CIOs seeking to optimize operational efficiency often rely on strategies and frameworks such as ITIL and COBIT. But deploying a process improvement initiative or set of tools isn’t enough. True enterprise-wide process maturity is characterized by clearly defined activities, functions, roles, and responsibilities. This enables the IT organization to quickly address performance issues, identify root causes, and prevent recurring problems. Perhaps more importantly, process discipline enables demand management and flexible, usage-based pricing – essential components of cloud and utility computing models.
Here are the Top 5 keys to a successful IT process management strategy:
- Documentation and transparency. Many organizations have pockets or islands of process maturity. But, like chains, enterprise-wide processes are only as strong as their weakest links. End-to-end clarity into process flow is needed to identify where and why problems and issues occur, and how best to address them. Without this clarity, IT defaults to its traditional silo-based approach of managing the desktop or the mainframe, without an understanding of the overall system and end-to-end service.
- Ownership and accountability. A common problem with process frameworks is that they allow individuals to use rules and guidelines to pass responsibility along down the line. The result: a “hot potato” culture where activity is defined and documented but little actually gets resolved. Commitment from IT and the business is needed to ensure key processes have owners who are responsible and accountable for results.
- Meaningful metrics. Top-performing organizations are refining their metrics and key performance indicators to measure the end-to-end process and improve results, rather than simply track activity. The basic question is, “What are all the activities and approvals that happen between ‘I want’ and ‘I have?’” In this context, “time to resolve” is more effective than the traditional “time to respond” as a key IT functional metric.
- A clearly defined service catalogue. A specific understanding of the composition and cost of each unit of IT service allows the business to see what’s being consumed and enables IT to see what’s being delivered, through an IT service catalog and a business service catalog. This understanding establishes a critical foundation for IT demand management.
- Pricing tensions. Once service units are clearly defined and priced, it becomes possible for the business to see the cost implications of their choices regarding IT usage. This visibility serves as an incentive to drive smarter consumption decisions by the business, and more efficient delivery by the service provider.
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