3 min read

Insight, Atlassian's Digital Asset Management Tool | Praecipio Consulting

By Kye Hittle on Jul 7, 2021 10:06:50 AM

Blogpost-DisplayImage-July_Digital Asset Management Tools for Your Company

Previously, we looked at why digital asset management is important for your organization. Today, we're exploring Atlassian's solution for tracking your organization's valuable assets digitally: Insight. Remember, we are defining assets as anything that helps you get work done: lab equipment, computer hardware, cloud infrastructure, mobile devices, software/SaaS licenses, tools, work stations, furniture, etc.

In our industry, digital asset management is usually thought of as a component of "service management." Service management was traditionally considered an IT function (often manifested in the form of an IT help desk). In recent years, however, we have been implementing these practices across the organization—from legal to human resources to finance—because they dramatically increase the speed and quality of how work flows.

This expansion of service management practices beyond the IT organization means more teams are taking advantage of Atlassian's asset management tool, Insight. The impact of this trend is often quite remarkable as processes are formalized, streamlined, and consistently monitored. Teams using Insight get additional process benefits. Unlike inflexible, legacy Configuration Management Databases (CMDBs), Insight uses an open data structure which allows your teams to manage any resource important to their service requests. Including assets in your service management practices is a big step forward.

Think about how work gets done in any part of your organization: your process workflows. It typically starts with the (internal or external) customer submitting a service request, like a new employee onboarding, a facility request, a contract review, etc... The request is picked up from the queue by an agent who will take actions to move the work forward to resolution. Many actions may be needed along the way: obtaining additional information, forwarding to another team, making a configuration change, creating an account, procuring a requested item, repair equipment, provide updates back to the requester, etc. These actions are all turbo-charged and made easier through Jira's functionality and built-in fields. But is there something missing? Yes, assets! Almost every request involves procuring, repairing, replacing, upgrading, decommissioning, or dealing with assets in some way. A Jira issue, by default, doesn't include fields to track data related to assets.

We could employ custom fields to create a drop-down list of assets, but we quickly run into limits with this approach. As discussed in the former post, assets usually have many attributes, such as serial numbers, vendor/service contacts, documentation, relationships to other assets, etc... There's no way to stuff all of this information into a custom field. Using multiple custom fields is cumbersome for agents and for reporting/tracking due to data entry accuracy issues. In addition, we can't establish relationships between assets represented in custom fields; these are important for being able to see all assets located in a certain location or seeing what other assets will be impacted by removing or changing an asset, for example. We need an integrated solution that's tailored to managing our assets within Jira tickets.

Insight-company-assets

Insight's basic functionality allows customers and agents to link an issue to a complete, dynamic asset record. This is incredibly powerful by itself, but that's not all: with asset management handled by Insight, we can do so much more to help work flow smoothly as part of digital transformation initiatives. Insight can automate ticket assignment based on any asset attribute, like location, model, or vendor. This prevents front-line support from spending time reassigning tickets to the appropriate queue and removes that wait from the request's resolution time. Alerts to stakeholders can be sent automatically. Should safety and engineering teams be alerted when tickets involving security systems, networking hardware or other critical infrastructure are opened? Automated discovery can be a crucial feature for audit/compliance and having an accurate picture of what assets are being used to in your business. We are amazed at the flexibility of Insight to help customers manage all of their needs around assets.

Are your assets managing you instead of the other way around? If so, get in touch, and let's apply the power of Insight to your business.

Topics: jira blog asset-management service-management insight digital-transformation
5 min read

Pros and Cons of a Cloud Migration | Praecipio Consulting

By Luis Machado on Jul 5, 2021 12:23:50 PM

Blogpost-DisplayImage-July_The Pros and Cons of a Cloud MigrationThinking a move to cloud might be the way to go for your company, but you're not exactly sure if such a move is right for you? There are a few questions you should ask yourself about your organization to understand the context of what a migration to cloud would mean for you.  As you're navigating the pros and cons associated with migrating from on-prem solution to cloud, you have to understand that how these factors are weighed largely depend on the context of your organization. Asking the following questions will help you establish that context:

Why move to cloud?

For context, the term 'Cloud' can be somewhat ambiguous, so if not otherwise stated I'm referring to cloud in the SaaS sense (Software as a Service), that is, maintained by a 3rd party and available in a cloud setting, such as the Atlassian product suite. There are other flavors of cloud out there, but the SaaS model is where we'll maintain our focus. The first question you want to answer is why? Why are you considering moving to cloud in the first place? Are there any specific pain points you are feeling in your current setup that you think might be alleviated by moving to cloud? Understanding what your potential need is for a cloud migration will help you to develop a business justification for the endeavor, as well as allow you to start to build the context of your specific situation. If the reason is "We're spending too much time on maintaining infrastructure for our on-prem solutions" then something like having no maintenance in a cloud environment would be weighed very heavily in your case.

What are you moving?

What are you going to be moving?  What does your current on-prem setup look like? How big is your userbase? What 3rd party add ons or apps are you using? Are you using a single instance and are wanting to consolidate in addition to migrating to cloud?  How much historical data do you have? These questions can help to establish the potential complexity of the migration you're looking to perform.  One of the major considerations that has to be factored into a cloud migration is the cost of entry. This extends from just the literal monetary cost to include time and human resources as well. If your company can't afford to divert labor to perform a migration, is it worth it for you to contract the project out to a 3rd party? Having an idea of what you are migrating will help you weigh the various options and give you perspective to consider the impact.

Pros

Now that you've established the context for you migration, let's take a moment to talk about the potential pros around migrating to cloud.  When comparing cloud to an on-prem solution, you can really break down the pros into four main points:

  • Accessibility
  • Scalability
  • Maintenance
  • Cost

Let's take a look at the first point, Accessibility. One of the great things about cloud is that it's accessible from almost anywhere in the world right out of the box. You don't have to configure any VPNs or allow lists, no special permissions groups to modify, all the data replication and content delivery is managed for you, and has a low cost to entry.

Scalability is another major pro in favor of a move to cloud and falls along similar lines as Accessibility, and typically goes hand in hand with Maintenance. The infrastructure behind the application or service is purpose-built on a platform intended to be scalable in order to support multiple customers.

Add to this the fact that you no longer have to be responsible for maintaining that infrastructure, you can focus efforts and resources elsewhere in your organization. If maintaining infrastructure is something in particular your business struggles with, making a shift to cloud can have a huge positive impact.

This leads us nicely into the topic of cost.  Depending on the specific context, cost can sometimes go either way: I'm including it in the pros section because I think in most cases, especially if you factor in for the long term, your costs overall will be lower with a move to cloud. Figuring costs in a cloud move takes some doing because there can be differences in the types of costs you'll encounter in a cloud setting vs. an on-prem. Again, because this can be pretty heavily dependent on the context of the specific situation being analyzed, I'll throw out a few common factors but I don't want to give any potentially wrong impressions. Cloud vs on prem costs infographic

In the table above I've done quick breakdown to illustrate the basic differences around Cloud and On-Prem, and I've added another column to include the option of moving to cloud as SaaS model vs self-hosted cloud. Cloud hosted and On-Prem hosted have some similar costs categories (licensing, infrastructure) but there is some reprieve you get from cloud specifically around the depreciation of hardware and maintaining the infrastructure. In a cloud model this is mostly tied to licensing and the monthly cost operating fees associated with the virtual hardware you have allocated for your purposes. Versus the more traditional model of maintaining physical servers, the personnel costs associated with that upkeep, and the cost you incur with depreciation. In a SaaS model this all mostly wrapped into the licensing cost, which is typically why licensing for cloud is both more expensive and more complex. 

Cons

There are of some potential tradeoffs and downsides to consider as part of a move to the cloud. The biggest areas that might cause you or your organization trouble include Control, Security, and Flexibility.

When you break it down, the concepts of control and security almost go hand-in-hand.  Control is probably the hardest thing to overcome when talking about moving your data to the cloud and understandably so. The bottom line of operating in cloud environment is your data lives somewhere outside of your organization and the infrastructure is managed by another entity. You're putting your data and your trust into someone else's hands. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, it can take some getting used to, and some adjusting of your internal methods or practices. Being familiar with the support process can help with this as know what information you can request and how to get it will help to alleviate some of the disjointed feeling when attempting to manage your application.

On the security front, if your company has very specific security requirements or has specific regulatory bodies you have to comply with, there is an extra layer of consideration when weighing the prospect of moving to cloud. It's important to first identify what those needs are and reach out to the cloud provider ahead of time to find out if those requirements can be accommodated.

Lastly it's important to consider that moving to a cloud application means you will not have access to anything beyond the application layer. This can mean workarounds previously in use with the on-prem solution may need to be re-considered or re-engineered, and there are potentially additional restrictions around API calls and traffic to/from the application. Spending some time discovering what your needs are vs what is available to you in a cloud setting will be key to realizing these potential pitfalls.

We are getting to a point where we're moving from "Is cloud the right choice?" to "Which form of cloud is the right choice?" Not all situations involving cloud are the same, and careful consideration and weighing of options is important for any potential move.  Having the right tools to plan and execute the transition as well as an understanding of the context of your environment can make all the difference when deciding how to move forward.

If you have any questions on migrating to cloud, have run into trouble implementing a migration, or simply want to see if your organization is making the most of its digital infrastructure and operations, contact us and one of our experts will reach out to you.

Topics: blog saas cloud digital-transformation cloud migration
10 min read

ITSM and ITIL: Not So Different After All | Praecipio Consulting

By Yogi Kanakamedala on Jun 9, 2021 4:01:01 PM

Blogpost-DisplayImage-June_ITSM-ITILThe change to remote work has forced Information Technology (IT) teams to quickly and efficiently serve their customers. Due to this, many people talk about using ITSM processes or ITIL strategies to help their teams. But what does this mean? Are they the same? Or completely different? What does an IT team implementing these practices look like? To understand this, we first have to understand ITSM and ITIL. 

What is ITSM?

Atlassian defines Information Technology Service Management (ITSM) as a way IT teams manage the end-to-end delivery of IT services to customers. This includes a defined set of processes to design, create, deliver, and support IT services. 

The core concept of ITSM is the belief that IT should be delivered as a service

I think of ITSM simply as a set of tools you can use to improve your IT team. Just like you would use a handsaw to cut a piece of wood or a screwdriver and a screw to connect two pieces of wood together, you have to think about what you would like to accomplish with your IT team and which tool would be best for the job. 

ITSM processes focus on your customer's needs and services rather than the IT systems behind the scenes. These processes, when implemented properly, can help cross-department collaboration, increase control and governance, deliver and maximize asset efficiency, provide better and quicker customer support, and reduce costs across the organization. What are some of these magical processes? Glad you asked! 

  1. Service Request Management
    Any incoming inquires asking for access to applications, software licenses, password resets, or new hardware is classified as Service Requests. These requests are often recurring and can be made into simple, duplicable procedures. These repeatable procedures will help IT teams provide quick service for the recurring requests. Applying well-designed practices to your Jira Service Management application can streamline the process for an organizations' customer to create Service Requests and for internal IT teams to act on the Service Requests.  

