Thursday, May 13, 2010

Just-in-Time Resourcing provides strategic and productive visibility into professional services staffing decisions

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod and Read a full transcript or download a copy. Sponsor: Compuware.

For more information on resource utilization, read RTM's whitepaper "The ROI of Resource Utilization -- Measuring and Capturing the Real Business Value of Your People."

Learn more about Compuware Changepoint.

The latest BriefingsDirect enterprise technology update discussion focuses on how technology suppliers can get the most from resource utilization and management in the global services economy.

Increasingly, sellers of IT are finding it harder to win large software and hardware capital purchases contracts, which traditionally followed three- to seven-year obsolescence and refresh cycles. The shifts in technology and business models accelerated by the recession are forcing these vendors in particular to adopt more of a professional services revenue model.

Buyers of technology, on the other hand, are moving to IT shared services and software-as-a-service (SaaS) models to get off of the capital outlays roller coaster. They want smoother and more predictable operating and charging models, beginning with long-term professional services and outsourcing engagements.

Both the buyer and seller of services therefore need to focus on the implementation and integration of solutions, placing a complex burden on the services delivery personnel themselves, as well as those who managing the services providers.

We’re here to find out some new, best ways of managing and automating these intellectual resources that support the professional services lifecycle. We’ll see how recent research shows that more of a just-in-time (JIT) methodology is required to keep the skills in balance with myriad project requirements and obligations.

To learn more about resource utilization and management in the global services economy, we're joined by Lori Ellsworth, Vice President of Changepoint Solutions at Compuware, the sponsor of this podcast, and by Mark Sloan, Chief Operating Officer of RTM Consulting. The discussion is moderated by BriefingsDirect's Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions.

Here are some excerpts:
Ellsworth: The change and the focus on professional services is moving from something that was nice to have, to something that is necessary to have to be successful.

Software companies are a great example. Historically, companies in that sector may have done mostly product business and less service. Services are now necessary to deliver success, and the services business is a very healthy part of the software business and is contributing significantly to the bottom-line.

Now, organizations have to understand how to get a handle on the people they have working for them, how best utilize them, and how to make sure that your employees, those assets, are challenged and happy, but that you are delivering that service to provide value to your customers.

There needs to be more discipline, more information, and a better process for decision-making and forward planning, so that the organization can scale and scale in a financially successful way.

So, the stakes are higher, in terms of the discipline and the approach that we need to take to manage that professional services part of the business.

Sloan: At RTM Consulting, one of our core areas of focus is in this area of resource management. How can you get the right person in the right place at the right time and drive up utilization, but at the same time, make sure that you're delivering value to your end customers and leaving them satisfied and coming back for more?

When a software company shows up with its professional services arm, the client is expecting that each and every one of the people who show up is an expert in the software, the technology, and the implementation process. The days of people learning on the job and coming up to speed are long gone.

The challenge today is for companies to get visibility into the type of work that’s coming down the pike, so that they can proactively train their internal resources and be prepared for that work, so that when they do show up, they are the experts.

We’ve actually taken the principles of JIT manufacturing and directed them to the professional services organization [via in new service definitions of JIT.]

Just as 30 years ago, any manufacturing company had big inventories of supplies, finished products, sitting in their warehouse. Ten or 15 years ago, the big services organizations were able to have excess resources on the bench, in the office, waiting for that next project to arrive.

What we’ve done is taken those same principles -- forecasting what the future scenarios look like, what the demands look like, and then translating that back into how many resources you are going to need, the types of resources, the skills those resources need to have.

You can, at that right moment, bring on a new employee, go to a third-party contractor to fulfill that demand, or give yourself enough advanced notice to cross-train your existing resources on new technologies, new products, so that they can work across your portfolio and not just focus on one particular area.

Getting to the solution

Ellsworth: There are four critical success factors, but also the building-block approach. In other words, you need to start with the fundamental. You need to understand your people and their skills and get that view of your business. Then, you can start to add levels of maturity, look at forecasting, look at different models for resource allocation, and bring in project management.

As organizations start to put the buildings blocks in place, and adopt the disciplines and build the processes that work in their business, [they can have trouble] scaling that.

You can make that work within a small team or across a couple of small teams, but ... you need visibility ... to scale that to your entire services organization, including management. [But] you can't scale and reinforce that discipline without automation.

The two really have to go together. One won’t be successful without the other in a large professional services organization. Automation brings the scale factor.

