Digital IT Operations: Keeping Pace with Service Introduction

As discussed in our perspective on Digital Transformation, the appetite for more iterative, “do-adapt-learn” ways of working is growing. Our research shows that 74 percent of organizations report that the pace of digital tool and application development has increased in the past three years, requiring an adaptive Information Technology (IT) function that can keep up.

Across the business and IT landscape we’re seeing change and convergence, with an increasing volume of change delivered via Agile/DevOps/continuous delivery approaches and standing product teams rather than monolithic projects and programs.

As a result, live service must absorb unprecedented levels of change, but speed-to-market demands need to be balanced against the quality of ongoing live service provision. Ongoing change and live service are increasingly intertwined with the traditional boundaries of shape/build/run converging. This requires a delicate balance. If the balance is wrong, it means that end users and customers suffer through poor service quality or must wait longer for enhancements and changes due to excessive governance hoops. 

The Importance of “Building to Change”

It’s never been more important that IT services be flexible and built to absorb change. In addition, there are fewer instances of “standing up of projects, delivering stuff, then disbanding.” This means there’s a real opportunity to build ongoing relationships between standing teams, providing service management and operations with the opportunity to be a major driving factor in the ongoing release of value and functionality to users and customers.

Simultaneously, IT services delivered to the business are becoming increasingly complex. They’re often composed of multiple technologies hosted both in the cloud and on premise, require management of multiple third-party and vendor relationships, and blur the lines between service and engineering. Success in this landscape requires clear product and service ownership, accountability, a culture of collaboration, and a “one-team” mentality.

To address these imperatives Service Introduction, predicated on a modern approach to IT Service Design & Transition, ensures that appropriate levels of service are maintained as new changes are delivered. It strikes the right balance between speed and stability, builds collaboration through engagement, and ensures the appropriate levels of operability are considered early in the product/project life cycle.

High Stakes for Service Introduction

In this ever evolving and complex world, the value of a strong Service Introduction capability is more important than ever before, balancing speed to market and ongoing provision of live services to users and customers. Strong Service Introduction embodies the following characteristics:

  • Showing up early in the product and project lifecycle to highlight and help build in live service considerations and operability features
  • Focusing on the end-to-end service to users and customers, rather than on individual technologies and teams
  • Pragmatism, with every operational feature having a clear business benefit
  • Building consensus across multiple teams to balance time, cost, and quality considerations
  • Being an enabler of sustainable change, not a barrier
  • Driving clarity of Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and value

Over the last five years, we have been working with a major UK retailer to set-up, embed, and run its 20-person Service Introduction function. We’ve successfully introduced over 100 projects and programs into the business, from small changes and enhancements to a large-scale ERP implementation.  At the same time, we’ve also evolved our approach to work across multiple delivery methodologies including Waterfall, Agile, and DevOps. Benefits of our approach have included a clear view of total cost of ownership (TCO) and business value for every new or changed service, collective focus on risk and value when approaching decisions, and pragmatic decision-making with the interest of the user and customer at the heart.

Your Next Steps

Service Introduction centered on the interests of end users and customers focuses on the following actionable principles:

  • Early Engagement: Bring IT operations and service management stakeholders into the product and project lifecycle early on. Incentivize stakeholders to spend time early in the lifecycle by assigning utilization targets.
  • Pragmatism and Holistic Decision Making: Take pragmatic decisions that balance speed to market, time, and cost with ongoing provision of the live product or service. This way the end user or customer always wins. To enable this, ensure that product and service owners have end-to-end accountability from ideation to ongoing service provision.
  • Enable, Don’t Block: Prioritize flexibility and be clear on the value operational features will deliver for the end user or customer. Then, proactively support the delivery of these features.
  • Embed and Embrace: Embed Service Introduction practices into your day-to-day ways of working (building operational features into your product backlogs and user stories, attendance at daily stand-ups, retrospectives, etc.).

Service Introduction ensures that all new IT products and services are delivered with a long-term orientation. By bringing operability and TCO ownership considerations to the forefront, it empowers businesses to maintain appropriate levels of service as new changes are delivered – striking the ideal balance between speed and stability.

Read more from our experts in the True North Tech Journal here