Many corporate IT organizations are currently trapped between the proverbial “rock and a hard place.” On the one hand, they need to “keep the lights on” by maintaining the status quo, effectively managing outages, enacting change swiftly and safely, and leveraging insights into services and performance to help ensure that IT is meeting business stakeholder expectations.
On the other hand, there’s the need to take the business forward by supporting the corporate digital transformation strategy across new products and services, creating better customer engagement mechanisms, modernizing back-office operations, and using technology to help deliver against other elements of corporate strategy and operational improvement.
To escape the trap, a new and better way of managing IT services is required. One that breaks down organizational silos to focus on better business outcomes through the optimal application of technology and data. This starts with bringing service management and operations management together for improved outcomes and greater insight.
Common Barriers to Change
We cannot overlook many of the challenges that CIOs and their organizations currently face, nor the impact that these barriers will have on an enterprise’s ability to change. For instance:
- Siloed operations. Where the unwanted results of people rigidly working in team/functional silos–instead of along service lines–manifests in delays, additional costs, and adverse effects on quality. This is then commonly exacerbated by the reliance on manual efforts, the use of disconnected tools, and the lack of insight into performance.
- Service availability issues. Green lights in domain-based monitoring—usually because of siloed operations—means little if just one domain causes an important business service to be down (or to run sub-optimally). To meet modern end-user and customer expectations, there needs to be end-to-end monitoring of and insight into IT and business services.
- Delivering a poor end-user experience. Employees and customers both increasingly expect more from IT and the business services they consume thanks to their often-superior consumer-world experiences.
The bottom line for organizations is that the siloed operations and the lack of end-to-end insight into performance, in particular, prevent the creation of a platform upon which to deliver superior service and to drive the required operational and service improvements.
An Ecosystem of Disparate Data Sources
Legacy IT management solutions can be an ecosystem of disparate data sources along with disparate processes and tools, where:
- Different IT environments use different management tools–further exacerbating the complexity of the IT management solution
- Too much time is spent on internal firefighting, just keeping the systems up and running
- There’s limited or no real-time visibility, making it nearly impossible to make informed decisions on how to improve (operations and services)
- Operational costs are suboptimal thanks to the complexity, duplication, and reliance on manual tasks
- End-user productivity is adversely affected by some or all the above
The management-time overhead of such legacy IT management solutions also limits your IT organization’s ability to better align with business needs and expectations to deliver consumer-like services. It also extends the barriers to digital transformation from the employed technology to your organization’s operational capacity to innovate and change. The bottom line is that such legacy IT solutions are a drain on valuable IT resources and a two-fold impediment to digital transformation.
So, what should your organization do to improve?
Remove Silos—Starting with Service Management and Operations Management
The worlds of ITSM and IT operations management (ITOM) are commonly separate today (within the wider IT organization)–with ITSM personnel service-oriented and ITOM personnel infrastructure oriented. At a minimum, there’s a language barrier. But the more common reality is that there are other barriers that affect the combined effectiveness of both worlds, including:
- A different focus and understanding of what’s important
- Different objectives and performance metrics (and both sets might also be disconnected from higher-level business objectives)
- A level of operational and management disconnectedness that—at a minimum—delays the other party in delivering against business needs
None of this is good for either modern business operations nor facilitating digital transformation.
Organizations need to bring service management and operations management together, such that they can work together for better IT and business outcomes. This starts by understanding the existing impediments to unified operations before continuously improving to a new, connected way of working.
Establishing a Centralized CMDB (and the power of a single system of record)
A CMDB is a centralized database that stores information about your IT assets and their relationships with IT and business services. If your organization uses ITIL, then your organization’s CMDB will support the ITIL service asset and configuration management process/capability:
“The process responsible for ensuring that the assets required to deliver services are properly controlled, and that accurate and reliable information about those assets is available when and where it is needed.” – ITIL Glossary, 2011
In undertaking Step 1, the creation of a CMDB–even if starting simply with network assets and a few services–offers your organization a strategic advantage through connecting many aspects of your business. And, with the CMDB in place, your organization will have a single source of truth across all of IT and be able to benefit from the power of a single system of record in not only optimizing ITSM and ITOM capabilities but also supporting them both in working better together.
The proven benefits of establishing a CMDB are:
- Better understanding the configuration and relationships of services and the IT assets used to deliver them
- The ability to map monitoring alerts to the services affected to better understand their impact
- Greater control over IT assets and supporting any corporate IT asset management activities related to compliance and cost optimization
- Quicker resolution of incidents and problems, and better meeting agreed service level targets
- Improved assessment, planning, and delivery of changes and releases
- A platform for the required IT and enterprise-level governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) activities
- Contributing data and insight for financial management and optimization activities
- Supporting improvement activities and technology/organizational change programs
All these benefits collectively help to make IT operations better, faster, and cheaper.
“When we implemented ServiceNow, we had no CMDB, we had no integrations, no governance, and we had separate systems that weren’t talking to each other. We were at an ITIL maturity level of 2 to 2.5. Now, most of our processes are at a 4 to 4.5.” – Director of IT, Pharmaceutical company