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Operational Agility Forum Special Interest Group – “Self Service IT – can it really be achieved in business operations?”

Led by Dave Hudson – Chairman of the Operational Agility Forum – London, 19th October 2010.

The forum has a number of special interest groups which meet to discuss specific issues relating to Operational Agility.  The special interest groups are invitation only but the findings of the meetings will be published – please visit to request become a member of the forum and register your interest in future meetings.

Exec summary:

The forum discussed what is meant by “operational agility” and what is required for business operations teams to drive increased speed of execution, reduce costs and increase flexibility of response.  

1)      “Cottage industries” (CIs) emerge because of business needs, in many cases due to exceptions, emerging trends, acquisitions, regulatory changes or market actions.

2)      By design IT is not focused on supporting for this style of real-time operational change. Successful IT projects start with clear specifications and requirements which may not be possible to specify in rapid response business scenarios

3)      Agile development in IT terms relates to priorities of the IT delivery program and is therefore not explicitly designed to support operational agility.  

4)      CIs emerge when viable IT solutions can not be delivered in time or to budget that the circumstances dictate. In many cases business’s response is to: hire, outsource or offshore.

5)      Having the “enterprise” recognise this gap is therefore the starting point. This then moves to issues of ownership.

6)      Business should own and be responsible for configuration and business logic.

7)      IT should own and be responsible for availability of platform, change control and underlying applications (assets).

8)      Central IT programs deliver strong benefits within a managed delivery cycle with formal release mechanisms.

9)      Stability in IT can mean stagnation in the business, operational agility should deliver technical stability AND business agility – this is the goal of both parties.

10)  Operational agility can not mean compromising IT standards. Operational Agility means extending the degree to which the business has the power to self configure complex business processes to its ultimate maximum without impacting operational stability.  

11)   Operational agility relates more to “field automation” or “inflight” configuration  and adaptation. One analogy would be the function of an army pontoon bridge – a very rapid solution (within 1 to 2 days) for getting large numbers of troops and heavy tanks and equipment across a river – if you need a permanent bridge then you can work out from actual use if its in the right place and what volume and types of traffic it needs to carry and then build your more permanent bridge with a much higher degree and accuracy of specification.

12)   If the need is temporary then you can pack it up the “solution” in a matter of days and deploy elsewhere.

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