An introduction to the MOF Envision SMF

Our previous blog articles in this series explain the role of the Microsoft Operations Framework (MOF), service management functions (SMF’s) and introduce ITIL IQ™ which is the first step in implementing MOF within your business. Before you use this SMF, you may want to read the following ITIL IQ™ guidance to learn more about the MOF IT service lifecycle and the Deliver Phase:

Blog Article 1: What’s your ITIL IQ™? Meet MOF
Blog Article 2: The MOF Plan Phase
Blog Article 7: The MOF Deliver Phase

The MOF IT service lifecycle encompasses all the activities and processes involved in managing an IT service: its conception, development, operation, maintenance, and ultimately its retirement. MOF organises these activities and processes into Service Management Functions (SMFs), which are grouped together in phases that mirror the IT service lifecycle. Each SMF is anchored within a lifecycle phase and contains a unique set of goals and outcomes supporting the objectives of that phase. An IT service’s readiness to move from one phase to the next is confirmed by management reviews, which ensure that goals are being achieved in an appropriate fashion and that IT’s goals are aligned with the goals of the organisation.

Each SMF is anchored within a lifecycle phase and contains a unique set of goals and outcomes supporting the objectives of that phase. The SMFs can be used as standalone sets of processes, but it is when SMFs are used together that they are most effective in ensuring service delivery at the desired quality and risk levels.

The Envision SMF belongs to the Deliver Phase of the MOF IT service lifecycle. The following figure shows the place of the Envision SMF within the Deliver Phase, as well as the location of the Deliver Phase within the IT service lifecycle.

MOF-Envision-Phase

Figure 1. Position of the Envision SMF within the IT service lifecycle

Why Use the Envision SMF?

This SMF should be useful to anyone who is tasked with forming a core project team, preparing and delivering a vision/scope document that clearly communicates the project’s vision and the scope of that vision, and preparing a risk assessment.

It addresses how to do the following:

  • Organise the core project team.
  • Write the vision/scope document.
  • Approve the vision/scope document.
Envision SMF Overview

Envisioning is the first step a project team takes to turn business requirements into a change in the IT infrastructure or into new IT services that can be delivered into production. It’s the process of unifying a team with a common vision and is a key requirement for ensuring a project’s success. A project team must have a clear vision of what it wants to accomplish and be able to communicate this vision in terms that motivate team members, their customers, and their stakeholders. The process of envisioning begins in the Plan Phase and concludes in the Deliver Phase.

During envisioning, project teams identify and analyse business needs and requirements so that they can begin planning a solution. That solution might be a single application, a full IT service, or an addition to or modification of existing IT infrastructure. The primary team role type driving envisioning is Product Management, whose main goal is to ensure that the customer’s identified business needs are addressed. More information about the Product Management role type, and other role types involved in the Envision SMF, can be found in the Envision SMF Role Types table that follows.

By creating high-level views of the project’s goals and constraints, envisioning serves as an early form of planning. It sets the stage for the more formal planning process that will take place during the project’s planning phase.

The guidance provided by the Envision SMF is designed to help:

  • Management choose the core project team and create the project structure document that specifies the roles and responsibilities of the team members.
  • The project team create the vision/scope document, perform a risk assessment, and complete the milestone review report.

The team members, customers, and stakeholders approve the milestone review report for the Vision/Scope Approved Milestone. At this milestone, the team, customers, and stakeholders agree on the overall direction of the project: the scope of features the project includes, the general timetable for delivering the project’s solution, and the risks associated with the project. After the Vision/Scope Approved Milestone, project teams continue to the planning phase.

Envision SMF Role Types

The primary team accountability that applies to the Envision SMF is the Solution Accountability. The role types within that accountability and their primary activities within this SMF are displayed in the following table.

Table 1. Project Accountability and Its Attendant Role Types

Role Type Responsibilities Role in This SMF
Solution Manager Accountable role

Owns all SMFs in this accountability

Acts as project director for all projects

Resolves conflicts between projects

Ongoing oversight
Program Manager Drives design, schedule, and resources at the project level Sets design goals

Describes the solution concept

Creates the project structure

Developer Builds the agreed-to solution Builds prototypes

Investigates development and technology options

Analyses the project’s feasibility

Tester Tests to accurately determine the status of solution development Tests strategies

