Plan Phase Overview

Published: April 25, 2008


Introduction to MOF

The guidance in the Microsoft Operations Framework (MOF) encompasses all of the activities and processes involved in managing an IT service: its conception, development, operation, maintenance, and—ultimately—its retirement. MOF organizes these activities and processes into Service Management Functions (SMFs), which are grouped together in phases that mirror the IT service lifecycle. Each SMF is anchored within a lifecycle phase and contains a unique set of goals and outcomes supporting the objectives of that phase. An IT service’s readiness to move from one phase to the next is confirmed by management reviews, which ensure that goals are being achieved in an appropriate fashion and that IT’s goals are aligned with the goals of the organization.

Overview of the Plan Phase

What does business want from IT? Services that are reliable, compliant, and cost-effective and that continuously adapt to the ever-changing needs of the business. The Plan Phase is where business and IT work as partners to determine how IT will be focused to deliver valuable services that enable the organization to succeed. Doing that requires:

  • Understanding the business strategy and requirements and how the current IT services support the business.
  • Understanding what reliability means to this organization and how it will be measured and improved by reviewing and taking action where needed.
  • Understanding what policy requirements exist and how they impact the IT strategy.
  • Providing the financial structure to support the IT work and drive the right decisions.
  • Creating an IT strategy to provide value to the business strategy and making the portfolio decisions that support that IT strategy.

The IT strategy is the plan that aligns the organization’s objectives, policies, and procedures into a cohesive approach to deliver the desired set of services that support the business strategy. Quality, costs, and reliability need to be balanced in order to achieve the organization’s desired outcomes. During the Plan Phase, IT professionals work with the business to align business objectives and functions with IT’s capabilities and constraints. The IT strategy is the result of this alignment and serves as a roadmap for IT. The strategy continually evolves and improves as organizations improve their optimizing skills and ability to adapt to business changes.  

The following figure illustrates the position of the Plan Phase within the IT service lifecycle.

Figure 1. The Plan Phase within the IT service lifecycle

Goals of the Plan Phase

The primary goals of the Plan Phase are to provide guidance to IT groups on how to continually plan for and optimize the IT service strategy and to ensure that the delivered services are: 

  • Valuable and compelling.
  • Predictable and reliable.
  • Compliant.
  • Cost-effective.
  • Adaptable to the changing needs of the business.

This accelerator is part of a larger series of tools and guidance from Solution Accelerators.


Get the Microsoft Operations Framework 4.0

Solution Accelerators Notifications

Sign up to learn about updates and new releases


Send us your comments or suggestions