Monthly Archives: December 2018

The Importance of Strategy and Governance

Welcome to my third article in a series focused on insights, experience and practical advice on an operating model called Global Business Services (GBS). The GBS operating model is the latest step in the evolution of shared services (SS). To refresh your memory, SS is an operational model that’s been around for decades. It enables functional resources (i.e., HR, IT, Finance, etc.) to be leveraged across an entire organization, resulting in lower service costs. My first article discussed the evolution from traditional SS to GBS, the drivers for the change and the desired benefits. Article two highlighted that even though the transition to GBS continues, there seems to be a return on investment (ROI) shortfall with a number of implementations. The primary reasons for the ROI shortfall and some solutions to enhance success were also covered. This third article takes a “deep dive” on two key elements to ensure a successful GBS implementation: strategy and governance. Let’s get started.

When you talk to experts who guide companies through GBS transformations (and I have had the pleasure of working with many of them, such as Deloitte, Accenture, The Hackett Group, and others), or talk with GBS leaders who are viewed as having world-class GBS operations, similar critical success factors (CSFs) are consistently mentioned. Some of these CSFs mentioned include:

1. Executive Leadership – getting the entire C-Suite aligned and onboard.

2. Technology Enablement – making the appropriate investments in people, process and technology to ensure success.

3. Delivering on Commitments – meeting cost savings targets and aligning your deliverables/measures with your clients’ expectations.

4. Critical Mass – transitioning enough process scope and execution authority that is impactful to P&L.

There are several other CSFs that could be added to the above list. However, there are two items that are foundational and provide the direction to the above items… strategy and governance. A famous proverb says, “Without vision people perish.” Translating this to a business context, “Without a strategy, your initiative will ultimately fail.”

Importance of Strategy

Strategy is critical for every corporation and especially for every major transformation. For GBS, lack of strategy alignment at the C-Suite is largely viewed as the #1 reason for failure. The GBS operation may not fail immediately, but if the strategy gaps are not addressed over time, it will lose its influence and relevance, and will ultimately fail and be restructured. So what are the elements of a good GBS strategy? There are several, but here are the main ones:

1. Primary Purpose – define primary focus, such as cost reduction, scalability/growth, regulatory compliance, etc.

2. Scope of Coverage – define processes that will be transitioned into GBS at the start, and will be candidates for the future.

3. Service Delivery Methodology – define approach of how services will be delivered to clients. Internal (or captive) vs. outsourced centers; global vs. regional centers, etc.

4. Governance – initial organizational structure, operational roles and responsibilities across the enterprise, and executive leadership roles to provides GBS direction.

5. Execution Plan – transition methodology discussing sequencing of businesses and geographies on a timeline.

There is a significant amount of work that goes into developing an effective GBS strategy, and it clearly requires enterprise-wide inputs and alignment. In a McKinsey Quarterly survey, it stated that companies are typically investing an average of six (6) months in transformation planning, and sometimes are still not able to set clear goals. McKinsey’s recommendation (and mine) is to take the additional time needed to ensure a clear and aligned strategy which improves the likelihood of a successful transformation.

Importance of Governance

Governance, in many respects is part of the strategy. Just like strategy, if there is no enterprise governance in place, GBS is doomed for failure. So, what does effective governance look like? The major elements include:

1. Executive Board – serves roles of both advocate and critic with clear accountability for performance management, ongoing strategy adjustments, and capital approval authority.

2. Clear Accountability – clear roles and responsibilities definition between Executive Board (EB), GBS leadership, outsourcing partners, business clients on decision rights, service level changes, delegation of authority, etc.

3. Voice of Customer – incorporation of regular mechanisms via client councils and other venues to clearly solicit inputs/requests/changes from business leaders.

4. Strategic Alignment – ensures ongoing review and alignment of the organizational direction across the C-Suite.

In many companies, the term governance is viewed as “slow-moving” or “beauracratic.” For GBS, it has to be the opposite – being agile, dynamic and continuing to evolve as the company changes. Governance must flex as business client expectations rise, technology platforms evolves and most importantly, as executive leaders and their expectations change. This is absolutely critical!

