Enterprises, both large and small, are now required to stay competitive in this global business environment. Managing a global workforce, dealing with on-going mergers & acquisitions and being subject to regulatory mandates have challenged the way IT is managed and the level of sophistication required. The Information Technology portfolio in companies has become a mishmash of technologies as a result of the M&A activity, the need to deploy new technology solutions in response to market and competitive requirements and legacy systems.
With the perpetually changing nature of business, Change Management, Configuration Management, Release Management have assumed the highest level of criticality in the IT world.
Companies have been forced to adopt IT governance best practices and are subject to regulatory oversight as the network has become the most significant asset of the company and at the same time the most significant source of risk to the business. In order to demonstrate that the proper processes and controls have been put in place, companies are required to demonstrate auditable IT processes, change governance along with the proof of approvals under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act – Section 404 (SOX-404) and Payment Card Industry – Data Security Standards (PCI-DSS).
The complexity of the requirements have resulted in a higher degree of adoption in the standards like COBIT, ITIL, ISO-20001. Products that support the IT processes are being increasingly asked to be supportive of these standards/guidelines.
PrudentCloud conducted a interview with executives from Change Dynamics, a boutique venture funded IT solutions company, that delivers a fully integrated suite of Service Support products. IT Symphony, their flagship product, has been designed to leverage the guidelines defined as part of ITIL to streamline the support processes to meet the requirements of the IT Governance. The objective of the interview was to understand the offering, the key value proposition, competitive landscape, future etc.
Here are the excerpts of the interview.
- Charlie Guevara, President, Founder – Change Dynamics
- Paul Mitchell, Regional Vice President of Sales – Change Dynamics
- Subraya Mallya, PrudentCloud
SM: You play with the big boys HP, CA and BMC in the hyper competitive IT Service Management space? So why would customers look at Change Dynamics versus well know names. What is your sales strategy against the big boys?
CG: We earned our grade by helping customers with the IT Governance challenges even before we had a product. Only after we established the tangible value that we can deliver, did we decide to build a product. So in a sense the genesis of the company was a well-validated business problem. We did not acquire and assemble solutions from different companies into a mishmash of technologies that now customers have to contend with. We have designed and built the system from the ground up using a single-standard technology so customers do not have to deal with the integrations. Also if you see the large solutions, some are good at Service Desk while some are good at Release.
Note to prospects: Always make it a point to interview the company executives to ensure they are people from the industry and have been in the trenches solving problems, you are trying to resolve. This will ensure you have their ears and they are passionate about solving your problems.
SM: So how does a typical implementation cycle look for you?
CG: Expanding on my earlier point on single platform and single technology, we also have designed the application with the goal of allowing customers to implement in a phased manner. Some of our competitors go in and require customers to do much upfront work before they realize the value of their investment. Based on our multiple implementation experience, we have built a product, that is easily configurable out-of-the box, that customers can use right away and hence do not have to start from zero. Our customers can also implement the product in phases and expand or “add-on” addition process areas when they are ready. This way they see ROI every step of the way.
Note to prospects: IT projects tend to drag along longer than you anticipated. So it is important that you define intermediate milestones and phases so you have checkpoints to measure the success. This guarantees continued buy-in from your management when you demonstrate ROI along the way rather than wait for that eventual elusive ROI. Ensure the product you are buying supports this framework.
SM: What is your license model and who is the typical sponsor in an organization?
PM: We have a license+support model today. Customers license the product and services from our professional services team to help them get started. Our typical sponsor in a large company is the CIO office and led by a Director of IT. In a SMB scenario it will be a Director level in IT who is our primary sponsor in the organization.
Note to prospects: Technology solutions are increasingly moved to the cloud. So as part of your evaluation ensure that your vendor of choice has a SaaS offering or at least has plans to offer SaaS solutions. This will allow you to reduce your total cost of ownership (TCO). SaaS applications are also great platforms to collaborate with other fellow tenants, your extended organization comprised of partners, suppliers, customers using the same solution to evolve best practices or business processes that span across organizations.
SM: I see that you have large clients like Pfizer and Merrill Lynch. Most of those large organizations almost always have one of the big guys in your competitive space already entrenched. As part of your sales cycle do you propose replacing them or co-existing with them?
PM: Yes. In most large organizations we run into a HP or a CA. While those solutions are being procured at the corporate level, as with any large big-bang IT projects, they take time to get rolled out. In the meanwhile, the process owners need solutions that they can implement and demonstrate the governance to auditors. Our solution is designed to co-exist with other solutions. In fact, we have licensed the Serena Business Mashup Platform which allows companies to easily mashup data from various sources into meaningful and user-friendly visual representations.