  2. Knowledge Management
    The process of making, sharing, utilizing, and managing data of an organization to attain its business objectives can all be a part of Knowledge Management. Creating a Knowledge Base (KB) for IT teams to create content is crucial for teams to learn from the past and maximize productivity. Having a collaborative workspace, such as Confluence, for all teams to work within can help create one source of truth of information. KB articles can also be shared with your customers through the Jira Service Management portal to help resolve common or simple Service Request without having to contact the IT Team. 

  3. IT Asset Management (ITAM)
    IT Asset Management (also known as ITAM) can help ensure valuable company resources are accounted for, deployed, maintained, upgrades, or properly disposed of. Because assets have a relatively short life-cycle, it is important to make the best use of all assets. Integrating tools such as Insight with your Jira instance can help track all valuable assets throughout your organization conveniently within Jira issues in real-time. 

  4. Incident Management
    Any process that is responding to an unplanned event or downtime will fall under the Incident Management bucket. The only goal of Incident Management is to make sure that problematic services are brought back to their original operational status in the shortest time possible. For any incident to be quickly resolved, the original reporter has to be able to quickly communicate with the proper IT team asking for help and the IT team must be able to easily communicate back with the reporter to gather any relevant information needed to solve the problem. Jira Service Management can help make this crucial communication effortless.

  5. Problem Management
    Taking lessons learned from an incident and determining the root cause of the problem so that future incidents can be prevented or, at minimum, limiting downtime is the basis of Problem Management. Once a root cause analysis is performed on an incident and documented within your Confluence instance, the impact of future incidents can be reduced. 

  6. Change Management
    Change Management can be used to control and understand the impact of changes being made to all IT Infrastructure. The Change Advisory Board (CAB), a group of individuals tasked with evaluating, scheduling, and validating a change, can be leveraged to better maintain and ensure the stability of your IT Infrastructure. By taking advantage of Jira, employees can easily suggest changes and the CAB will be able to review the proposed changes, approving and scheduling the change as they see fit. 

To see these processes in action, let's consider a tangible example that will help bring it all together:

"Austin Snow" is a new employee at your company. As part of the onboarding process, they will need a brand new laptop. As their manager, you submit a Service Request to your IT team through the Jira Service Management Help Center. An agent in your accounting department is then assigned to this task. Using information from a KB article that has been built out in a Confluence page, the agent can see that they are supposed to put in a purchase order for the new device. From the Confluence page, the agent also knows to add this new asset in Insight and assign ownership to Austin.

Once the laptop is delivered and Austin tries to access an application and finds that they get a 404 error message. Austin reaches out to the IT team through the Help Center to create an incident with them. The IT team then proceeds to investigate this issue. They can find the root cause of the problem and fix it. Using the lessons learned from this incident, the IT team performs a root cause analysis (RCA) for the problem. As a result of the RCA, it is found that a change to the organizations' infrastructure can help prevent this problem in the future. The IT proposed the change to the Change Advisor Board (CAB) who then investigates the impact of this change, weighs pros and cons and schedules an outage window to perform this change. 

As can be seen in this example, ITSM processes can help quickly fulfill requests, transfer knowledge, keep track of assets, respond to problems, identify the cause of a problem, and implement any changes needed to prevent problems in the future. 

What is ITIL?

Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is a set of best practices designed to support a company's IT operations. ITIL was introduced in the late 20th century as a series of books by a government agency in Great Britain in an attempt to help the British Government provide a better quality of IT service at a lower cost. ITIL v2 condensed all of the content in the early 2000s into nine publications. These two older versions are seldom used, most organizations currently implement ITIL v3 or ITIL 4.

ITIL v3

In 2007, ITIL v3 introduced the service lifecycle, a set of five core publications, to help organizations focus on continual improvement. The ITIL Service Lifecycle consists of five stages; Service Strategy, Service Design, Service Transition, Service Operation, and Continuous Service Improvement.

ITIL3-service-lifecycleSource: AXELOS, “ITIL Foundation: ITIL 3 Edition” (2007 - Updated 2011)

The Service Strategy stage helps level set the expectations of an organization so that a service provider can meet the organization's business outcomes. The Service Design stage helps the service provider gather all the requirements and create a plan to turn an idea into reality. The Service Transition stage is when the design from the previous stage is implemented and made ready to go live as smoothly as possible. The Service Operation stage focuses on making sure the services being provided are being fulfilled as agreed upon. Finally, the Continuous Service Improvement stage focuses on service provided staying agile and keeping up with the ever-changing needs of the organization. 

ITIL 4

Most recently, ITIL 4 took into consideration the latest trends in technologies and service management to help organizations as they undergo digital transformation. ITIL 4 consists of two main components; the four dimensions model and the service value system (SVS).

ITIL4-service-value-system-1

Source: AXELOS, “ITIL Foundation: ITIL 4 Edition” (2019)

The four dimensions model lays out four key areas to consider to ensure a holistic approach to service management. These four dimensions are Organizations and People, Information and Technology, Partners and Suppliers, and Value Streams and Processes. The four dimensions have to work together to help ensure that any Product or Service provided to the customer is able to provide value in an effective and efficient manner.

For example, in the above Austin Snow use case, the Organizations & People would be the HR Team performing the onboarding, the IT team helping deliver the laptop, the Support team handling the outage, and Austin Snow themself. The Information & Technology would be all the tools, Jira Service Management, Insight, etc. that were used to help Austin. The Partners & Suppliers would consist of the internal IT team in charge of the service request and incident management or any other external team that as leveraged to deliver the request or fix the incident. finally, the Value Streams & Processes would consist of any well-defined procedures that were used to help deliver the service to Austin.

ITIL4-service-value-chain

Source: AXELOS, “ITIL Foundation: ITIL 4 Edition” (2019)

The service value system lays out how all the components of an organization have to work together to provide maximum value. To accomplish this, 5 main elements are used produce Value from an Opportunity or Demand; Guiding Principles, Governance, Service Value Chain, Practices, Continual Improvement. 

Guiding Principles help define how an organization will respond in all circumstances. These principles should be considered when making any decisions. Governance defines how an organization is directed and controlled and always stem from Guiding Principles. The Service Value Chain is a set of inter-united processes used to deliver a product or service to a customer. Practices are resources to help perform work. Continual Improvement is how the process can be improved to help provide the most amount of Value to an organization. When all of the elements of the SVS are implemented and used properly, an organization will be able to capitalize on every Opportunity. The four dimensions must be considered with all elements of the SVS to ensure a great quality of service is provided to your customers. 

ITIL v3 and ITIL 4 are essentially guiding the same fundamental ideas of service management. ITIL 4 takes a new approach to provide this guidance. It is important to consider the inner workings of your organization to understand a set of principles that will best mesh with your organization. 

How are they related?

Now that we have laid down a foundation for ITSM and ITIL concepts, let's explore the relationship between ITSM and ITIL.

Unlike the title of this blog may suggest, these two concepts are not opposing ideas. ITIL is a framework of ITSM, meaning ITIL takes the concepts and values of ITSM and lays out a set of defined best practices that organizations can easily apply to their business to help improve IT services. In other words, ITSM processes describe the "what" while ITIL best practices describe the "how". 

ITIL is not the only ITSM framework; frameworks or processes such as DevOps, Kaizen, Lean, and Six Sigma are also implemented by organizations. ITIL is the most popular ITSM framework to help improve IT service delivery.

In summary, ITSM is a defined set of processes to design, create, deliver, and support IT services. ITIL, a framework of ITSM best practices, can be used as a set of guidelines to quickly adopt ITSM principles into your organization. These guidelines can then be continuously improved to be a perfect fit for your unique IT team. 

As The Digital Transformation(ists), Praecipio Consulting can help you integrate digital technology into all areas of your business. For more information, please check out these case studies: FORTUNE 20 ELECTRONICS COMPANY OPTIMIZES JIRA AND CONFLUENCE FOR ITSM BEST PRACTICES and WORLD'S LARGEST BEVERAGE AND BREWING COMPANY MIGRATES TO ATLASSIAN ITSM PLATFORM and blogs Three Weeks to an ITIL-based Service Desk—No, Really

If you have questions on ITSM or ITIL, and wonder if your organization can benefit from these powerful methodologies, contact us, and one of our experts will be glad to help.

Topics: jira blog confluence process insight itil itsm digital-transformation jira-service-management remote-work frameworks
5 min read

How to Implement an IT Modernization Strategy - 1st of a 5 Part Series

By Praecipio Consulting on May 28, 2021 10:15:00 AM

Blogpost-Display image-May_How to Implement an IT Modernization Strategy- Part 1 What is IT Modernization

When we initially set out to write a piece about how to implement an IT Modernization Strategy, we quickly realized there is not only a lot to consider when weighing the possibilities, but also a lot of context required to lay a meaningful foundation. We want to discuss what IT Modernization is and what it means for your individual business, as well as other terms and ideas to help define the overall picture. Join us as we unpack and discuss IT Modernization through this series of blog posts.

Part 1: What is IT Modernization

We'll begin by exploring the motive behind IT Modernization, and identifying the traits that make up the profile of an entity that is looking to implement IT Modernization in their enterprise.  Overarching themes include Digital Transformation, Capital Expenses vs Operational Expenses, Legacy Systems, how Cloud fits into the picture (because it's no longer a question of "if" cloud fits into the picture), as well as others.

There are several questions to ask when trying to nail down the motive- we'll be working through these questions in our series:

  • Why would you be interested in IT Modernization in the first place?
  • What are some of the apparent benefits of IT Modernization? 
  • What would IT Modernization look like in your organization and how?
  • What would a rollout plan look like?
  • When do you tackle certain things over others?

By the end of this series our goal is that you will have the foundational understanding of IT Modernization that will help you answer these questions.

The Basics

If you've worked with Praecipio Consulting before, you know we like to start simple - so let's begin with the basic question "What is IT Modernization?"  To oversimplify the concept, IT Modernization is a process of assessing an individual system or group of systems in your organization with the intent of establishing the best possible balance of cost and efficiency. One of the challenges we often call out is that this can look vastly different depending on the context of what it is being applied to.

As part of an IT Modernization strategy there can be some aspects of your business where it makes sense to move in a more digital direction, for example migrating on-prem resources to virtualization or the cloud. While the overarching goal may be to get to the cloud, there are different paths that you organization may take based on your specific context. In the case of moving  an application to the cloud, there are the branches hosting the application on a digital platform like AWS or moving completely to a more SaaS model and allow it to be maintained by a third party.  And of course, for some other aspects of your business it could make more sense to maintain an on-prem solution but update the infrastructure. The key thing to consider here is how you can balance the cost of maintaining whatever aspect of your business you're assessing with the amount of performance proficiency it is providing.

Another term you'll often hear mentioned in the same breath as IT Modernization is Digital Transformation.  It's true that these often go hand-in-hand, but the main difference to consider is that Digital Transformation gets into the explicit changes you have to make in order to keep pace with the digitization of aspects of your business, like products, assets, and processes. IT Modernization is more of a strategy for improving your business through cost savings, efficiency or improving on how agile your business can be. More often than not, Digital Transformation will be a key part of your IT Modernization plan, but they are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

The Breakdown

With that in mind, let's start to identify the motive a business might have for exploring IT Modernization and what attributes make up its profile. The first question you have to ask is "Why would you even be interested in IT Modernization?" The short answer is every business should be thinking about IT Modernization on some level. We exist in a world where the only true constant is change, and as time progresses the main thing that we're betting on is that our technology and business landscapes will continue to shift. The most successful businesses will adjust business practices to match - if you're not willing to embrace the change and make it work for you, your competitor will, and they'll be happy to take your market share off your hands. Additionally, IT Modernization benefits the business, either by lowering your operating costs, or empowering you to be more efficient managing resources and development. Thinking about ways you can Modernize aspects of your business is just good business.