Conclusion

The growth of GBS continues and is forecasted to be robust through the end of the decade. However, expectations for even greater results and ROI will continue, as companies keep pushing for higher levels of automation, lower service costs, and higher profit margins while improving the customer experience. To accomplish all those things, one needs to utilize some of the items covered in these three articles. The key takeaways include:

– Executive Commitment.

– Robust planning effort with focus on strategy and governance.

– Anticipate the ROI Shortfalls and Implement the critical success factors.

– Continually “raise the bar”, as business clients push greater results and improved customer experience.

Thank you for your interest and attention. I look forward to your feedback and comments.

The Evolution of Business Service Management

Looking back, the emergence of business service management (BSM) seems inevitable. This new generation of tools helps IT organizations manage technology infrastructures within the context of the key services they provide for their customers. BSM tools are critical enablers for the increasingly popular process-focused IT Service Management (ITSM) approach.

What’s driving this evolution to BSM and its related IT management paradigms? Executive Consultant Troy DuMoulin of Pink Elephant, an ITIL events and consulting firm, explains, “The interest in ITIL, the evolution of legislation like SOX (Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002), and the interest in standards is symptomatic of something much more rudimentary. At the base of this growing focus on formalization and legislation is a growing awareness of exposure and dependency that the business has on IT. Before, IT was seen as an enabler, supportive but yet somehow separated from the business processes themselves. But now there is a realization that there is no true separation between the business process and the underlying IT services and systems.”

Information technology has become so vital to business today – so ubiquitous in every aspect – that most businesses literally cannot function without it anymore. Even simple manual tasks like filling a car with gas or cashing a check now require the support of an IT system.

This heightened reliance on IT has placed companies at a crossroads. They are compelled to address this new dependency by putting processes and technology in place to ensure IT does its job serving the business effectively. So the move to BSM can be seen as a natural reaction to the new way IT interacts with and enables business.

“BSM is a way for a company to agree on what the business expectations are, and manage the IT performance to those agreed upon expectations,” clarifies Brian Childers, a consultant who also serves on the Board of Directors for itSMF USA, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting best practices in IT services management. “Once we understand the expectations, we can build the processes to suit the expectations, and manage against them.”

Vendors are responding rapidly to these new service management imperatives. Leading software providers – like HP, BMC, Mercury and Managed Objects – are already introducing new BSM-versions of their popular tools to help revolutionize the way IT managers gauge technology performance and leverage that knowledge to meet business needs. And new kinds of automated, self-learning software from companies like Netuitive, are making it easier than ever for managers to cut across their technology silos and tie together their existing management tools.

“Over the years – especially during the frenetic IT build-out of the late 1990s – companies cobbled together a mishmash of systems within their IT organizations,” adds Tony Gilbert, vice president at Netuitive. “The result now is a heterogeneous set of components in the IT environment, and individual departmental silos for managing each one. The right set of BSM tools makes it possible to tie together all of these pieces of technology across an enterprise and to monitor IT from the perspective of the service it delivers.”

BSM tools help IT groups see technology in terms of how it impacts their business services, and zero-in on the cause of a particular performance issue that is affecting that service — a capability companies do not have when they manage IT solely through technology silos. The new BSM tools can also enable a company to prioritize resources based on the relative importance of multiple business services. For example, a brokerage firm could manage online trading or online banking services holistically instead of piecemeal within silos: the server group, the database group, the application group.

More Than Just Technology

But completely changing a management approach is not easy. “For the last 20 years our industry has been focused on managing technology. Management of IT has been by domains, such as mainframes, networks and databases. But those domains don’t truly live in isolation.” Pink Elephant’s DuMoulin continues, “A basic premise is that there is a business requirement for IT to understand how any given IT component relates to another and how these devices support or potentially disable a business process. When you understand IT from this perspective you see that you cannot manage by technology or device. You need to understand the relationship between those devices, and how they relate to IT services, and ultimately how IT services are consumed by business.”

The people factor remains an issue, too. For many organizations, BSM often requires a corporate culture change. IT personnel must learn that they don’t just manage boxes and applications, but actually provide services that the business consumes in order to survive and thrive. Most experts agree that the tools are out there, and are necessary, but they go hand in hand with changing processes and changing the way companies perceive the value of IT.

