Previously, I have delivered several articles on the challenges that IT organizations face in trying to balance opposing goals and objectives especially in light of the fact that in every organization, the one constant is change. The focus of those pieces described the tension between the perspective that IT is a set of technology components (Internal IT view) and that IT is a set of services (External business view). They also spoke to the fact that, no matter how well the functionality of an IT service meets stake holder’s needs, it will be of little value if the IT infrastructure is unstable causing instances of unavailability and inconsistency in performance levels . Of course we (IT/Service provider) must be able to do all of this at the same time as providing services that deliver acceptable levels of quality while efficiently utilizing the organizations resources.
So to reiterate, this struggle can be broken down into four general imbalances so that an IT organization can identify that they are experiencing an imbalance by leaning more towards one extreme or the other. At a high level it can provide the service provider with the opportunity to develop some guidelines on how to resolve these conflicts and move towards a best practice approach in resolving these discrepancies.
· Internal IT view vs. External Business view
· Stability vs. Responsiveness
· Service Quality vs. Cost
· Reactive vs. Proactive
The one we will focus on here is the tension between being reactive and proactive. A reactive organization is one that only acts when it is prompted to do so by some external driver. In this type of organization this is the basis of the strategic position to ensure that services are highly consistent and stable. This has the tendency to discourage proactive activities by the operational staff. Additionally this tends to prevent investment in proactive efforts and technologies, further increasing the risk to the stability of those very services the IT organization is trying to deliver in a consistent and stable manner.
A proactive organization is one that is continually looking at ways to improve the delivery of services by constantly improving the effectiveness and efficiency of their ITSM processes and the utilization of their IT infrastructure. This strategic position tends to be encouraged as it leads and organization to maintain a competitive advantage in a changing market space. However being too proactive can be expensive and can lead to the staff being unable to maintain a stable environment because of the constant change that is taking place. These imbalances tend to result from an organization being more or less mature.
While being proactive is usually viewed as a positive attribute, there will be times where reactive capabilities will be needed. The role of the IT organization is to achieve a balance between these two strategic extremes. To ensure that we can accomplish this balance there are some things that need to be in place.
· Formal problem and incident management processes integrated between service operations and CSI is critical.
· The strategic plans must include the ability to prioritize, diagnose and repair technical faults within the IT infrastructure, applications and services. At the same time changing business needs must be addressed by continuously reviewing what and how services are being delivered to the customer.
· Service asset and configuration management must be able to provide accurate and up to date data and information to all processes, projects and programs.
· Ongoing involvement of SLM in operations and the continuous review and update of SLRs, SLAs, OLAs and contracts.