The ability to measure and monitoring is something that Mark also highlights as critical success factors. Again, you’ve got a large group of people with a lot of activity going on. There's lots of data, but you have to roll that up to the management level to make it valuable to help drive decisions in the business.

... Our focus has been on driving that view as a professional services organization, but importantly driving that view inside the context of the broader company.

It starts with those building blocks around who are your resources, what are their capabilities, and where are they being utilized. It brings you to the next level of maturity in terms of being able to look at forecasts and do some demand and capacity planning.

And then it goes even further from a resource perspective to that professional development side. Let's look at the gaps in the next six to nine months. Where can we identify resources and put them on a development plan to fill those gaps?

We're managing the day-to-day business of a professional services organization and going beyond that to deal with project management, engagement management, and right through to billing for a professional services organization and for technology companies that also have a strong product side of a business.

The paybacks can be, and are, significant. First and foremost, is really speed to revenue and cash flow.

The Changepoint solution has been active and working with customers in their professional services organization for many years, going back to the late 1990’s. We also deliver a project portfolio management capability to allow them to manage products and manage delivery of those product applications.

Sloan: The paybacks can be, and are, significant. First and foremost, is really speed to revenue and cash flow. Lori mentioned that doing this in a large services organization is critical and an enabling technology is required to make that happen.

I’d argue the same for small professional services organizations. Having the information that tools like Changepoint can put at your fingertips, you can quickly identify people in your organization that have the right skills, that off the top of your head you might not think of, and staff projects quickly with the appropriate resources, ultimately enabling you to get that revenue.

Billable utilization

Secondly, you start to see a significant lift in overall billable utilization. This is for the professional services organization. Again, by getting better visibility into the skills that different resources have, you realize you have many more people in the organization that can do work than you think of.

For more information on resource utilization, read RTM's whitepaper "The ROI of Resource Utilization -- Measuring and Capturing the Real Business Value of Your People."

Learn more about Compuware Changepoint.

Other research points to the fact that companies who do this development of staff and get projects started on time are significantly more likely to finish their projects on budget and on time and drive significantly positive customer satisfaction.

Companies that aren’t able to do this -- take an extra five, 10, or 15 days to fill some of the slots on a project -- tend to go over-budget, don’t get it done on time, and, as a result, have poor customer satisfaction. If you think about it, it's back to that mantra, "Do it right the first time." This process helps you do that.

Ellsworth: As you're adding discipline and increasing maturity, there is participation from the practitioner, if you can position the value to them in terms of increased opportunity or an ability for them to better manage their schedule and not be burnt out. They have access to different opportunities. It's very valuable and can help them actively participate in moving the business forward and not kind of fight against it.

A broader pool of resources comes there to help you respond to customers which just increases the need to understand who those resources are and what they can bring to the table to support these services.

Customers of mine, in Europe for example, are quoting that on a year-over-year basis, they are able to reduce non-productive time -- and therefore the cost of that non-productive time -- by 16 percent.

Other customers will articulate the value of this entire solution in terms of revenue increase, the focus of getting control over their resources, who they have and how they can most effectively deploy them. Another customer of mine in Europe talks about a 30 percent increase in revenue, linked directly to implementing some of these practices in getting that control over their resources.

Sloan: The same lessons apply to shared services organizations, such as internal, large IT departments managing multiple projects per year to deploy technology.

They can leverage the technology that Changepoint offers to keep track of the people, where they are deployed, what skills they have, what new projects are coming in, and achieve a similar increase in productive utilization of those resources. But to your point, in terms of creative organizations, this would apply to any organization that is focused on moving people with particular skill sets to a unique project.

When we architect a solution for clients, it’s a unique solution taking into account the various constraints and the environment of that client.

That includes engineering services organizations, creative agencies that are moving talent from one project to the next -- anyone who relies on definite skills and knowledge that aren’t just easily interchangeable. This helps forecast where you can get the biggest bang for the buck with those people.

In terms of getting started, when we typically work with clients, we come in and do a quick assess and architect phase where we’ll take a look at how resource management is being done today, compare that to the best practices that we’ve defined for JIT Resourcing, and identify areas where you are strong and areas where there is an opportunity for change and improvement. When we architect a solution for clients, it’s a unique solution taking into account the various constraints and the environment of that client.

JIT Resourcing is a defined approach. We have recognized that there are unique aspects to every business, and can tailor the solution to fit there.