Tests acceptance criteria

Documents project implications

Product Manager Acts as the customer advocate

Helps drive shared project vision

Manages customer expectations

Sets overall goals

Identifies customer needs

Determines project requirements

Produces the vision/scope document

User Experience Acts as the user advocate on project teams

Helps define user requirements

Helps design to meet user requirements

Documents user performance requirements

Documents project test implications

Release Management Evaluates the solution design

Documents operations requirements to ensure they’re met by the design

Creates a pilot, deployment plan, and schedule

Manages site deployment

Documents deployment implications

Documents operations management and supportability

Documents operations acceptance criteria

Operations Experience Advocates for operations on the project team

Brings in operations experts as needed for detailed information

Coordinates with release management

Documents operations performance requirements
Test Manager Owns all testing across all project teams

Develops testing strategy and plans

Ensures that best practice test methods are used

Ongoing oversight
Goals of Envisioning

The primary goals of envisioning are to form the core project team, prepare and deliver a vision/scope document that clearly communicates the project’s vision and the scope of that vision, and prepare a risk assessment. Table 2 shows the desired outcomes of the Envision SMF goals and lists measures that you can use to gauge how successfully you have achieved these goals after completing this SMF.

Table 2. Outcomes and Measures of the Envision SMF Goals

Outcomes Measures
The vision and scope of the project are clearly documented and understood by the team and the customer. No miscommunications and misunderstandings are found later in the project.

The vision and scope remain largely intact throughout the project.

The vision/scope document is approved by the team and stakeholders.

Signoff on the Vision/Scope Approved Milestone occurs.

The project’s risks are clearly documented and understood by the team and the customer. No unaddressed issues occur during the project.

Risk assessment is approved by the team and stakeholders.

Signoff on the Vision/Scope Approved Milestone occurs.

Key Terms

The following table contains definitions of key terms found in this guide.

Table 3. Key Terms

Term Definition
Customer The customer is the person or organisation that commissions and funds the project.
Interim milestone Early progress indicators that segment large work efforts into manageable portions. The Deliver Phase suggests a set of interim milestones, but project teams should define their own interim milestones that make sense for their projects.
Milestone A project synchronisation point. Major milestones mark the transition of a project from one phase to the next phase. They also transfer primary responsibility from one role to another role. The Deliver Phase service management functions (SMFs) correspond to major Microsoft Solutions Framework (MSF) milestones.
Scope A view of the project’s vision limited by constraints such as time and resources. Solution scope describes the solution’s features and deliverables. Project scope describes the work to be performed by the team.
Solution A coordinated delivery of technologies, documentation, training, and support that successfully responds to a customer’s business problem. Solutions typically combine people, processes, and technology to solve problems.
Stakeholder Stakeholders are individuals or groups who have an interest in the outcome of the project—although their goals and priorities are not always identical to the customer’s. Examples of stakeholders include departmental managers who will be affected by the solution, IT staff members who are responsible for running and supporting the solution, and functional managers who contribute resources to the project team.
Users The people who interact with the solution to perform their jobs.
Vision Describes the fundamental goals of the solution.
Conclusion

The Envision SMF describes the process for forming a core project team, preparing and delivering a vision/scope document that clearly communicates the project’s vision and the scope of that vision, and preparing a risk assessment.

The major Envision processes described by the SMF are:

  • Organise the core project team.
  • Write the vision/scope document.
  • Approve the vision/scope document.
How do we implement MOF?

At First Solution, we’re experts in MOF and have even developed a unique ITIL IQ™ process that benchmarks a business’s current state, identifies their desired state and provides an action plan (called a Service Delivery Plan) that helps organisations of all sizes achieve their desired business outcomes. Most importantly, our unique ITIL IQ™ process begins with a Proactive Services Maturity Review (PSMR) which identifies a score (out of 100) that clearly communicates the current state of your businesses IT operational maturity. Armed with your ITIL IQ™ score, a finance or procurement professional can concisely present to the board the businesses current state, desired state, and ITIL IQ™ score with an action plan to improve the ITIL IQ™ score and thereby ensure that IT’s goals are aligned with the goals of the business and that both are progressing together.

How can I envision my IT success?

Simply get in touch to arrange a free Proactive Services Maturity Review and one of our MOF experts will conduct an interview with the person responsible for the IT function within your business and provide an ITIL IQ™ score with which you can measure the performance of your IT function. Once you know your ITIL IQ score we can provide a Service Delivery Plan to help you improve it each month and measure and report progress back to you during a Monthly Service Review. And there we have it, an ITIL based solution to simply identify and measure the performance of your IT function. So, are you ready to envision your IT success?

 

The Microsoft Operations Framework 4.0 is provided with permission from Microsoft Corporation. 

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