But now what?
IT has reached a level of maturity that the mere idea of any company in any
industry not wired is unthinkable. Yet, IT has had the challenge in recent years
of providing the same level of services with an ever-decreasing budget. What has
spawned is a revolution of sorts toward managing IT departments.
"Effective IT Service Management requires a different level of discipline
than IT has traditionally embraced,” says Ken Wendle, HP OpenView Certified
Consultant. “In most cases, the cowboy mentality just won't fit.”
Wendle’s point is well taken. For IT departments to survive and provide
timely and enterprise-wide services, shared knowledge wins big here, and the ego
swinging mentality loses.
Which means this new era of IT has created a revolution of
changes within companies across multiple industries. New methodologies designed
to pinpoint costs, manage service levels and streamline processes are all guided
by the principles of business strategy. Back in 1982, the machine plant could
only process orders at a cumbersome pace as the infrastructure was not in parallel
with the overall business objectives of the company. The evolution of technology
made what was unthinkable, possible – yet without business alignment, it
may be all for naught.
Trimming the Fat
Revolution is all about change; stripping away the processes
that don’t serve the greater good. Outsourcing, in this sense, has grown
in necessity and is now included in the business strategies of many corporations.
The criticality of identifying what services are necessary to the absolute survival
of the company holds court above all else. Anything not critical is outsourced.
Creating a lean and efficient IT department allows for flexibility, stronger service
levels and satisfied customers. All else is taken off the IT plate and outsourced,
where rendering services excels over previous internal attempts.
This trimming of the fat has extreme benefits. For example, IT departments
find breadth to confront compliancy issues like Sarbanes-Oxley and other industry
specific regulatory issues. If overlooked, these compliancy issues can result
in stiff fines. Moreover, IT departments that operate lean report a higher success
rate in services.
Faithfulness in executing services has also created an insurgence
in new methodologies and best practices. Many IT organizations realize that re-inventing
the wheel has proven too costly. The interest in best practices, otherwise known
as the Information Technology Infrastructure Library, is beginning to pique interest
in US IT communities. A collection of best practices, ITIL is now being recognized
as a way to simplify and hone service management with a high level of success.
Six Sigma, a methodology usually reserved for manufacturing, has also found its place
in IT. Although Six Sigma takes several years to implement, its benefits of decreasing
defects by identifying critical to quality issues within the enterprise line up
well with long term business objectives.
Corporate Governance, arriving on the heels of the Enron and Worldcom debacle,
also pulls IT into the loop. Boards are under tight scrutiny and the pressure
for financial transparency and effective reporting really falls into the lap of
IT. IT departments are now implementing controls that align with compliancy requirements
and are expected to achieve this without an increase in budget. At the same time,
risk assessment of the IT organization must be completed and vulnerabilities to
the system identified and corrected.
Assets of the Revolution
In fact, overall, the biggest revolution that has taken place
within the IT space is the inclusion of IT in strategy sessions. Enterprises strongly
acknowledge the role IT places in successful business growth. CIOs are now articulating
IT value and influencing IT-related decisions at the top level of the enterprise.
Strategists are now wrapping IT into their short and long-term goals. Where IT
was overlooked as just a mere service center, it is now heralded for the critical
role it plays in successful growth and profits.
With that value comes the realization that IT managers, directors and lead decision
makers are the assets of value, not the servers and desk-tops they run. Operating
an IT department has evolved into a science that requires extensive knowledge
and training. Before, IT departments were an ad hoc team of varying skills. Now
IT teams are critically trained individuals, often certified in more than one
methodology, and executing practices that generate ROI and profit.
IT has entered a new era in the business space. The challenges and struggles
of the past few years have yielded unprecedented change and creativity in IT operations.
The evolution of change carries with it a great momentum, that to ignore it can
ruin any business, no matter the size. Hail the revolution! For when the smoke
clears, pulling parts off a shelf to fill an order every fifteen minutes will
be right up there with vinyl records.
First published at BetterManagement.com.
About the Author:
Ruby Gates is a producer and editor for BetterManagement.com
and focuses on business issues surrounding IT Management at the enterprise level.
BetterManagement is a thought-leadership portal that has established partnerships
with many premier organizations including Harvard, Wharton, McKinsey, Boston Consulting
Group, KPMG Consulting, and more. To read more of Ruby's commentaries, go to http://www.bettermanagement.com/businessTopicHome.aspx?FilterID=486.
Read this newsletter at: http://www.itmanagementnews.com/2003/0728.html