An introduction to the MOF Business IT Alignment SMF

Our previous two blog articles in this series explain the role of the Microsoft Operations Framework (MOF), service management functions (SMF’s) and introduce the Planning SMF which is the first step in implementing MOF within your business. If the topics introduced below don’t make sense or perhaps you feel they’re missing context then please refer to the following articles for background context and explanation.

Blog Article 1: What’s your ITIL IQ? An introduction to the Microsoft Operations Framework.

Blog Article 2: Plan for success.

As a quick recap, 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 lifecycle phases. 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 MOF Business IT Alignment SMF belongs to the Plan Phase of the MOF IT service lifecycle. The following figure shows the place of the MOF Business IT Alignment SMF within the Plan Phase, as well as the location of the Plan Phase within the IT service lifecycle.

MOF-Business-IT-Alignment-SMF

Figure 1. Position of the MOF Business IT Alignment SMF within the IT service lifecycle

Why Use the Business/IT Alignment SMF?

This SMF should be useful for anyone wanting to better align business and IT strategy to ensure that IT services provide business value. It provides an understanding of the fundamental process steps involved and describes the context of aligning business and IT goals, developing an IT service strategy, identifying an IT portfolio of work, and establishing methods of keeping business and IT aligned.

It addresses how to do the following:

• Define IT service strategy.
• Identify and map IT services.
• Measure demand and manage business requests.
• Develop an IT service portfolio.
• Establish service level managements.

Business/IT Alignment Overview

Q: What do businesses want from IT?
A: Services that are reliable, compliant, and cost effective, and that continuously adapt to ever changing needs.

If you want to strengthen the alignment between your IT department and the rest of the business, start with this list of questions. Your answers will determine which areas the MOF Business/Alignment SMF can help you the most.

• Do you have an IT strategy in place? Is it aligned to organisational objectives?
• Is the strategy communicated? Does everyone have a clear understanding of the strategy?
• Is the strategy measured, and are opportunities for improvement identified?
• Is there service level agreements (SLAs) in place for the key business services?
• Is there a process for identifying and approving new project concepts?
• Is there a published portfolio of projects? Is it clearly communicated and understood by IT and the business representatives?
• Is there a clear connection between the strategy and IT’s portfolio of projects and services?
• Is IT service demand measured and analysed?
• Are new business requests accepted, organised, managed, and acted upon?

Roles

The primary Team SMF accountability that applies to the Business/IT Alignment SMF is the Service Accountability. Roles within the Management Accountability are also involved. The role types within each accountability and their primary responsibilities and roles within this SMF are displayed in the following tables. In smaller businesses, one person may perform more than one and sometimes all roles. However it’s important to note each role type and responsibilities.
Service Accountability

Table 1 lists the role types associated with the Support Accountability, as well as the responsibilities and roles for each role type.

Table 1. Service Accountability and Its Attendant Role Types

Role Type Responsibilities Role in this SMF
Supplier Manager ·       Tracks external vendors who provide supporting services and products ·       Ensures effective vendor relationships
Portfolio Manager ·       Keeps a set of service offerings up to date and aligned to business needs

·       Maintains the overall service catalogue

·       Ensures available services are accurately reflected in the service catalogue
Service Delivery Manager ·       Serves as a link between users or customers and the IT organisation

·       Meets with the customer, discusses current issues, and makes sure that expectations are aligned

·       Ensures effective customer and user relationships

·       Drives relationship with the business

Service Level Manager ·       Accountable for Business/IT Alignment

·       Acts as main interface between the business and the IT service delivery organisation

·       Handles all issues and development in Service Level Management, including development and agreement of SLAs, OLAs, and UCs

·       Represents the business, but works with and within the IT organisation

·       Ensures effective IT service delivery within specified SLAs
Management Accountability

Table 2 lists the role types associated with the Management Accountability, as well as the responsibilities and roles for each role type.

Table 2. Management Accountability and Its Attendant Role Types

Role Type Responsibilities Role in this SMF
IT Executive Officer Sponsors IT initiatives

Approves structures and overall IT processes

Owns metrics and benchmarking, board and executive relationships

Sponsorship
IT Manager Manages processes

Identifies and engages appropriate participants in decision process

Manages risk and IT business value realisation dependencies

Owns business/IT relationship

Oversees business/IT alignment processes
IT Policy Manager Sees that management decisions are informed by policy and that policy is effectively used across IT Provides policy input to decision process
Change Manager Manages the activities of the change management process for the IT organisation Ensures process of determining IT service portfolio follows appropriate level of change control
Goals of Business/IT Alignment

 The goals of the Business/IT Alignment SMF are to ensure that:

  • IT strategy is aligned to an organisation’s broader goals and objectives.
  • Delivered IT services are effective and efficient in meeting the organisation’s needs.
  • IT offerings and services are aligned to the business goals.

