Strategy4IT Help – Step 4b

  • Overview of Step 4b – Add your Business Systems Services

    This should be the complete list of IT applications that your business uses. This includes: any systems that are internally hosted or consumed via the internet, the IT software and hardware that supports the business and the IT processes themselves. Also to be included are the IT services that make sure the infrastructure is maintained and that users get help with problems, as well as any tools used to deliver, develop or monitor these services.

    In addition, Strategy4IT will collect information on the type of contract you have in place for the original purchase and on-going maintenance of these services. This information is used later to allow you to compare how different purchasing techniques affect your expenditure. For example, does the flexibility of a Cloud pay as you go licensing model save you money?

    How to use the screen

    Step 4b – Add your Business Systems Services

    Start by entering the system name (e.g. Salesforce). Feel free to enter it along with it the supplier and any version/model number or any other distinguishing information where relevant, especially when you have multiple versions in use (e.g. MS Office 2003, MS Office 2007, ).
    Then select the appropriate licence type (internal, perpetual, leased, cloud) and type of support (internal, external, on-demand, PAYG). See the keyword glossary below if you are unsure of the definitions to choose.

    Keywords

    Systems & Services: The list of all IT related assets, contracts and licenses including those for hardware, software, business applications, IT services and IT support whether purchased externally or provided by internal costs centres or teams. Systems and services maybe provided by internal staff, purchased externally from vendors or even be free of cost but have an associated licence such as open source software products like Firefox or Open Office.
    Type of Licence: This can be internal, perpetual, leased or cloud. This should define the way you pay for the initial rights to use the software, hardware or service and who supplies it. If you created the software or application internally then it is internal. When the purchase was one-off giving long term rights to own or use the software/hardware then this is a perpetual licence. For a product or service that is paid for on a fixed, regular (typically quarterly or annual) basis, and where there are no long term rights to own or use the software/hardware, and/or where if usage stops it will be returned to the vendor then choose leased. If the purchase is for an external application or service that is delivered over the internet with a pay-for-what-you-consume model then choose cloud.
    Type of Support: This can be internal, external, on demand or pay as you go. This should define the way that the maintenance and on-going support of the software, hardware or service is provided. If you provide the support primarily via internal staff then it is internal. When the services for maintenance and support are primarily supplied from an external third party, either the vendor or an outsourced supplier on a long term or rolling annual contract or where they are included with a perpetual license then the service is external. In the event that there is no regular payment or long term contract in place but the vendor or supplier is contacted on an ad-hoc basis to provide assistance then this is on-demand. In the event the service is part of a pay-for-what-you-consume model alongside the licence then this is a cloud support model.

    See the Glossary for more details on Licence Type and Type of Support.

    What should I include in the Systems and Services list that I enter?

    Initially you may wish to choose one area of focus – either business processes or IT processes – and restrict your list accordingly. This will depend on the scope of your IT assessment that you chose at step 2 when entering the processes. In this case you will either focus on the software and applications supporting the main business process chain or the IT infrastructure and related tools.
    We recommend starting by considering every type of software used by your business. This could be: a business application consumed externally (e.g. Salesforce), any packages running internally (e.g. Sage), any in-house developed software (e.g. your in house financial reporting system), office software (e.g. Microsoft Office, Adobe Acrobat), desktop software (e.g. Blackberry Sync), any development tools (e.g. MS Visual C++), operating environments (e.g. RedHat Linux) and any infrastructure management tools (e.g. NetBackup, HP Service Centre).
    Having compiled the list of software, you should now look at the IT services that surround these tools. Find out who is maintaining the software, who develops it, who gets called when there is a problem and support is required and who monitors it for problems. Make a list of all the internal teams involved and all the external suppliers that provide the services and add these to the list. We recommend including whoever makes the strategic decisions, whoever manages the IT costs, IT security, business continuity planning and other IT management issues in addition to the pure support, in order to get a comprehensive view.
    If you wish to look at your entire landscape of IT then in addition to the software and services we recommend including every type of hardware that you have, own or use. This should be comprehensive, comprising desktops, servers, printers, network routers, storage and backup devices and also (where relevant) telephones, switchboards, mainframes, and anything else that forms part of the IT cost base. It is a good idea to separate them by main manufacturer and perhaps if you are concerned by major model or line. We also suggest adding to the list any physical buildings or environments that house the centralised equipment – especially data centres and machine rooms.

    How do I collect the list of Systems and Services to enter?

