Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Mind the Gap series(1 of 10)

There is an increased awareness of the need for governance of ITSM processes.

This is promulgated by the management consultancies offering extended audits to enterprises to check that their processes are reasonable in comparison with their peers and with good practice within their industry.

 Invariably such audits are usually more of a major attitude survey based on extensive interviews with an arbitrary scoring method than a detailed technical audit. People are given a mini-lecture on Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) and then asked to rate themselves and their peers with an arbitrary score of 1 to 5.
These scores are faithfully recorded and aggregated and analysed and wondrous graphs produced.

Such surveys add to their own bad name by producing Kiviat diagrams showing scores of different aspects to unrealistic accuracy and with a false assumption that the academic attainment of all that is described in ITIL is necessarily a Good Thing in all cases.

Each activity varies for each service during its own life cycle, as well as in the light of changing company circumstances.

Each activity may or may not be appropriate for each service, server or whatever, depending on its importance to the business, its cost and its reliability.

What most sites already well immersed in IT Service Management (ITSM) find is a more valuable service is a consultancy review of their actual processes, why they have made whatever decisions they have, and an indication of where there are risks, issues or dangers.
So rather than say a process is mature with a snapshot score of 3.571, it is more useful to say that although performance reports are published to the web, there are few hits on that site from outside the performance team members who publish it.
A manager is more inclined to say although the process is well in place, there is a need to discuss some of the known unknowns and also to reveal any unknown unknowns.

This blog is based on a number of such gap analyses. Although arbitrary scoring is eschewed, there is still a need to start with an outline template of what is generally considered to be Good Practice and that is usually based on ITIL as a starter with pragmatic experience adding a lot more practical detail.

It’s important that the company culture is recognised and that the objectives of the
service are appreciated before stating that any of the usual practices are vital for that site.

It seems remarkable at first that every site is so different in its detailed implementation of an IT development and infrastructure environment, but then each one is a living organism and has huge opportunities for variation.

For the purposes of this blog series most of my analyses will clearly finish with a SWOT (strengths,weaknesses,opportunities and threats) and outline of next steps.

The examples I’ve chosen to talk about are typical of the hard pressed retail sector where the economic downturn is having an impact on everything.
So, rather than capacity management defining what equipment is needed, it’s more likely to be told it will have 10% less money to provide the same services including double the number of users (due to mergers and acquisitions) with the same hardware and 10% less staff!

Be frugal, do things just in time, but make sure that the mission critical services continue to be supported with high availability and good performance.

On Friday I’ll begin with a brief review of the Systems Development Life Cycle (SDLC) and ITIL and their relationship.

Adam Grummitt
Distinguished Engineer

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