by Asim Jalis
Here are some more thoughts on the value proposition of WSM:
1. WSM will sell in a recession economy. The basic idea is that
the IS manager will save money because he will be able to step
back and see how the IS resources are being utilitized. By
improving the allocation of resources the company can save money.
It can do more with less. This will be a process of continuous
improvement, much like zero inventory for manufacturing.
2. A hardware company selling WSM is like a dentist selling
Sonicare toothbrushes. I don't mean that facetiously. It actually
makes sense for the dentist to encourage his patients to take
care of their teeth. For one thing it helps the relationship. Not
only do you buy my services but I will also help you maximize the
return on them.
3. However, for WSM to play this resource allocation role
properly, they must have the ability to analyze historical data
and to generate periodic reports. If a framework is only good at
taking snapshots then it is only valuable in putting out fires.
It cannot help do the generative learning (Senge) that can save
companies money through continuous savings streams.
4. A lumpsum payment is frequently less lucrative than a smaller
payment stream (this is why cable subscription costs more than
the TV even though it doesn't feel that way; and also why the
cable company could make money by giving people full-screen TVs
if they sign a long enough subscription contract). Similarly, a
snapshot solution only offers a burst of savings. It does not
offer ongoing savings. It saves you a million dollars on that one
day when all hell was breaking loose. But it does not save you
money every day without your active involvement.
5. A useful way to investigate the value proposition of WSM would
be to compare the features of the main providers and to compare
their value propositions. The main providers are: HP, TB, IBM,
CA. There are some smaller pure-plays.
6. WSM solutions that provide historical reports can create a
perspective in which generative learning (in the sense of Peter
Senge) can take place. Instead of just reacting to patterns IS
organizations can solve the systemic problem.
7. The same idea was expressed by Toyota's Taichi Ohno, who
recommends asking "Why?" five times to get to the root cause of
every problem. Here is an excerpt from
his book the Toyota Production System. The key: root cause
8. Gartner reports that the best IT organizations spend less time
firefighting and more time making systemic improvements to their
infrastructure. The WSM framework could be a valuable tool that
can enable middle level IS organizations to achieve the same
stability and predictability that the best-of-breed IS
9. There is a connection between this and between Six Sigma. An
IT organization that regularly firefights has a system with a
much higher variance than an organization which takes a step back
and makes systemic improvements. The systemic improvements will
have the effect of reducing the variance of the organizations
processes, which will in turn reduce the likelihood of fires.
10. The CMM model in software is another example of an approach
to reduce risks.
11. The main selling point of the WSM solution is that it reduces
risks, lowers variances, improves allocation of resources, and
allows the IS organization to run like a lean mean machine.
12. The argument for systemic problem solving is that it catches
defects early. A stitch in time saves nine. This familiar saying
is the essense of Six Sigma and many consultants have made large
sums of money simply by preaching what is ancient wisdom. The
mathematical justification for this proverb is that defect rates
grow exponentially. Defect rates along a serial process multiply.
If the problems are only caught at the end -- when the fire
alarms are going off -- then the solutions are going to be more
expensive, and the problems are going to be more frequent. WSM
frameworks allow IT organizations to put that stitch in time.
13. I should talk to my IT contacts from previous jobs to flesh
out these value propositions.