By deploying these processes now, you can start to learn the continuous improvement that’s needed, but be enabled as more and more of your clients go to SaaS, but you’ve got to have to deploy people with the moment’s notice.

You're going to get much better at predicting and forecasting what your future needs are, enabling you to align your resources and capabilities accordingly. You want to achieve the benefits we talked about -- speed to revenue, speed to cash-flow, and zero idle resources.
Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod and Read a full transcript or download a copy. Sponsor: Compuware.

For more information on resource utilization, read RTM's whitepaper "The ROI of Resource Utilization -- Measuring and Capturing the Real Business Value of Your People."

Learn more about Compuware Changepoint.

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

SAP buys Sybase, gets back in the race

The torrent of major IT acquisitions notched another milestone today when German business applications powerhouse SAP announced plans to buy fast-growing database and mobility vendor Sybase of California for $5.8 billion.

The news comes as the IT vendor space is witnessing an historic consolidation, via both acquisitions and partnerships. From HP buying Palm, to IBM buying Cast Iron, to EMC partnering with Cisco, to Oracle absorbing Sun Microsystems, the rush is on to present a new all-in-one face to the enterprise IT buying community.

As I said in my earlier post today -- in analyzing product news from HP, IBM and TIBCO -- the receding recession has provided a catalyst for a much larger shift in how IT is done and delivered. These tier-one vendors know something big is up in IT, beyond business as usual, beyond a typical turnaround in the business cycle.

SAP and Sybase are very complementary, from the business, technology and market penetration perspectives. But the price of $65 in cash for each Sybase share by SAP -- a 44 percent premium to Sybase's average price over the past three months -- shows that this is no marriage of convenience.

It's more like a shotgun wedding, and the shotgun is being aimed by a rapidly changing IT environment that favors scale, comprehensive products and services, and global delivery capabilities. A big war chest and a yen for cloud computing don't hurt either.

SAP needed to get back in the Big Game to remain a top-tier IT vendor. Sybase fills major gaps in SAP's portfolio, and gives it an instant chance to play in rapidly changing mobile market.

Sybase has not been ailing, but growing quite well, mostly from its core database and tools businesses. Sybase took a big departure a few years ago with a big swing into mobility infrastructure for enterprises. They have done well, but the stakes in the last year has grown higher as netbooks, smartphones, iPhones and iPads have made mobility the client-side growth markets.

Sybase would not likely grow organically into more aspects of IT, despite it's core strengths and large presence in Asia and on Wall Street. SAP gives to Sybase the larger business applications and sheer global scale to enter the tier-one vendor space faster than it could alone.

But this is no slam-dunk. It's risky. SAP acquisitions have been spotty in terms of numbers, size and success. These companies are very different culturally and geographically. Sybase has a strong engineering streaks, which is a good fit -- if the politics can be worked out.

The level of risk, like the price, indicates that there's a hint of desperation in the SAP-Sybase meld, if not in terms of survival at least in terms of the grasping to deal with an IT landscape that is rapidly turning into a handful of mega vendors.

Now that the flood gates on M&A mania have been opened, one has to wonder what will be next for Red Hat, TIBCO, BMC, Progress Software, Novell, Citrix and the dwindling number of larger tier-two IT infrastructure vendors.

Major IT vendor offerings point to a new era of profound IT economic transformation

Gut-wrenching recessions have a way of changing things ... for people, families, and companies. They can also, perhaps like no other event, provoke change in large IT vendors like HP, IBM, TIBCO and Oracle.

Based on this week's HP announcements and last week's IBM Impact conference, these two of the very largest, full-service, global IT vendors are betting -- now that the recession has, at the least, bottomed out -- that the extent of change now upon us is more than just another business cycle come full circle.

Far more, these vendors see that the recession has provided a catalyst for a much larger shift in how IT is done and delivered. It's no coincidence that the interest in cloud computing and innovative IT sourcing options, for example, peaked when the recession was at its deepest.

The idea garnering wide attention in the darkest days was not just to save money by downsizing, but to also to start doing things very differently -- to truly innovate, to change the very economics of IT. But now that the worst is over, simply saving money via old IT methods, I'll wager, will prove a lot more expensive in real terms than rapidly investing in new ways of providing IT value as services.

That doesn't mean that some enterprise IT organizations won't try to go right back to business as usual. And some of the IT vendors, with their license auditors in tow, are counting on it.

It does mean that the enterprises that can actually change how they do and pay for IT in the post-recession economy may have an escalating advantage over those that do not.

