Breaking Up is Hard to Do

Breaking up is hard to do.  Those are not my words.  They were said, or sang by a much more talented guy named Neal Sedaka.  He sang those lyrics back in 1976, but they are still true today.  Breaking up is hard to do.  You can watch a performance of the song here.  (Watching this video could result in physical distress for viewers born after the year 1970.)  Staying in a relationship is easier than breaking up even if staying is unhealthy.  One of the main reasons people stay in broken relationships is that however unpleasant and unhealthy the situation is, change can be even more difficult.   Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Samantha Rodman wrote the following in a recent blog post for a website called TalkSpace:

“A common example of fear of change is when a person stays in an unfulfilling romantic relationship because they are terrified of being single, or of the effort and risk involved in trying to find a different partner. People often coast along in unfulfilling relationships, even marrying a person about whom they feel ambivalent, just because they are so scared at the prospect of breaking up.”  https://www.talkspace.com/blog/fear-of-change-why-life-adjustments-are-difficult/

Change is hard to do.  Change is at the heart of what is hard about breaking up for many people.  Change is especially tough when you are in love with Microsoft Office.

I get it.  I’ve been there.  I created an Access Database of my music collection back in college.  I gave my heart and the better part of a year to that thing only to finally realize it just wasn’t right for me.  I could tell you story after story about PowerPoint presentations that I found myself watching in presenter’s mode over and over.  Sometimes even returning to the meeting rooms where PowerPoint and I spent time and standing at the podiums where we presented.  I can even remember when I caught my best friend installing the Analysis Toolpak in my budget spreadsheet in Excel.  You don’t want to get me started on the Las Vegas Lights text effect in Word.  I’m not going to get into the details on that one – they are right when they say what’s formatted in Las Vegas Lights stays in Las Vegas Lights.

There is hope for people like us.  I can tell you from experience.  If you are thinking of ending your current relationship with Microsoft Office to implement a new software tool for Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery, just follow these tips:

  • Embrace the change. Remember why you started looking for the new software tool in the first place.  There must be a reason you started evaluating new products.  There are probably dozens of them.  Word and Excel offer freedom in terms of formatting and styles, but they lack the robust capabilities that software tools designed for BC and DR provide.  Many organizations create detailed evaluation documents to ensure the products they are evaluating offer capabilities considered vital to the program; then they forget those capabilities and insist the new tool be customized to provide an experience and output exactly like Word or Excel.  Stay true to the original requirements and focus on the functionality gains you targeted in your software search.
  • Focus on the big picture. The new software should help you drive the program to success.  Success in terms of a BC/DR program is about organizational resilience improvement.  It’s not about reproducing a Microsoft Office user experience.  BC/DR tools are not designed to act or look like Office, so expecting them to will require complex customization and taxing administrative overhead. In the end you will still be frustrated because nothing looks or acts like Word and Excel except World and Excel.  We can’t ask a fish to ride a bike and be upset when it can’t.  BC/DR software is designed for program goals.  Define success at the program level and then select and implement the tool in a way that enables the functionalities to help you get there.
  • Preach to the choir. Gain momentum by selecting the most enthusiastic, most change-receptive units in your organization to be early adopters. Develop a momentum around the program using the new software as the catalyst.  Stress the value of the software in meeting organizational goals.  Reduce the stress of the change by marketing the advent of something new.  If the focus of the effort is less about replacing something that is comfortable, than it is about the curiosity and novelty of something new, exciting, and easy to use; the stress of the change can be replaced by the anticipation of a new experience.
  • Keep it simple. If I had a nickel for every implementation that started with the project sponsor stating how they would like to keep things simple and out-of-the box, only to then detail dozens of absolutely critical customizations, I would not have to write entertaining and informative blog posts like this for money.  To tell you the truth, I wonder if some clients remember anything about the software they selected when the implementation starts.  Some seem surprised to learn that in addition to not making coffee or starting your car remotely, the software can’t relay thoughts automagically into plan content.  Today’s software is advanced, but trying to get it to do every single thing the program requires will create unnatural interfaces and undue burdens on end users and administrators.  Let the software do what is was designed to do, and understand that no software replaces all human participation especially during a crisis.
  • Don’t limit the opportunity a software implementation provides. This is perhaps the most disappointing mistake organizations make when implementing new software.  The implementation marks an opportunity to review all of the program practices.  This is an unusual and valuable opportunity.  If the effort is confined to the software, your organization is passing on the chance to improve its performance across the board.  This doesn’t mean bending practices to meet software capabilities.  If you selected the right tool, it should mean configuring the tool to support improved workflows and practices that enhance all aspects of the BC/DR program.  Don’t install a new software to continue stale inefficient practices.  Use the change as an impetus to streamline all that you do.  The implementation may mean the chance for program evaluation by expert consultants.  It means the chance to have experienced consultants with unbiased viewpoints evaluate the program and organizational practices.  Allow them the opportunity to review all program activities with an eye toward recommending improvements.  Be receptive of the recommendations, rather than resentful of the feedback.  Feedback can be a valuable tool for progress.
  • Build change into the normal activities of the program. Change doesn’t need to be a source of apprehension and stress.  If change is adopted as a normal part of the program life cycle, the dread it can often inspire will be limited.  Schedule program reviews annually to examine all activities and identify opportunities to improve.  Welcome suggestions from those working to support the program and the stakeholders who are supported by it.  The implementation can be just the first in a regular pattern of program review that includes the survey and analysis of feedback by multiple parties, the assignment of action items targeted at improvements, and the update of online and off-line workflows.

