An introduction to the MOF Plan Phase

‘Fail to prepare, prepare to fail’ as the adage goes. You probably have a business plan, you may even have a marketing plan, you should have a Business Continuity Plan – but shouldn’t you also plan your business as usual, day to day IT functions? To paraphrase the opening adage, if you fail to determine how IT will deliver valuable services that enable your organisation to succeed, then the business IT function will probably fail at delivering services that support the business to succeed. In this scenario, IT will likely be seen within your business as a liability, a cost centre, or even referred to as ‘the ministry of no!’.
An easy way to spot this lack of IT operational maturity is to identify where responsibility for the IT function sits within a business. If the responsibility sits with the Finance Director or similar, then IT is likely viewed as a cost, or perhaps even a liability. This typically indicates that the business is operationally immature from an IT perspective and that very little or no value is delivered or perceived from the IT function. Digitally transformative, highly mature IT operations deliver enormous business value that transforms IT from a liability into a strategic asset with which to drive business growth and deliver customer delight.

How to plan for IT success.

Businesses with highly mature levels of IT operations typically adhere to an industry framework such as ITIL for best practice Service Delivery Management. Or even better, they will be proponents of the Microsoft Operations Framework (MOF) which takes ITIL best practice and distils this into a consultative, question guided approach. For information about MOF and how to measure your IT performance please see this article.

The guidance in MOF 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.

Overview of the Plan phase

What does business want from IT? Services that are reliable, compliant, and cost effective and that continuously adapt to the ever-changing needs of the business. The Plan Phase is where business and IT work as partners to determine how IT will be focused to deliver valuable services that enable the organisation to succeed. Doing that requires:

• Understanding the business strategy and requirements and how the current IT services support the business.
• Understanding what reliability means to this organisation and how it will be measured and improved by reviewing and acting where needed.
• Understanding what policy requirements exist and how they impact the IT strategy.
• Providing the financial structure to support the IT work and drive the right decisions.
• Creating an IT strategy to provide value to the business strategy and making the portfolio decisions that support that IT strategy.

The IT strategy is the plan that aligns the organisation’s objectives, policies, and procedures into a cohesive approach to deliver the desired set of services that support the business strategy. Quality, costs, and reliability need to be balanced to achieve the organisation’s desired outcomes. During the Plan Phase, IT professionals work with the business to align business objectives and functions with IT’s capabilities and constraints. The IT strategy is the result of this alignment and serves as a roadmap for IT. The strategy continually evolves and improves as organisations improve their optimising skills and ability to adapt to business changes.

The following figure illustrates the position of the Plan Phase within the IT service lifecycle. During the ‘Plan Phase’ of MOF business and IT work together to determine how IT will deliver valuable services that enable the organisation to succeed.


Goals of the Plan Phase

The primary goals of the Plan Phase are to provide guidance to IT groups on how to continually plan for and optimise the IT service strategy and to ensure that the delivered services are:

• Valuable and compelling.
• Predictable and reliable.
• Compliant.
• Cost effective.
• Adaptable to the changing needs of the business.

The following Service Management Functions (SMF’s) support the primary activities of the Plan Phase:

SMF Deliverable/Purpose Outcomes
Business/IT Alignment

Deliverable: IT service strategy


  • Deliver the right set of services as perceived by the business
  • IT Service Portfolio that is mapped to business processes, functions, and capabilities
  • Services that support the business needs
  • Knowledge of service demand and usage
  • Customer satisfaction

Deliverable: IT standards


  • Ensure that service capacity, service availability, service continuity, and data integrity are aligned to business needs in a cost-effective manner
  • Reliability plans
  • Reliability performance reports
  • Predictable services

Deliverable: IT policies


  • Efficiently define and manage IT policies required
  • Documented IT polices that are mapped to business policies
  • IT policies required for the effective management of IT
  • Policies documented for the following areas:
  • Security
  • Privacy
  • Appropriate use
  • Partner and third-party management
  • Asset protection
Financial Management

Deliverable: IT financial planning and measurement


  • Accurately predict, account for, and optimise costs of required resources to deliver end-to-end IT services
  • Accurate accounting of IT expenditures
  • Costs mapped to IT services
  • Budget that supports IT- required investments
  • Model to determine IT investment opportunities and predict lifecycle costs
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 plan 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 start planning for your IT success?

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