Not the same old song and dance

HP this week announced the equivalent of a Swiss Army knife for IT transformation, with about as many blades and instruments as there are ways to attack the data center transformation gordian knot. The HP services, software, and sourcing offerings are designed to guide enterprises -- from the starting points of their choosing -- through a seismic transition from cost containment to IT innovation. [Disclosure: HP is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

Last week, IBM boldly scooped up Cast Iron Systems, a cloud-to-IT integration engine maker, and further polished its view that the way to a smarter planet is via better business processes and a deep understanding of vertical industries, automation and how IT (with professional services) can bring them together. My colleague Tony Baer at Ovum delves into IBM's recasting of the definition of business applications and acceptance of the partly cloudy future.

[UPDATE: IBM CEO Sam Palmisano outlines IBM's 2015 roadmap.]

TIBCO this week at its annual user conference delivered a dozen major announcements and stepped even more boldly into cloud models, too. TIBCO's "Enterprise 3.0" vision emphasizes the importance of real-time and massive scale processing, an integrated development-to-deployment to business process management capability, and now the option of building out an enterprise private cloud to public cloud synergy using partners like Amazon Web Services. TIBCO is also embedding BI capabilities deeply across the portfolio. [Disclosure: TIBCO is a past-sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

Oracle, for its part, made good on its "software, hardware, complete" vision via a cameo (and somewhat buffoon-like) appearance by Chairman and CEO Larry Ellison in the debut of the movie Iron Man 2 last week. Perhaps we should expect a fist-sized "arc reactor" for database appliances in the near future? Yet Oracle is also recently drinking deeply from the cloud well, given some its recent speeches by executives as it digests the Sun Microsystems acquisition.

The point is that these vendors know something big is up in IT, beyond business as usual. We're seeing bold moves by them all, from acquisitions to restructuring to Hollywood-delivered group-think and not-so-subliminal brand imagery.

HP tackles the IT funding conundrum

HP is looking to actually help enterprises fund these transformative times. HP's economic rationale for moving to innovation now goes beyond the need for swift and verifiable ROI in IT investments. Additionally, HP is banking on the high and painful costs of not being able to move well in dynamic markets, of incurring costs from inertia, rather than from investing for advancement.

Most urgently, IT cannot miss out in supporting businesses as they face rapid growth and savvy competitors across global markets, says HP.

More succinctly, HP's message from this week's announcements comes as a warning that going back to the old IT ways, of sliding back to the economics of expensive waste as a proxy for brittle peak reliability, risks missing the lessons of the recession.

HP is therefore taking a three-pronged approach to making adoption of innovations the new mantra of IT. The first approach finds way to deliver self-funding projects. The second leverages modern architecture and methodologies so IT organizations can quickly and easily add new functionality, making change the constant. The third approach shows how to freeing up funds trapped in on-going IT operations based on older IT economics.

As enterprises are faced with transformation from old to more modern IT, many are caught in an inertia of avoidance -- frozen by the complexity and scale of the task, according to new research supported by HP. What's needed is incremental change that pays for itself along the way, but which remains aligned with the strategic transformation and direction.

The HP focus on self-funding projects, therefore, includes offering qualified clients a complimentary, hands-on HP Applications Modernization Transformation Experience session that illustrates IT modernization and its benefits. The goal: By retiring legacy applications and eliminating complexity in technology environments, organizations are able to self-fund their modernization journeys.

Cost of lost opportunity

“The phrase ‘time is money’ rings true here, as 99 percent of organizations say that innovation gridlock cost them in lost time,” said Thomas E. Hogan, executive vice president of sales, marketing and strategy for HP Enterprise Business, in a release. “By breaking the innovation gridlock, organizations can regain time to market and capitalize on new opportunities.” More at

According to research conducted on behalf of HP by Coleman Parkes Research:
  • Some 95 percent of business and technology executives said innovation gridlock resulted in lost opportunities for their organizations.
Together the promise of cloud, the constraints of the recession, and the quick-paced requirements of modern business agility have conspired to expose the weaknesses of plain old IT ... stack upon stack, brittle apps astride brittle apps, and rack by rack of under-utilized workloads alienated from their fit-for-purpose potential.

HP says the cost of doing nothing to transform IT is too great to ignore. IBM is transforming the very definition of business services and applications with plant-wide efficiencies in mind. TIBCO is refining software delivery that steps up to the cloud challenge. Oracle is enclosing its software in an optimized "iron" support infrastructure to improve performance to cost ratios dramatically.