Note to Prospects: No one solution meets all your needs. While customization might get you there, it is a slipper slope. You will invariably end up buying multiple complementary solutions to address all your needs. So ensure that each of the products you license have excellent integration capabilities so you can pull all the data together into reports that are asked of you by auditors or your corporate counsel.
SM: Looking ahead and in keeping with the trends, SOA and Virtualization are changing the way things are done. They are like double edged swords. On the on hand they bring about cost-efficiencies and ease of use while at the same time they create additional challenges around change governance in managing their sprawl. What, if anything, are you doing to meet these needs?
CG: Our product roadmap and R&D teams are looking into this. We are working with some customers around virtualization and SOA. We will make those announcements when we are ready.
Note to Prospects: SOA, Open Source, Virtualization, Cloud based services are going to be essential parts of your IT portfolio. Governance around SOA subscriptions, Open Source creep, Virtualization, Cloud based services like Storage, databases is something you need to start looking at. If you have not budgeted time and resources for those, you better get started. Stay ahead of your auditors. Also discuss this with your vendors and peers in the industry on how they are managing it.
SM: SaaS is another oncoming train that you can see at a proximity. This could potentially shrink your market in terms of potential customers as more and more companies move to SaaS based solutions. Are you looking at providing solutions to SaaS vendors who are required to comply with the same governance mandates (SAS-70, HIPAA) that companies hitherto are required.
CG: We have talked to some SaaS vendors in this regard. We are ourselves looking at providing hosted offering of our products at some point in future.
Note to Prospects: This is not something you should be concerned about if you are looking at IT Symphony today. It will impact you only if you license some SaaS solutions and would like your vendor to provide same governance you are asked of by your internal and external auditors.
Thank You Charlie and Paul for your time in sharing information about your product offering.
|Flagship Product||IT Symphony, a ITIL based service support suite of products to support Service desk, Change Management, Configuration Management and Release Management.|
|Key Customers||Pfizer, Merrill Lynch, IPC Subway Sandwich, Rabobank …|
|Critical Problem Solved|
Customer Case Study
IPC is an independent SUBWAY® franchisee-owned and operated purchasing cooperative. IPC negotiates the lowest cost for goods and services, while improving quality, enhancing competitiveness and ensuring the best value to SUBWAY® restaurants and their customers.
IPC manages all the software that financials, transaction management, purchasing that is done on behalf of thousands of Subway franchisees. They are responsible for the SLA for the franchisees. In order to standardize and streamline the internal IT processes IPC was on the lookout for a ITIL based solution. IPC conducted a detailed evaluation of competitive vendors that provided IT Service Management solutions and decided to go with Change Dynamics. The decision was based on three key factors
- Completeness of the solution
- Cost of the solution
- Conformance to ITIL
- Domain expertise and Customer friendliness.
Change Dynamics scored high on all four. Right from the sales cycle, Change Dynamics demonstrated a keen interest in IPC’s challenges and always provided solutions and adaptations of the solution to the specific needs of IPC. Given that IT team in IPC was small (~15), Change Dynamics always advised IPC on implementation strategies to generate the best ROI. Considering the natural resistance to any new processes in any given organization, the in-depth knowledge of ITIL that Change Dynamics team possessed was very helpful in getting buy-in from the rest of the IT team.
The solution has been implemented and used for two years now. Starting with Service Desk, IPC has since implemented Change Management to manage the Change control processes. Currently IPC is in the processes of implementing Configuration Management and Business Mashups.
In terms of ROI, Service Desk has provided a single place to manage all the support tickets and the knowledgebase around the tickets. IPC never had any service desk prior to IPC. That in itself has provided the benefits of reduction in time-to-resolution and consequently better conformance to SLA.
Change Management has allowed all the necessary constituents in the organization get better visibility to the nature of changes that occur bringing together IT and business process owners.
“In a nutshell”, says Anthony Ronconi, Director of Information Technology, IPC, “audit for us has become straightforward. All we need to do is print reports out of IT Symphony and give it to IT Auditors. Without that it would have been a painful process of providing a lot of documentation.”
Asked whether he has any concerns, issues with IT Symphony, two years into the implementation, Ronconi says “the issues if any are on IPC side, of us not having been able to uptake more of IT Symphony. That was due to business demands that take up lot of our time. Change Dynamics has, if anything, been a great vendor for us.”