So, there is good news for those of us struggling to end an unhealthy relationship with MS Office.  It doesn’t have be hard to do; it doesn’t have to mean tears or heartbreak; it doesn’t need to mean binging on Haagen Dazs ice cream and romantic comedies; and, best of all, I don’t have to stand in the rain in front of Microsoft’s home office blasting Peter Gabriel songs…again.  What it could mean is the start of something big for your program.  Plus, it really is possible to stay friends with Office.  (I really wish I could format that last line in Las Vegas Lights font.)

Step One

Organizations often make a false assumption as they approach the start of a Business Impact Analysis (BIA) or recovery plan building: they assume that staff members can define the business processes that they are engaged in as part of normal operations.  The truth is that many people struggle to define the processes that they are regularly engaged in at the proper level, despite being part of an organization for many years and performing in the same role for a long period of time.  A process inventory is an essential prerequisite for a BIA or for plan building.   Failing to define processes at the appropriate level will yield inaccurate BIA results and could result in the creation of ineffective recovery plans.

The most common error in defining processes is the elevation of the individual tasks that are involved in performing a process to the level of a process.  If tasks are defined as processes, subject matter experts will have challenges identifying impacts at such a micro level of activity.  When processes are defined at excessively high levels of operation, the impact of a disruption can be exaggerated as all activity at such elevated levels is inflated.

Plan building is similarly problematic when processes are not properly defined.  Plans scoped at task level may fail to account for the complexity of operations and risk not identifying critical aspects of the recovery.   Planning at upper levels of the organization can result in over-sized plans that are difficult to execute and impossible to exercise effectively.

Prior to the start of a BIA or recovery plan building, business continuity leaders need to provide guidance to those identifying processes.  It’s more than just providing a working definition.  A means of comparing activities thought to be processes to the known attributes of a process is needed to establish a method of validation.  The activities being evaluated need to find similarity with what we know to be true for all business processes.  If there are difficulties in identifying the aspects of a process in evaluating an activity, it is unlikely that the activity is truly a process.

Providing BIA participants or planners a real-life example may help to simplify things.  Consider relating a familiar life experience to process identification.  Most people have spent time shopping online for auto insurance.   We go to websites for insurance companies, complete a request for a quote, and compare.  Providing auto insurance quotes is a business process.  The process is triggered when we complete and submit the online request form.  A series of coordinated activities follows:  Our data is compared to risk rating information.  A driver’s license history is reviewed.  A credit report may be run.  Our address and contact information may be validated against known sources.  A quality assurance check may be conducted.  All these activities are standardized and documented.  The result is the value item – the thing we as potential customers of this process desire – the quote.  Analyzing this example helps us to catalog the attributes of a process:

  • Processes are triggered by an event or action.
  • A process is a coordinated series of actions.
  • Processes have inputs in the form of resources such as data or work effort by staff members
  • Processes have standard procedures that are followed to ensure that they are properly performed. There is often training required to properly perform processes.
  • Processes create a something of value for a customer/client.

