Continuous Service Improvement

How IT Business Partners help

Baxter Thompson Ltd, Jon Baxter

At the Baxter & Thompson associates BRM Forum in London delegates gained some practical takeaways after participating in the [email protected] Business simulation game.

The simulation game is an experiential learning instrument that can be used as a stand-alone team building exercise. The simulation can also be used in organizations to create buy-in for IT Business Partnering, compliment training and assess current capabilities and agree first steps for moving forward.

In the simulation workshop, the team, playing the Business & IT roles in the fictive organization ‘[email protected]’ must work together to create value for the organization by deploying a number of digitally enabled strategic business initiatives, whilst at the same time ensuring continuity of existing services.

The simulation game is played in a number of game rounds. Between the game rounds at the BRM Forum event the teams used the maturity assessment of Baxter Thompson associates to assess their current maturity on 6 aspects and to identify and agree improvements.

Maturity Assessment

The maturity assessment measures the overall organisation's ability to have effective partnerships. It is measured on a scale of 1 to 5, with 3 key graduations:

  1. Reactive Partner
  2. -
  3. Service Partner
  4. -
  5. Strategic Partner
What was recognised early on in the simulation is that an organisation cannot move from "Reactive Partner" to "Strategic Partner" in one move, but that they need to ensure that credibility, trust and the organisation culture is ready for a more strategic way of working.

In addition, other crucial aspects came to light:
  • Clarity of roles, especially those between the Service Delivery Manager and IT Business Partner.
  • Ensuring that IT services related to Business outcomes - in this case "Revenue" and selling Pizza!
  • Leveraging an often overlooked aspect of the ITSM framework of "Problem Management" to do Continuous Service Improvement and build into the core capability of the IT Department - increasing "value" and credibility in the eyes of the business stakeholder.
  • Understanding the priority of the business requirements in the context of outcomes - not just "he who shouts loudest"
  • IT Business Partners can help pioneer Continuous Service Improvement as they often have a holistic end-to-end view of the lifecycle, but that they need the remit and the space to take a broader perspective.

Finally, this game demonstrated Continuous Service Improvement in action as after each round, as participants got an opportunity to reflect and do things differently in the next round.

‘This is a powerful way to explore the need for IT Business Partners and help shape decision making  with an organization’ said one delegate after the session.

Does a simulation help?

Jeremy Byne, University of Loughborough,  representing the winner of the BRMProfessional Service Management Awards 2017’ stated in this case study

We certainly achieved our objective for the day and despite some initial scepticism by some delegates, everybody said it was well worth a day’s downtime to stop work and focus on how we actually do work. We have a clear action plan and a better respect and understanding for each of our roles so the simulation was great value’.

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