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Building Operational Excellence: IT People and Process Best Practices

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Building Operational Excellence: IT People and Process Best Practices


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  • Copyright 2002
  • Dimensions: 7-3/8x9-1/4
  • Pages: 240
  • Edition: 1st
  • Book
  • ISBN-10: 0-201-76737-6
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-201-76737-7

Running an effective and efficient IT organization goes beyond just having the right technology in place. IT organizations must have effective ways to meet increased workloads, manage staff levels, and to collaborate more effectively with business units. Building Operational Excellence provides valuable insight for organizing IT people and processes, showing you how to improve end-to-end management of critical resources.

This book guides you through techniques of analysis, assessment, and change management that help create the center of excellence. It also offers techniques for implementing meaningful metrics to drive and demonstrate the business value of IT.

Although you can find many reports and briefs on the topics of infrastructure and operations excellence, this book provides a single source of industry-approved, affordable information.


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How to Create and Organize an IT Process Catalog

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Table of Contents


For Whom Is This Book Intended?

The Elevator Pitch.

Getting the Most Out of This Book.


1. What Are IT Best Practices?

Obstacles to Improving IT Operations.

What Do Best Practices Mean and Why Are They Important?

Better Practices versus Best Practices. 4

The Three Fundamental Steps.

Other Benefits of the Three Fundamental Steps.

The Area of Application.

2. Laying the Foundation.

Defining Tasks and Processes.

Consolidating Tasks into Processes.

Other Aspects of Tasks.

From Tasks to Processes.

Identify and Catalog Processes.

Process Attributes.

Questions to Ask.

Template Tools.

Evaluate and Prioritize Processes.

Process Maturity Modeling.

Process Maturity Modeling Characteristics.

Extending Process Reach.

3. Gap Analysis and Process Refinement.

Gap Analysis.

Example of Gap Analysis: Change Management.

Continuing with Gap Analysis.

Deeper Gap Analysis.

After the Analysis.

What Then?

Process Refinement.

Process Evolution.

Process Innovation.

Process Integration.

Centers of Excellence.

Moving from Processes to COEs.

4. COEs—Building on the Process Foundation.

COE Development.

Operations Optimization.

Identify the Organization's Goals.

Identify Metrics to Track Goal Performance.

Identify/Define Key Operational Processes.

Integrate Processes to Reflect Synergy.

Quantify Benefit Back to the Organization.

From Process to COE.

Task/Process/COE Trade-offs5.

The COE Template5.

A Process Foundation.

What Processes Are Included in COEs?

What Products/Services Are Included within the COE?

Aggregating Processes.

The Result: COEs.

Core COEs.

COE Staff.

The COE Brain Trust.


Rapid Assimilation.

The 1-Tier Transact Pattern.

The 2-Tier Transact Pattern.

The 3/N-Tier Transact Pattern.

The Client/Server Publish Pattern.

The Web Publish Pattern.

The Stream Publish Pattern.

The Real-Time Collaborate Pattern.

The Store-and-Forward Collaborate Pattern.

The Structured Collaborate Pattern.


5. Metrics.

Pure IT Metrics.

Metrics Gap Analysis.

Mapping IT Metrics to Business Metrics.

Mapping Business and IT Metrics.

Qualitative Metrics.

Value Metrics.

Ongoing Metrics Reporting.

6. Putting It All Together.

IT Products and Pricing.

Productizing Operations.

Cost—Allocation—Price Strategies.

Product Catalog.

Marketing the Value of IT.

Business Relationship Management.

alue/Metric Reporting.

The IT Annual Report.

Other Marketing Techniques.


7. Process Catalog.

How to Use This Catalog.

Form and Content of Process Catalog Entries.

Application Optimization.

Asset Management.

Budget Management.

Business Continuity.

Business Relationship Management.

Capacity Planning.

Change Management.

Configuration Management.

Contract Management.

Contractor Management.

Cost Recovery.

Data Storage Management.

Facilities Management.

Inventory Management.

Job Scheduling.

Negotiation Management.

Network Management.

Output Management.

Performance Management.

Problem Management.

Production Acceptance.

Production Control.

Physical Database Management.

Quality Assurance.

Security Management.

Service-Level Management.

Service Request Management.

Software Distribution.

System Monitoring.

Tape Management.

Workload Monitoring.

8. Center of Excellence Catalog.

Application Center.

Asset Center.

Command Center.

Customer Advocacy Center.

Data and Media Center.

Engineering Support Center.

Outsourcing Center.


Appendix A. Further Reading.


Index 0201767376T05132002


Enterprises today are concerned about two conflicting stresses placed on their IT departments by the incursion of the Web: the need for rapid adaptability to change, but which must be done in an environment that requires significantly higher levels of security and customer service. Although IT has always faced the concurrent challenges of responsiveness, security, and service, current conditions punish inferior performance in any of these areas so acutely that companies need to invest wisely in IT processes simply to remain in business.

Many books describe in great detail the application of technology to the problems confronting IT. Bookstore shelves creak with tomes on Web services, application servers, supply-chain integration, enterprise application integration, and related topics. But few books discuss how an IT organization--regardless of the specific technologies it deploys--can examine its own processes and improve them. The titles in the Best Practices series present IT best practices in numerous important fields of endeavor: security, infrastructure design, e-Business integration, and several other IT disciplines. These books discuss the problems without tying the solutions to specific technologies. They guide you to solve problems rather than to implement specific technology solutions.