All these vendors will still sell you the good old IT systems the good old ways. But they are also coming up with some big new tricks. Who will take them up on their hedge against a truly transformative IT future?

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Open Group's Cloud Workgroup delivers new white paper on business ROI of cloud computing

This guest post comes courtesy of Mark Skilton of Capgemini Global Applications and The Open Group.

By Mark Skilton

The Open Group’s Cloud Work Group has published a white paper, “Building ROI from Cloud Computing," that’s getting quite a lot of positive attention about cloud-delivered business benefits.

The paper, of which I'm a contributing author, looks at various ways to measure ROI from cloud models, and includes a questionnaire as well as some useful metrics to show a long list of demonstrable business benefits from cloud adoption. [Disclosure: The Open Group is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

Many experts view cloud computing as a technological change brought about by the convergence of several new and existing technologies. Techies tend to like it for the following characteristics:
  • The performance is the same if scaled for one, to a hundred, or a thousand users with consistent service-level characteristics.

  • It frees applications from being locked into devices or locations.

  • Users only pay for what they use and with no or minimal up-front investment costs.

  • The service is on-demand, able to scale up and down with near instant availability.

  • It enables access to applications and information from any access point.
But this is only half of the story. These technical characteristics can also be found in many non-disruptive IT solutions. What's also creating business buzz? The rate of change and magnitude of cost reduction and specific technical performance impact of cloud computing, that's what.

And these benefits aren’t just incremental -- they can give up to a 10-times cost-efficiency improvement.

The capacity-utilization curve

The famous graph used by Amazon Web Services illustrates the capacity versus utilization curve and has become an icon in cloud computing circles. The model illustrates the central idea around cloud-based services, enabled through an on-demand business provisioning model to meet actual usage.

Years from now, when cloud computing is seen in a historical context, the capacity versus utilization curve will be an iconic model that had the same effect as previous well known business models.

This matters to business because avoiding the cost impact of over-provisioning and under-provisioning forms a core precept of cloud computing. This is in addition to the opportunity for cost, revenue, and margin advantages of business services enabled by rapid deployment of cloud services -- with low entry cost, and the potential to therefore quickly enter and exploit new markets.

Years from now, when cloud computing is seen in a historical context, the capacity versus utilization curve will be an iconic model that had the same effect as previous well-known business models.

Eight ways to cloud computing ROI

The current view of capacity and utilization is a technology provider viewpoint, and is essentially based on key performance indicators, rather than business benefit metrics.

IT capacity -- as measured by storage, CPU cycles, network bandwidth, or workload memory capacity -- forms an indicator of performance, while IT utilization -- as measured by up-time availability and volume of usage -- is an indicator of activity and usability.

But effective cost/performance ratios and levels of usage activity don’t necessarily imply proportional business benefits. They’re just indicators of business activity that are not in themselves more valuable than lower operating cost.

The Open Group’s new paper, however, uncovers eight business metrics that translate the indicators of the capacity-utilization curve to significant and tangible benefits to the business:
  1. The speed and rate of change of cost reduction and cost of adoption/de-adoption is faster in cloud models, creating additional cost transformation benefits.

  2. Optimal total cost of ownership, where you can select, design, configure and run infrastructure and applications best-suited for business needs. Traditionally this may be decoupled as IT projects hand-off to production services -- but in cloud environments these can be joined up.

  3. Rapid provisioning scales up and down to follow business activity as it expands and grows, shrinking the provisioning time from weeks to hours.

  4. Increase margin and cost control by enabling revenue growth and cost-control opportunities to pursue new customers and markets for business growth and service improvement.

  5. Dynamic usage with elastic provisioning and service management targets real end-usage and business needs for functionality as the scope of users and services evolve.

  6. Risk and compliance improvement is possible by leveraging the cloud’s "green" capabilities through shared services.

  7. Enhanced capacity utilization helps users avoid over-provisioning and under-provisioning of IT to improve smarter business services.

  8. Access to business skills and capability improvement is made possible through cloud sourcing, on-demand solutions.
A full copy of the Cloud ROI paper is freely available on The Open Group’s website:

Mark Skilton is currently global director responsible for applications strategy and service offer development for Capgemini Global Applications Outsourcing Services. He is also the co-chair of The Open Group Cloud Work Group, focused on helping companies to improve ROI with their cloud computing initiatives. Mark can be contacted at

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