Improving IT Maturity: Moving from "Committed" to "Proactive"
by Martin Stewart, on 16-Jan-2018 09:00:00
In this post, we look at the typical attributes of a “level 2” organization, and what IT Infrastructure and Operations (I&O) leaders can do to transition to the next level of IT maturity (proactive).
What “Level 2” looks like
Achieving level 2 maturity (AKA committed, managed, repeatable, or active) means beginning to shift the emphasis from a purely reactive IT operating model to one which is more proactive and managed. Basic ITIL support processes are in place, and positive outcomes are delivered more quickly and consistently.
At this stage, IT organizations have a stable, visible infrastructure. A shared view of the IT estate, coupled with a change management process, significantly reduces the risk of changes leading to outages. Infrastructure standardization and consolidation have improved robustness, reduced the number of infrastructure faults, and simplified the analysis, resolution and restoration of services when issues do arise.
IT operations are largely process-oriented, with a system of record in place to provide visibility of issues and activities (both current and historic). This system of record represents a valuable source of repeatable knowledge, some of which can be “shifted left” and made directly available to the service desk and end users. Firefighting is greatly reduced. Incident management is supported by ready access to infrastructure data and a history of fixes. IT has more available time and budget to improve infrastructure quality, make progress with process improvement projects, and build the remaining foundational capabilities that will allow the IT organization to advance to maturity level 3 (proactive).
What to do next - Processes
Introduce configuration management to further improve the integrity and richness of infrastructure data—with the objective of creating a service-oriented view of the IT estate—and apply integrated change and release processes to enable greater agility while further reducing risk. Document any low-risk standard change processes that can be pre-authorized (or authorized by any line manager) to circumvent the Change Advisory Board (CAB) for fast-track execution.
What to do next - People
Critical services and processes are owned and managed—by people who are commitment to drive improvements. Generally, at this level, IT people are motivated by the prospect of transitioning IT to a more managed, proactive operating model (and finally escaping the break/fix rut). With a clearer idea of strengths, weaknesses and challenges, IT managers can plan out of program of staff training. In particular, customer service training becomes a priority for the service desk, as the mindset of frontline IT begins to shift to a service-oriented perspective.
What to do next - Technology
Complete the process of infrastructure consolidation and begin server and storage virtualization to create a more flexible platform on which to deploy and manage applications and IT services.
What to do next - Management
Establish a centralized IT operations command center, supported by 360 degree visibility of infrastructure status, support activity, and IT project portfolio status.
Buying IT management technology
At this stage, process integration, data sharing and internal communication become critical success factors. Tools need to act as silo-busters so that IT people (and, to an extent, end users) have the information they need at their fingertips.
ITIL processes work best when they collectively share and maintain a single CMDB—a single source of infrastructure truth. IT management solutions that are developed as a single application centred around a pre-integrated CMDB provide this benefit out-of-the-box. Solution suites that are constructed from acquired modules tend to lack tight integration between individual ITIL processes and the CMDB on which they operate, making rich data sharing difficult.
At this stage, I&O organizations will spend more time thinking ahead. A toolset’s ability to grow with you is important, but “anything is possible” platforms encourage over-customization and organizations can fall into the complexity trap that typically drives a toolset reboot every 3-5 years.
In our next article in the series we’ll look at level 3 IT maturity organizations and how they can make the step up to level 4 (service-aligned).
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