Home > Articles > Software Development & Management

  • Print
  • + Share This
Like this article? We recommend

Issues

Let's focus on some of the most critical issues and the serious impact that each has on the organization. Based on the data gathered from our assessments, the most severe issues could be grouped under the categories of organization, people, and process.

Organizational Issues

  • Lack of a production control function (production QA, second-level system administration, process ownership, and so on) means that there is only one level of support for system and database administration functions—all problems go directly to senior technical staff. There is not enough time for these staff members to do the job right; senior technical staff can't properly plan and design the infrastructure because they're too busy fighting fires. In turn, this leads to a lack of ownership and accountability for critical enterprise-wide processes.

  • Lack of a tape librarian function. This means that system integrity is compromised and in many cases even minimal disaster-recovery requirements are nonexistent.

  • Silos of technologies. Many IT shops are organized to focus on particular technologies (mainframe, AS400, NT, UNIX, Novell, and so on). In other words, there are separate goals, objectives, and priorities for every technology. This causes poor communication, huge barriers, and obstacles between groups, as well as duplication of system-management efforts for every technology. Very few companies are looking at enterprise-wide system-management solutions.

  • Roles and responsibilities not clearly defined. This results in overlapping job functions, poor morale, duplication of efforts, and confusion in the ranks for problem resolution—especially for help desk staff, who are tasked to resolve problems as quickly as possible and frequently don't have the authority to do what needs to be done.

  • Splitting the infrastructure group. Some IT shops split the infrastructure group between infrastructure development and production support, resulting in poor communication, poor morale, and turf battles.

    • Some organizations are structured to focus on high-visibility strategic projects and have a separate function to focus on daily production-support issues. This leads to difficulty in turning over projects from development to support. Technicians would prefer to work on new projects and provide analysis on the latest and greatest technology rather than be labeled as full-time production-support personnel.

  • System management tools not fully implemented, customized, and maintained. This leads to manual intervention, wasted costs, and wasted technical resources. Senior technical staff are spending 90-95% of their time fixing production problems.

  • Lack of a three-tier support model. Most IT shops we've visited only have two levels of support. Problems are recorded at the help desk or they're detected from operations; these problems are then quickly routed to senior technical staff. Senior technical staff are spending 90-95% of their time in a reactive mode. With a three-tier support model, senior technicians can spend 80% of their time on strategic initiatives. The three-tier support model provides these additional benefits:

    • Enhanced skills for junior and second-level support personnel. Organizations today need to breed senior technical staff within the organization as quickly as possible, and continue with their external recruitment efforts.

    • Better turnaround for problem resolution.

    • The ability to fully provide analysis and implementation of enterprise systems-management solutions.

  • Ineffective architecture function. The architecture function has proven to be ineffective for designing infrastructures. The CIO might think otherwise because one of the architect's functions is to help design the proper infrastructure, but we have yet to see this strategy work effectively. The result is that infrastructure development lags further behind the needs of the customers and IT.

People Issues

  • Recruiting technical staff. Most of the companies we visited are not taking the time to breed technical expertise within the organization. Instead, they put all their energy into external recruiting, but the competition for skilled people is fierce. This leaves a big void—they need to start breeding skilled resources within the organization as well as continue to look at external resources.

  • Retaining technical staff. With the focus on external recruiting, there is very little emphasis on retaining senior technical staff and training junior technical staff. Technical staff is in a constant firefighting/reactive mode, frustration is high due to the chaotic state of the infrastructure, and burnout is imminent.

  • Lack of a career development path for junior technical staff. Because the organization doesn't develop and promote the proper career path, career development is limited to daily problem resolution. This results in a lack of skilled technical resources when senior technical staff members leave and external resources can't be recruited quickly enough to fill the gap.

  • Culture barriers. Because many IT shops are structured around technology, the barriers between technical staff supporting these different technologies is a huge problem in IT. NT people don't talk to UNIX people, mainframe people don't communicate with client/server staff, and so on. The staff must learn that a production system is a production system is a production system. If the systems you're supporting are critical to the success of the company, you must treat them all equally.

