I am sure your IT Operation works perfectly well, at least 99% of the time… but just in case you have the odd hiccup and want to gain some useful insights as to how you may potentially improve service delivery then please read on.
In this series of articles I am going to share some experiences we have gained helping many organisations (including our own) to improve their IT service delivery. In this first article we will consider where to start with the process of improvement.
Every organisation is different, thankfully, and so no two IT operations are identical – yet largely IT serves the same purpose in most businesses… which is to support the business in their delivery of first-class products and services to their customers whilst also enabling maximum levels of efficiency.
Because of this crucial role any failure by the IT operation tends to have major consequences for the business – therefore any opportunity to improve either the reliability or performance of “service” should be seized upon.
So where do you start? The old adage “if you cannot measure it, you cannot manage it” is very true when it comes to process improvement. Without accurate data that shows where you might have some problems you will not be able to turn things around.
So that is the first step – make sure you have got data flowing out of your processes that provides you with meaningful insights as to how the operation is performing. The sort of information you need to be gathering (as a minimum) includes:
- System availability levels
- Volume of incidents, by type
- Network traffic volumes, by hour
- Component failure rates and frequency
- Success rate of implemented Changes
- Customer Satisfaction Levels
- Incident Resolution & Service Request Fulfilment performance vs SLA
- “Aged” Incident volumes (i.e. how old are your unresolved incidents)
This information is crucially important as without it you cannot identify the real trends that show how the IT operation is performing. Very often a demand for service to improve is as a result of a singular major incident which became visible from on-high and therefore the Board feel it necessary to issue a statement that “things must improve”… but what “things”?
Without being able to conduct trend analysis to show where the real problems exist you will find yourself always responding to the crisis of the day and never actually moving forwards. But once you have this data and have conducted trend analysis you’ll be able to focus in on, and prioritise, areas that could be improved.
Gathering this data can be a massively onerous task if your processes and supporting systems are not designed in such a way as to generate the data as a by-product. Therefore if this information is not available then your first step should be tweaking your existing systems and process to be able to produce the data.
I would not recommend doing a one-off exercise to gather this data if you do not already have it – your time would be better spent in making the changes to how you work today so that this data becomes an output of the operation… this way you’ll get some immediate benefits from the first round of improved processes. Once they are in place and the data is available you’ll then know where to focus your efforts.
In my next article we will consider what some of the areas for improvement are likely to be and how they can be tackled. Meanwhile, if you would like any help from me in this area (or have any other IT-related questions) please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org