The coordinated activities typically result in a transformation.  The transformation may be to a tangible product or to data/information.  The result is the value desired by a customer/client.  As we assist in identifying processes properly, it is typically the inability to pinpoint the customer/client and the value generated by an activity that will effectively separate processes from tasks or procedures within the scope of a process.   The trigger/event that directly initiates the process will be particularly difficult to isolate in instances where a ‘process’ has been defined at too high a level of operation.

Adding process identification to the start of the BIA or to plan building will increase the time required for the project, but it is a prerequisite.  The time spent to properly define processes is still shorter than the time it takes to redo the BIA or to restructure the scope of recovery plans.   Taking the time to inventory processes properly is the business continuity equivalent of measuring twice to cut once.

Fairview Health Uses MaestroRS to Protect Critical Health Services

Health service providers cannot tolerate downtime.  There are quite literally lives hanging in the balance.  Fairview Health Services of Minneapolis, MN is no different.  Over 1,500 applications, many of them mission-critical, are necessary to keep operations functioning normally in their 12 hospitals, 54 primary clinics, and 36 pharmacy locations.  In the past, IT support managed their IT Disaster Recovery (DR) processes manually. While they were committed to having robust DR protocols, they struggled to keep Word-based disaster recovery plans up to date and accurate – and to verify that RTOs could be met. According to Maria Rothstein, DR Analyst & ITSM Office Manager, “We were faced with an enormous amount of work. Automation was the only way forward.” Fairview Health Services already used ServiceNow for IT Service Management and to manage their IT infrastructure. This made ServiceNow a natural choice for managing DR. The ServiceNow CMDB had a comprehensive inventory of Fairview’s IT network, along with other key data such as vendor and facility information. Rothstein says that, “We were constantly taking information out of ServiceNow and pasting it into our disaster recovery plans. That made no sense. By managing DR within ServiceNow, we could save huge amounts of time—and know that we had an accurate, up-to-date single source of truth.”

As a result of implementing MaestroRS, Fairview operationalized disaster recovery.  Standard ITSM and ITOM practices contribute to the build out and maintenance of actionable disaster recovery plans.  Fairview can now easily view graphics, custom, dashboards, and reports allowing them manage gaps between their organizational needs and their IT capabilities.   According to Rothstein, “it will allow us to have complete visibility of the RTO of each of our key applications, and we will be able to easily see the gap between our planned RTOs and what we can actually achieve.  Fairview can exercise to ensure readiness and gap mitigation efforts by facilitating realistic disruption scenarios using the Recovery & Exercise Management module in MaestroRS.

Rothstein is very enthusiastic about MaestroRS. She says that, “Our experience has been tremendous. And because the application was certified by ServiceNow, it got the golden pass—we knew it had successfully completed a defined set of architecture, integration, security, and performance tests, and had the capabilities we needed for success.”

 

Drive Successfully – Best Practices for Software Implementation

It’s like being behind the wheel of a car as it skids along a sheet of ice.  The helplessness of having your hands firmly on the wheel and your foot on the brake but not being able to change direction or stop leaves you breathless.   The imminent impact approaches in slow-motion. Your mind performs a flawless frame-by-frame recording of the event, a sort of a stop-motion filming for infinite playback after the fact.  A million thoughts go through your mind within fractions of a second: many have to do with what you could have done to avoid being in this situation.  But you’re not on ice, nor are you even in a car.  You’re in a software implementation that’s off the rails.  You are out of control, and there will be a definite impact – on the organization, and, perhaps, on your career.

