Wissam Raffoul

Wissam Raffoul

Dr. Wissam Raffoul was an IBRS advisor between 2013 - 2021 who specialised 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: Running IT-as-a-Service requires offering broad IT services tied to external-value that goes beyond meeting or exceeding SLA targets. This is because the majority of existing SLAs are IT centric and vaguely relate to business value. Much of this issue is related to IT Groups’ lack of business analysis skills and IT ad hoc methods to comprehend business strategic requirements. As a result, business lines perceive IT as a support function instead of being a strategic business partner.


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Many Australian IT organisations have been implementing Configuration Management practices since 1994. However, with limited success when assessed against the key objectives of Configuration Management process and its associated database (CMDB).


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Conclusion: Cloud migration should not be a quick and dirty job just to upload the current business systems with their inefficiencies, only to get rid of the in-house hardware ownership. It should be considered as an opportunity to clean IT and business inefficiencies at the same time. IT organisations wishing to migrate to public Cloud require a new methodology to avoid incurring unforeseen consumption cost and to address business processes overheads. Strategies are needed to measure code inefficiencies and develop a remedy roadmap whilst building the case for public Cloud. Only efficient code should be released to public Cloud unless there are other benefits which make the overall migration cost-effective. This will ensure IaaS usage remains within IT budget.


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Conclusion: To reduce Service Desk costs and improve resources scheduling, some IT organisations are exploring the potential of Virtual Service Desk Agents to either improve self-service and/or reach to the right subject matter expert at the right time. However self-service success depends on the quality of information available to the virtual agents. It is critical for the virtual agent tool to be enabled by a mature service management engine that describes the service’s known errors and their resolution alternatives. Failure to do so will leave the virtual agent with no alternative but to call the live agents, thereby making the investment in virtual agent technology questionable.


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Conclusion: IT organisations developing IT policies in isolation from business units1 will face challenges to tie policies to business drivers and limit policies acceptance rate. IT organisations should formulate policies by involving business units at an early stage in policy scope discussion. IT best practices2 should be leveraged to develop reliable and practical policies. The resources needed to develop the new policies should come from both sides and a business benefits realisation plan should jointly be developed and tracked.


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Conclusion: Business-centric IT strategies are critical to run IT-as-a-Service1 because they attempt to integrate IT with business strategies. The rationale is to support business operations by implementing new technologies that reduce business risks, create business opportunities and achieve high levels of customer satisfaction.

Business-centric IT strategies focus on addressing the business critical issues by implementing new IT solutions in a timely and cost-effective manner. The proposed IT solutions should provide capabilities that address the current and emerging market forces such as consumerisation, mobility, social media and Cloud. This will signal to business lines that IT is being modernised to meet consumers’ exigent needs.

It is critical for business-centric IT strategies to be developed within two months to accelerate IT-as-a-Service transitioning.


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Conclusion: To improve business performance and/or reduce the cost of doing business, forward-thinking IT organisations are trying to run IT as a Service. However, they are challenged by long software implementation timescales, fragmented delivery processes and insufficient skilled resources to meet business demands.

To address these challenges, IT organisations should emulate the commercial practices related to delivering quality IT solutions at reasonable costs.


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Conclusion: While many IT organisations believe that using public IaaS (e.g. AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google) to host business applications is a cost-effective strategy, the lack of IaaS usage planning will most likely increase consumption cost. IBRS recommends that IT organisations undertake a self-assessment of their usage management practices prior to migration to public IaaS1.


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Conclusion: IT organisations' lack of IaaS usage planning will most likely increase consumption cost. As a result, IT organisations should work closely with business units to understand usage patterns and track monthly usage against forecasts. This will more likely ensure that IaaS usage levels remain within budget. This note provides the usage management framework. Part 2 planned for release in August 2014 will provide User Management maturity self-assessment approach.


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Conclusion: While many IT organisations believe that using public IaaS (e.g. AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google) to host business applications is a cost-effective strategy, they still require to manage the hosted environment themselves or select an external service provider to manage it for them. Towards this, it is critical to understand the current service management maturity level prior to choosing an in-house or outsourced solution. This note provides a self-assessment service management maturity model to create a solid foundation for selecting sourcing options. IBRS recommend that IT organisations with maturity level 3 or higher retain the service management function in-house, whereas, IT organisations below maturity level 3 should outsource the service management function.


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Conclusion: WhileI SaaS and PaaS adoption has been increasing during the last two years, most IT organisations are hesitant to migrate their legacy systems to public SaaS. This is primarily due to the applications being highly customised to support the current business mode of operations. As a result, migration to cloud requires significant effort to retrofit the existing systems in public SaaS architecture. One of the options to address the customisation obstacle is to adopt a rapid business process redesign approach.


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While IBM is planning to invest A$1.4 million to grow its global datacentre facilities, its focus remains on private cloud with no serious public cloud offerings, As a result, IT organisations under traditional outsourcing contracts with IBM should examine the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of third party public cloud alternatives prior to renewing the existing outsourcing contracts.1


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Conclusion: 80% of traditional outsourcing contracts established in Australia during the last 25 years were renewed with the same service provider. However, with the emergence of public Cloud, IT organisations should examine the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of migrating to public Cloud prior to renewing the existing outsourcing contracts.


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Conclusion: With the migration to complex hybrid sourcing strategies, traditional IT organisations based on ‘plan/build/run’ models won’t be suitable for acquiring public cloud services in an increasingly changing market. This is due to vague understanding of service total cost of ownership and limited contract negotiation skills. IT organisations wishing to rely on external services must evolve to ‘plan/procure/govern’ structure to emphasise strategic service planning and hire specialised service procurement skills. This paradigm shift requires CIOs to restructure IT procurement with a view to run it as-a-service to other IT groups and business lines.


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