So how do you this? What does it look like?  Well, we've touched on the two key factors associated with Modernization: Cost and Efficiency.  There are a couple schools of thought when it comes to the approach and how you can execute modernization, outlined below.

The first approach would be considered a more traditional approach. This approach involves making incremental changes made over time targeting the most costly or bottlenecked aspects of the business. From this you can attempt to figure out how you can make them more efficient or cost less, or maybe a combination of both. The main benefit of an approach like this pertains to risk: changing pieces incrementally allows you to carefully consider those changes and their impact on the business as a whole. Incremental changes can also be very good for the bottom line since it allows you to budget changes over time.  One of the potential downsides to an incremental approach is it can be limiting. Taking the time to make incremental changes can take.. well... time.

On the other end of the spectrum there's the end-to-end or holistic approach.  This is about what you'd expect: instead of incrementally making changes you're making a plan to implement broad changes across your organization as a whole. This requires careful planning and consideration of what elements need to change in what sequence, to truly understand the potential impact across the organization. One of the benefits of this approach is it keeps the organization from advancing in a siloed manner, which can lead to less efficiency as a whole. In one instance, that might mean two different business groups moving their application to two different cloud solutions that offer the same functionality. Whether your approach is more incremental or end-to-end, it's important to try to take into account the potential impact across the business and ensure groups coordinate the efforts.

Modernization  Mechanisms

When it comes to implementing IT Modernization, it's important to understand that it is much more than a simple update to your technologies. Rather, the approach should be thoughtful and well planned, with an eye to the future and a willingness to embrace the new and sunset the old. At a high level it is important for your teams to identify out of its legacy software or assets what can can be invested in - whether through legacy software modernization or replatforming- and what should be divested from. Reaching a decision on the best path forward for each application will take time - legacy modernization is not an all or nothing endeavor. We'll spend dedicated time in future posts discussing how you can best approach application modernization. 

It's Just the Beginning

As you consider what IT Modernization means for your organization, keep in mind that there is not a one size fits all solution. Our goal in this blog series is to provide helpful context to help you define what an IT Modernization approach could look like and what success would mean to your organization.

At Praecipio Consulting, we enjoy helping our clients reach their IT Modernization goals and bringing teams up to speed with digital demand. If you'd like to learn more about how we can help, please reach out to us!

Topics: blog aws optimization saas it digital-transformation
2 min read

Why Digital Asset Management is Important

By Kye Hittle on May 14, 2021 1:37:00 PM

Blogpost-Display image-May_Why Digital Asset Management is ImportantWe're always looking for ways to keep track of our stuff, from old metal asset tags firmly glued to lids of the first "portable" computers to Apple's recent AirTag product release.

At work we call these "assets" because they cost money to acquire, maintain, replace, and are (hopefully) required for our organization's operation. (If assets are not being used, your digital asset management system should be highlighting that potential savings opportunity!) Keeping track of these items doesn't just make sense from a financial perspective, it's also required by law in many cases.

When it comes to asset management we're not just concerned with an item's current location. Surprisingly often, an asset's purchase price, age, vendor, warranty details, user assignment, support/maintenance contracts, service history, and any of hundreds of other details become critically important to keeping the asset—and therefore our business—running.

And we're not just talking about physical assets like desks, laptops, phones, tablets, tools, networking equipment, etc. The move to cloud means we can instantly deploy servers, licenses, and other IT infrastructure we'll never actually see or touch! How do I put an RFID tag on a cloud server?

With more devices and services being employed to operate our organizations every day, spreadsheets don't cut it. Given this amount of critical data to manage, the only way to keep up is to turn to digital transformation.

Traditional Configuration Management Databases (CMDBs)

The technology market has seen the introduction of many inflexible, expensive "solutions" to manage assets digitally. Traditional Configuration Management Databases (CMDBs) have failed to deliver the necessary transformative power:

  • IT is overpaying hundreds of millions of dollars in unused features in these legacy CMDB tools
  • Customization requires specialized consultants (quickly adapting to the changing needs of the business is a core tenant of digital transformation)
  • Legacy tools often result in slowing down the flow of work across teams instead of enhancing collaboration between them

Praecipio Consulting is transforming organizational service delivery with an Atlassian alternative built to deliver maximum value: Insight, now built into Jira Service Management. It is a modern, flexible digital asset management solution to easily define collaborative asset tracking that best fits your organization's needs, right in Jira.

Atlassian Service Management saves companies money by retiring their legacy tools. This explains why Atlassian is ranked as a strong performer in this market, having a strong strategy, and achieving a rapidly expanding market presence.

From employee and contractor onboarding to incident management to asset intelligence, Atlassian Insight for Jira Service Management can quickly get your digital asset tracking under control and flex to meet your constantly changing business.

Digital asset management done right doesn't just require the best-in-class solution, however. It's a cultural shift in the way IT is delivered as a service. Contact Praecipio Consulting to get started on your service delivery transformation now.

Topics: jira atlassian blog asset-management tips service-management insight digital-transformation jira-service-management
6 min read

Leadership required when moving to Cloud and Digital

By Christopher Pepe on Apr 6, 2021 2:32:00 PM

Blogpost-display-image_Leadership required when moving to Cloud and Digital

2020 – What a change!

By now, every technology leader has torn up their plans and strategies as they began a ten-month tactical, fire-fighting effort to move their organization to virtual. In some cases, they were able to assist with changing how people performed their jobs, not just their staff but everyone, in which case they now joined the Digital Age.

CIOs further realized that moving to digital required a move to the cloud, and with it completely new ways of working that took advantage of the internet capabilities and bandwidth. Transferring your data center to a cloud service provider is no more going to cloud than moving your teams to Zoom makes you digital. Cloud requires a different mindset, skillset, and culture on how technology will enable your organization.

2021 is the year CIOs can own the Digital watercooler and change their role to being a Business Technology Officer, integrating software into every aspect of how their company performs tasks and services customers. But first, CIOs must address new ways of hiring, financing, and benefitting from technology, their people, their processes, and their IT. Accelerating the path to digital and cloud is the only way to remain sustainable, competitive, and compliant going forward.

The path has two main steps: funding and the creation of a new operating model

  1. The innovation funding model – iterative investments using VOI as the guide to obtain technology value sustainably

Before you decide on your cloud service provider (CSP) partner and how to migrate your applications, you will need to determine how you fund the migration to enable your organization to do work better, sooner, and safer. You need to separate the process of budgeting – a plan on what resources will be required – and funding, which is the action of providing those resources.

Current budgeting practices limit moving to the cloud and digital by:

  • Asking individuals to annually decide what they will need – and how would you know in this VUCA world?
  • Constricting work to be feature-focused but with no indication of what it will add to customer satisfaction or help staff perform better
  • Adding to technical and cultural debt with no strategy as to paying it off

The central dilemma of every executive board is how to plan, fund, and prioritize technology activities. The current best practice is not to use cost savings as a goal and instead let that be an outcome as you do things differently aided by software. You can prioritize by:

  • Application review
  • Moving from a Project mindset to a Product culture
  • Cost of Delay
  • Creating platforms for products
  • Decide on the WHY of moving to the cloud and digital, on HOW it will help, and WHAT tasks will accomplish your goals
    • Faster time to market
    • Reduction of manual activities
    • Making work more compliant
    • Creating workflows that provide agility and flexibility to meet customer demand, staff requirements, competitive threats, and external issues such as Brexit or COVID19
  • Get your entire workforce and significant suppliers to be part of the planning and allow them to focus and contribute to the proposed strategy

Shift-left! Think as your customer or staff and deeply analyze your applications, products, and services. Which ones are unique to you, and which ones could you source from a SaaS provider? Which ones do you no longer need? Now group the applications into product groups and allow your IT teams to create platforms (see next section) to service these groupings from the cloud.

Many organizations follow McKinsey's advice to create a FinOPS team of cross-functional product business leaders or at least a team comprised of IT, Finance, Risk, and HR. FinOPS will frequently negotiate with stakeholders to allocate resources (money, people, etc.) to continue the innovation or improve services. They will base their decisions on the value of investment towards the company. Frequently repeating and communicating this interaction creates the ability to pivot or stop work quickly, creating new behaviors, and embedding new disciplines on technology use.

FinOPS will rely on analytics, reporting dashboards with real-time data, and automated processes to make decisions visible and linked to business activities. Leaders will have to coach a new culture of moving from CAPEX funding to OPEX. This team will also introduce training to upskill the entire organization on how technology is applied and that by making use of cloud and digital, they will not lose their roles.

Where needed, a partner such as Atlassian and Praecipio Consulting can help you begin this journey of becoming a sustainable business, maximizing resources while reducing costs and making the entire process transparent.

 2. You have the funding model, and now you need the digital cloud operating attitudes, behaviors, and culture to achieve scalability, agility, and continuity

Can you answer these questions?

  • Which business workloads are most important to your company?
  • What are your goals by business line for the next quarter and year?
  • What are your obstacles to these goals?
  • What are your strengths for achieving these goals?

Taking the answers to these questions, review what activities you have planned in your IT department. If a user story or request is not helping solve a problem or achieve a goal, stop it. The FinOps should ask these questions monthly, which will influence resource allocation decisions for technology tasks. Visualizing findings to the company will illustrate the importance of product stories while embedding the capability of pivoting or stopping work, as necessary.

Your operating model will require:

  • A compensation model mapped to the technical activities that are not divisive
  • A full review of your applications mapped to the business lines
  • A map of the way data flows throughout your organization
    • What it entails
    • How it is used
    • Storage, archival, and continuity requirements
    • Security and access obligations
    • Tools that maintain the applications
    • A full list of proposed enhancements
    • Server, network, storage, and operating system supporting them
    • If provided to a specific location, why and how

Using this list, technology leadership needs to help the company move from a project model to a product model. Services must be led by an owner fully accountable for the resources and associated workload, including packaging software into chunks (platforms) that can be used interchangeably throughout the company.

FinOPS and the Product Owners can collaborate on which business domains would benefit most from enhancing the applications used to provide their services. Management can utilize the model to ensure that the right CSP is chosen for each platform. As you mature, you can empower your development teams to decide the best CSP for designing and deploying platforms, be they SaaS or containers. At the beginning of your journey, the strategy should be to communicate the intent and collaborate on the outcomes.

FinOPS also needs to be cloud-savvy. The pricing and SLA options are numerous and complicated. You need to ensure that what you choose is the right decision. You also need to affirm the best path for migrating your application and data to the CSP. Should you port it as it is (provides little benefit), rewrite the application, switch the workload to a SaaS provider? Remember that the avoidance of technical debt, adding to cloud migration's complexity, must be avoided.

There is no shortcut or other option to having Product Owners. You cannot interject a translator or business analyst between what people call the business and your IT. You are all part of the same company, and technology needs to be owned by the business area that provides that service. Further, the people that support these services need to feel that they also own and contribute to these services. This change in attitude and behavior will reduce incidents, increase innovation agility, and enhance your employees' satisfaction, who will feel empowered to see their contribution to the business goals.

