CIOs and IT directors have too much on their plates as it is, but fret not – this 4-level IT management improvement framework will spare you some time and effort.
Are you sure you know how to improve your IT management? Wanna check?
There’s always some or other IT management issue that keeps bothering a CIO’s mind: a huge IT support backlog, extremely high IT spending, insufficient IT flexibility, or even a low-end user satisfaction rate.
But there’s a new way of handling such issues – an original 4-level IT management improvement model. According to a system of factors (topped by IT management maturity and organizational complexity), your company falls into one of 4 big IT management segments, each with its own needs. And in this 4-level IT management improvement model, each level fulfills the needs of its segment.
So, here is some good news for you. You can use this model to see how far up the IT management ladder you are, find ways to solve your problems, and climb it higher! If the problems mentioned in one of the levels resonate with your organization, you may want to implement this level in your enterprise. However, note that these levels are not just conceptual – they are realized with the help of high-level IT management systems that offer the functionality to support each level. For example, here’s how it works in ServiceNow.
Level I. Remastering your basic troubleshooting
Trigger: Downtimes cost ugly, ticket backlog is painful to look at.
You may need Level #1, if you employ between 500 and 5,000 employees, have under 10 offices in one country and, most importantly, experience the following IT problems:
- IT support is overloaded and doesn’t remove IT service outages timely, which causes the ticket backlog to grow along with IT downtimes.
- Long downtimes disrupt business workflows and cost the business big time (up to $100,000 a year).
- End users are unhappy with IT because it brings more problems than benefits.
At this point, solving IT problems is not just an option – the company’s ability to function properly depends on it. So, Level #1 is designed to analyze your current troubleshooting practices and make them more effective thanks to thorough issue diagnostics, optimized issue resolution time frames, IT support knowledge sharing, IT infrastructure tracking, and basic operational reporting to tune IT support performance. The result will be improved IT service availability, reduced business disruption costs, as well as increased end-user productivity and satisfaction.
To start transitioning to Level #1, you need to inspect your current IT support processes and alter them in respect to ITIL’s Incident, Knowledge, Service Level, and Configuration Management. This may mean both redesigning your IT processes according to ITIL and slightly rethinking ITIL guidelines and adjusting its processes to fit your specific needs.
Level II. Starting to prevent IT failures
Trigger: IT support is busy putting out fires, not avoiding them.
If your company ticks all or almost all the boxes below, there’s a fair chance that Level #2 is aimed for your segment:
- You employ between 2,000 and 20,000 people across 50 offices in up to 5 countries.
- While troubleshooting works fine, you still can’t improve IT service availability further to reduce downtime-related costs.
- The number of incoming tickets keeps growing, together with IT costs inflicted by their resolution.
- IT support agents do too much manual data entry in their ticketing tool instead of handling tickets.
Level #2 is designed to help your company run preventive IT service management, keep track of IT infrastructure events and changes, manage available IT assets, and automate IT support tasks.
Rooting out the causes of similar incidents and using automatic notifications about abnormalities in the IT infrastructure, your IT unit will prevent numerous IT failures. The visibility of IT assets at disposal will enable their timely and efficient distribution among end-users. This all will increase IT service availability and keep IT and business disruption costs to a minimum.
Besides employing Problem, Change, Event, and Asset Management, boosting the productivity of your IT support also becomes highly crucial at this point. So, to make a transition to Level #2, you also need to start reaping the benefits of IT support productivity tools available within your IT management system.
( Also Read: What is IT Transformation? )
Level III. Improving your IT services
Trigger: IT service delivery works fine but some services are outdated.
If your company employs over 5,000 people, has 50 or more offices across 6+ countries and heavily depends on IT to execute business processes better than your competitors, Level #3 may be just what you need. Especially if these problems ring a bell:
- No established process for reviewing and tuning your IT services, which leads to missed opportunities for increasing business workflow efficiency.
- IT costs are still very high in your IT department when it comes to in-house development and testing, security, vendor management, etc.
- ITSM no longer causes major troubles but IT service agents can’t conform to strict SLAs as well as they used to with the less complex IT infrastructure.
To alleviate these adversities, Level #3 concentrates on making your IT services timely tuned, and changed, so they remain relevant and support your business needs. It also presupposes automating IT operations across the entire IT infrastructure and using machine learning (ML) for predictive IT service maintenance. This increases IT service management accuracy and productivity.
And to top it all, it moves all the activities of your IT department outside of ITSM into your IT management solution. This way, you can track the availability of all IT resources, prioritize tasks, applications, and security threats and distribute resources accordingly. This helps you to keep your enterprise IT solid and relevant enough to rely on, which lays the ground for outperforming your competitors.
And as a very nice bonus, IT management improvements at Level #3 also reduce IT costs due to operations automation, optimal resource distribution, and thorough security threat coverage.
To get all this glory, you’ll need a whole wave of digital transformation, which is bound to require not only IT strategy tuning but also a serious company culture change. Your IT employees will need to learn to trust new technologies, such as ML-based analytics and chatbots and understand their value to the business.
Level IV. Merging your IT and corporate strategies
Trigger: IT is too stiff to keep up with the business.
Companies here can be anywhere from 10,000 employees to hundreds of thousands of them. The main point is that your business specifics (retail, telecoms, insurance, banking, etc.) require you to have a particular attitude to IT: treat it as a possible business driver. Hence, you may face the following ‘puzzles’:
- Your company reviews and tunes the efficiency of IT services but that’s not enough: your business requires IT to be far more flexible to meet its changing needs.
- To support major IT changes, you must find new ways to cut costs without discrediting IT department efficiency.
To merge IT and business strategies, Level #4 firstly presupposes aligning your IT goals and processes to those of your business. And as soon as this strategical alignment is finished, you should establish a process for a quick introduction of new IT services through IT and business collaboration. This will make them not just relevant but cutting-edge.
When a service idea occurs, IT and business managers cooperate in gathering and analyzing requirements and approving the budget. Then, the new service is designed, tested, implemented, and integrated into your existing IT infrastructure. IT managers start to understand business needs far better and keep up with them.
In addition, at Level #4, you will find new ways to monitor and cut costs through cloud infrastructure management, application portfolio optimization, project budget tracking, etc. This will spare the budget for the introduction of new IT services.
To get to Level #4, your company will need another wave of digital transformation. And together with an enormous culture change and IT strategy redesign, you will need to achieve smooth communication between IT and business representatives to make sure your IT goals support your business goals fully.
Did you carefully choose the level to target?
IT management improvement is a gradual process, so, in theory, you can persistently move from Level #1 to Level #4. However, your company may never need to go higher than, say, Level #2: it all depends on your business and IT needs.
But it doesn’t mean that you can stop IT management improvement once you’ve achieved your level: you’ll need to further tune it to your changing needs. And if you decide to target the next level of this framework, make sure that your company actually needs it and will be able to handle it because level migration should always be triggered by IT management maturity increase, and not your company’s physical growth.
Vladimir Leinov is the Head of ITSM Department at ScienceSoft. Working in IT for over 20 years, Vladimir has a rich background in backend development, ITSM, and project management and holds an ITIL V3 Foundation certification. Currently, he focuses on IT management consulting projects.