This can all be avoided…the skidding, the feeling of helplessness, the torture of reviewing the what-if’s, and, most notably, the impact.  There are best practices that can be followed to help ensure things move according to plan.  John Donahoe, CEO of ServiceNow, spoke to a group of over 18,000 ServiceNow users at the Knowledge 18 conference about the best practices for customer success in implementing software[1].  Though Donohoe was speaking specifically to ServiceNow users, the practices are applicable to any type of software implementation.  He outlined four specific practices as being directly related to customer success:

Commit to an Out-of-the-Box Implementation

Failure to follow this first practice can doom an implementation before it ever gets started.  There are bound to be multiple competing voices clamoring for customizations that are micro-targeted at small facets of the organization and bring little, if any, value to the organization as a whole.  Attempting to placate all of the factions within your user community can have devastating long-term effects.  Over-customizing can hinder your organization’s ability to take advantage of future enhancements.  It may also impede your ability to install upgrades, and it can complicate security and the end-user experience.  Look to bring consensus around the implementation.  There are times where customization is necessary; however, one-off changes to benefit a small group of users should be dismissed as they do not provide the overall value required to justify the alteration.

Provide Clear Leadership and Governance

There needs to be a guiding force behind the implementation that provides a strategic approach to the roll out that adheres to the long-term vision of the software.  The leadership and governance group will ensure that the implementation stays on track toward resolving the issues that the software was purchased to address.  Leadership and Governance can also provide a firm hand in reviewing and making final determinations on requested customizations.  Proper governance can ensure that the organization is committed to a regular schedule of upgrades and is positioned to receive the optimal return on investment.

Invest in Change Management

Make sure the right team is in place to support the application.  Invest in training and certifying staff members, or hire staff that have certification and bring prior experience to the project.  Consider creating a Center of Excellence – a pool of capable personnel who can support the user community and will create and model best practices for using the software.  Market the implementation and upcoming changes.  It will be key to create excitement around the roll-out and to continue to drive interest preceding upgrades and changes.

Drive Business Outcomes

It’s not enough to say that the goal of the implementation is to ‘improve workflows’.  Avoid general statements around the aim of the roll-out.  Be specific in creating goals.  Develop top-down targets that are measurable, and report on your progress.  Consider why you chose to procure the system in the first place, and develop the means to quantify if you are achieving those objectives.

These practices are not applicable only to those at the outset of an implementation.  It’s important to note that you could steer out of a poor implementation.  There are no laws against shifting gears and re-implementing.  If you did not follow these best practices on the first attempt, try again.  Put the project in park, and develop a plan for success.  It is infinitely better to take one step back in order to take two steps forward than it is to continue onward at breakneck speed down the wrong road.

[1] John Donohoe, ServiceNow, ‘Knowledge 18 Day 1 Keynote, Works for You (Full Recording)’, https://knowledge.servicenow.com/video-library.html, May 8, 2018

Fairchild Named Independent Software Vendor (ISV) of the Year

Fairchild Resiliency Systems Recognized by ServiceNow at Global PartnerNow Summit

Fairchild Resiliency Systems Receives Breakout ISV Award for Americas Technology Partners

Andover, MA— May 15, 2018 —Fairchild Resiliency Systems announced that it has been recognized by ServiceNow as the winner of the Breakout ISV Award for Americas Technology Partners for 2017. Presented at the Global PartnerNow Summit that took place as part of Knowledge 18, the largest gathering of professionals sharing how they are leading digital transformations across their companies and delivering great customer and employee experiences.

The PartnerNow awards recognize the tremendous contributions of the partner community who have delivered outstanding value to ServiceNow and our mutual customers. As an Americas Technology partner, the award recognizes Fairchild Resiliency Systems’ success in the ServiceNow Store based on achieving the highest revenue and total number of deals transactioned via the Store.

“We are very pleased to recognize Fairchild Resiliency Systems for this achievement,” said Tony Beller, vice president of Alliances and Channels at ServiceNow. “And look forward to continued customer success as they continue to drive business transformational solutions to our global ServiceNow enterprise customers.”

“This is a great honor for us”, said Aaron Callaway, Managing Director, Fairchild Resiliency Systems.  “This award confirms that our team’s commitment to the ServiceNow platform and our efforts in developing MaestroRS is helping to fulfill our mission of moving our clients to a new level of organizational resilience.  We would like to thank ServiceNow and in particular all those who have supported us in bringing our solution to the ServiceNow store and in continuing to make our store presence engaging and informative.  This is a great day for all of us at Fairchild.”