  • Poor communications within and external to IT. Communications within IT are extremely poor, especially between application development and the infrastructure-support organization. Application development's charter is to design, develop, and deploy applications into production as quickly as possible. The infrastructure-support organization's charter is to ensure reliability, availability, and serviceability (RAS) for the mission-critical production environment. Poor communications also results in these problems:

    • Wasted effort.

    • Inefficient use of resources.

    • Projects that take more time, resources, and money to implement.

    • Service levels that are difficult to maintain.

    • User frustration with IT.

  • Lack of data center staff mentoring in reliability, availability, and serviceability (RAS). There are distinct phases to designing your organization to support RAS:

    • Clearly specifying mission-critical from non–mission-critical functions.

    • Implementing a production-control function.

    • Structuring three levels of support.

  • Difficulty supporting mission-critical client/server applications regardless of platform/paradigm. It's crucial to take the best practices from the legacy environment and the most important methodologies from open systems to come up with the best of both worlds.

Process Issues

  • Lack of critical disciplines. Change Control, Problem Management, and Production Acceptance are three of the most critical processes or disciplines that are necessary to keep the organization flowing:

  • Change Control. A process that coordinates any change that can potentially impact the operational production environment.

  • Problem Management. A centralized process to manage and resolve user, network, application, and system problems.

  • Production Acceptance. A methodology to promote communication, standards, guidelines, and teamwork for deploying, implementing, and supporting mission-critical client/server distributed systems.

    • Three-fourths of the companies we studied didn't even have an enterprise-wide change control process. Problem management was not as bad; 90% of the companies had something that resembled problem management. That's the good news, but the bad news is that 65% of those were broken. How can this be? Is anything and everything that ever came out of the mainframe environment tossed aside? Unfortunately, the answer appears to be yes. Seventy-five percent of the companies we studied had a legacy environment. Why is everyone turning their backs to a very successful mission-critical, production-support environment? We can turn our backs to many other aspects of the mainframe era, but not the way it provides RAS.

  • Lack of metrics. Not one of the companies we studied studies had organization-wide metrics. About half of the companies had some sort of help desk metrics, and the 75% that had mainframe systems had some form of metrics for them.

    • Metrics are crucial to measure effectiveness in the client/server environment: If you can't measure it, there's no way you can manage it effectively. It's also important to establish internal metrics for each area of the operation as well as quarterly or semiannual ratings to compare the results based on cost and performance efficiencies. When companies get their infrastructure in order, it's imperative that they establish metrics.

  • Lack of a process to benchmark services. Once IT has built that elusive "world-class" infrastructure, the next step is to benchmark selective parts of their infrastructure with outside sources. Executive management always claims that IT spends too much—you can beat them to the punch by comparing your infrastructure costs with those of your competition and your vendors. (Hopefully your costs are lower.)

    • The first step is to document the extent of services and their related costs so that you can compare. The idea is to compare the cost of system administration support or network support with the costs of using vendors to provide this type of service. Divide your infrastructure into pieces and then go out and benchmark. Ask vendors what they would charge to support your mission-critical servers, network, and so on. (This is only a benchmark exercise, of course, as outsourcing any part of your client/server mission-critical environment is not recommended.) Once your infrastructure is cost effective, take a look at your competition.

  • Lack of a process to market and sell IT services. After benchmarking your IT services—hopefully, the results are better than external sources—document your services, associate a price with those services, and market and sell those services to your internal customers and senior executives. If a customer sees your costs versus the costs of external sources (assuming that yours is the less expensive bill), maybe they'll stop complaining.

  • Lack of service level agreements. Expectations are not properly documented between end users and IT. Once the organization is structured properly to support RAS and the minimum and sufficient processes are implemented, a formal agreement must be in place between IT and its customers.

  • Lack of a process to measure customer satisfaction. With the evolution of client/server computing and the torrid pace of change with information technology, maybe this item should read "No communications." In this networked era, there are few clear demarcations as to who does what to whom and when. And this is only internally within IT. What about the poor users? Are you effectively communicating with them? Only 5% of the 100+ companies we analyzed actually attempted to measure customer satisfaction. Scheduled survey forms are unpopular and the usual response rate is less than 30%. But there are ways to reengineer this entire process, if you can find the time.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020