Wissam Raffoul

Wissam Raffoul

Dr. Wissam Raffoul is an IBRS advisor who specialises in transforming IT groups into service organisations, with particular expertise in IT Service Management (ITSM), process optimisation, outsourcing and Cloud strategies, enterprise systems management solutions and business-centric IT strategies. Prior to joining IBRS in August 2013, he was General Manager strategic consulting in Dimension Data advising clients on applying technology to improve business performance. Prior to joining Dimension Data, he was a Vice President in Gartner/META Group and issued various research publications covering service delivery processes, centre-of-excellence models, managing outsourcing vendors, benchmarks, maturity models, IT procurement evolution and supply/demand models. In previous positions, he headed HP ITSM consulting Practice in Australia. He also acted as an infrastructure manager, reporting to the CIO at a number of large organisations in government and in the financial and petrochemical industries.

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Conclusion: Digital transformation is more than another software development stream to replace legacy systems by mobile applications. Digital transformation includes building a new IT capability that can improve the business bottom line. It requires increasing business performance, reducing the cost of doing business and mitigating business risks in a cost-effective manner. To support digital transformation, IT value management capabilities should be established on the following building blocks:

  • Value creation – Define and create the desired IT value needed by business lines. The IT value is a combination of services and technologies capabilities.
  • Value measurement – Measure the IT value contribution to digital transformation.
  • Value communication – Communicate the IT value contribution to business stakeholders, ensure that their expectations are met and re-adjusted (if needed) to address the business and market emerging imperatives.

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Conclusion: IT organisations wishing to migrate to Cloud should adopt a pragmatic approach that strikes a balance between migration cost, Cloud risks and benefits. The bottom line is to avoid the hidden cost (e.g. scope changes), mitigate the migration risks (e.g. effective multi-Cloud management) and realise the benefits that contribute to business performance improvement. Effective governance of the overall Cloud migration is a critical success factor.


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Conclusion: IT organisations challenged with predicting performance requirements of new digital applications should undertake end-to-end stress tests that can detect systems performance problems prior to production release. Test results should be used to define the final release dates, prepare corporate investment justifications for improving the application architecture and influence the ongoing capacity planning practices. Successful execution of the initial performance engineering exercises will result in sound deployment strategies and avoid media embarrassment. The specification of the stress tests should be clearly described in any request for proposals. The chosen vendors should have the capability to scale the new systems to the desired performance specification.


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Conclusion: Delivering mature infrastructure services depends on many factors. For example, the service levels may vary significantly. Some organisations opt for non-stop operations, others seek basic service levels that allow up to one hour unscheduled downtime per month (or more). The key challenge facing IT organisations reviewing their infrastructure is to strike a balance between service level, cost, quality and risks. To address this requirement, IBRS has developed an Infrastructure Maturity Model1 to help organisations understand the service components dependencies before selecting an infrastructure alternative.


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Conclusion: While release and change management processes have been contributing to good service availability during the last 20 years, the increased service architecture complexity caused by adopting multiple Cloud and digital services has demonstrated that release and change management methods used to date are inadequate for the new world. As a result, end users have been experiencing unscheduled downtime that has impacted their business operations and led to embarrassment in the media. This research publication provides guidance on how to raise the maturity of release and change management processes to address these critical issues.


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Conclusion: The increased use of technical point-solutions has created the need for establishing an in-house core team of generalists capable of defining a coherent set of services that can improve the overall business performance. The key obstacle to building these strategic skills is the IT managers’ attitudes towards assigning work to existing staff. For example, IT managers tend to heavily exploit the existing skills of the technical staff to address specific requirements. Managers rarely give staff the chance to build new strategic skills that are beneficial to themselves and to their business.

Managers should strike a balance between strategic skill building and technical skill exploitation. This requires helping staff to acquire a deep understanding of the business operations, gain awareness of industry latest trends and offerings, and becoming capable of defining ICT solutions that can fix critical business problems.


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Conclusion: Running IT-as-a-Service requires emulating vendors’ account management function by creating a business relationship manager (BRM) role. The role’s rationale is to provide strategic advice to business stakeholders and act as a single point of coordination between IT groups and business lines. BRM’s focus is to manage the relationship with business strategists and recommend IT solutions relevant to business performance improvement and cost reduction initiatives where applicable.


