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Cure IT ills with a holistic approach to management

Lighten the load

SANS - Survey on application security programs

When systems are implemented and managed in isolation, it can be difficult to get an end-to-end view of how they interact.

That in turn makes it difficult to troubleshoot problems when they arise and to understand the impact potential changes are likely to have.

We know from research conducted over several years that few organisations even possess the means to monitor the quality of services they deliver, as perceived by end-users.

What is clear is that by managing the major elements of infrastructure as a unit – across servers, storage, network devices and so on – the number of potentially conflicting variables and activities can be reduced, which makes for better administrative consistency and service predictability.

In addition, a more joined-up approach makes change management simpler to implement.

Be the best you can

However, technology-level integration on its own can deliver only so much; operational processes also need to be modified to achieve the full potential.

What benefits does a more coherent service management approach deliver, and how do these manifest themselves in ways IT professionals in particular will recognise?

The most obvious advantage is that it frees up the IT team's time, allowing them to be more productive and to deliver requests for new or enhanced IT services with fewer delays.

Given that staff overstretch often features high on the list of IT frustrations, this is a win for both IT departments and end-users.

IT staff’s ability to focus on areas that really need the attention of an experienced professional, instead of being tied up with repetitive, often error-prone manual tasks, leads to other benefits, most notably a smoothing out of the quality of service delivered to users.

This is no small advantage when system slowdown is the trigger for heated and disruptive calls to the help desk.

Perhaps of even greater importance in the long term is improved visibility and impact analysis. A more holistic approach to service management means new requests coming from users can be captured, assessed, prioritised and dealt with more effectively.

Stress and strain

This should help avoid IT staff being dragged into periods of intense bouts of excessively long work shifts.

Knowing that customer requests and requirements can be satisfied without periodically falling into round-the-clock working should help IT professionals avoid burn-out and stress.

It should also be noted that effective IT service management usually raises user satisfaction as service quality stabilises and IT is perceived as being more responsive to requests.

Users begin to recognise the value of IT people

Better still, research consistently highlights a clear correlation between satisfied customers and users and a greater willingness by business decision-makers to approve IT budgets for operational expenses or new projects.

Service management can also lead to opportunities for IT staff to acquire new skills that really enable the business to advance.

Users begin to recognise the value of IT people, rather than seeing them as roadblocks to be driven around or run over.

Impress the bosses

At a time when you can barely see the cloud for the hype, it is important for business users to realise just how valuable advances in internal IT are.

IT's ability to help take the organisation forward is the ultimate business value, and IT staff need to ensure it is recognised, by word of mouth and by the reporting of improved service performance and new opportunities.

The adoption of service management will allow IT to invest in projects that add demonstrable value to the business and allow it to do things it was not capable of doing before. Everyone's a winner. ®

Tony Lock is programme director at UK analyst Freeform Dynamics

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