The cloud offers the capability of completely altering the way you use technology. Do you need a new instance or environment? Build it, use it, dismantle it, and all within a few minutes at a minimum cost. The software lifecycle of products will be a combination of IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS, depending on the services' platform. Data lakes can share information across the company powered by analytic and reporting tools that would not be accessible to you unless you are quite large.

Security and continuity are other strengths of the cloud as you adopt the framework used by your CSP. Using IAM and Zero-trust security concepts will ensure that you do not become front-page news. Product Owners will have to maintain the governance model required and test it as part of any software change using DevSecOps practices. Scalability, both up and down, is another cloud and digital feature, enabling you to offer new products that can sense and respond to demand.

Are you worried about regulations? Globally FinOPS and Product Owners are finding that regulatory bodies, such as the Bank of England, are moving to the cloud themselves and more than willing to help ensure that their mandates are provisioned accordingly by your CSP. Even if you use a hybrid approach of more than one CSP, which leadership needs to consider, the governance and management models exist via SIAM® to support cloud and digital operating models' best strategies.

The business product operating model is not to become vendor dependent but instead use microservices and containers so that you can migrate your applications as needed to another CSP or a different offering with little effort. This abstraction mode offers the best efficiency in technology enablement. The FinOPS and Product Owners will help to create the loose guardrails to be used by your staff and IT teams as they develop software provisioned products and workloads of your business

In summary

Done correctly, the number of technology instances and applications you currently maintain will decrease but not the requirement of technical skills. Your business flexibility behaviors should be to create agility via innovative use of software, cloud, and digital. Done correctly, the time to market and lower technology costs will be your outcomes. Let all of your organization be involved in the migration strategy as you join the Digital Age, and if you need help, Praecipio Consulting is here for you.

Topics: blog efficiency finance plan saas cloud culture digital-transformation leadership frameworks
4 min read

How Service Management Capabilities Improve Your Organization’s Employee Onboarding

By Joseph Lane on Mar 26, 2021 9:13:38 AM

Blogpost-display-image_How Service Management Capabilities Improve Your Organization’s Employee OnboardingHave you ever started work at a new organization as an eager new employee, only to find that you don’t have everything needed to “hit the ground running”? It might be that your laptop isn’t ready. Or you have a laptop but you’re missing a critical piece of software (or access to a critical online service). Of course, it’s not only the IT department that can fail to provide a new employee with what they need to be productive from day one. Human resources (HR) might have missed a new employee from the mandatory onboarding training course. Or the facilities team might have failed to arrange building access or to provide them with a suitably equipped place to work.

Alternatively, the issue might not be that these things are repeatedly missing on new employee arrival. Instead, it might be the necessary lead time has an unwanted business impact – that employees can’t start in their new role for two months while the manually-intensive employee onboarding process slowly grinds out what’s needed for them. Or it might be that recruiting managers need to waste their precious time “keeping on top of” all the various departments responsible for ensuring that their new employee can work productively from day one.

To help, this blog explains how Service Management can be used to improve employee onboarding operations and outcomes.

Why employee onboarding is a common issue

None of the above scenarios are ideal – for the new employee, the recruiting manager, and business operations – yet they still happen too frequently when the onboarding process and its many “splinter” sub-processes are manually intensive. It might be that the sheer complexity of all the moving parts, with multiple business functions needing to do “their bit,” causes the issue in terms of the logistics. Or it might be that the immediate lack of urgency for the individual tasks means that they’re a low priority in each business function’s work pipeline, such that some tasks unfortunately “slip through the cracks” when people are bombarded with a continuous flow of higher priorities. Or it might be that the high level of manual effort is the cause of organizational and provisioning mistakes being made.

As to how common onboarding issues are, a commonly-quoted employee onboarding statistic on the Internet – which is sadly from 2017 but still worth pointing to with an age caveat – is that:

Only “12% of employees strongly agree their organization does a great job of onboarding new employees.”

Source: Gallup, State of the American Workplace Report (2017)

Thankfully, Service Management – the use of IT service management (ITSM) principles, best practice capabilities, and technology to improve business function operations, services, experiences, and outcomes – offers a digital-workflow-based onboarding solution that’s commonly one of the first adopted use cases of Service Management within an organization.

Plus, the global pandemic has made employee onboarding more difficult

While onboarding has traditionally been problematic for organizations, the operational impact of the global pandemic has made the potential issues worse. First, because new employees might be remote workers, meaning that any failure to fully enable them on day one is now harder for them to work around. For example, using a spare office “capability” isn’t viable when you aren’t in an office. Second, some of the various business function employees charged with setting up new employees might be home working, which makes it harder for the manually intensive process flows to work across what are now both functional and locational divides.

How Service Management helps with employee onboarding

The ITSM principles, best practice capabilities, and technology employed within Service Management offer a platform for business-wide digital workflows and optimized operations and outcomes. The technology, in particular, helps in terms of making employee onboarding all three of “better, faster, cheaper” through:

  • Workflow automation and service orchestration
  • Service level monitoring, alerting, and notifications
  • New technology-enabled capabilities, such as AI-enabled intelligent automation
  • Self-service portals and other digital channels
  • Knowledge management enablement
  • Dashboards and reporting capabilities

More importantly, Service Management not only helps internal business function operations but also the intra-business-function operations that are a big part of employee onboarding – with the need processed by both HR and the invocation of services from other business functions.

Examples of Service Management at work in employee onboarding

The digital workflows required to get an employee road-ready and productive from their first day of work can be taken back to the initial need for a new employee to fill an existing or new role. The initial workflows can therefore cover all of the following:

  • The line manager notification of the need to recruit (to HR)
  • The approval of the recruitment
  • Job description creation and/or validation
  • The advertising of the role
  • The screening of candidates
  • The interviewing of candidates
  • The selection and notification of the successful candidate

You might argue that this is recruitment rather than onboarding but, in a truly digital environment, this can be an end-to-end workflow such that the successful candidate’s acceptance of the offer, perhaps after personal negotiations, triggers the next set of onboarding steps. These can include:

  • The HR team sourcing and populating the required information in the new employee's HR record
  • The legal team making the appropriate background checks, processing contract paperwork, and ensuring that other legal necessities are met
  • The HR team arranging employee benefits, which could include a company vehicle lease agreement via either the corporate procurement or fleet teams
  • The HR team arranging and maybe delivering the required onboarding training – that covers employee polices, IT usage, finance-related “how-tos,” etc. – plus any other immediate learning needs (physical and/or virtual)
  • The IT team ensuring that the required devices, software, and access permissions for the role are all provisioned in time for the employee’s start date
  • The facilities team sourcing and provisioning the required working environment for office-based working, home working, or both
  • The security or facilities team providing appropriate physical access permissions and means
  • The facilities team providing corporate car parking facilities if warranted

This list isn’t exhaustive, but it’s indicative of how starting the employee onboarding workflow(s) – perhaps via a self-service portal – can trigger the prioritized execution of a wide range of required processes and tasks across multiple business functions using automation and logic. Where the enabling technology not only monitors and manages task progression, but it also integrates with other systems (for record updating, ordering, and provisioning), seeks task-related approvals when needed, provides reminder notifications, and flags up delays and other onboarding issues for appropriate human intervention.

Why wouldn’t your organization want to automate the end-to-end employee onboarding process with digital workflows to save time and costs and to deliver a better employee experience? If you would like to find out more on how Service Management can improve your employee onboarding capabilities, reach out to the Praecipio Consulting team

Topics: blog service-management cost-effective human-resource itsm digital-transformation
3 min read

Jira Align Jumpstart: What to expect

By Brian Nye on Dec 31, 2020 10:30:00 AM

Blogpost-display-image_Jira Align Jumpstart- What to expect

Do you want to roll out Jira Align in your organization but are not sure where to start? The answer is simple, use our Jira Align Jumpstart solution. This solution will give you access to a Solutions Architect who will walk you and your core team of Jira Align practitioners on the setup of your first Program in Jira Align. 

As part of a Jumpstart, there are five phases that you will go through:
  1. Discovery
  2. Set-up
  3. Implementation
  4. Training
  5. Launch

Discovery

The first phase of a Jumpstart is Discovery. During the discovery phase, your Jira Align Solutions Architect will get to know your company. The goal of this is to understand where you are in the scaling process and to get your leadership engaged in communicating the reasons that you are implementing Jira Align. A large part of this will be driven through the value drivers exercise. In this exercise, the team identifies common goals for the organization's agile journey. The output of this exercise will give the whole team a better understanding of the functionality that will need to be configured inside Jira Align and identify how your Solutions Architect can help guide you through that journey. 

Set-up

Following discovery is the setup phase. The setup phase will establish all the connections and settings needed to support your business. The Solutions Architect digs into the integration between Jira and Jira Align, making sure the two systems can pass information between one another. During this phase, there will be a lot of toggling on and off the various features and permissions for each of the user roles. This is based on the goals of the value driver exercise and the roles and responsibilities of the various levels of management using the tool. At the end of the set up phase, Jira and Jira Align will be connected.

Implementation

Connecting the two systems isn't all you have to do! To have the tool set up for your teams, you need to have some base data present to make sure it's working as expected. During the implementation phase, the Solutions Architect will work with Program Management to configure the initial teams and program data. This includes setting up initial strategic snapshots, goals, themes, epics, and features. The Jumpstart focuses on Program-level implementation, but basic configuration for some high level roll up is also included. Based on this data, we will see the flow from the work in Jira pushed up to Jira Align and changes in Jira Align, pushed down to Jira. Although this sounds like a simple task, it usually involves fine tuning some processes to ensure that reports and structure align to the goals established from the project onset.

Training

As the saying goes, a fool with a tool is still a fool. To avoid this, training is done with the teams who will be using the system. There are various types of training that are done with the team. One is for program management so they know how to use the tool from a day-to-day basis. Other training targets Jira Align Administrators so that they understand how the back end is configured and how to maintain the system following the Jumpstart. Both trainings help establish the fundamentals needed for working in the system.

Launch

Now that everyone is prepped and ready to go, all you need to do is launch the program officially. This is targeted to align to a PI Planning session. Now that your having these "Big Room" meetings virtually, you have a tool that will help facilitate the overall direction for your next Program Increment. 

What's next? 

If you want to know more about Jira Align Jumpstart and how to launch the product successfully, contact us here at Praecipio Consulting. We would love to chat with you about your situation to make sure that you are set up for success. Many clients are looking for better ways of scaling with Atlassian, and we would love to understand your current processes so you make the decision that is best for your business. 

Topics: jira digital-transformation atlassian-solution-partner jira-align
4 min read

Use Self-Service to Transform Your Legal Operations and Outcomes

By Joseph Lane on Dec 30, 2020 1:41:00 PM

Blogpost-display-image_How to Use Self-Service to Transform Your Legal Operations and OutcomesYour Legal Services team plays an important role in your organization, not only by ensuring that its traditional legal needs are met but also playing a part in its corporate digital transformation activities. This is true especially in light of the acceleration of digital transformation that many organizations have experienced on the back of the COVID-19 crisis – which highlighted the many failure points and inefficiencies of traditional, manually-reliant processes.

