The monster that ate all their effort

The Monster:

Let’s start with a story of an unhappy CEO. At the end of a good year while the leaders from service supplier were busy preparing the new contract with customer, one day, the CEO from the customer organization asked a very awkward question. The project was doing well in terms of SLA and KPI, operational managers were moderately happy and yet the CEO stated “I am happy about the way you deal with incidents or problems and yet I am not very clear what value you are adding to my operation; help me to understand”.

 

It took the leaders into a state of shock because they went there very well prepared; at least they thought they were. A moment of silence spread over the board room, some were wondering how to answer this, some even thought the CEO was just playing one of his games usually he plays to take over the vendor with surprise.

 

The following week I have my friend coming out completely broke from his appraisal session with the CIO. He is a good performer and does almost everything in time and yet the CIO asked him the same question, despite of the fact that he has been working long hours every now and then but what value he was really adding to the business.

 

Will you not agree with me by now if I call value, the five letter monster that can eat everything and anything?

 

We all understand that what matters to business at the end of the day is VALUE; yet it is not very uncommon that leaders find it difficult to relate seemingly irrelevant day-to-day activities with the value proposition, as a result, even though staffs are overworked, the project end up with an unhappy customer and frustrated employee.

 


Lesson we learnt:

Value could be refered as worth at some extent but it is not everything, there is a portion or a specific phase of value that is not dirrectly measurebale, rather, it is a feeling that is developed based on the measurable values or outcome. Let’s call these two views/portions/phases of value Objective and Subjective. Objective value is fact, measurebale quantity, on the other hand subjective value is the perception, the opinion generated as the product of objective value communication.

 

In short subjective value is the realization. In a client based business model, objective value is what the vendor is delivering such as a stable(Subjective) product, regulary generated well built reports to facilitate the visibility of the network, increased avalability, improved MTTR etc. and the subjective value is the perception that all these create on a customer’s mind.

 

Did you notice that we just agreed on value, the way we use it in the real world, being mostly subjective? (ITIL also says Value must be realized)

 

Considering the difficulties associated with it, in an effort to put it into a stuctured discussion, we have identified four phases or stages of value.

In short values goes through the following four phases:

  • Value Identification
  • Value Record/Capture
  • Value Communication
  • Facilitate Value Realization

 

The most significant initiatives could become useless in terms of value if it is not realized and getting customer realized the value requires paying very careful attention to the early phases.

 

Value Identification: As simple as listing down all activities; write anything and everything that you do or hope to do.

Value Capture: Forming template or report format to capture all that were listed down at the earlier step.

Value Communication: Identify the stake holders, people interested, people should be informed about the outcome from earlier steps.

Value Realization: Facilitate the realization; review communication channels, meet senior management regularly, record and follow up the feedbacks, design SIP for moving forward and communicate.

The first two phases create specific, visible and measurable outcome which we called objective value at an earlier stage of our discussion and the later two are subjective.


Take a real life example:

Standard Operation(nal) Procedure (SOP) is more or less common in all kind of IT operations.

Some operation has a very well built SOP that covers all the aspects of every day operation and proactive maintenance, some don’t have a very well built one but it does exist almost everywhere.

Moving forward, we will take one simple but clearly visible activity from the SOP such as measuring CPU and Memory of servers on a daily basis and see if we can demonstrate the flow we discussed earlier; we will then also try to build a RACI model to make a suggestion of involvement from different layers at these phases.

The picure above shows a way to relate the activity we have choosen a while ago to demonstrate the flow.

Please keep in mind, it is only a suggestion and one way of doing it; thousands of other ways are possible to serve the same purpose.

Phase 1: We have identified and choosen to measure CPU and Memory.

Phase 2: We agreed on a format of reports, to be specific, we agreed that we will record the CPU & Memory usage per functionality, per subscriber, per service feature etc.

Phase 3: We have already idendtified the stake holders, agreed on who to receive what report and which report will take what part of the data as input .

Phase 4: We check all communication were executed in time and effectively, we listen to the feedback, we develop SIP accordingly, we address the scopes for business.

 

RACI

Clear ownership is crucial to make it a success; once again the bellow table is only a suggestion that might need adjustment in places to fit with the concerned organization.

Items

Responsible

Accountable

Consulted

Informed

Identification

Engineers

Team Leader

SDM

PM

Value Capture

Team Leader

Engineers

SDM

PM

Value Communication

Team Leaders

SDM

PM

Customer

Achieve Realization

SDM

PM

Customer

Customer

 

Must remember:

This is very closely related to an effective governance and making the roles effective. If the job descriotion of a technical manager or service manager or customer engagement manager is not value focused already, it must be addresed as early as possible.

 

 

Common Challenges & Suggestions:

  1. qLine Managers are not in Synch

ü  Ensure a well defined Organization structure and Governance

ü  Confirm a well defined Job Description

ü  Internal team building & Brainstorm workshop is a MUST

  1. qNo End-to-End Strategic view

ü  No segregated Service Improvement Plans (SIP); all SIPs must be unified

ü  Each SIP must cover all the phases of Value

ü  Each SIP must complete the Deming cycle

  1. qNo Audit Function

ü  Execute process audit at a regular frequency

ü  Templates & standards review every quarter

  1. qMultiple Single Point of Failure

ü  Identify and execute redundancy development plan

 

 

The debate: Objective vs. Subjective

Some leaders put special emphasis on the objective value; depend heavily on the operation and visible outcome, while some others prefer paying special attention to the subjective parts.

The right way is to put equal emphasis on both at the same time. A project that depends heavily on the objective perspective loses focus on the value communication part partially and fully on the phase of achieving value realization which results in a overworking operational environment for engineers and a “not well organized” project view from customer side.

On the other hand putting special attention to only the subjective perspective of value creates a highly ambitious customer without a proper delivery structure within to entertain that. It creates significant risk for the project to become “over promising” or “underperforming” business unit.

The leaders must be careful on choosing the best combination, as less appropriate strategic move will cause direct business impact. The CEO we talked about at the beginning was unhappy because the value wasn’t properly communicated, hence, not realized by him.

The leaders must ensure that a well competent and passionate service (delivery) manager and/or customer project manager is in action, as well as a well synched and competent operational team to deliver the business goal.

 

Warning:

Changing the perception of a customer is never easy; customer could be less or no cooperating and stubborn to changes but then business never guarantees a friendly customer.

Last modified on Thursday, 14 March 2013 08:41
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