About Knowledge18

At Knowledge18, 18,000 attendees will participate in more than 300 breakout sessions and 120 labs, specialized networking events, and the exhibition hall with 175 sponsors representing solutions for IT, customer service, human resources, and security. With the combination of pre-conference training, a diverse content catalog, conversations with peers and ServiceNow experts, and CreatorCon, the conference presents the best opportunity for ServiceNow customers and partners to learn to create delightful experiences for employees and customers. Come see how to make the world of work, work better for people.

About Fairchild Resiliency Systems

Fairchild Resiliency Systems seeks to advance resiliency for clients through innovative software and consulting solutions. Fairchild has been and strives to continue to be a disruptive force for positive change in the Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery industry. Our mission is to elevate the level of effectiveness and efficiency at which our clients respond to and recover from disasters. We are driven by a passion for customer service that guides the design of our software and underpins our approach to the unique strategic solutions we collaboratively implement for our clients. By continuously challenging the notion of what’s possible, we are able to evolve and adapt our products and services to not only overcome the challenges faced by our clients, but to propel them to new levels of performance.

ServiceNow and Knowledge are registered trademarks of ServiceNow.

 

 

Leveraging the Network Effect in Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery

The Network Effect is the idea that a product or service increases in value as more people utilize it.  This is a key concept underlying the rise of the Network Economy.  In the Network Economy the number of connections to a product or service drives its usability and value.  Airbnb is a flagship member of the Network Economy and a prime example of growth via the Network Effect.  The usefulness of the service has risen with the rise in users seeking accommodations and homeowners providing listings.  In 2008 Airbnb guests numbered about 20 thousand.  In 2017 the total number of guests were 100 million.  This service clearly becomes more valuable as more travelers use it and more homeowners list their homes as available.  Airbnb now offers more than three times the number of listings Marriott or Hilton offer.  These numbers come from a company called Vizlly, (http://www.vizlly.com/blog-airbnb-infographic/) which offers services to hotels trying to fight back against Airbnb.  In 2008, it would have been hard to imagine that such a company would even exist.  Uber and Lyft are other examples of exponential growth via the Network Effect.  If you own a taxi company, you are probably engaged in a desperate search on a daily basis for the transportation version of Vizlly.

The good news for those of us in Business Continuity is that we don’t need to worry about countering the Network Economy or the Network Effect; we need to imagine ways to leverage them.  So, what service or product can we offer that can leverage the Network Effect?  How can we bring a value to our organizations that will grow organically and improve in value as more people become involved?  Our product is often viewed as not having a value.  Our activities are seen as a drag on current staff.  We ask them for valuable time in completing Business Impact Analyses (BIAs), building and updating recovery plans, and participating in exercises.  The most conscientious among our coworkers understand the need and benefit of doing these things, but they would likely rank their enthusiasm for participating in them equal to paying their insurance premiums.  The need is understood, but there is a perceived value only if something goes wrong.

The irony is that unless we provide value outside of when things go wrong, we can offer less value when things do go wrong.  BIA results and recovery plans are less useful as more time expires between refreshes. What product or service can BC program leaders provide that could leverage the Network Effect?  The answer is data.  BC should be the great aggregators of organizational data.  What is a recovery plan but coalesced information from a number of distinct sources?  The potential is there to have assessments and plans receive automated updates from normal activities that are not related to BC.  If our coworkers saw that their day-to-day activities would automatically have an update on their BIAs and plans, we would be in position to improve resilience by creating our own Network Economy.  Operationalized Business Continuity is our answer.  We can be like the leaders of the Network Economy: a transportation service without cars (Uber/Lyft), an accommodations service without properties (Airbnb), or a media service without content (Facebook).  BC can be a data service without the ownership of any information.  If we can operationalize business continuity, drawing people into our platform to enter information they need to capture for non-recovery related work processes, we can leverage organic updates to recovery plans that would be the seed of our Network Economy.  We can provide data related to multiple areas without actually owning any data of our own.