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Conclusion: The success of digital transformation, hybrid Cloud deployment and multi-service providers’ governance largely depends on IT services being integrated and managed in a unified and standard way. Service integration and management (SIAM) is an approach to address this requirement. However, its full implementation is a massive undertaking covering delivery processes, organisational structure changes, service cost tracking, service skills and an effective deployment of end-to-end management tools. This note recommends a quick win approach that focuses on getting the service essentials fulfilled depending upon the status of external services used by an IT organisation.


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Conclusion: External Cloud services can realise cost reduction up to 50 % p. a. and promise no set-up or exit fees. While the ongoing cost reduction is realistic, there are significant other costs related to third-party services that should be considered to calculate the overall cost saving of Cloud migration. They are:

  • Transition-in cost due to the use of external consulting services to set up the new environment (up to $2.5 million for 7,000 users), as well as procurement cost to prepare tenders, select vendors and negotiate contracts (up to $300,000)
  • Transition-out fees to migrate the current service to another service provider (similar to transition-in cost)
  • Hardware depreciation related to private Cloud exit
  • Governance fees to ensure Cloud consumption remains within budget and the desired service levels are tracked and met (up to 7 % of the annual cost)
  • Risk mitigation strategies to ensure the Cloud service remains secure.

The purpose of this research note is to provide a step-by-step approach to determine the ongoing cost-saving opportunities needed for Cloud migration business case1 preparation.


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Conclusion: The current Business Relationship Managers mostly act as a service desk to manage the implementation of business stakeholders’ service requests. While this is an important business relationship function, the current incumbents are not engaging with business stakeholders’ strategic discussions that require the selection and implementation of new technology that can improve the business presence and performance in the market. As a result, Business Relationship Managers are not earning a “trusted advisor” status. The Business Relationship Manager’s job focus and skills should expand to promote the value of IT services that contribute to business value creation, measurement and communication. This should allow the IT organisation to become the service provider of choice.


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Conclusion: IT organisations responding to mergers & acquisitions or migrating to multi-sourced environments of Cloud and service contracts should establish service providers governance frameworks that favour federated organisations’ principles. It requires maintaining central consistency (e. g. policymaking) whilst allowing local autonomy in certain areas (e. g. hardware purchases). This will leverage the economy of scale, allow the acquisition of local services and products more efficiently, and permit the introduction of new geographies whenever needed in a consistent manner.


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Conclusion: Some ICT strategies are technology-centric while others are business-centric. The technology-centric strategies are usually developed without business stakeholders’ involvement resulting in limited business buy-in. Business-centric strategies are based on business strategies but have a short life-span. This is because market forces require business strategies to change frequently. IBRS recommends that ICT strategies be derived from business and IT guiding principles.
The rationale is that guiding principles have a longer life-span than business strategies and can deliver the desired outcome such as:

  • leveraging new technology
  • involving business stakeholders in the development process
  • realising business value in a timely and cost-effective manner.

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Conclusion: Public Cloud is not the solution to all IT organisations’ technology and services problems. This is because most IT organisations use a portfolio of environments such as legacy systems, in-house and outsourced services, customised IT service management tools and standard applications (e. g. email) that cannot be all retrofitted in a public Cloud architecture without major rework. As a result, hybrid Cloud has become the preferred direction because it allows the multiple environments to co-exist in a cost-effective manner. However, a convincing business case is needed to gain business and IT senior executives’ sponsorship to adopt hybrid Cloud. While Cloud migration benefits and risk mitigation are critical success factors, the deployment-hidden cost is a major contributor to failure. The objectives of this research note are to provide a framework1 to develop the business case and to ensure its cost includes the following:

  • Hybrid Cloud strategy development,
  • Risks identification and mitigation,
  • Go-to-market strategy, providers’ selection and contract negotiation, and
  • Ongoing governance to realise the desired business benefits. This can reach up to 7 % of the yearly cost.

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Conclusion: While the current artificial intelligence (AI) initiatives are data-driven, there are instances whereby the current data is insufficient to predict the future. For example, answering the following questions might be challenging if the available data is only of a historical nature irrelevant for forecasting purposes:

  • Q1: What will be the effect on sales if the price is increased by 10 % as of the next quarter?
  • Q2: What would have happened to sales had we increased the price by 10 % six months ago?

The purpose of this note is to provide a framework that can be used to derive sales principles to answer the above questions. The same approach can be used to derive other business processes principles such as procurement, customer service and client complaints tracking.


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