Perhaps it is just the wording - it is fair for customers to approach IT with business requirements - but if we are truly going to achieve the elusive IT/Business alignment we should be doing more to embed an IT capability understanding in the business. If there is scope in the work, I would dearly like to see the definition adjusted to reflect this.
Mostly the business planning is isolated to the scope of the project that addresses the immediate business need. It would be good to see this considering the broader impact, and so I am keen to see the focus on Portfolio and Requirements grow. (Although I am not sure at this stage I understand the difference between Requirements, Portfolio, and Cataloging functions.) Not sure if Service Mapping requires it's own SMF though - I see this more as an output/artefact of the SLM or Portfolio or Cataloging functions.
What is very clear today is that the rate of business change is increasing as per all the predictions - agility and ability to respond to these requirements is as (maybe even more) important as TCO - transforming the perception of IT Operations to one of greater strategic importance is key.
1. Does the definition I've presented of IT Business Planning make sense? Does it either over simply or overcomplicate the concepts? Does it miss the point completely?
R: This definition is good, but I would only change a word, I would change the word aligns for Integrating
2. In your experience, what are the activities that occur in the IT Business Planning phase?
R: Analyze the requirements with Focus and Clarity
Use a common language between IT and the Business
Discuss interpretations of requirements with stakeholders
Revise the plan intensely
3. Who is, or should be, involved in the IT Business Planning phase?
R: The IT Manager
The Project Team (Proposed Project)
Some people of the area that needs the solution
The Manager of the area that needs the solution
4. What tools, artifacts, examples, job aids, and guidance, would be most useful to you in successfully conducting IT Business Planning?
R: I think on this first moment the important is have focus in Gather Requirements and for that it will be necessary to create a guide that comments the best practices to interrogate the customers. I still very early to think in tools and other issues, in my opinion.
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Great topic! I think that the definition (or mission) for IT Business planning should include the business. The goal of good IT business planning is to synthesize technology and product. Product is what every organization must deliver to stay alive.
IT business planning encompasses the activities IT professionals must do to add their share of value to the product. But to maintain a business perspective, it is still about the product.
One possibility is:
Adding value to the product (or business) by gathering clear requirements, understanding the business need, and delivering a service plan that maintains alignment with the business.
Great start, there should also be some more activities identified. A couple I have thought about are:
the Customer Relationship Management process - feedback on current services and desires to improve.
IT Strategy Planning group and the Plan of Record - what is being planned, what is on the record to be implemented.
Service Review cycle - reviewing the current services, managing their value for improvement and lifecycle management. You may have mentioned that in the portfolio review. Keeping the value and currency of services.
As for the requirements phase. Activities to include are mapping new requirements to current services, conducting new requirements on current service risk impact assessments, technical feasibility analysis, Service Gap analysis
Marie & Gary,
Thanks for commenting and you both raise good points. In fact, I agree that we definitely need to give consideration both to IT's capabilities and their value add back to the business product. We'll look at this as we continue developing the phase.
Thank you for commenting and your enthusiastic support of MOF!
I've made a note of these and will add them to our design doc.
Again, thank you all.
I see "IT Business Planning" as an art and not a science. Always keeping that in the back of my mind, I obviously have to have some rigour about feasability, estimation, architecture impacts, etc.
The approach often used is considered to be more of a TECHNIQUE than a TOOL to achieve improvements in Requirements Gathering and Management. Often Business Analysts are the ones who create the "requirement" deliverables. Business Analysts are a funny bunch. There is no University course on it, and is often a street-wise, IT-wise and/or business-wise Subject Matter Expert. I have been working as a IT Business Analyst (ie inside the IT area), and working with Business Analysts in the Business. By working together, we see the same business planning from different angles. Having a MOF and Service Management background certainly allows me to bring in holistic IT input into the business planning workshops, as often these days Business solutions eventually have an IT impact.
At all times in the business requirements gathering the questions include: Are the necessary requirements VISIBLE? Is each requirement CLEAR? Can we TRACE where this requirement has come from and where it leads to?
It is a very specific mind-set that is required to be developed in order to improve what is delivered regarding requirements (business and IT).
I have been refining tools, artifacts, and guidance, but often "experience" is hard to write down. The old data, information, knowledge, insight, wisdom model comes into play here, as business planning is often at the wisdom end of the spectrum.
I can waffle some more, but I better get back to some IT Business Planning ;-)
This is excellent approach, I have 2 things that I would like to add. The 1st thing is I would like to see defined what the outputs for each of the step/phase are, all too often I've seen these great process put together, that have taken a lot of time and effort for people to follow with out specifing what the out puts should be for each step.
My second point is on "Who is, or should be, involved in the IT Business Planning phase", the group that I think is missing here is the user repersentive. Yes, you could say that the manager of the business/unit can repersented these people, but I've found in the passed that these poeple are quite often removed from the shop floor and miss tranlate the requirements.
This is excellent approach, I have 2 things that I would like to add. The 1st thing is I would like to see defined what the outputs for each of the step/phase are, all too often I've seen these great process put together, that have taken a lot of time and effort for people to follow with out specifying what the out puts should be for each step.
My second point is on "Who is, or should be, involved in the IT Business Planning phase", the group that I think is missing here is the user Representative. Yes, you could say that the manager of the business/unit can represented these people, but I've found in the passed that these people are quite often removed from the shop floor and miss translate the requirements.
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