Core vs. Context – Analyzing Your Services


OK, let’s get this over with.  Like quickly pulling off a bandaid.

I do not like Core vs. Context Analysis!
Why?  Because it’s hard!
And every time I do it my chasm mentor finds a weakness.  Boo!


Let me explain. Geoffrey Moore, in his excellent book “Dealing with Darwin“, outlined a market framework that identified process which differentiate your offerings from your competition.  These differentiations set your strategy and focus on what’s important for your customers.


I’ve conveniently hijacked this concept for IT, because it applies.  If you break down every one of your offerings into ‘services’, you can now categorize them into Core, Context, Mission-Critical and Non-Mission-Critical services.


I always seem to make the mistake of putting too many services into the Mission-Critical / Core quadrant.  Networks?  Sure, can’t run the company without them.  E-mail? Ditto.  Applications?  All of them!  Too many CIO’s think that everything they do is MC-Core.


They may be mission-critical to the business.  You do need to produce product, invoice your customers, collect money, pay employees/vendors, etc., but these things are still contextual to you.  What that means is that though they are in your delivery charter, they are still services that you could outsource or offload to someone else.  The key word here is DIFFERENTIATION!  What do you do, as a service organization, that is different from what everyone else can do.  It may be dealing with trade-secrets, intellectual-property or data that is key to the value of the company.  These are areas in which you must invest IT assets for the benefit of your company.  Everything else must face scrutiny in how you prioritize your focus, effort and budget.   Once you have identified your services, you then must act on that analysis.  And that’s coming later.


This is an exercise where you really need to be BULLISH!!  If you get this right, then you are doing a valuable job for your company.  

If not, then you yourself have become NON-MISSION-CRITICAL and CONTEXTUAL.

And that’s not BULLISH!