The platform solution is the vehicle for a BC Network Effect.  A BC solution that can provide or share an environment with IT, HR, Vendor Management, and other key business areas offers a chance at the Network Effect.  Platform applications are devouring the market as companies look to drive ROI from their existing investment in IT and to create synergies that can’t be adequately supported via APIs.   ServiceNow is such a platform.  It is dominating its marketplace.  ServiceNow, Meet the ‘Fastest-Growing’ $1 Billion Enterprise Software Firm, (https://www.investors.com/research/the-new-america/servicenow-salesforce-com-push-saas-frontier-as-rivalry-grows/), and it continues to generate organic growth within its clients’ environments.  CEO John Donahoe was recently interviewed as part of the company’s Q4 earnings conference call.

Rob Owens: “So, maybe you can expand a little bit on the low-code, no-code opportunity and what that could mean just relative to the installed base and potential expansion there as well as your opportunity in the end market.”

 John Donohoe: “Yes, Rob, I think the short answer is we don’t really know. But I think we have this platform that customers give us feedback that it’s easy to use, it’s fast to build on, it’s extensible. So, in addition to building outstanding out-of-the-box applications, we’re trying to incent the spread of that platform across enterprise. We’re going to do it a couple of ways. One, we’re investing heavily in our platform-as-a-business. And our platform-as-a-business, that is platform as our product line grew, as Mike mentioned earlier, very attractively last year. So, people are buying the platform with the intent of using it outside of our core applications as well as our core applications. Second, we are ceding the third-party development market, both inside companies and outside companies. So, our store, our ISVs in store grew 100%. 100% net new ACV growth from our partners through our store and OEM program last year. It’s still a relatively small program, but it’s a way where we can open up the ability to innovate on top of our platform. And we’re having a number of OEM partners like Nuvolo and Factor5 and Fairchild who have built applications on top of our platform, often a vertical solution or a specific use case that they’re gearing it toward. And then lastly, what the no-code platform is for, the no-code effort is to just make it easier inside the enterprise for non-IT, non-developer employees to extend the use of our platform in ways that even we can’t imagine. So, our goal is to unleash the next wave of innovation. Obviously, the more this happens, the stickier our platform becomes. It both opens up new doors of opportunity and makes it stickier. And so I think it’s too soon to tell to see how much it’s used.”

https://seekingalpha.com/article/4141996-servicenows-now-ceo-john-donahoe-q4-2017-results-earnings-call-transcript?part=single

 I should have given you a shameless-plug alert for Fairchild and MaestroRS, but the truth is that ServiceNow and Fairchild are not the only platform – software combination that can help your program achieve the operationalized level of efficiency that is the goal here.  There are other platforms that could affect the same change.  (They’re just not as good. )

On a serious note, this isn’t going to happen on a stand-alone product.  The opposite of the Network Effect is building something on an island that forces users to learn something outside of their normal tool set that dictates a come-to-us approach, rather than a join-up network approach. The success of the platform is that it synthesizes disparate organization operations into a single access point simultaneously creating and sharing value.  Standalone tools are not going improve in value, like an Airbnb; because there is just no reason for anyone who isn’t responsible for BIAs or plans to log in.  There is no increase in value due to increase in use since the only users who will ever use the tool are only those who have been forced to do so.  There is no value in using the tool for non-recovery purposes, so the spread of value is decidedly finite.  One defining factor in the Network Economy is how infinite these products/services are.  There are no limits for their use. (‘Build Platforms Not Products’ Cloud Elements – https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/440197/build-platforms-not-products-ebook-source.pdf?t=1519846124246)

ISO22301 encourages BC practitioners to understand the ‘context of the organization’ encouraging us to recognize and make connections to all areas of the enterprise.  This understanding, and our efforts to make connections, will drive the creation of a culture of resilience.  The idea of the Network Effect is an evolution of this idea.  We can drive cultural change by aligning our efforts with the normal efforts of the organization.  Look for opportunities to join into your organization, find synergies between their work and yours, rather than forcing them to you. Cloud Elements, cited earlier, offers a distinction between a single-sided business model and a multi-sided business model.  Single-sided approaches solve an issue for a customer without thought to the network of the organization.  Adopt a platform approach that instead employs a multi-sided model encouraging users to interact in a way that creates additional services in the process.  Think of your program as a piece of the puzzle, rather than something that stands outside of it, measuring it, and never finding a place within it.