The achievement of these goals should result in several specific, measurable outcomes, which are detailed in the table below.

Table 3. Outcomes and Measures of the Business/IT Alignment SMF Goals

Outcomes Measures
The business considers IT as a strategic asset. The business continues to invest in enhancements or new services.

The business consults with IT as part of strategic decisions, acquisitions, or new directions.

IT has a strategic plan. The business and IT publish and measure an annual IT service strategy. The strategy articulates the linkages between IT goals and the business goals and outlines measurements, budget, risks, and a plan for execution.
IT understands its capabilities and resources. IT has a predictable model for estimating resource consumption and the adoption of new technologies.

IT measures business demand of services offered and uses this information for planning purposes.

IT has a set of defined services and projects that support the strategic plan. IT has a published service portfolio that identifies all projects.

IT has a published service catalogue that identifies and describes all services offered to the organisation.

Key Terms

The following table contains definitions of key terms to note with regards to the Business/IT Alignment SMF.

Table 4. Key Terms

Business relationship management The ongoing process that ensures that the organisation and IT remain in sync with respect to common goals and strategies.
Demand management The process of aligning an organisation’s supply of IT resources to meet service demands forecasted by the business.
IT service strategy The plan that aligns an organisation’s objectives, policies, and procedures into a cohesive approach to deliver services that support business strategy.
Operating level agreement (OLA) An internal agreement between one or more IT teams that supports the requirements set forth in the service level agreements (SLAs).
Service catalogue A comprehensive list of services, including priorities of the business and corresponding SLAs.
Service level agreement (SLA) A written agreement documenting required levels of service. The SLA is agreed upon by the IT service provider and the business, or by the IT service provider and a third-party provider. SLAs should list the metrics and measures that define success for both IT and the organisation.
Service Level Management The process of defining and managing performance through monitoring, reporting, and reviewing the required, agreed upon level of service.
Service portfolio An internal repository that defines IT services and categorises them as currently in service, in queue to be developed, or in queue to be decommissioned. All services support a specific business process or function.
Underpinning contract (UC) A legally binding contract in place of or in addition to an SLA. This type of contract is with a third-party service provider responsible for building service deliverables for the SLA.
Business Alignment Processes and Activities

One of the most important things that IT can provide to any organisation is a positive overall impact—to business outcomes, to objectives, to business profit. But this can happen only if IT’s service strategy is aligned to the goals and objectives of the organisation. To assist in this process, the Business/IT Alignment SMF focuses on the following five processes:

  • Define an IT service strategy.
  • Identify and map services.
  • Identify IT service demand and manage business requests.
  • Develop and evaluate the IT service portfolio.
  • Manage service levels.

Business Alignment acts as the coordinating SMF in the Plan Phase, responsible for taking input from the other SMFs within the phase (Reliability, Financial Management, and Policy) to drive business value and the IT service strategy.  Reliability, Financial Management, and Policy are ongoing functions that support the planning and optimisation of the IT service strategy.

Conclusion

The Business/IT Alignment SMF describes the principal processes in aligning business and IT goals, developing an IT service strategy, identifying an IT portfolio of work, and establishing methods of keeping business and IT aligned.

The deliverables from this SMF include:

  • IT service strategy.
  • IT service map.
  • IT service portfolio.
  • Service level agreements.
How can I implement MOF?

Hopefully by now you’ll begin to understand the value that the Microsoft Operations Framework can bring to your business. The five processes outlined above require many activities and considerations which form part of our day to day activities at First Solution. In fact, 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 non-IT professional such as a finance or procurement professional can concisely present to the IT Executive Officer 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. Once the IT Executive Officer has bought into the MOF concept we can help to develop an IT service strategy, IT service map, IT service portfolio and Service level agreements.

How can I better align my business and IT?

Simply get in touch to arrange a free Proactive Services Maturity Review and one of our MOF experts will conduct an interview with the IT Manager or IT Executive Officer 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 aligning your business and IT?

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