5 Top Tips for a TOM (Target Operating Model)

5 Top Tips for a TOM (Target Operating Model)

Author: Richard Clayton, Managed Services Director, Namos Solutions

… try saying that five times fast!

After years of ITIL, Prince and Scrum experience, I often fall foul of talking in acronyms, so let’s start with the basics, who or what is a TOM and why should you care?!

A TOM is a Target Operating Model. It is a term that is often bounded around during a project; either in the Business Case to justify the investment to allow for business transformation, or toward the end of a project when you’re worried how your business will operate after you go live!

It is often misconstrued (with everyone being too polite to challenge) as a new team structure, or as new processes for working, or a new landscape of systems. Without being too grandiose, it is all those things and a bit more. It is all aspects of People, Processes and Technology that underpin how you move from one way of operating to another (hence Target).

If you make all the right considerations across people, process, technology, embed them in the right way, at the right times, put simply, you will turn projects into services. What’s more, those services will deliver the strategy of your business now and into the future. Get it wrong and you have another NHS National IT Programme.

Below I have tried to outline some top tips and a checklist to help you make the right considerations.

1. Don’t create a Tome

A Target Operating Model is not a stack of paper that no one reads. It is certainly not a report writing exercise that should be outsourced to a consultancy.

At best, a good Target Operating Model is a collection of artefacts (most of which will exist already) comprising, policies, processes, procedures and whatever else helps you capture the who, what, how, when of operating your business. If you wanted to bring this into one place signposting to those artefacts, you can do so with the ‘why’ outlined in succinct vision statements. Then voila, you have a living breathing Target Operating Model that you can articulate at will, with supporting materials that let relevant parties drill into the detail.

2. The Why is as Important as the How

Earlier, I rather cruelly picked on the NHS Programme for IT as an example of where a project failed to yield a workable operating model. The programme had incredibly generous time, quality, cost, and scope expectations, even its’ business case was sound when you consider the benefits it would have realised. However, whilst the industry press point at several reasons the project failed, the top down vision and lack of buy in is where blame is commonly laid.

This is why it is so important that your target operating model has a purpose that is aligned to the vision and strategy of the organisation. Done right, they will be the key principles that drive prioritisation of new changes, it will enforce new operating procedures, be the substantiation for why you need to take structural decisions, and it will be the justification for continued investment. Done wrong, and you will have another… you get the picture!

3. Knowledge is Power

You need not recreate the wheel when it comes to documentation. In most cases, materials will already exist that just need to be modified to align to your new operating model. Your operating model does not need to be expressed in such granular detail; however, the detail needs to be embedded somehow otherwise confusion will ensue.

Below I have outlined an example list of resources specific to the introduction of Oracle Cloud Applications:

4. Plan early

Planning for a new operating model starts months or even years before the projects that facilitate them. However, it is easy to get lost in the excitement of a project and lose sight of the benefits you are trying to realise.

Ensure that change management is a constant theme running through your project plans. They should have milestones and acceptance criteria that mirrors the project phases. There is a high level TOM checklist at the bottom of this blog, some of which would be great as tasks on a project plan.

5. You’re not on your own

By breaking down your operating model into logical groupings, e.g. Training, Service Management, Contract Management etc., you are also assigning ownership. Whilst you may be accountable for the vision, others will be responsible for aligning to that vision.

For example if your vision is to decentralise all procurement activities to empower users and reduce administration, then requsitioners and buyers will need appropriate training, documentation, operating procedures, continuity plans, approval governance, KPIs etc.

You can also gain inspiration from models, frameworks, and methodologies, for example: The Operating Model Canvas, ITIL4 Value Chain Maps and ITILV3 Service Design Packages, TOGAF Enterprise Architecture, or even the principles of The Toyota Way if you are Lean minded. Just be wary of straying into Business Models as opposed to Operating Models, rather than come out with operable model for your organisation, you will come out with an MBA!

Finally there is an often forgotten P, people process technology products and… partners. Your partners providing support, implementation, and consultancy services as well as products, should all be bringing value to your organisation. At Namos, we pride ourselves on being a strategic partner and not just a supplier. It is why we have best practice guides on operating models, transition into service plans, and readiness materials that are shared months before any project go live.

…there is an often forgotten P, people process technology products and… partners


If you have got to this point… well done. Unfortunately, your only reward is a checklist. However, it is a checklist based on decades of collective experience from myself and colleagues. I hope this is helpful, and although it is specific to Cloud Application adoption, it should be a good starting point for any TOM:

This is an image of a checklist of Target Operating Model materials. Namos Solutions are happy to provide this list in text format for those with accessibility requirements, please mail rclayton@namossolutions.com.


There is no one size fits all best practice guide that will determine what will work for your business. I would be wary of anyone claiming to have a magic bullet pre-packaged solution to capturing how your business should operate.

I would be wary of anyone claiming to have a magic bullet pre-packaged solution to capturing how your business should operate.

There will be industries and companies where only 20% of this is relevant, and there will be industries and companies where this only covers 20% of the ground. However, by objectively breaking down your operating model into similar themes with the same considerations of people, process, technology, and partners, I am sure you will be on the right path.

Finally, if you would like to talk more about TOM or how Namos could be part of your trusted team, please do get in touch.

About Namos Solutions
Namos Solutions is an award-winning Oracle OPN Modernised Partner specialising in the implementation and support of ERP, EPM, and HCM business solutions, both in the Cloud and on-premise.

With global experience together with an impeccable track record, our business is built on our passion for delivering successful business transformation.  Passion underpins everything we do at Namos – passionate about delivering beyond expectations, earning trust and building long-lasting relationships with our clients.

Although based in central London, we work wherever our clients need us to be.  Many leading organisations located all over the world trust and rely on our expertise to deliver industry-leading business solutions.  Namos customers can currently be found in the UK, Europe, Middle East, Asia Pacific, North America and Africa.  For more information, please visit www.namossolutions.com or email info@namossolutions.com.

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