This book focuses specifically on how an IT organization can assess its own operational processes and bring them to the level of best practices--or operations excellence. It is based on the proposition that today excellence in operations is a strategic competitive advantage. The recommendations made in this volume are derived from the work and experiences of META Group analysts within numerous IT organizations throughout the world. The information is presented in a sequenced series of steps that invariably define a goal, measure the current state, and establish a path for filling the gaps between the current state and the articulated goal.

Every step within this process requires you to spend considerable time identifying the form the goal should take so that best practices are imple-mented in a thoughtful manner, leading to faster response, lower costs, and improved quality of services.

For Whom Is This Book Intended?

This book is intended for IT managers who are highly motivated to improve the quality, timeliness, or economy of the operational services they provide. These managers are working in IT departments of at least several dozen employees and possibly several hundred. The department must be large enough that concern about internal processes occupies an important place in the design and implementation of new projects. Sites that run on an ad hoc basis, or that view processes as unnecessary encumbrances, may benefit from this book, but their lack of context for many of the issues discussed here will diminish the profit they could derive from its suggestions. Sites with more than several hundred IT employees will need to apply the recom-mendations with a finer granularity than smaller sites. The book discusses how to do this effectively at several junctures where it is particularly appropriate.

The primary focus of this book is the establishment of excellence for IT operations. The term operations refers to the collection of tasks and processes traditionally involved in running the computing infrastructure. Due to its highly specific nature, best practices in security are not discussed. A companion book in this series, Securing Business Information, presents in considerable detail the implementation of best practices in enterprise security; it should be consulted for information in this area.

This book also does not cover the areas of application development and maintenance, infrastructure design, or project management. These special disciplines have unique requirements that warrant specific techniques for advancing their quality, timeliness, and economy. Hence, they are treated elsewhere in books, materials, and resources available from Intel Press and other publishers.

The Elevator Pitch

This book is about optimizing IT operations.

  • IT operations comprise dozens, sometimes hundreds, of tasks. These tasks, when properly sequenced, are the building blocks of IT processes. For example, an IT process, such as storage allocation for a database, is made up of numerous tasks that involve the database, the operating system, the storage-management software, and the physical storage devices or network.
  • Processes are often viewed as independent activities, each having unique characteristics. Because of this, at sites that are not employing best practices, processes are automated infrequently, rarely quantified, and even more rarely documented; as a result, they are prone to error.

To achieve best practices in IT operations, processes are catalogued, com-pared to the way in which similar processes have been designed and imple-mented by experts at sites that have attained the best possible level of operations. IT managers are encouraged to construct inventory of the gaps between current and best practices.

The next step is to fill the gaps. Several steps are involved in this process, as the gaps to fill are selected on the basis of site-specific factors such as cost, priority, degree of support within the organization, and other pressures. This book discusses gap analysis and prioritization of filling gaps in considerable detail. Most IT organizations will benefit from these analyses.

Some organizations may press further if they have the mandate to make larger-scale changes in the pursuit of best practices. The additional steps they would pursue rest on the observation that processes in different, but related, fields of activity often share similar goals and requirements. These processes can be grouped into a common set that can be subjected to best practices.

These sets of processes are called centers of excellence (or COEs). This book shows readers how to aggregate processes into COEs and how to use the concept of COEs to implement best practices. When properly done, COEs:

  • Optimize efficiency and effectiveness among all processes
  • Integrate like tasks and processes
  • Leverage automation
  • Ensure clear accountability
  • Provide multi-platform support
  • Directly correlate to service-level agreements
  • Roll up more easily to cost centers
  • Provide consistent customer experience

In addition, COEs enable metrics to be applied easily and consistently to tasks so that targets for further improvement can be identified.

To show you how to create COEs within the IT organization, and how to use COEs to improve services, this book identifies a progression of steps, each of which receives a full chapter:

  • Chapter 1 explains what the term best practices means in general and in IT specifically.
  • Chapter 2 defines the fundamental units, the task and the process.
  • Chapter 3 explains how to perform gap analyses and refine processes.
  • Chapter 4 tells you what COEs are and how they can be built from processes.
  • Chapter 5 explains how to apply metrics to improved processes and to COEs.
  • Chapter 6 tells you how to derive the maximum benefit from the adop-tion of IT best practices. This discussion includes marketing IT ser-vices within the enterprise, pricing those services, and providing them with the reliability consistent with service-level agreements.
  • Chapter 7 is a catalog of the most common IT processes. This refer-ence includes information on the constituent tasks, the best practices for that process, and metrics to use in monitoring quality of implemen-tation.
  • Chapter 8 is a catalog for COEs.

Readers who take the time to go through this book attentively will under-stand how to implement best IT practices within their organization regard-less of the company's structure or unique IT exigencies.

Getting the Most Out of This Book

Like all volumes in the IT Best Practices series, this book is intended for immediate use. The book's style and approach are designed to make it useful in solving difficult problems in a practical manner. To this end, many forms that the reader may find helpful in implementing specific steps are provided, and readers should feel free to copy these forms and adapt them for their specific situations.

This is a hands-on book. Because of its practical nature, the book does not require sequential reading, although this is the preferred approach. Chapters on various concepts and processes can be read independently. Although later concepts do build on ones presented earlier, nothing should discourage the reader from flipping forward to chapters of particular interest. However, the authors strongly recommend that before implementation is undertaken, a complete reading of the relevant sections should be done so that all steps are performed in the right order and in the right manner.

The Appendix that follows the core presentation provides useful reference material, including pointers to other books and a Web site that the reader may find helpful, and a glossary of important terms.

--Bruce Allen, Vice President META Group

--Dale Kutnick, Chairman of META Group



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