“Some people believe that it doesn’t matter what technology you use as long as you have the right processes in place,” comments Ken Wendle, the ITSM Solution Lead at HP. “But I have always said that IT service management is a combination of people and process, enabled by the right technology, all working in synergy with each other. It is about the intelligent blending of technology to enable and enforce the right processes, which then will allow an organization to execute around business priorities.”

“I have seen companies that put the right processes in place, and trained the right people, but then created process silos,” HP’s Wendle also notes. “But ITSM is about cutting across the technology silos, not just creating another set of process silos on top of them. ITSM is about taking a holistic approach.”

The BSM Evolution Continues

Where is BSM going from here? “One of the missing ingredients today is the enrollment of the business community,” itSMF’s Childers believes. “They need to understand what BSM is and why they would want to support it. I think the better job everyone does with bringing the business side onboard, the faster BSM will progress.”

“I don’t think companies have gained all the benefits of technology that they could,” HP’s Wendle agrees. “The business people need to understand and appreciate what IT can do to help the business side of the organization.”

Clearly there is work to be done, but the adoption of ITSM and the BSM tools that support it continues to gain momentum as more companies realize this is a prerequisite for success in a new world where business and IT have become one.

Evaluating the Potential of Internet Business

Internet Business Services are thriving. Every day there are more and more consumers logging on and now cost-effective to carry on business services via the internet.

To operate an Internet Business Service you will need less operating costs as you no longer require a brick and mortar store and you can now have specific niche businesses or items that would have failed if they had been in a traditional business setting. Best of all, Internet Business Services will allow you the freedom to be able to work from anywhere – the office, on the road, at home…anywhere!

That being said, not all Small Business Internet Services prosper. You can still sink a lot of money into your business and have it flop. There is homework involved for the Internet entrepreneur as you have to research the business you are considering as there is so much competition out there that it may be infeasible to try to go head to head with a company or in an industry you have no chance in turning a profit it.

Use concrete data to contribute as the basis of your Internet Business Services. Likely the main factor over all to be considered is the demand for the Internet Business Service you want to create.

Here is a scenario: You are considering an Internet Service Business to sell contact lenses in the Philippines. What is the average gross margin on sale? What are the price points to be considered? Is there enough volume in terms of population demographics to support the need? If you can not get enough traffic there is no need to be in that business.

Be very wary of your competition. Who are other Internet and non-Internet Business Service providers that cater to the same need? There could be few competing Internet Businesses in your niche, but if there is not enough traffic to begin with, you are better off to find another niche

How do you intend on making your money? Will you be acquiring your revenue from online sales, affiliate commission revenue, advertising revenue, email marketing…?

After you have done your homework and determined what niche is a fit for you and you are sure of the likelihood of success with your Internet Service Business get to work on your site. Make sure it is unique, interesting and useful. Launch it-and let the sales roll in!

But the next question is who is going to build your Internet Service Business website and how are you going to pay for the construction of the site and all that goes along with it? Today there are options for financing your website. You will likely need to put some investment into the site construction and development but if you finance the site, you can make the site much more professional and high-end and then pay for it over time as your sales come in.

Business Services Reviews

Business Services Reviews can be an important tool for you and your business. Many people fail to realize the value of quality reviews. This is a mistake as good reviews of products and services can help you decide quickly which are the best products and services for a particular niche. This can be a significant time saver that allows you to spend less time researching and instead move directly to reading the decision and buying phase.

In addition, the best review sites will look at all top products in an industry so that you can get a complete picture of what is available. This allows you to decide which company offers the best service or product for your company. Also, it gives you peace of mind and contentment with your decision knowing you made a reasoned decision that has been supported by independent review. This is very beneficial as it helps negate the risk of buyer’s remorse and allows you to immediately get back to your business.

Whether you are the owner, executive, or purchasing agent for your company, knowing where to find good reviews should be a part of any of your buying decisions for business services. Sadly, there are too few review sites devoted to business services. This is one reason why it is important to zero in on the few that offer this great service. Also, when reviewing these review sites be sure the information they offer is comprehensive. The best review sites will offer information such as the facts, company profiles, product or service descriptions, benefits, drawbacks, customer comments and even their own personal review. This is important because it makes sure you are getting quality information that you can use and rely upon. Also, take a look at the number of products reviewed. The more products or services reviewed adds more credibility to the site as this shows they are more interested in providing you with quality review information.