Monday, February 8, 2010

Business - IT

How much money is spent on providing services to IT? Why spend just as much? Where could we reduce costs without losing quality? With these issues in its activities to a greater or lesser extent, each head facing IT-units. They are impossible to answer accurately, they are relevant regardless of the crisis or the global situation in the economy of enterprises, because it is such a language the customer speaks, for which IT and offers its services. And, most difficult and sometimes incomprehensible to staff IT, these issues do not relate directly to information technology.

Organizational Challenges

IT Managers can be divided into three types. The first grew out of the system administrator. He knows the infrastructure, because it participated in its construction. Decisions them through suffering sleepless nights, broken at times exhausting negotiations with management. He was turning and twisting almost all "nuts" in the construction of IT-services. They, these services - his brainchild. And in this regard, the main problem with which he faced, taking any responsibility as head of IT-services is strictly in the plane of the organization of the staff. After all, for it is much easier to make yourself than to delegate tasks to support services to their subordinates. The second major problem - the inability of businesses to explain the tasks that perform IT, and as a consequence, the inability to defend its interests and those of their subordinates. On the other hand, the head of IT, which has grown from a system administrator, is quite conservative in introducing changes to the infrastructure. He was at the "voice of blood" oppose something new, because it may damage existing services and systems, which in itself is correct and positive. So, in relation to the infrastructure of the former system administrator more acceptable and less productive in its relations with customers and, at times, with his subordinates.

The second - a more interesting type. Head of IT, which has grown from a programmer. Here to organizational problems described in the first case, adds a further and purely hacking desire to solve everything with the "append" applications, which in itself implies for sustainable operation of information services.

Third - this is IT-manager, who came directly from the business units. Here all is well with regard to relationships with business, but the infrastructure is for him, in most cases, the notorious "black box".

So how do you pick up or grow a good IT-manager, able to translate business objectives into IT and also knows how to speak the language of "money"? The answer is not as easy as it might seem at first glance. Since Soviet times, most of us are accustomed to the idea that "... the cadres decide everything" (c) IV Stalin. But in today's constantly changing business, and, in particular, in relation to a more rapid change in technology support the work of business, this old model is faltering. The basis of the classical model described in Library ITIL, the principle of the three "P": People, Process, Program (technological support). And, as practice shows, the most viable, and from a business standpoint, and in terms of infrastructure, is a model in which Process, formalized activities and transactions, is in the first place. It's no secret that the human factor in management is a critical risk. If you look at world statistics, around 90% of problems are somehow connected with the human factor. Therefore the only solution to existing challenges is hard to formalize a relationship between IT and business customer (contract for services), and formalization of activities of support staff and a change in the existing infrastructure.

Returning to the issues

How much we spend? Why do we spend so much? How to calculate the costs? By spending on IT-infrastructure include the following: the cost of supporting existing services and the cost of changing them.

There are several processes that are described in Library ITIL, which allow an analysis of costs and, consequently, to plan economically justified budget. First, it is most common in the ongoing process of managing incidents. If the process is formalized, in this case from the log of incidents and service requests, we can calculate how much time and resources were spent on support services in working condition. From what we can conclude that if the number of services and business staff will not change during the next period of time, support costs are likely to remain the same. We are not talking about the possibility of optimizing the data costs. Regard the situation as it is on now. " The world and my own practice as a consultant for the implementation of ITSM-process shows that the ratio of staff of first-line support (service desk professionals, they are sometimes called "enikeyschikami from the English any key") to the business staff of about 1H50. Again, I would like to emphasize that this ratio allows you to keep the high quality of services only if there is strong support for the formalization of processes. A similar calculation can be done in relation to maintenance of infrastructure, with which direct communication is not the end-users (channels of communication, networking and server hardware and software). So, the first figure has already appeared. By the way, we would like to mention another indirect data on the level of competence of the business units, which will analyze the management of business to meet the latest statements of professional competence.

The second part of operating costs - is the cost of change. How to plan change and, more importantly, how to determine the need and justification for change, if it is impossible to track trends in the number of incidents associated with the changes? How to eliminate or at least reduce the number of authorized and, by itself, unauthorized changes, which may lead to a suspension of services? As if this will change the cost of supporting service change? All these questions can provide answers change management processes and releases. With regard to the change management process, it allows you to track all registered change requests, calculate the cost of solutions, which in itself is a very difficult task in the absence of a formalized process. Commit the necessary resources to implement changes and carry them with justifiable need, with minimal risk to existing services. The process of Release Management allows not just a single change in the infrastructure and services, and address emerging challenges in a complex, assembled and tested several related changes, putting them in a release. As well as defining the organizational tasks, including the (often overlooked) the training of IT and business users, the rules of service and use of information resources. So why do we spend so much? Because we have a set of supported services, which are made with a certain Periodicity changes. This is the first step to budgeting for IT needs, not on the basis of the residual, as unfortunately happens in many companies.

Can we optimize costs without reducing the number of services? Certainly. We return to the best international practices. Statistics - the science-hards. There is a fact, then from him to leave. I have already noted that the basis for approximately 90% of incidents is the human factor. That is a limited competence of the business employees, or changes that are embedded in a hurry. So, there is another figure. Of the total number of incidents was about 80% repetitive and do not require involvement in the resolution of highly skilled employees. On the surface lies a need to reduce the time and resource involvement just in the plane of 80%. This can be achieved by building a knowledge base on incidents on the basis of the design and analysis of standard solutions. In my experience was the practice of implementing the Incident Management process in one of the leading banks in Ukraine. So, by building a knowledge base the number of incidents resolved first line of support (to make a reservation, it is the operators that have no IT-experience, respectively, over the "cheap"), for the first two months of operation had risen, on average, up to 90%. This means that reduced staff time at a higher level decision is often taken to annoying and demotiviruyuschih tasks. That is, in proportion to increased time, which may be allocated to the elaboration and implementation of changes. That in itself increases the quality and, again, reducing downtime, improving accessibility (read: a perfect service), and satisfaction of end users at no additional cost. Also to develop the knowledge base on a typical incident can view the first line of support to outsource. What may also reduce indirect operating costs. And it provides a good basis for strengthening relations between business and IT and translates them to the rails of the administrative pressure on the more positive, allowing fully cooperate and improve the quality of the business units.

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