To make genuine, transformative progress through Service Virtualization (SV), organizations should adopt a 360-degree view that connects four critical elements: the technical SV solution, people, process and measurable business outcomes. By explicitly focusing on these elements and how they intersect, teams can develop effective tactics to improve SV maturity, increase scale and derive greater value from their SV investment. Additionally, when teams map the value of SV to business outcomes, they connect SV to business priorities, help validate and demonstrate SV contributions and establish measures for ongoing improvement.
Start with People—Your Most Important Asset
Organizational and individual resistance to change can impede the best plans and greatest opportunities for SV adoption. Organizations can beat this inertia by helping people answer the question: “Why change?” To be convincing, the answers must connect to business outcomes and their value. Some tactics to employ include:
- Showing how SV aligns to executive priorities
- Educating line-of-business and IT leaders on ways to communicate SV’s importance and relevance in achieving business outcomes
- Developing an accountable core team of knowledge experts and deploying them on campaigns that support the use of SV on high-impact projects
- Identifying processes and methods that impede change within the organization—and eliminating them
- Allocating resource time to integrate SV into application lifecycle methods and processes
- Communicating business outcomes facilitated by SV via lunch-and-learn sessions, internal demos and communications.
Process, Process, Process to Drive Scale
The absence of process-related artifacts, templates, and metrics that report value can inhibit organizational success. By creating reusable patterns and templates, SV can be operationalized at scale, thus delivering the greatest value and exposing new opportunities for SV adoption. Formalizing the following activities helps in developing scale:
- SV discovery processes
- SV project backlogs and pipelines
- SV support processes
- SV skills, learning and self-enablement processes
- SV asset management and support processes
- SV utilization metrics, socialization and consumer advocacy processes
Be Driven by Outcomes, Not Outputs
Organizations often find themselves trapped in the paradigm of socializing the value of SV by expressing value in terms of output, not outcomes. Whenever possible, don’t use an output metric to describe an outcome. Consider the impact of project value statements for the same project communicated by the PM in two different ways:
- Example A: “The team had a virtual service with 900+ million hits and other virtual services with 500+ million hits.”
- Example B: “We used SV to build better applications faster by ensuring that customer-facing applications could handle expected transaction volumes without experiencing outages and by providing a platform that enables daily performance tests rather than monthly or quarterly tests. Our approach resulted in reducing volume-related outages by 80%, completing performance testing 97% sooner in the application lifecycle and reducing infrastructure costs by $100K per quarter.
In example A, the numbers are measures of output; they don’t quantify or qualify how SV contributed to achieving a business outcome. We can only assume that the results had an impact on the business.
In example B, I can hear executives asking, “How did you do that? Can we replicate these outcomes?” It’s easy to feel the pride and excitement of everyone who contributed to these outcomes and to wonder if the focus on business outcomes motivated them to raise the bar for SV scale and value even higher!
I welcome your comments and questions below.
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