It’s the Services, Stupid!

So, time to bang on about this one again! – but it still seems pertinent.

I’ve just been reviewing the draft UCISA ‘Strategic Challenges for IT Services’ document in the light of the developing UCISA Enterprise Architcture Community of Practice, whilst also being in the middle of an internal restructuring, which includes IT Services, and also working on the reintroduction of a revised IT Governance structure which includes revamping the way we manage projects, programmes and our Enterprise Architecture.

In relation to all three areas, it has come home to me very forcefully (again!) that taking an approach that looks at the services the business, the people, require, rather than the systems that ‘might’ support those services, is critical.

So, briefly taking these areas one by one:

  1. UCISA ‘Strategic Challenges for IT Services’. Not published yet, so I won’t say too much, but there are references to senior management – and others – still thinking that if you put in the right systems then job done, without looking at people, processes, data etc. It’s the services, stupid!
  2. Lots of institutions restructure services, and in truth it’s usually a cost-cutting exercise, whatever other guise it may travel under – and if costs need to be cut, there’s nothing wrong with this. What is wrong, though, is to focus on the cost-cutting – and this relates to other services/functions, not just IT; the focus should also be on defining what the critical services are that need to be delivered, and then identifying efficiency gains within that context. Find out which services are essential, which really bring value, and prioritise them. Reminiscent of the days of Business Process Reenegineering, and the limited value to be extracted from perfecting the wrong process…it’s the services, stupid!
  3. In revamping our programme/project management approach, we’re coming across IT project proposals without a clearly defined service that the IT delivered will support. Part of the problem is, of course, that above the infrastructure level, there’s no such thing as an IT project (and maybe not even there); there’s also (see point 1.) also a kind of lingering view that if you get the right system the services (people,processes) will look after themselves. They won’t! I think we’re getting beyond this, but it’s still hanging around…it’s the services, stupid!

Clearly (to me anyway!) an Enterprise Architecture approach is key to addressing all of the three areas referenced above; but the key to an Enterprise Architecture approach is to start with what the business needs – services!




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