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Improving IT Maturity: Moving from "Service-Aligned" to Business Partner"

In our previous blog post, Improving IT Maturity – Moving from “Proactive” to “Service-Aligned”, we looked at level-3 (Proactive) organizations and how they can take a step up the IT maturity ladder to level 4 (Service-aligned).

In this post, we look at the typical attributes of an “level 4” organization, and what IT Infrastructure and Operations (I&O) leaders can do to make the transition to the next level of IT maturity.

What “Level 4” looks like

At level 4, known as “service-aligned” or “quantitively managed”, IT is a trusted service provider that demonstrates the value of what it does. It is also recognized as an organization that supports business productivity—not just IT systems.

IT is run like a business, with every aspect of IT operations under quantitative management. Costs are tracked precisely. Operational performance is monitored at a granular level. Service demand and utility are tracked and consumption can be attributed back to the business units that consume them. End user satisfaction is monitored as a source of feedback and a key performance indicator (KPI) for IT.

Infrastructure is designed and managed for flexibility (with little or no human intervention). Capacity management is automated, harnessing the elastic nature of virtual platforms to ensure high service availability in the face of continually changing patterns of business demand. Development teams can instantly create and collapse their own dev and test environments, substantially decreasing time-to-market (as well as reducing development-related infrastructure costs). Mature monitoring tools provide full visibility of physical and short-lived virtual assets.

End users now benefit from a seamless omnichannel experience, with any-time/any-place/any-device access to services and support via a mature digital portal—and the ability to switch between channels to source services and support in a way that best suits their current work context.

What to do next - Processes

Institute tight integration between development teams and IT operations. Adapt and consolidate processes to form a single, clearly structured innovation process where all the constituent parts can see the whole chain and understand the downstream impact of what they do (e.g. developers see when a release has caused a spike in service desk calls).

What to do next - People

Co-locate IT people with business people (permanently or on a rotation basis) to enable effective collaboration on business problems. Business Relationship Managers (BRMs) and line-of-business technology experts frequently “camp out” or permanently co-locate with the business units they serve and advise, gaining a native level of understanding about the business frontiers and the challenges business people face—and creating a high level of trust. Periodically rotate developers into IT operations roles so they understand the transition between development and the operating environment—and can see the downstream impact of their own work.

What to do next - Technology

Continually assess new technologies and architectures for their potential ability to improve reliability, agility and integratability, reduce operating costs, and mitigate risks.

What to do next - Management

Embrace agile principles to deliver “minimum viable services” at the earliest opportunity and enable faster access to value (versus the lengthy waterfall process), and DevOps practices for more streamlined and robust innovation. End user feedback loops begin immediately, allowing tighter cycles of evaluation and improvement. Risk of delivering inappropriate solutions is reduced. Rework cycles are reduced. IT can “do more with less” and end user engagement and satisfaction are optimized.

Buying IT management technology

Managing a complex IT landscape comprising physical, virtual and public cloud elements requires powerful discovery, integration and monitoring/analytics technology which can federate and consolidate heterogenous data from multiple data sources. IT organizations need IT management toolsets that can bring together—and make sense of—large quantities of disparate data to provide real-time insights into the status and health of the IT infrastructure and IT services.

Integrated processes and shared data pools are essential to achieving level 4 maturity. However, truly integrated IT processes are difficult to achieve when the supporting tools aren’t 100% seamless. When requirements change, cracks quickly appear at the seams (integrations need to be adjusted to keep elements talking to each other). Evaluate tools on the integrity of integration between processes and the central CMDB to ensure processes can flow smoothly across functions and data is easy to reach.

In our next article in the series we’ll look at Level 5 IT maturity organizations and what happens next.

 

Find out more about IT Maturity in our latest whitepaper:

Choosing IT management tools that work for you

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