    Each organisation will have many sources of information on their IT landscape. These sources could include: the financial ledgers, asset registers, the legal contracts database, the desktop and server management tools (Microsoft SMS, any IT register or CMD databases etc). If you are well organised then perhaps the IT department or IT manager will have a comprehensive list of all the things that are used or purchased within IT. However, we often find this is not only out of date but also incomplete even if it exists, so take care to double check everything if you want to be accurate. In many firms it is likely that freeware and direct user downloads will be omitted, likewise software or services may be paid for directly by parts of the business and could be missing from the list.
    We recommend starting with the finance systems and checking the financial ledgers for all IT related assets, purchases and suppliers. In addition it is a good idea to look at any inventories of legal contracts, software and hardware licences that may exist. Once you have a good list these can be imputed to the tool. When collecting the information bear in mind in the type of licence/contract and support that exists. Keep in mind that in subsequent steps we will be asking you collect cost information and how the system or service is used across the business organisation and processes.

    Can you give some real world examples of the type of things to enter as systems and services?

    In our help pages we have been following two examples, a travel company and a clothing and dry cleaning retail chain. It would not be useful on this help page to give a complete list of all their systems and services but we can take a couple of focus areas to explain how the data can be entered and indicate the considerations.
    We will consider the travel company first. The reason that the COO decided to use Strategy4IT to assist in defining his IT strategy was that his user base seemed to be suffering with highly inefficient sharing of data. Users were often finding that the mail system was the only easy way for them to get data between groups in the organisation, and worse still when shared there were often conversion and formatting issues on documents.
    Let us consider the key product he was entering into the system related to the desktop:
    At first glance at the list some of the issues the company were facing are obvious – the sheer mix of versions and operating environments was clearly driving up cost and complexity. This may be an obvious point and you might question the value of Strategy4IT, but later in the process of the tool the mapping of the usage of these products across the organisation gave a very real view of the problem areas. This allowed the COO to get Board mandate to increase standardisation, simplify the landscape and save money by choosing the most cost efficient tools and purchases.
    The retail company in our example had recently formed from the merger of two retail chains. The IT approach within the two smaller groups had been very different, with various applications used for standard processes like CRM and sales, but also very differing IT management and IT support approaches. Let us consider two areas as examples. Firstly the sales area has three systems in use: one integrated with the direct internet sales, one by the cleaning branches for customer logging and a third for wholesale activities and supplier contact management linked to the accounting systems:
    It is worth noting here the different licence models for the products with the comparison of cloud based pay as you go versus the long term perpetual licences from traditional software. When presented with the Strategy4IT cost and complexity maps created later in the workflow, the management rapidly approved a migration to a single tool and decided to save money by using cloud based services.
    In another area of the business we can look at the difference in IT management and support services. In the pre-merger clothing company the management was by the COO but supported by a small team of internal staff; this clashed with a full outsourced IT management and support in the dry cleaning company. The complete contrast in these approaches was causing management tension on the new board and by exposing the differences in the complexity and support maps it was easier to reach an agreement on a common approach:
    These examples are intended to give a taster of how Strategy4IT can be used to help companies agree ways forward by simplifying the decision and presenting issues in a clear way. We hope you will simplify and save with Stategy4IT.

    FAQ:

    1) I have collected too many systems and services to enter in the system what can I do?
    The trial version of our software limits you to 32 entries, if you need more we recommend upgrading to the professional version which allows a list of 120 to be entered. We have chosen 120 as a reasonable maximum of what can be displayed on one page and therefore be reasonably interpreted. For larger firms with many systems and services we recommend the following actions:
    - consider omitting the version or model numbers to reduce and simplify the assessment at this stage, grouping systems and services together from one supplier (e.g. bulking four modules of SAP into one entry).
    - reduce the area of focus to just business applications or just IT infrastructure, perhaps completing these as separate assessments.
    - consider focusing on only software, hardware or services in the assessment to reduce the scope to a more focused assessment
    In the event that you are still unable to reduce the scope of the list please contact us, we have many years of experience of dealing with assessments and strategy for large organisations and our consultants will gladly assist you.
    2) I am not sure what to put for licence or type of support?
    Check our glossary and key words above for guidance on how to choose the right selection. If you are still unsure we recommend selecting at least internal or external, depending on whether the item is produced or supported by internal teams or acquired externally. In the worst case you can just set all the items the same and save, but in this case the licence and support map reports available later will not be useful to you as they will be all one colour.
    3) What should I do if I don’t know every system and service used within my organisation?
    The best thing to do is review your accounts for outgoing bills or invoices. You should look for one-off purchases as well as those that are on-going. In addition, you need to look for support licenses for these systems. Don’t forget that certain contracts and licenses could be embedded, such as those for cloud services, or part of a wider invoice for business services. If you cannot compile a comprehensive list then start with what you can find out and highlight the gaps in the reports to department heads and managers, so they can collect the additional data directly from the consuming departments.
    4) I am entering a very long list, should I save in the middle?
    Saving in the middle of a lot of data and returning is a good idea. However, we recommend using the menus and buttons in the system to navigate in Strategy4IT as using back button on the browser can cause unforeseen issues.
    5) Can I upload my data from a spreadsheet or file?
    This feature is planned for a future version of Strategy4IT, we are aware a long list takes time to enter and will be adding this facility soon.