However, it’s also important to recognize that there’s a need for your legal operations to digitally transform too. Because any reliance on manual activities and processes – especially where there’s now a mix of office-based and remote working – is likely to slow down operations at a time when the effective handling of increased demand and the need for speed are paramount.

Digital transformation and Legal Services

Much of the discussion around digital transformation over the last half-decade has been focused on two “front-office” elements:

  1. The creation of new products and services that exploit technology and data to create new revenue streams.
  2. The improvement of customer engagement mechanisms, throughout the customer lifecycle, that again exploit technology and data.

Your Legal Services team is also playing its part in both transformations. 

However, there’s also a third – and critical – element that shouldn’t be overlooked: the need to improve business operations such that they’re fit to support the delivery of the new products and services and the improved customer engagement mechanisms.

This “back-office digital transformation” is generally replacing antiquated, manually-reliant business practices with improved, technology-enabled ways of working. It’s very much in line with a proven IT approach called “Enterprise Service Management” where IT service management (ITSM) principles, best practices, and technology are used by other business functions to improve their services, performance, and business outcomes.

A good example of this is the provision of self-service capabilities to customers (employees) to provide them with a single, simple route to legal assistance and a better service experience – including self-help when appropriate.

Employing self-service capabilities to improve legal services and support

On the one hand, it’s easy to view self-service as something that’s now expected by employees based on their often-superior, consumer-world service and support experiences. On the other, there are many benefits available to your Legal Services team and the people it supports.

Done right, self-service provides a “better, faster, and cheaper” way to deal with the corporate demand for legal services. Everyone wins! For example:

  • Customers (employees) get an easier way to engage with your Legal Services team. Plus, quicker access to information and resolutions, especially when self-help can be used.
  • Legal staff can firstly benefit from the “deflection” of a high proportion of demand thanks to self-help. Second, automated workflows ensure that work is efficiently passed to the right people, and back-end capabilities such as notifications, approvals, and alerts further enhance the flow of work and outcome delivery. Third, there’s improved insight into demand, workloads, and performance that can be used to further enhance the self-service capability and other areas of your legal operations.
  • The business as a whole benefits from the lower costs of legal assistance and increases in capacity and speed.

Ultimately, a Legal Services self-service capability will be the most efficient and effective way of handling corporate requests for legal assistance – from their receipt (through a single channel), through their handling and management, to delivering the desired outcomes. With this capability readily available to your Legal Services team through the use of the corporate ITSM tool – such as Jira Service Management – and service management principles via an enterprise service management approach.

Learning from the self-service experiences of IT

While self-service adoption is prevalent in the consumer world, the use of self-service capabilities by IT departments – as an ITSM best practice – has brought with it a number of common issues and associated insight into the factors that cause them.

These can all be learned from so that your Legal Services team can offer a self-service capability that will not only be actively used by employees but will also deliver a better service experience, speed up work and outcomes, and reduce the effort required of lawyers and paralegals. Freeing up your legal experts to focus their time on the most important things.

So, when planning and implementing a legal self-service capability, ensure that those involved:

  • Understand that the successful introduction of self-service capabilities is more about the need to effectively manage people change – using organizational change management capabilities – than it is the implementation of new technology. This is because it’s a change to the traditional ways of working for both the service requester and the service provider.
  • Design the self-service capability around the wants, needs, and expectations of employees rather than those of the Legal Services (or the IT) team. Failing to do this will simply cause employees to remain fixed to the use of the existing telephone, email, and walk-up routes.
  • Provide a sufficient level of knowledge articles for the capability’s launch. This is because the ability to self-help, with an immediate resolution, is a key factor in creating repeat users of the self-service capability.
  • Automate the backend. If this isn’t done, then the shiny new self-service capability is nothing more than a web-based request submission system – that’s little different to email – and the potential speed and cost benefits of self-service are forgone.

Got questions? We got answers! Contact us and find out how Praecipio Consulting can help your Legal Services team.

Topics: legal self-service itsm digital-transformation covid-19
8 min read

Transitioning to SaaS: Pizzas and Pitfalls

By Christopher Pepe on Dec 29, 2020 1:14:00 PM

Blogpost-display-image_The Gotchas of SaaS blog

What is SaaS (Software as a Service)?

COVID-19 has changed the world in many ways, accelerating the pace in which the digital transformation has upended traditional modes of working and living. Whatever your organization was planning to do in 2020, whatever 5-year plan you had, is no longer valid. No matter what sort of business you are, your dependence on technology has escalated. You have probably built the services in the table below or at least run them on your infrastructure, managed by your IT teams.  COVID-19 has forced you to ask the question: do I still need to run and manage this service internally, or can I save money and time by letting someone else perform this service for me?

Traditionally in-house Managed Services

Human Resources and Payroll

Web-based services

Customer support

Internal communications

Finance reporting, accounting, and invoicing

News and knowledge sharing

Project Management

Enterprise Data and Service management

Security

Sales and Marketing

 

The definition of SaaS by the East Sussex Council highlights what software is achieving today as businesses move towards a digital future: "SaaS is the focus for innovation and investment for major system providers and is specifically designed to meet the needs of an agile and mobile workforce, enhancing self-service business processes and significantly improving the use of management information. (Cabinet Office report for East Sussex council)".

Another view to help the discussion comes from Albert Barron using pizza as a stand in for software, with this fun visual of how the transition to SaaS changes from "You do IT" to "They do IT for you". 

Screen Shot 2020-12-05 at 10.03.18 AM

There are caveats that you need to be aware of such that your experience with a SaaS provide is valuable to your organization and customers: it's vital to go through these with your team before making decisions.  The rest of this article explores these and if you have any questions, please let us know.

1: Security, Risk and Data

Your data is now their responsibility!

  • Who in their organization has access to it?
  • How is it backed up and does that comply with your regulatory bodies?
  • Where is the data stored and does that contravene any local laws?
  • If they have an issue, what is their business continuity plan and how does that align to yours?
  • If they are compromised, what processes will they enable to let you know, but more importantly, protect your customers?
  • Will they agree to participate in your business continuity tests and decide on their role in a business continuity event?
  • Will the transference of data from you to them be exchanged safely and securely?
  • What will it cost to perform the data transfers and tests?
  • What level of access will your staff receive? Even if they assume responsibility for an activity, you are still accountable to require some level of access over time.
  • What defense does the vendor offer against hackers, and is this an extra-tiered service or part of the basic package? If extra, you might want to look elsewhere.
  • What processes need to change within your organization to enter, use, modify, delete, backup or restore information and have you been trained by the vendor appropriately?
  • Your data is now their responsibility. How portable is it if you want to switch?
  • Does the vendor support MFA
  • Do they allow penetration tests?
  • What policies have you introduced to manage your data in the SaaS provider cloud?
  • If the SaaS vendor changes the schema or worse-cancels it, what impact will that have and are you contractually protected?

2: SaaS Vendor Performance

The perception and experience of your staff and customers are now based on the SaaS provider's performance.

  • Did you create a clearly defined view of expectations supported by metrics and examples? Do you know bad from good from great service?
  • How did you explain to your customers and staff that you were now going to use a SaaS provider? What was the reaction?
  • What happens if your customers complain? What happens if your customers leave you because of a SaaS performance?
  • Is it contractually clear under what circumstances a complaint can be made, the timeframe it must be addressed and any penalties that could be applied for non-conformance?
  • Who does the customer or staff call if there is an issue? Your teams or the SaaS provider?
  • What level of support do they provide and how will you test that the service is delivered as expected?
  • What messages do you receive in case of a data entry issue or general performance issue?
  • Do you have regular performance and improvement meetings with the vendor?
  • If you want a new feature based on customer feedback, is the SaaS provider responsive?
  • If the SaaS provider changes their product procedures, what will be the impact on your customers? Can you pilot the changes? If you do not want the new procedures, can you leave the SaaS provider?

3: Vendor lock-in

SaaS vendors bet that once you let them perform an activity, that you will remain a customer for several years. In other words, you are locked-in to their practices, processes, support, improvements and remediation and so are your staff and customers.

  • How does the SaaS vendor recruit, train and keep their staff? You do not want a constantly changing workforce and there are examples where 30% of a SaaS workforce changes every 90 days.
  • You might have saved money by not having to hire or train your staff, but what will you do with the knowledge they possess?
  • Contractually obligating certain staff to remain until the transition is complete is best practice.
  • Your IT is now their IT. If you want to benefit from the latest technology and they do not support that product then you are stuck. Make sure your contract allows for changes or even cancellation if needed.
  • If the vendor changes their price, what protections have you contractually initiated to ensure that you should remain with that vendor? How will you prove value over time?
  • COVID-19 has seen a number of vendors have issues causing them to default on a service or even go out of business. How will you protect yourself in case this happens to your provider? 
  • SaaS vendors price in three main ways: by user license, by use, by feature. Make sure that you have chosen the model most appropriate for your needs and that if your work model changes, then you can move to another tier without penalty.

4: SaaS requires an internet connection and belief the cloud is secure

  • What if something terrible happens to your web servers? Do you have backups of your metadata? You might want to consider using third party backup services such as SpanningBarracuda, and Backupify.
  • If you have communication issues from your office, what is your backup to ensure that the SaaS service remains accessible?
  • If your staff are working from home and they have issues, then how will they continue to work until normal service is restored?
  • Can your staff download data to their home office? If so, this is a security and perhaps even a compliance risk. How will you know?
  • If they invoke contingency, does this place your business in a location where you
  • What is the web page loading time? How complicated is the page to read or use?
  • If data is transferred to other applications to complete the journey, can this be monitored for security and improvement?
  • Is the SaaS service usable across a variety of mobile devices or internet browsers?

5: Integration into your other software

SaaS implies that all of the technology required to perform a service is now under the control and management of the vendor.

  • How easy is it to transfer their data into your systems such as corporate finance?
  • What happens if they make a change to a schema that you were unaware of and this damages your data or causes you lost time to introduce new ways of addressing their change?
  • Everyone performs regular maintenance activities and how will this be coordinated?
  • If you use multiple SaaS vendors (Accounting and Sales for example), how will you keep them in sync with each other and any internal applications you maintain?
  • How do you test that interoperability remains as expected?
  • What is the impact to your business continuity of multiple SaaS providers?
  • If a vendor has an issue, how will that impact other vendors you rely upon?
  • Will you require 3rd party to help you integrate their software with yours? This can be costly.
  • Not every vendor follows standard APIs, protocols, and tools, so the impact to your business practices should be piloted prior to accepting the SaaS provider.

6: You may have to change your business practices to use the SaaS

  • This is a culture change for your staff. How will you prepare them?
  • What training and documentation will you receive and is it sufficient?
  • If something requires customization, is that even possible or practical? Many SaaS vendors will only allow this if a significant number of customers also request that feature.
  • How will you ensure that other business practices can pivot based on competition, compliance or performance needs?
  • How will you ensure that the SaaS provider supports all of the ways your customers want to interact with you? Browsers, mobile technology, VPN, etc.?
  • What and when is their maintenance window? How does that impact your business customers? What happens if a change goes awry?
  • What information do you receive on incidents related to you? Is it in a format that your ITSM tools can read and archive?

