The Importance of Communmicaiton in Strategy Development

I was provided a great example this week on the importance of an effective communication program.  In my current role I am responsible for a large scale private cloud as well the overall service of all centrally managed servers across the enterprise.  I have crafted and implemented what I believe is a comprehensive and well managed strategy for my service.  Yet to my surprise a senior IT leader in my organization caught me in the hallway for a quick talk.  The individual asked me if we could get together to craft and document a cloud strategy.

My initial reaction was surprise and confusion.  I explained the work that has occurred to validate and how we gathered input on the current cloud strategy.  Luckily, I also understood that this encounter was a result of something lacking somewhere.  So I agreed to meet to learn more.  I spent most of the remaining day thinking about why this encounter happened.  My ultimate conclusion is that I had a flawed communication program.  The portion of my communication program  I use to craft and communicate strategy has three channels targeted towards business input, executive vision, and engaging consumers and those that support the service.

Business Input

I meet routinely with executive leadership from each line of business to assess, document, and understand their priorities.  We have clearly defined roles through this channel.  The business is responsible to define “what” they want.  I am responsible to explain “how” my service will meet their want.  I propose “when” we can deliver their want which we must both agree upon.  We meet routinely to share progress of delivery, changes to solutions, and identify if their wants and/or priorities change.

Executive Vision

I meet with my internal executive leadership and my sponsors to review their intended vision and strategies.  I also have them validate my vision and strategies.  This channel ensures we are closely aligned with one another.  It also serves as a check point to ensure my executives and sponsors are aware of information from the other two communication channels and the message I am presenting to the business.

Consumers/Support Engagement

This channel is another routine engagement with two separate groups.  One is the middle management and consumers from each line of business.  The other is the internal teams that support our service.  This is my version of a business relationship management (BRM) channel.  It’s not only important to understand the customer service being delivered but the customer experience and the painful processes the support and engineering teams may be dealing with.  It’s just as important that this group understands the service strategy and roadmaps as it is for the business leadership and executives.

Conclusion

While I am ultimately responsible for my service and the creation of our cloud strategy I am also accountable to ensure said strategy meets the organization’s needs.  Each channel in my communication program is designed to ensure I understand the needs from each level of the organization and provides an opportunity for me to review our strategy and roadmaps.  But then why was this senior leader not aware of our cloud strategy?  The answer was simple, I failed to include them in the executive vision channel.  They had joined our organization after that channel was established.  The result, a lack of awareness by the individual and a lack of understanding of their needs by me.

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vRealize Operations Manager – Part 1

I thought I would begin to post a multiple part series on vRealize Operations (vROps).  I’ve come to be rather partial to this tool as it has solved many problems for me.  Plus I’m a data junkie and this gives me all that I want.  In this post I will review enterprise knowledge management and how vROps can help.  It may be an overlooked aspect of a tool that is so strongly marketed towards performance monitoring, but vROps is nothing if not dynamic.

The challenge many organizations face is a lack of knowledge shared between organizational units.  An infrastructure team may have a great inventory of servers but they rarely know the applications hosted on those servers.  In small to mid-sized organizations tribal knowledge often is easily and quickly obtained by the infrastructure team and they often do know what application is on the various servers.  This is from either supporting the servers or provisioning and completing the application install and is often mistaken for enterprise knowledge  However, that knowledge does not scale to 500 or 5000 servers And if the knowledge is resident within a single team then that’s not very enterprise now is it?

Luckily, vROps can help solve this problem by allowing the creation of customized application dashboards. You can create multiple types of dashboards to fit your particular needs.  My go to is an application health dashboard that binds multiple servers together into a single health badge.  The health badge provides a good representation of the application’s overall health from all servers, it takes up very little real estate on your dashboard, and you can link together multiple widgets to show additional data when the application’s health badge is selected.  The dashboard can also be shared to other user’s across your organization such as application owners, management, support desks, or to your executives.

By creating application dashboards you can begin to share common information across multiple user bases to break down communication barriers.  Your infrastructure team can now visually see what application is hosted on a group of servers.  Your application owners now see easy to understand health indicators of red, yellow, and green of their particular application.  The management team can see overall health of all applications they are responsible for.  Multiple users with differing needs, all interpreting and consuming the same data; basically they can now share a common language which is a wonderful thing in a datacenter.  Combine this with a configuration management database and poor knowledge management can quickly become a thing of the past.

In the next post I will walk you though how to setup an application dashboard and continue to review other features of vROps.