Every complex structure needs a reference frame to be measured and controlled. Information Technologies also require a common coordinate system that on the one hand has to be simple and clear for easy usage and on the other hand comprehensive enough to describe complex projects and approaches. The best candidate is the frame of reference based on three dimensions: People, Processes and Technologies (PPT).
Process covers the “way things are done” (Sorensen & Ing). Its specification should include:
- Operations and procedures
- Activities, work instructions
- Rules and routines
Technology covers the “tools are used.” Some aspects of the information technologies are:
- Computing, network, storage
- Applications, middleware, and operating systems
- Data management and integrity
- User and technical documentation
People refers to the individuals who operate and consume technologies and processes. Elements of this category can include:
Communications and relationships
- Knowledge and skills required
- Roles, career path
- Working conditions
- Beliefs and values
Successful IT organizations continuously adapt to the changing environment adjusting their resources and behavior across these fundamental dimensions. So all dimensions should be alligned.
What is alignment and why is it important?
“Alignment means proper adjustment of components or coordinated functioning. In the project management world, the expression alignment can be defined as the adjustment of one resource (people, process, or tool) in relation to others so that the arrangement can lead to optimization of a position or the relationship between the resources.” (Wadhwa & Mittra, 2011) So alignment can significantly increase an effectiveness of IT and the value that it gives to business.
The difference between fully and partially aligned organization is defined by (Wadhwa & Mittra, 2011) as an increased value. It can appear as improved quality of services or reduced response time that by-turn increase chances to reach the desired outcomes.
Alignment concept not only applicable to IT as a whole but has to be used within particular projects and individual systems.
Whether ITaaS and SDDC approaches are aligned?
As an example, let’s consider popular and already proven approaches for IT optimization and development – IT as a Service and Software Defined Data Center. Their PPT alignment estimation is presented HERE.
The analysis reveals that both approaches are not aligned, but skewed toward Processes or Technologies. So they are mostly focused either on how to do something or what tools should be used for that. People and their needs are not ignored but still that is the weakest element.
To reinforce the People dimension of IT, we need redefining the service approach already used in the ITaaS and complement technological tools used by SDDC with the new approach named Human Defined Services (HDS).
What are the building blocks of HDS?
People dimension development requires effective exploitation of mental and physical limitations as well as abilities of a human being. People study and understand information better if it’s provided in friendly forms and formats: visualized, structured, funny and based on the real-life examples and case studies. Human thinking is the complex nonlinear and iterative process. It is the mixture of two opposite paradigms – analytical and intuitive. If an analytical component is the basis of modern IT, intuition is usually ignored. People can share their thoughts and knowledge both in a structural and nonstructural way. Sometimes they explain own needs and wants in a very fuzzy manner.
So the task of effective communication and creative problem solving is challenging. That applies to all types of activities, including IT. Human Defined Services approach accents on very practical cognitive methods for efficient study, thinking and explanation. This boosts the People dimension and allows better aligning of PPT triangle.
Of course, HDS is just the approach, the model that intentionally oversimplifies the real life. “The map is not the terrain, the model is not a complete picture”. (Brooks, 2010) The main application conditions of the approach are common sense and experience.
HDS consist of 4 components:
- Service Design approach defines the principles and process to get required job done
- Outcome-based job statement helps to focus on customer’s real needs
- Cynefin framework reveals the current situation and its dynamic
- Heuristic tools help to get job done better, quicker or cheaper