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With all of the technology programmes like cloud, containerisation and Dev Ops, technology transformation programmes like SIAM and business transformation programmes, how do you actually get any work done? 

Today’s technology leaders are managing huge change portfolios. There’s just so much going on, in terms of moving technology operations to the cloud and adopting new development practices such as Dev Ops.  Add to this the need to transform how technology teams are organised, adopting IT Operating Model changes such as Service Integration and Management (SIAM) or aligning with digital transformation objectives through frameworks such as VeriSM. 

Amidst this turmoil, we can’t turn off business demand. 

They still want business projects delivered, incidents resolved and requests fulfilled.  They still move offices with alarming regularity, onboard new staff and initiate major programmes seemingly on a whim. 

In my experience, there are a number of constant truths which every IT leader must recognise in managing inbound work and getting “stuff” done. 

  • You must think of the technology team in the context of a demand and supply model where every item of new work coming in should be viewed as demand.  This work must be categorised, and workflows defined for each work type.  You also have a workforce to deliver this work, comprised mainly of people but supported by automation and processes. 
  • Having a process to capture incoming work, assess its category and send it into the correct workflow is critical to handling new work effectively.
  • Having the means to consistently categorise work is vital.  For example, what differentiates a project from an enhancement, a small change, a request?  All of these potential categories must be defined and the characteristics of each work type defined to enable them to be easily recognised.  .
  • Each work type must have supporting workflows to get the work to the teams that can do it quickly.
  • Each work type must have an appropriate level of supporting governance to handle exceptions.
  • Each work type must have an expectation around how quickly it will be able to be fulfilled.  I’m hesitating to write the term SLA here, as I believe the concept is outdated nowadays where customer experience is difficult to reflect in a one-dimensional target.  However, understanding how long it typically takes to deliver a piece of work is important for resource planning as well as business expectation setting. 

Let’s just make everything a lot harder! 

Creating definitions of our incoming work types, developing workflows, automation and targets, as well as having some form of resource management process are all pretty basic manufacturing concepts.  However, in technology, we seldom embrace these principles and often fall in to the trap where all incoming work is subject to little or no consistent categorisation.   

But wait!  

We’re in technology, so are certain to make this problem a lot harder than it is.  Let’s adopt rapid development and deployment approaches and multi-vendor operating models where it’s a lot harder to have a single view of demand.  Under these circumstances, we should seek to centralise the roles who perform the guiding principles above, not duplicate them in various parts of the organisation.   

In a SIAM model, we have the perfect opportunity to centralise these activities in the Service Integration function.  A single team who have accountability for demand, resource and workflow.  Unfortunately, these aspects are rarely recognised in today’s multi-vendor, SIAM, operating models which tend to focus on the incident, request and change processes. 

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