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Why Bring Back Production Control?

We've been asked this question hundreds of times from every part of this country. The answer is that IT needs to consider ensuring customer satisfaction and preserving RAS as a priority that will affect all areas of IT.

When IT began to ignore the production control organization, it subsequently disregarded and discarded processes and people issues. From dozens of infrastructure development workshops with Fortune 500 and emerging e-commerce companies, we know that organization and process focus are lacking throughout all IT organizations, and a production control function can help.

Infrastructure Issues Addressed by Production Control

Table 1 lists the top IT infrastructure-related issues, which category or categories (people, process, organization, etc.) are affected, and issues that conceivably could be resolved with a production control function. This table is based on actual data from our infrastructure development workshops.

Table 1 Top IT Infrastructure Development and Support Issues

Issue(s)

Category(ies) Affected

Resolved with Production Control Function

Potentially Resolved with Production Control Function

Lack of a process to gauge customer satisfaction

Process

 

 

Lack of a security policy and staff to implement security

Process, IT management, organization

 

 

Lack of defined metrics for measuring the effectiveness of IT

Process

 

X

Lack of standards and adherence to standards throughout the infrastructure or enterprise

IT management, process, organization

 

 

Three levels of technical support (system administration) not defined

Organization

X

 

Lack of an effective architecture/planning function involving the design of infrastructure

Process, organization

 

 

Difficult for staff to learn new technologies - too preoccupied with daily fire-fighting

Organization

X

 

Multiple support groups, roles and responsibilities unclear for customers (desktop hardware group, desktop software group, and desktop project group)

Organization, communication

 

 

IT shops organized based on technology (mainframe, AS400, NT, UNIX, Novell, etc.)

Organization

 

X

Reinventing the wheel - wasted costs

Organization

 

 

Lack of RAS in production environment

Organization, process, people

X

 

Increased costs for maintenance and upgrades to keep software in synch with changing business and technology

IT management

 

 

Lack of coordinated responses to problems; inappropriate escalation or inability to respond

Communication, process, organization

 

X

Lack of service levels between operational support and applications development, and between IT and its customers

Process, organization

 

X

Difficulty Recruiting and retaining technical resources

Organization, people

 

X

Not enough staff to cover all support requirements

Organization, people

 

X

Separate infrastructure support groups, causing power struggles between infrastructure development and production support

Organization

 

X

Lack of balance between standards and flexibility

Process

 

 

Lack of communication about decision-making at the director level

Communication

 

 

Promising customers more than infrastructure support (IS) can deliver

People, communication, process, IT management

 

 

Inefficient enterprise-wide change control notification

Communication, organization, process

 

X

Technical staff input not used in key decision-making throughout IT

IT management

 

 

Help Desk cannot support all technologies they are responsible for

Organization, people

 

 

Lack of centralized, empowered project management methodology and process

Organization, process

 

 

Help desk provides inadequate and/or incorrect information or problem tickets

Organization, process, IT management

 

 

Lack of coordination between end users and support groups

Process, communication

X

 

Unclear decision-making process, inputs, parameters

Process, communication

 

 

LAN support split between multiple organizations

Organization

 

 

Database administration not centralized

Organization

 

 

Inadequate management of customer expectations by IS management and technical leads

Communication

 

X

Philosophy of saying "yes" to customers regardless of their demands; customer perception is the inverse

Organization, communication

 

 

Over-reliance on consultants

Organization, people

 

 

Irrational organization structure - responsibility without accountability

Organization

 

X

Lack of "all-IT" meetings on a regular basis

Communication, IT management

 

 

Centralized IS group perceived to be in a glass house or ivory tower environment

Process, communication

 

 

Lack of respect for IS from customer base

Organization, communication, process

 

 

Meetings - inefficient, too many, difficult to coordinate, often changed, lack of respect for attendance, punctuality, preparation

IT management, communication

 

 

Unclear centralized ownership along with scattered responsibilities of technology and process

Organization, process

X

 

Customers driving technology decisions more than they should

Organization, process, communication

 

 

IS needs to market/sell services corporately

Organization, process, communication

 

X

Business liaison model eliminated from customer perspective

Organization

 

 

International technical resources don't report into centralized IT

Organization

 

 

IS not seen as a strategic business partner

Organization, communication

 

 

Lack of (or unenforced) enterprise-wide system management and monitoring tools

Organization, IT management, people, process

 

X

Customers circumventing call process

Process, communication

 

 

No internal QA process for IS

Process, organization

X

 

More technologies deployed than can be supported efficiently

Process, people, organization

X

 

Ineffective problem management or lack thereof

Process, organization

 

 

Lack of clear roles and responsibilities throughout enterprise

Process, IT management, organization

 

X

Poor communication within organization on all levels/barriers, walls between groups

Process, IT management, communication, organization

 

X

No formal level two support structure

Organization, process

X

 

Lack of testing or pre-production environment

Process, technology, IT management, organization

 

 

Lack of technical resources – inability to pool resources

Organization, people

X

 

Lack of an effective enterprise-wide change management and control process

People, process, organization

X

 

Poor communication of standards

Communication

 

 

Poor alignment of technical resources with business drivers and requirements

Communication, IT management, process

 

 

IT focused on high-visibility projects versus planning

IT management

 

 

Lack of mission and goals of IT as a whole, failure to communicate goals and mission

IT management, communication

 

 

Lack of management resources

IT management

 

 

Tactical, not strategic approach

Organization

X

 

Lack of a process to market and sell IT services

Process

X

 

High complexity in the organization structure

Organization

 

 

Multiple help desks - no integration of the corporate with the local help desks

Organization, process, IT management

 

 

Split network support functions

Organization, process

 

 

Ineffective project management and resources

People, process, communication, organization

 

 

Lack of a tape librarian function

People, process, organization

 

 

Lack of benchmarking

People, process

 

 

Lack of senior resources to mentor lower-level technical support

People, organization

X

 

Lack of a production control function

Process, organization, people, IT management

X

 

Duplicate system administration and management functions

Organization

 

X

Lack of storage management process

Process

 

X

Lack of definition of what is mission-critical and levels of importance to the business

Process

 

 

Lack of hardware management

Process, IT management, organization

 

 

Lack of career development path for IT staff

Process, IT management, people, organization

 

 

Lack of strategic IT marketing and sales of IT services

Process, communication

 

 

Lack of software version control and code migration

Process

 

 

Lack of asset management

Process

 

 

Lack of capacity planning

Process

 

 

Ineffective global coordination

Process, communication, IT management, organization

 

 

Lack of configuration management in both hardware and software configurations

Process

 

 

Lack of production acceptance process and client/server application

Process

X

 

Lack of internal and external Service Level Agreements

Process, organization

 

 

Lack of a disaster recovery process

Organization, people, process, IT management

 

 


This list is appalling, but is it shocking? No, primarily because IT organizations try to do production control on a part-time basis—it's never a priority. Deploying new systems and technology is always a priority. But ensuring high customer satisfaction must also be a top priority.

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