SaaS is a brilliant technology capability that can benefit your organization. You must closely manage them if you are to remain in business, service customers safely, and receive the expected cost benefits. Ensuring that you have a way to mitigate this list of caveats will ensure that your experience is as valuable as possible. Letting go of services you have built in-house can be hard, and moving to a SaaS model can be intimidating: have no fear, Praecipio Consulting is here to help. Contact us for any questions you might have of successfully transition to a faster, more efficient way of doing business.

Topics: plan saas digital-transformation
4 min read

Provide the Digital Transformation Your HR Department Needs

By Joseph Lane on Dec 28, 2020 1:56:00 PM

Blogpost-display-image_It’s Time to Provide the Digital Transformation Your HR Department NeedsThe COVID-19 crisis has changed the world forever, from how we interact with others in our personal lives to the more complicated requirements of business operations. These changes have evidenced the need to accelerate the corporate digital transformation strategies that have previously been slow in execution.

Now, as your human resources (HR) department assists your organization in rebounding from the adverse impact of the crisis on operations and revenues, there’s much that needs to be done to ensure that your traditional practices can quickly evolve to the higher needs of the “new normal.”

Surviving the long tail of the COVID-19 crisis

At the height of the crisis, with people working from home or perhaps not working at all, there was an immediate need for new IT services and support practices to ensure that working employees could still work effectively and remain safe. For many organizations, “mountains were moved” in quickly creating the technology-based ways of working needed to keep things going. And employees hopefully appreciated the potentially new IT capabilities that enabled their remote working – both in terms of their personal productivity and the need to collaborate with others when working within business processes.

Now, with some employees returning to offices and others continuing to work remotely – at least in the short term – there’s a need to formalize and improve upon the “emergency” capabilities that helped your organization through the crisis. There’s also likely a need to respond to the mandated budget cuts that come as a result of the initial and ongoing effect of the crisis on company sales and revenues. Plus, the move to homeworking, in particular, has further increased the importance of employee experience and the need for organizations to maximize employee productivity.

In light of all these needs, and potential pressures, your HR department likely needs new ways of working that remove – or at least minimize – the reliance on manual practices, that while always potentially inefficient, are now difficult to operate in a distributed working environment.

Leveraging technology and service management principles to digitally transform

While digital transformation might seem like something that’s focused on technology and data, it’s ultimately about new ways of working and driving successful people change. So, while this blog covers the improvement possibilities available through the greater use of technology and IT service management (ITSM) best practices, there’s still the need to apply organizational change management tools and techniques to what might feel like a daunting change to many.

In terms of quickly transforming your manually-reliant operations, your organization’s IT department might already have the necessary ingredients for improvement at its fingertips. Through an approach it calls “Enterprise Service Management” – “the use of proven ITSM capabilities to improve other business function operations, services, and outcomes” – with this providing a backbone for the required back-office digital transformation in HR and other business functions. In fact, at a business-level, “back-office digital transformation” is a better term for this approach to leveraging technology and service management principles outside of IT.

Even before the crisis highlighted the many failure points of the traditional reliance on manual operations, IT organizations had already bought into the business benefits of enterprise service management – with the 2019 ITSM.tools Future of ITSM Survey finding that two-thirds of organizations either had or were planning to develop an ESM strategy.

How digital transformation will help your HR department

Whether it’s through the adoption of an enterprise service management approach or via another route to organizational improvement, the use of service management principles and the associated enabling technology will make your HR department all three of “better, faster, and cheaper.”

Examples of the ITSM capabilities that can be leveraged by your HR department include:

  • Automated workflows for issue handling and request fulfillment – saving time and costs, and providing a better employee experience.
  • Knowledge management – augmenting the knowledge of HR staff and providing the foundation for employee self-help, making for better, faster, and cheaper HR services.
  • Self-service and self-help – empowering employees to help themselves via a now-expected, consumer-like capability. It also reduces the demand-based pressures on your HR support capability.
  • Problem management for repeat issue minimization – preventing common issues altogether rather than simply trying to remedy them more swiftly.
  • Greater insight into performance and improvement – with it easier to gain the visibility required for better decision making when work is no longer trapped inside personal email accounts and spreadsheets.
  • The use of newer technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) to improve across all three of better, faster, and cheaper.

Common HR digital transformation use-case scenarios

All of these proven ITSM capabilities, and others, can be successfully employed by HR departments to improve their service and support capabilities, the employee experience, and business outcomes.

Common examples of HR practices that are already benefitting from service management and digital transformation – perhaps via an enterprise service management approach – include:

  • Employee query and case handling
  • Recruitment
  • Employee on-boarding and off-boarding
  • Learning and development
  • Payroll and employee benefit administration
  • Demand planning.

Using service management best practices and an ITSM tools, there’s no limit to how your HR practices can be improved to deliver the better, faster, and cheaper ways of working that are needed in the “new normal.”

At Preacipio Consulting, we can help your organization take advantage of the opportunities of digital transformation and enterprise service management to HR: Reach out, we'd love to help.

Topics: service-management human-resource itsm digital-transformation covid-19
5 min read

Your Finance Department Needs to Digitally Transform Too!

By Joseph Lane on Dec 23, 2020 2:07:00 PM

Blogpost-display-image_Your Finance Department Needs to Digitally Transform Too“Digital transformation? We already have lots of technology employed in Finance.” And you’re not wrong – whether it’s an enterprise resource management (ERP) system or finance-focused systems or tools.  But the corporate requirement for digital transformation isn’t simply the addition or increased exploitation of technology and data but is, instead, a mechanism for improvement and better business outcomes that just happens to be using technology to greater effect.

Your Finance Department needs digital transformation: here's what this entails.

The “why” and “what” of digital transformation

A common misconception is that technology keeps getting added to organizations simply because it’s available – and sometimes this does happen. But digital transformation is different. It’s a corporate, not an IT, strategy that’s aimed at delivering better business operations and outcomes not merely the increased use of technology. Importantly, it covers far more ground than you might expect.

So, it’s not simply the use of technology and data to create new products and services, plus the associated new revenue streams. Nor is it only the use of technology to improve customer engagement mechanisms too – something that you might have experienced in your personal life.

There’s also a third part to digital transformation – and this is what’s relevant to your Finance Department and its operations: the use of technology and data to improve back-office operations across your organization, within its many business functions. From the introduction of digital workflows, through the use of self-service and self-help capabilities, to the many benefits of gaining greater insight into business function workloads, operations, service performance, outcomes, and improvements. Importantly, this back-office digital transformation is a vital enabler of the more prominent front-office improvements.

Think of it as making your operations and outcomes all three of “better, faster, cheaper.” It's using technology to make your Finance personnel the best possible versions of themselves, especially in light of the current and ongoing need for remote and distanced working, including effective communication and collaboration. With no organization or business function immune to the need to change traditional, often manually intensive, ways of working to better reflect the physically disconnected nature of modern work.

It’s a need that's likely to continue, because organizations have realized that the required operational resilience can’t be met by their traditional, manually intensive processes that rely too heavily on face-to-face interactions, email exchanges, and spreadsheets.

The “how” of digital transformation

In enabling the required new ways of working, there’s a need for greater technology exploitation that provides not only the ability for work to flow better between individuals and teams but also:

  • Speeds up that work and the decision points needed within it. For example, some work tasks can be automated, and alerts and notifications employed to ensure that the work keeps moving swiftly through to the desired endpoint and outcome.
  • Facilitates interactions with those requesting service and support from your Finance team(s) – with self-service, via a self-service portal, a better way of managing incoming requests on the supplier side. And, on the demand side, a more effective route to access finance-related assistance for your department’s internal customers.
  • Self-help capabilities that deflect both emails and telephone calls from your busy Finance personnel. With the inquiring employee instead self-accessing what they need to know, and likely getting a quicker solution in doing so. For example, something as simple as checking whether an expenses claim has been approved and when it will be paid.
  • Knowledge management capabilities that, on the one hand, help Finance staff to collectively know more than they individually know – which is especially helpful for new starters. And, on the other, the captured knowledge can be employed to help defect emails and telephone requests through self-help.
  • Greater insight into past, present, and future operations. From how well work has been handled and whether service promises met (perhaps versus agreed service level targets), through managing the current workloads across teams and individuals and the likelihood of delays, to future projections of how things will continue based on trends or simulations modeled on proposed changes to the status quo. This greater insight also provides the platform for improvement identification and actions across all of operations, service quality, employee experience, and business outcomes.

In addition to the above, the growing use of artificial intelligence (AI), in the form of machine learning, adds even greater opportunity to leverage the new digital capabilities to speed up operations, provide a better service experience, and to allow Finance staff to focus on what they do best (and prevent them from wasting time and costs on high-volume, low-value tasks).

These digital-transformation-enabling capabilities might already be available in your organization

While digital transformation can feel like a relatively new concept, it has been on corporate radars for at least a decade. And for those organizations that have already taken steps to digitally transform part or all of their back-office operations, including Finance operations, many have taken an “enterprise service management” approach. This is where the proven corporate IT service management (ITSM) capabilities – processes and the associated technology-enablement – are applied to other business functions to improve their operations, service and support, and outcomes.

In many ways, enterprise service management and the use of the corporate ITSM tool are seen as a platform for delivering the technology and data elements of back-office digital transformation needs, from digital workflow enablement, through self-service capabilities, to the introduction of new machine-learning-based capabilities.

From an employee perspective, an additional benefit from Finance’s digital transformation is that they’ll be using similar service and support methods to those employed in other business functions such as human resources (HR) and IT. This not only offers a guaranteed level of service experience, but it also provides a level of enterprise-wide consistency that makes interacting with the Finance Department (and other business functions) so much easier.

Examples of how your corporate ITSM tool can help your Finance Department

There are many Finance-related opportunities to leverage digital workflows and the other capabilities outlined above. For example, for:

  • Receiving new finance-related requests, and allowing employees to check request status, via self-service
  • Using automation rules or machine learning to route new requests to the right work groups, with some requests responded to automatically using intelligent automation
  • Handling queries and requests for information, help, and change more efficiently
  • Budget, invoice, and employee expense management
  • The automation of high-volume, low-risk requests for Finance approval
  • Escalation handling
  • Business case reviews.

These opportunities will, of course, be dependent on your organization’s current ITSM tool being deemed suitable for the many possible enterprise service management and back-office digital transformation use cases.

The need for digital transformation within your Finance Department is clear, and here at Praecipio Consulting, we can help you with the process.

Topics: automation finance itsm digital-transformation
2 min read

Does a Project Manager fit into an Agile World?

By Marcelo Garza on Sep 18, 2020 10:15:00 AM

Project Manager Role in Agile Framework

Project managers have a wide range of responsibilities when working on a project: they are in charge of planning the project, creating a schedule and timeline, executing each phase, managing budgets, serving as the liaison among all stakeholders, and also troubleshooting and maintenance in addition to other activities. As such, a Project Manager(PM) must be very organized and detail-oriented. A PM also needs to have great people skills because, at the end of the day, this person is responsible for leading the team and communicating with all involved parties.

The Project Management Institute describes the role of a project manager as someone who acts as an agent of change. Someone who “makes project goals their own and uses their skills and expertise to inspire a sense of shared purpose within the project team.”

Project managers serve as leaders. Aside from ensuring the project is delivered on time and within the agreed-upon budget, they also encourage their teams and inspire their clients. They need to solve problems as they arise with strong critical-thinking capabilities while also possessing strong communication skills to ensure everyone remains informed, motivated, and onboard.

