First published: January 2008
by Martin Atherton
Existing IT management strategies have enabled organisations to take control of their infrastructures. The game has moved on however and it is time to raise the sights of IT management strategy accordingly and to explore new ideas to address the operational challenges of the next 3 to 5 years.
An IT management checkpoint – so far so good – but the goalposts have moved
Most organisations have spent the last decade optimising their IT by establishing performance levels (SLAs) at a component or systems level. Broadly speaking, the majority of organisations today consider that their IT does a pretty good job of meeting the requirements of their organisations. However, they also acknowledge that it could do better. At the same time, the bar for IT to cross has been raised. Managing IT in context with business goals is the next level to address.
Now is the time to seek the next level of capability from IT management
Placing a higher degree of importance on the management of IT can have significant impact on both improving the alignment of IT to the business and communicating requirements and performance more effectively. What this implies for the majority of organisations is a need to marry performance of individual components to the business activities they support. For IT management environments which up to now have predominantly focused at a granular, technical level, raising the sights upwards requires an important change in mindset.
Addressing IT environment fragmentation marks a new strategic direction
Piecemeal investment in IT management over time has left many organisations with fragmented environments, which place counter-productive burdens on the IT department and limit the ability to manage IT in closer partnership with business activities. For IT to meet the new demands placed on it, an important first step is to address the level of fragmentation across IT management tools and systems. This provides a key departure point to link between existing IT management strategies and where the IT department needs to focus its strategy for the medium term.
A services lifecycle focus places the ‘new’ IT management strategy in the right context
‘Defragmentation’ of the IT management environment can provide a foundation of capabilities that enable IT to better support the operational and strategic goals of the business. However, any move away from disjointed investment in tools and systems should take place within an overarching strategy around a complete ‘service lifecycle’, so that organisations can achieve practical short-term gains within a medium-term strategic framework.
Sustaining a new strategy means revisiting organisational thinking and planning. Most organisations will seek to exploit best practice to assist their refocusing, and the notion of ‘CMDB’ is seen as a key enabler of superior service delivery capabilities. Taking operational requirements into account when designing systems, is also a vital component of a service lifecycle approach. More collaboration between business users, IT managers and IT developers is critical in a time where the performance of a business-aligned and agile IT environment can make an incremental difference to the business.
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