Archive for the ‘ASL, BiSL Knowledge Base’ Category

Improve your Information Value Chain

 Issue: Businesses suffer productivity losses, risks of poor decision-making and costly mistakes due to ineffective and inefficient use of information and related technology

Guidance: Expanding the traditional Demand-Supply paradigm and thinking in terms of Demand-Supply-Use closes the circle and helps you to assess and improve the effectiveness of the whole information value chain


The weakest link

There is a potential and costly weakness in your information value chain. While you have spent fortunes on specifying and realizing information systems, if they aren’t used properly, then the value that you envisaged and on which you based your business case, simply isn’t realized. In addition to this, poor understanding of increasingly complex information leads to equally poor decision-making, leading in turn to costly mistakes. To make things even worse, recent research has identified a productivity loss varying from 3.1% to 4.1% of working hours due to inadequate user skills.

IT Manufacturing versus IT Retail

Many of us in IT often think in terms of demand and supply of IT services. The inevitable commoditization of technology is forcing traditional IT departments to shift their focus from delivering to demand-based specifications (‘IT Manufacturing’), to selecting readily available supply-based commercial offerings that fulfill business needs (‘IT Retail’). Considerable investment in reskilling and repositioning is needed to prevent the IT department being blamed for ‘rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic’ while business executives bypass the IT department and deal directly with external service providers.

Users left to their own devices

But the shift from IT Manufacturing to IT Retail (ref: The Quantum Age of IT) is only half the story. Difficult as this is, this reskilling and repositioning of the IT department ‘only’ ensures that the business gets the information systems that it needs. Not whether they are used effectively and efficiently. There is increasing awareness that the demand-supply paradigm needs to be expanded to address the actual use of information and related technology. With the ‘democratization’ of devices (BYOD), applications (easy to download apps) and data (in particular readily accessible Big Data from external sources), it is easy to leave the users to their own devices and hope that they use them well enough. If information isn’t that important for your organization, then you can take the risk. But if information is one of your important business assets, you need to manage it appropriately.


Expanding the demand-supply paradigm and thinking in terms of demand-supply-use closes the circle and helps you to assess and improve the effectiveness of the whole information value chain. ‘Information management’ addresses demand and use of  information and related technology. It is an enterprise responsibility that focuses on exploiting optimal value from information. Although information and technology are intimately intertwined, they are two separate entities that need to be managed in their own right. Information management and IT management are two separate disciplines with different dynamics. IT is managed by the IT department, information by the business.

Desired attitude and behavior


  • Being aware of the importance of the whole demand-supply-use circle for realizing the intended value
  • Realizing that users often develop their own way of using information systems and that the IT department usually isn’t aware of this


  • Observing how users use information and technology
  • Capturing good ways of using information systems
  • Sharing these good practices, either peer-to-peer or ‘top down’
  • Users improving their individual practices
  • Monitoring the effect of improvement

Additional guidance

Guidance for information management can be found in frameworks such as COBIT® and BiSL®. COBIT 5 guides enterprises in rigorous governance and management of processes and other enablers related to demand, supply and use of information and technology. It provides excellent guidance for assurance of benefits realization, risk optimization and resource optimization. Because BiSL provides more detailed guidance regarding the content of the processes for demand and use of information and technology, COBIT 5 and BiSL are regarded as complimentary frameworks.

Are your lessons learned being used?

It’s all very well filing your lessons learned reports but is your organization taking note of them? During the project Start Up phase, project managers should look for Lessons Reports from previous projects and incorporate them in the Lessons Log for the new project.

Tracking is a job for Project Assurance and this can be done at a number of points in a project. Firstly, has the project manager looked for Lessons during the SU process? Secondly, at each stage end, have any new lessons been added to the Lessons Log? This can be compared to the stage results – time, cost, quality and to Highlight Report mentions of any problems encountered during the stage.
At project closure the Lessons Report can be examined for the project manager’s entries and these compared to Stage Plans and the Quality Register to see if any lessons learnt have resulted in any corrections or changes by the project manager.

Naturally at any time during the project, Project Assurance may become aware of a problem that should result in an entry in the Lessons Log, and can check: (a) that an entry has been made; and (b) that the lesson has been incorporated in the later planning and monitoring of the project.

Project Assurance can always ask for the End Stage Report to include any new lessons and what has been done as a result of the lesson.

What is important though, is that it’s not just a case of reports filed or meetings held. What project managers need is accurate information and well-reasoned decisions.

On Project Smart, Duncan Haughey’s article ‘Avoid the Same Old Mistakes by Focussing on Lessons Learned’ is worth a read. He says, “If project managers are going to actively contribute to the project management knowledge within an organisation and make use of it, then we have to make it easy for them. Nobody is going to go out of their way to do it. So it’s important to have a well defined and simple process for collecting, collating, analysing and disseminating lessons learned. It could be along the lines of discover – recommend – document – share – review – store – retrieve.”

I wonder how many organizations are really honest in their lessons learned reports, and how many project managers hide their real opinions from their sponsors. It’s difficult to step up to the mark and speak out when you know things are going wrong, but masking problems means the same old things keep coming up time and again. So the real question is, how truthful is the lessons learned log?

This is the kind of question we will be grappling with at the UK Showcase this June. It takes place at the QE11 Conference Centre on June 20th. It’s free to attend for programme and project managers. Register today or sign yourself up to host one of our Birds of a Feather sessions – your peers will thank you!

BiSL Foundation Exam available all over the globe

Business Information Management

Within the complexity of today’s market, organizations simply cannot function without a fully functioning information provision, including technology (IT). The most critical elements are found in the alignment of IT and business processes. It is precisely this alignment that is often far from perfect. All over the world people are looking for guidance on how to manage business information management.

BiSL framework

The BiSL® process model provides an insight on all the primary processes within the field of business information management and the relation between the various processes.

BiSL Training courses

I am training professionals all over the world and I’ve seen a lot of interest in BiSL, for example in the USA. However, most BiSL training courses are scheduled in the Netherlands.

BiSL Foundation Exam

On LinkedIn I saw people from all over the world asking how they could take the BiSL exam.  I wondered how Capgemini could help. On one hand the ASL BiSL Foundation and APMG were trying to provide examinations in other countries. On the other hand, an accredited training organization can provide virtual exams to their participants via the Internet. So I wondered whether we could provide training courses (including exams) all over the globe.

The solution

Beside BiSL training courses I also provide training in ITIL. I had already worked on the development of Capgemini’s virtual ITIL training course (including exam) because so many of our customers don’t their employees to travel, due to high costs and loss of precious time. Being a BiSL expert that is able to provide virtual training in ITIL it was easy to come up with a virtual BiSL training course including a virtual exam. This makes us the first (Dutch) company to provide BISL training courses and exams all over the globe.

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