A good PM delivers a final product on time, on budget while meeting or exceeding client expectations. Tracing projects back to business goals is becoming increasingly necessary for project managers.

All brains on deck

The Agile framework focuses on self-organization and team empowerment rather than defining specific roles, which is why there is no need for a traditional command and control project manager; the project manager role is pretty much covered between all the existing roles there are.

Anyone who's ever taken an Agile class or training has heard of the defined roles of scrum master, product owner, and development team in the scrum framework, which makes no mention of the project manager role. I have taken five Agile classes from different places and never once have heard the word project manager. So, where does this skill set belong? Is there really no use for a project manager in an Agile setting? Is there nothing a project manager can do to add value to an Agile project? 

An Agile organization can–and does–function without a project manager. However, there is huge potential for a PM skill set to add value to an organization, specifically on large projects. I have worked in QA Testing across various complex projects for the past five years, and it is clear to me that a PM can greatly impact both the journey and outcome of the project in regards to budget and risk management, as well as coordination between multiple scrum teams.

A project manager can add value by managing key aspects of every project, overseeing budgets, risks, etc., especially on large scale projects for enterprise organizations. Having a project manager also frees up the scrum master to focus solely on his or her core functions.

Project Manager vs Agile management

agile project manager

If you are looking to scale Agile principles within your organization, our team at Praecipio Consulting has you covered. Feel free to reach out to us with any questions!

Topics: blog scaled-agile project-management digital-transformation agile
3 min read

What's important for growing pre-IPO companies?

By Christian Lane on Sep 17, 2020 12:15:00 PM

What's important for growing pre-IPO companies_

It’s a dream we all have: To be the founder or early employee in a company so disruptive that it has a real chance to hit it big. With success comes prestige, security, respect, and of course, lots of money. 

How can you set up your small business to become the next big thing?

The key is to learn from others who blazed the path before you and not make the same mistakes they did. 

Jim Collins, author of the iconic business book Good to Great, suggests that one of the most important factors in building a great company is to adopt the right technology early in your business lifecycle.  

“When used right, technology becomes an accelerator of momentum, not a creator of it.”

-Jim Collins

Whether your business is the manufacturing of widgets, service, or software development, technology is what allows you to spin up faster, pivot, and gain a competitive edge through efficiencies. Praecipio Consulting specializes in helping organizations leverage technology through the use of Atlassian’s suite of products and leading frameworks like Agile and Scaled Agile, ITSM, DevOps, and Enterprise Service Management. EVERY company is a technology company or is currently undergoing a transformation to operate with those capabilities and mindset.

Michael Corbat, CEO of Citi, agrees. In a recent keynote at Mobile World Congress, he said, “We see ourselves as a technology company with a banking license." Capital One’s CIO, Rob Alexander, says they are a “software development company that does financial services.” Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, says she wants the public to “see GM as a technology company rather than an automaker.” Uber, Amazon, and other high-profile companies have made similar comments. It’s a common theme from organizations that have already had their IPO. Pre-IPO companies should take notice and follow their lead because it's what investors are looking for. 

Early investors want to see customer growth, not necessarily profitability. Having a plan to scale using technology can help a company get to a critical mass. For example, Twitter had 321 million users before they turned an annual profit in 2018. That figure would have been impossible to reach without cutting edge technology and processes.

But before you’re a big company eyeing a public offering, you have to start somewhere. When a business first starts, you usually have a founder or two with a good idea and the ambition to match. In a few months, when the concept is market-validated, a few motivated employees are hired. The excited team runs hard and fast but without established processes. Good ole’ fashioned hustle covers up any existing weaknesses. But eventually, the lack of infrastructure and tools catches up with the founders, and the business will begin to falter. If not acted upon quickly, failure is imminent. 

It’s at this point in a pre-IPO’s lifecycle that technology infusion becomes so critically important. It’s smart to set up your small business like it’s going to be a big business and plan for success.

We recommend moving toward standardization and being a cloud-first business. Utilizing platforms like Jira and Confluence keeps projects moving forward and with a high degree of predictability and reliability. Tools like these allow you to scale and will never be a choke point in your growth.   

It’s not just about growth either. It’s about sustainability and resilience. Even established companies like General Electric, Kroger, and Fitbit have found cloud computing success. Investors and boards of directors appreciate the risk mitigation in times of crisis and the flexibility that comes with the updated IT strategy. 

As a startup-founder myself, understanding the cost-benefit technology can bring you is just the first step. The details lie in implementation and design. It will always be worth the investment to bring in an outside consulting firm to design a workflow to reflect your desired processes. Training your team on how to use this technology as the backbone of your operations means you have a system for accountability and quality. Once in place, you can concentrate on building more, selling more, and not worrying whether or not your IT infrastructure can keep up.

Getting to the IPO means your company has joined a very select group of highly-efficient and promising companies of a generation, and the proper technology tools can help you get there faster.

At Praecipio Consulting, we are total Atlassian enthusiasts, so if you want to know more about how Atlassian products can help your business grow while becoming more resilient, we can answer any questions you may have!

Topics: atlassian devops technology service-management cloud itsm digital-transformation
4 min read

Essential Services for Pivoting Your Business During a Pandemic

By Brian Nye on Apr 17, 2020 9:15:00 AM

2020 Blogposts_Services Companies Consider During a Pandemic

2020 has been a roller coaster of a year, and few would have predicted that this year many of us would be working from home and facing some of the most critical challenges of our professional careers. And while this will pass, many leading businesses are taking this time as an opportunity to break away from traditional molds to better position themselves for the next challenge.

Over the past few weeks, we have worked closely with our clients, some of the largest names in their respective industries, to understand where they want to focus their resources to not only weather this storm but also better prepare them for future ones as well. We found that our clients are primarily in need of solutions that keep the business moving forward, connect employees, and control costs. 

Shifting from Legacy Systems

Servers and the teams that maintain them are expensive. This is by no means news to anyone, but when we look at critical systems and infrastructure, most solutions now have cloud options that are less expensive and perform better than legacy server solutions. Most companies that reach out to us want to understand two things:

  • Which is the best solution for me: Atlassian Cloud or an AWS Data Center?
  • What will it take to get me there?

Offloading your current infrastructure for critical business tools like Jira and Confluence on to more scalable, lower-overhead-cost options like AWS or the Atlassian Cloud can save your business a lot of money, plus it takes the maintenance burden off of your teams. To find out which option is best for your business, there are a lot of considerations - things like data residency and customizations made to your current environment.

Praecipio Consulting has a team of experts that would be happy to work with you virtually to understand the complexities of your situation and provide a solution fit for you. For more depth on the subject, try this webinar on planning your Jira Server to Cloud migration, which focuses on migrating to the Atlassian Cloud and walks you through the steps in preparing for any type of migration. This case study on a project we completed with one of our clients in the healthcare industry is also helpful for understanding how to achieve a successful migration. 

Contracting out administrative functions

Businesses are restructuring teams to best serve their companies. This can take the form of job alignment since people are the most expensive and valuable resource. The Atlassian tools are often administered by folks as a secondary job, and in our experience, this role is one that bounces around from person to person in times of reorganization. When companies go through a transition, people tend to make unintentional bad decisions that negatively impact the instance in the long run due to undertrained and overstretched administrators.

If that sounds familiar, now is the time to offload the day-to-day problems of administration to our Managed Service team who can proactively support your organization's administrative needs and on an ad-hoc basis when necessary. This allows your administrators to focus on their key functions, and it gives you greater peace of mind knowing that the work inside your Atlassian environment is performed correctly and fulfilling your requirements. To better understand how Managed Services can support your organization, check out this case study on how we helped a leading rail technology company achieve stability and more functionality through Managed Services.

Optimizing for virtual work

Given that many Atlassian administrators are implementing requests and fixes rather than providing a solution for the problem, many processes built in the tool are not optimized for virtual work. Processes are often built into the tool that assume employees will be in the same setting, which may not translate well for remote work settings. This is the downfall of a powerful tool that has infinite configuration possibilities.

Praecipio Consulting can help your teams understand the principles of leading frameworks like SAFe, DevOps, and ITL, and we develop solutions that align with any type of work environment. Having these frameworks in place and powerful tools to support them sets you up for success and gives you the capacity to easily scale your infrastructure as your business evolves.  For a better understanding of how we maximized the Atlassian tools for a worldwide electronic payment processor using ITSM best practices, check out this case study.  

Virtual training on the Atlassian tools

As employees have shifted to working from home, businesses are seeing that employees may not possess the level of understanding with Jira that they thought. Without the in-person help that comes from an office setting, businesses are in search of ways to train their employees from their homes. At Praecipio Consulting, we are equipped to offer several Atlassian-designed and custom training courses around the Atlassian applications. We have provided virtual training long before the current state of affairs and can easily bring your employees up to speed with essential knowledge and hands-on practice. 

We are in this together!

Although these times are unprecedented, we have operated and navigated within the virtual landscape for many years and would be happy to discuss your organization's challenges. Together, we can keep you on the path for greater success in the future by taking the right steps today. We look forward to learning how we can serve your organization, but until then, stay safe and stay healthy. 

Topics: blog managed-services training culture digital-transformation covid-19 work-from-home remote-work
4 min read

Jira: Your Path to Digital Transformation

By Brian Nye on Mar 2, 2020 2:00:00 PM

JiraYourPathtoDigitalTransformation-1

We're all Going Digital

No matter the industry or product, digital transformations are happening all around us. Gone are the days where a product is just a product. It's now a mechanism that gives us analytics and prepares us to launch the next best thing. Everything we touch has some digital aspect to it, and companies that never planned on competing in the digital arena are needing to catch up to the standards of today's landscape. 

I'm sure that many of you who have been in business for more than 10 years, working in sectors that seemed to have no digital relevance, but now are investing for a digitized future, whether it's through:

  • Augmented reality to see how a product would look on you
  • Drones delivering packages from purchases made by a scan of your face.

The digital age is firing up, and the question is, are you STILL using a spreadsheet to manage your business? 

Running a Business Like it's 1999

I loved a powerful formula and a well-crafted spreadsheet. Everyone has that one colleague who is a macro wizard at pulling together all the data and using it to plan the future of your products (that was once my job).

Think about running a multi-million dollar business from a spreadsheet that: 

  • Is locked for editing
  • Is never up-to-date
  • Is passed around in several emails
  • No one has the same version of

Some of you don't have to imagine; it's your reality. More than once, production slips, and you've missed hitting your target shipments because the business didn't have the most up-to-date information. 

I have personally seen this over and over again during my five-year tenure at Praecipio Consulting, and it comes down to two issues: 

  1. The business is stuck doing things the old way. 
  2. The tools are just as old as the processes they are supporting. 

And on top of all that, there's an overall demand and expectation to be more innovative than ever. Naturally, we start to silo the business into segments so the "core business" can keep marching to the same tired beat while the digital team is building a platform that's state-of-the-art. 

How do we close the expanding gap between a growing machine and a time machine? 

How can we plan for when Ralph is out, and no one can get to the spreadsheet with the latest numbers?

Digital Transformation Doesn't Happen on a Spreadsheet 

To transform, you have to make significant changes. The tried and true spreadsheet can't keep up with the on-demand visibility needed in the digital environment. Granted, it's a useful tool and has a place in business, but it shouldn't be the source of truth for guiding your business down the path of digital transformation.

