Tag: business alignment

How DevOps changes the delivery of IT functions | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

Labor arbitrage and shared services companies have had a perfect marriage over the last 20 years. Then along came the Digital Revolution with new business models and a new construct for services. One component of the digital model construct is DevOps. It makes a significant impact on business services, but it’s important to understand how it changes the picture for labor arbitrage and shared services.

Shared service companies are structured on a functional basis. One way to think about them is they are a stack of functional expertise. In the case of IT, the stack includes such functions as infrastructure, security, application development and maintenance, and compliance. There is a multiple stack hierarchy, with each functional layer having shared service champions responsible for delivering that function cost-effectively at a high level of quality. Labor arbitrage fits perfectly into this equation in that each functional layer uses people, and the work can often be done more cost-effectively offshore than onshore.

Read more at my CIO blog

Outsourcing Governance 101: Playbook | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

Governance obligations are typically well covered in outsourcing contracts, and select governance documentation developed before the outset of the engagement. But even when both parties are committed to mutual success, conflicts can, and often do, arise between clients and providers.

To help ensure issues don’t raise their ugly heads, every outsourced relationship should develop, maintain, and bi-directionally enforce a governance playbook that is aligned to overall business goals. The playbook should include the governance framework, operating model, processes/procedures, contract, and documentation. A dedicated governance playbook repository for the outsourced relationship enables an overall view, inventory and access to all documentation related to governance processes, tools/templates, training for effective relationship management.

Critical components of the playbook include: 

  • A detailed outline of all key contractual obligations, such as reporting requirements, metrics, and documentation
    • Both the buyer and provider must clearly understand the contractual obligations and confirm a consistent understanding of their respective obligations
    • All the dashboards and reports in the world mean little if neither party understands the metrics being measured
    • To avoid misaligned expectations and continual delivery issues, ensure that both organizations have a clear understanding of the metrics and how each SLA will be captured, collected and monitored. SLAs are foundational to any services agreement.
  • Clear definition and alignment of problem resolution processes to business needs
    • Build governance processes that go beyond quality of services and contractual obligations
    • Focus on operationalizing joint governance to support accountability and oversight of the outsourced relationship, aligned to desired outcomes
    • Instate a process whereby unresolved issues are addressed at appropriate levels to preserve delivery continuity and prevent escalation of every item to the executive level for resolution.
  • Consider aligning metrics to documented processes
    • Develop process documents and metrics that matter most, and leverage the contract language, but also include concepts related to leadership objectives
    • Include these as part of the management review process to ensure alignment throughout the contract
    • Develop and maintain a joint Master Training Guide for all things governance to align expectations
  • Conduct training from the leadership level down to reinforce management commitment
  • Incorporate training to existing meeting agendas to complete training in real-time. 

What are the key components of your company’s governance playbook? 

For more insights on governance, please see the Proficiency and Partnership blogs in this three-part series.

Outsourcing Governance 101: Partnership | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

Governance balances the competing interests and needs of the buyer, end users, and the service provider. The intent of governance is to build a strong relationship, and align strategies, goals, and objectives through collaboration, mutual respect, and continuous communication.

Governance models should be foundationally designed with a joint relationship management structure and processes to build a cooperative, trusting working environment that encourages both the buyer and provider to make collaborative, proactive, mutually beneficial decisions. This requires active leadership by senior management in both organizations, including hands-on sponsorship, ownership, coaching, mentoring, influencing, and intervening, when necessary.

A true win-win partnership, as enabled by effective governance, is one that motivates the provider to do satisfy not just the contract but also all parties, and deliver value beyond the metrics and the original contractual expectations.

Following are the key principles behind setting up a partnership type of relationship with a service provider.

Tiered management structure with peer-to-peer alignment

With a tiered management structure, effective communication, responsive and efficient decision-making, and resolution are supported across three distinct levels to ensure alignment between executives and delivery teams. This keeps the focus on day-to-day service delivery without either party losing sight of strategy goals. The three tiers and their associated responsibilities should be:

  • Executive Committee – enterprise view of outsourcing strategy and provider relationship
  • Management Committee – ensure outsourcing performance is meeting internal and external objectives
  • Operating Committee – manage performance reporting, provider-driven changes, escalated issues, and out-of-scope requests

To ensure objectives are met and the spirit of the partnership relationship is maintained, the people engaged at each level must view their role as working with the provider, rather than policing its activities.

