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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Two Tips to Communicate the Value of Virtualized IT Operations

If you are in the process of, or have transitioned servers or applications to a cloud-based or virtualized solution, you have increased your value to the rest of the business. But how do you communicate that effectively? 

How do you clarify the value proposition of IT operations leveraging cloud-based solutions for IT service delivery? You make sure that speed and agility are metrics that those who you support understand, by bringing the value proposition to them on their terms.

1. Choose Metrics Wisely

There are three key areas you will most easily be able to measure meaningful business value:

  • Economics - what does it cost to run IT
  • Quality of Service - in the eyes of the end users of the services
  • Agility - velocity of deployment in response to changes in business

This is likely not news to anyone in IT operations roles, but often we struggle with the practical implementation and communication of these metrics. In another article we'll talk about implementation, but here's a few tips to get you started thinking along the lines of "what can we do to help the business understand our value to them?"

At the June 2014 Gartner IT Infrastructure and Operations Management Summit this was one of the hot topics many IT operations managers struggle with. We know how to define the value and performance metrics of the infrastructure in ways that we understand, but does the CFO, CMO, or CxO get that?

2. Know LEARN Your Audience

To make sure those who hold the purse strings get the value delivered to the business by IT operations, we need to communicate with them in terms that matter to them. 

The three areas I presented above are great, but meaningless if you just use formulas you've Googled to obtain statistics that you'll put in a Power Point presentation for your upcoming budget review. You need to invest some time in understanding what your audience perceives as value, and then communicating the information to them in that context.

  • Identify people in the key business areas served by IT operations who can help you understand what they value most in the IT service you deliver to them. Perhaps they are getting IT services from others that you weren't aware of - understand why. Not so that you can provide those services instead, but so that you can better understand why they see those options as a value. Use your active listening skills, and learn about their part of the business - don't jump in immediately with offers of help for their challenges, but understand them better.

  • Leverage your PMO, or if you don't have a PMO, those responsible for business development projects to make sure they understand the services and abilities of the IT operations group, and your willingness to better understand how they seek to deliver business projects. The way forward together may not always seem clear at first, but project managers are vital allies to IT operations; they almost always have the ears of those you most wish to influence.

So if we have defined the metrics, and communicate them effectively, we can now communicate our value proposition to those who determine our financial fate. So the next question is, how can we use these metrics to improve our own ability to deliver services? Sounds like a good topic for an upcoming post...

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