The same applies to using email as a tool to operate your business and for project management. Not only can managing hundreds of incoming emails be counterproductive, but email is not a platform built for collaboration, nor can it provide the visibility needed to compete in the digital landscape. 

Jira, on the other hand, is designed to handle this task for the business. Gone are the days when Jira is just a "developers tool." It's now being used as the primary source of understanding in all facets of business and helping leaders make real-time decisions about what comes next on their product and operations journey.

Most development teams are already using Jira to plan, track, and report on the requirements determined by the business. However, the business side of an organization is hesitant to adopt the same tool as the development teams. Centralizing all the data and processes across all aspects of your business using the Jira platform  can help your teams better understand where your business is going and, better yet, why it is where it is. 

I can't count the number of times when I've heard of innovative teams needing to pull data out of reports and update an outdated spreadsheet because there is a perception that the business finds Jira too hard to use or reference. 

Becoming a Digital Transformation(ist)

Business leaders, it's time to step up and utilize a toolset that bridges the gap between where you are and where it's all going. If you have an OKR around digital transformation and you're still using a spreadsheet to plan when you have Jira in your business, you are 0% complete on that objective. 

The good news is that you can change your business, and Jira isn't hard to learn; you just need some guidance on the transformation. 

At Praecipio Consulting, we have helped hundreds of clients, big and small, build business processes in Jira to support their needs and become a digital transformation(ist). The first step is understanding you have a spreadsheet problem, and once you own that, we can help you build a better business. 

 

Topics: jira best-practices digital-transformation atlassian-products
3 min read

Green Team: Praecipio Consulting's Global Climate Crisis Response Plan

By Christian Lane on Oct 25, 2019 10:01:43 AM

Global-Climate-Crisis-Response-Plan

Next April will mark the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, but we just couldn't wait six more months to share our company’s exciting news—starting November 1, 2019, Praecipio Consulting's Work from Home policy is changing. Beginning October 14, "Work From Work" is optional with the exception of two important days of the month. In addition, our workspace is transforming into a much smaller, more intentional workspace emphasizing climate responsibility and a more fulfilling and sustainable workstyle. The company will facilitate, enable and encourage more meaningful interactions; going for quality over quantity of face time; reducing the cost to the environment and cost of our team members' time and money. These are major changes due to our choice to operate in a way that supports our Global Climate Crisis Response Plan - all in an effort to reduce our company’s overall carbon footprint. Our Global Climate Crisis Response Plan was shared internally at Praecipio Consulting at the end of October and will be shared more widely shortly thereafter.

Benefits of Teleworking

According to Global Workplace Analytics, 50 percent of the American workforce currently holds telecommute-compatible jobs. If those people worked from home half the time, it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 54 million metric tons annually, the equivalent of taking almost 10 million cars off the road. It would also reduce annual oil consumption by 640 million barrels. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the U.S. uses approximately 19 million barrels of oil every day. If people worked from home part-time, 1.75 million of those barrels--almost 10 percent--could be eliminated. In addition to reducing oil consumption, other benefits teleworking can gift to the environment are the reduction of air pollution and water pollution (from chemicals spilled into our waterways, rivers, and other water sources).

Our Global Climate Response Plan

As a business and as citizens, we recommitted to our responsibility to not just hear these facts, but to quickly pivot into action and lean-in as much as possible in consensus with the scientific community. While the positive impacts our exclusive teleworking policy will have on the environment are a step in the right direction, and a major part of our Global Climate Crisis Response Plan, we will do more to fulfill our responsibility to our community through exemplary leadership. These facts are all that all of us need to know to “do good.”

Praecipio Consulting has been a member of the Pledge 1% initiative since 2015, and we take our philanthropic commitments seriously. We will continue to make contributions and donations with a tighter focus towards reforestation and restoration of grasslands to sequester more co2 going forward.

Earth Day and the millions of conversations that are on-going about environmental challenges we face, serve as constant reminders of the things we are currently doing and how much more we can do to benefit the future generations that will inhabit the Earth. As members of communities, businesses are in a unique position to help their individual employees make larger, more significant positive impacts.

Commitment to Make an Impact

Teleworking, a smaller office, reduction of corporate travel, encouraging and incentivizing personal impacts, and continued contributions in spirit of Pledge 1% are all commitments Praecipio Consulting is making as part of our Global Climate Crisis Response Plan. It's our sincerest desire and passion to lead the way and reduce our company’s (and our employees’) carbon footprint to zero. Join us. At this very moment, what steps will you take to ensure Earth can sustain humanity?

Topics: blog digital-transformation corporate-responsibility global-climate-crisis green-team social-responsibility remote-work
3 min read

Agile Coach vs Agile Consultant: The Difference | Praecipio Consulting

By Praecipio Consulting on Jul 9, 2019 12:17:00 PM

Agile has become quite the buzz word within the software development community. Some of the most successful software companies are known for how Agile they are and how often they can release code in production. However, before becoming Agile in software development, these companies first embraced and implemented the Agile framework across the entire organization–not just with the technology team, but with HR, Finance, Biz Dev, Legal, etc. And this isn't something that they accomplished overnight. 

Becoming an Agile organization, which can take a minimum of six months to achieve, involves undergoing a massive organizational transformation – redesigning everything, from strategy, processes, teams, governance, and work culture. This is why many companies decide to hire experts when they are implementing this methodology. Not only is it an enormous undertaking, but being Agile is instrumental for the future success, sustainable growth, and continuous improvement of an organization in an increasingly complex marketplace. 

So, when you are ready to bring in the right help for successfully achieving and sustaining Agile within your organization, you may be wondering if you should hire an Agile Coach or Agile Consultant. Before understanding the differences between Agile Coaching vs. Agile Consulting, you should ask yourself:

  1. Is our organization already Agile or are we trying to be?

  2. How mature is our team?

  3. What are our pain points?

  4. At the end of this engagement, what does success look like?

Now, let's shed some light on the differences between an Agile Coach and an Agile Consultant:

Agile Coach - A Subject Matter Expert

An Agile Coach plays a similar role to the one a teacher plays in school. They studied Agile methodologies and have been trained on how to teach those methodologies to others. Agile Coaches help train all teams within an organization and manages the implementation process in order to carry out a solid transformation. The coach works closely with each team and walks them through the steps of fully embracing and adopting the Agile framework. Instead of actually doing the work for the team, Agile Coaches equip their students with proper training, education, guidance, and resources so that they can successfully implement and sustain the Agile methodology. Working with Agile Coaches is typically a longer engagement. 

Some of the most common reasons for hiring an Agile Coach are:

  1. Organization is new to Agile methodologies and needs guidance (i.e. companies undergoing Agile transformations)

  2. Scaling Agile, working across all teams or at the enterprise level

  3. Improving performance, visibility, and predictability (portfolio planning)

Agile Consultant - A Business Consultant 

An Agile Consultant, on the other hand, is a practitioner. As the word practitioner suggests, he or she puts the Agile framework into practice by using their extensive experience with Agile to navigate roadblocks and quickly resolve any problems that are preventing the organization from achieving their desired results. Unlike the Agile Coach who provides guidance, the Consultant actually does the necessary analysis and problem-solving to put your organization back on track for success before handing the reigns back over to your teams. Essentially, an Agile Consultant provides a more short-term solution.

The most common reasons for hiring an Agile Consultant are:

  1. Problem-solving: You realize the problem is beyond your teams' capabilities and you need a specialist.

  2. Your organization is not seeing the effective outcomes associated with the Agile methodology. 

  3. You want advice on what issues need to be resolved and how to quickly tackle them.

Difference Between Coach and Consultant

Now that you understand the key differences between an Agile Coach compared to an Agile Consultant, you are one step closer to hiring the right expert for your organization and even that much closer to accomplishing a sustainable Agile framework. Even though a Coach and a Consultant play different roles, they are both equally essential in promoting cultural change and overcoming the obstacles that come with successfully embracing, implementing, and practicing the Agile methodology. 

Is your organization undergoing an Agile Transformation? Learn how our approach empowers organizations to achieve a successful Agile transformation in a sustainable and scalable manner, which drives business performance and propels our clients to be disruptive, innovative leaders in their industries.

Topics: blog scaled-agile process digital-transformation agile
3 min read

Could Testing Be the Missing Link for Effective Agile Transformation?

By Praecipio Consulting on Feb 20, 2019 7:03:00 PM

NOTE: The following is a guest post by Tricentis Director of Product, Ryan Yackel.

A modern testing platform is a critical, but often overlooked, element of successful agile transformation. Could QA (Quality Assurance) be the missing puzzle piece in your quest to deliver higher quality software faster?

The pace of software development is accelerating, and technology teams face increasing pressure to adopt agile development and continuous delivery models so that their businesses can more quickly respond to customer demand.

But your first-mover advantage will suffer if you are first to market with mediocre software.

If you fail to deliver high-quality digital experiences at the pace today’s users demand, you risk alienating customers. In the case of defect-ridden software, poor user experience, or a catastrophic bug, you risk losing significant market share and damaging your reputation.

Software Testing

In the rush to beat the competition to market, organizations are transforming software development and delivery processes. But too often, business leaders fail to prioritize QA transformation, and QA teams are stuck using ineffective legacy solutions that were built for outdated waterfall environments. The reality is that as long as your testers are using legacy QA tools, your transformation will remain incomplete.

Legacy QA tools like Micro Focus Quality Center cannot accommodate modern development workflows. (Year over year, Micro Focus Quality Center (HPQC) has been among the least recommended testing tools for agile teams in VersionOne’s State of Agile Report.)

Legacy tools do not integrate with open-source automation tools, which limits testers’ options for accelerating test cycles and makes it impossible to integrate QA into continuous delivery pipelines. This means QA teams lack visibility and are not able to test new code as it is written. Development is further delayed when developers cannot quickly access test results and mitigate issues QA has found. As a result, releases are delayed, and quality inevitably suffers.

When testing occurs at the end of a development sprint, bugs are often embedded in the code, where they are significantly costlier and more time-consuming to correct. As a result, the myth of the QA bottleneck persists. Or worse, the QA process is rushed, and organizations end up with defect-ridden releases that fail to provide the high-quality experiences their customers demand.

Development and QA

If you can integrate quality into agile and DevOps processes, instead of treating it as an afterthought, testing can occur almost simultaneously with development. When a tester finds a bug, he or she can alert a developer to address it right then, instead of after lines of dependent code have been written on top.

With the right approach QA can help speed development by helping developers identify potential defects early. That means that QA is no longer pressured to complete testing quickly as the last step in a sprint. With a truly agile testing approach, QA can become a strategic enabler of business success, rather than a bottleneck.

Integrated Testing

Successful agile organizations have adopted modern test management tools like Tricentis qTest to successfully integrate testing into modern development and delivery processes. Tricentis qTest offers a real-time Jira integration and centralizes test automation management across frameworks and tools – including out-of-the-box integrations and a robust API for test automation management. qTest also offers testers in DevOps environments a single platform for unifying tests that run through continuous integration with other tests.

Contact us to learn more about how we can help you accelerate your agile transformation by modernizing testing.

Topics: blog best-practices devops testing digital-transformation agile software-development tricentis

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