Decision-making and authority rights must be clearly defined and understood by both parties at each level

Defined and documented decision rights will help organize decision-making and execution by setting clear roles and accountabilities, and by giving all those involved a sense of decision ownership. In addition, the executive, managerial, and operational levels must aligned across both parties. While this may seem obvious, governance models often break down due to misalignment of these levels.

Commitment and sponsorship at senior levels is critical

Sponsorship should be evidenced by the commitment of sufficient resources and management time to nurture the relationship at both the tactical and strategic levels. All communications, formal and informal, must make it clear that senior management views the outsourced relationship as a true partnership, and will work together to provide joint oversight to achieve the desired outcomes. Moreover, commitment and plans for strong change management, training, and communication need to be rolled out, reinforced, and managed. 

Governance is successful only when the both the buyer and provider are successful

Buyers must make significant investment in standing up and staffing the governance organization, and management must be aware of the potential impact of the joint governance on current policies, processes, budgets, skills, competencies, and relationships, etc.

To help ensure mutual success, a proactive feedback loop should be developed, and periodic reviews by buyer and service provider stakeholders with progress reported to senior management should be instilled. These regular reviews enable both parties to process feedback, make required changes to the governance model, and proactively manage expected deliverables throughout the contract. They can also present a strategic opportunity to improve buyer and provider organizational capabilities, operational resilience, and competitive analysis in the longer-term.

Has your company experienced misalignment among the executive, managerial, and operational levels? What did you do to rectify the situation?

For insights on two key guiding principles to consider when building your governance team, please read the Proficiency blog in this series.

Technology Is Advancing Quickly; So Why Are Organizations Changing So Slowly? | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

The pace of new technology is advancing exponentially. But organizations change so slowly. This is particularly frustrating if you’re a senior executive who sees the opportunity to drive efficiencies or value and by making big changes in your organization, yet you find it’s painful and difficult to drive change and you can only make incremental progress. It’s also frustrating if you’re a service provider trying to sell a new vision to a slow-changing organization. What causes the slowdown?

Incentive

People do what they are incented to do and what is in their best interest. Just because technology makes something possible doesn’t mean that people are prepared to change. And driving change is dependent on relationships with other people; highly dependent technologies also impact change. It’s not that individuals want to thwart change; it’s just that change will be thwarted because people always do what is in their best interests, as they perceive it.

Making a change in technology forces change in policies, processes and relationships; and that requires realignment. Alignment is complicated. It’s a combination of organizational incentives, personal incentives, metrics and what we measure, proximity to people, how we relate to one another and technology.

The tragic mistake that clients and providers so often make is believing that changing one aspect – the technology or perhaps a few people – will drive others to change. But it won’t. Driving change requires realigning the organization and ecosystem.

Complexity

Borrowing from the old adage, human behavior is like water – it flows to the lowest point or takes the easiest path. This is a defining principle about why Apple has been so successful: it makes it easy to operate an iPhone or iPad. When we fail to make those same accommodations and think through technology change thoroughly, we can’t drive the organizational and behavioral change we’re looking for.

Change and adopting new technologies is so simple for the architects and designers. But they fail to view it from the perspective of the people who will be affected by the technology. New technology requires creating new steps or more complexity; therefore, new technology is more difficult to utilize than the old technology people are accustomed to and trained on.

Often the new visions based on a breakthrough or change in technology rarely live up to their potential because the service provider only changes the technology or provide new technology to the aspects of the service for which the provider is responsible. So the remaining organization can’t or won’t change; it’s left with the original interests and metrics, and it won’t readily change to accommodate the new structure.

Bottom line

Unfortunately, service providers’ salespersons attempt to beat competitors’ offers by oversimplifying the nature of the change the client will need to undergo.

To ensure client satisfaction and to ensure the technology lives up to its potential, providers selling a new vision and making promises must be far more realistic around the cost and time it takes to accomplish the change from implementing new technology.

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