Posted by Henry Peyret on October 19, 2011
IT has too many separate portfolios to manage, and that hinders its ability to help business change. We have project portfolios, application portfolios, technology portfolios, and IT service portfolios – each managed in silos. These portfolios are all IT-centric – they generally mean nothing to business leaders. The business has products, customers, partners, and processes – and the connection between these business portfolios and the IT portfolios isn't readily apparent and usually not even documented. Change in the business – in any of these areas – is connected to IT only in the requirements document of a siloed project. Lots of requirement documents for lots of siloed projects leads to more complexity and less ability to support business change.
How do we connect these business concepts to IT? What's the "unit" that connects IT projects, apps, and technology with business processes and products?
It's not "business capabilities" – they are an abstraction most useful for prioritizing, analysis, and planning. We need a term to manage the day-to-day adaptation and implementation of these capabilities – the implementation with all its messiness such as fragmented processes and redundant apps – that we can use to manage any type of change.
We believe the best term for this unit is "business services," with this definition:
The output of a business capability with links to the implementation of people, processes, information, and technology necessary to provide that output.
Business services help business and IT evaluate the implications for desired changes and plan in a unified way how to effect these small and large changes. The business wishes to add or change a strategy – what business services will this impact, and what is the best way to change them to support the strategy? The business wishes to adopt common global business processes – which business services are consolidated, standardized, and improved as a result? The business wants to reduce the cost of operations – how do you reduce the cost of the business services (using people, process, information, and technology) that the business runs on? The business would like to adapt to the changing market context, requiring a slight adaptation of the service/price ratio? Forrester proposes to manage these changes through a central portfolio of really business-oriented descriptions of "business services."
We want your thoughts on this concept. Will it be a good foundation to use to bring business and IT portfolios together? Does it fill a void?