First published: January 2008
by Martin Atherton
The management of operational IT is not without its challenges, indeed it can be a thankless task particularly when considered as a whole. The good news is that the day to day burden can be reduced by applying some simple, practical measures which can also lay the foundation for more strategic initiatives.
The scale of burden on the IT department only becomes clear when it is all added together
Individually, day to day challenges such as security, desktop maintenance, help desk and information management are a bearable pain. When examined collectively, not only is it obvious that there are clear relationships between them, but en masse, they cause significant headaches to the majority of IT departments throughout the world.
Fragmentation adds to the day to day burden as well as stifling future innovation
The lack of joined up IT management capability is, in itself, yet another burden levied on the IT department. The risk of missing important changes or problems, duplication of effort and the high cost of trying to maintain and work efficiently across multiple, disparate tools and systems, are additional challenges to those posed by day to day operations.
Historical strategies have levelled the playing field. All organisations suffer to a degree
The level of burden that IT departments are under has little to do with different approaches taken to IT management historically. There is little difference in overall burden between organisations which have followed a single vendor systems management strategy and those which have not. Regardless of the strategy followed, there is a common set of day to day challenges which are sustained by the relative lack of integration and cohesion between systems management tools in use by the majority of organisations today.
Defragmentation is the pivotal point between easing existing challenges and long term goals
Addressing fragmentation in current IT management environments can have a positive impact in two areas. Primarily, it is the root cause of some of the day to day burdens the IT department has to deal with. Secondly, starting to take a more consolidated view of IT systems management is the foundation of a services-oriented approach, which allows organisations to get closer to the goal of exploiting their IT resources in better alignment to the needs of the business. The challenge lies in seeking short term gains so that longer term planning and action can be accommodated.
Create space for action by revisiting training and IT management systems capabilities
Ensuring that users and IT staff have been properly trained can have significant impact on reducing IT department burden associated with security, infrastructure utilisation, information management and end user support. Use these gains to justify exploring how IT systems management tools and processes can be joined up to provide a coherent view of what is going on. The ability to understand how the IT infrastructure impacts business service quality is the foundation for a longer term strategy. There are organisations benefitting from having addressed these areas, so the question is why are more organisations not seeking the same?
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