Very sorry I have not posted in a long time.(or as we say here in Boston " a wicked long time")
As many of you may have heard Vigilant was acquired by Inforonics in Littleton, MA. It's been a lot of work to get the acquisition accomplished, but we are excited about the new opportunities.
You can read more about that here: Inforonics Acquires Vigilant
Though I've delayed in posting for this particular topic, it may be a good thing.
I'll have to admit, that earlier in the year I may have written this quite a bit differently than I do today. It's been a wild ride here in the US with our economy, and the signs are still blinking as to our recovery. (imho). So my "If I were CIO" strategy is a bit different than in the past.
So what about the IT Service Management strategy that was so vigorously trumpeted in 2008?
From what I have seen there are 2 clear areas that every company needs to focus on, and they need to do it now.
Configuration and Problem Management.
(yes - I know, I didn't say Change, I'm shocked as well, but like I said this article has 9 months of my experiences behind it, so as opposed to the speculation I would have written about in January, I'm writing based on what I have seen.)
Why Configuration and Problem?
First off - the real issue is Problem Management. Companies are really bad at it! Thus when you are working on a problem, and making no progress, this means the business is suffering. Companies can not afford downtime and slowdowns from technology issues, ever - especially in this economy. They need to have systems up and running fast.
So what's the problem with their problem management?
Asset mapping and documentation. I've worked on several major performance and availability problems for clients this year. Serious revenue impacting issues! In each and every example the operational deficiency, and thus the reason to bring our team in, was a gap in understanding of how the technology really supported the business operation.
That is why if companies are going to invest anything in their Service Management initiatives this year, I truly believe it has to be in Configuration Management. Config Management is not just about the assets. It's about the business service, and how the asset's support them. If we (IT - the custodians of operational business technology assets) are going to add value to the business, we need to ensure that we have a handle on what the state of our operations truly is. We need to not only identify the asset relationship, we need to ensure that we can determine its health and its ability to perform on-going.
Yes, of course Change Management comes into play here. However, Change Management alone is not getting the job done. In each of the organizations I referred to above there was a CAB, RFC's, all that jazz. However, there was no record of truth or current health state of CI's. Changes were being made against assumed configurations, without any understanding of their current state of health. (in other words, no integration into event management) So changes were being made and requested against incorrect information and unstable CI's. Hence the problem kept getting worse, not better. (My analogy to the clients as "Stacking Cue Balls" each change caused another break - just like each ball stacked causes the lower ones to topple)
With a well thought out CMS strategy, including health monitoring and CI capacity analysis tools, Problem Management becomes a lot easier for organizations. A clear picture of the assets in relationship to each other helps the process of elimination, it provides a direct plan of attack to isolate root cause, and it also provides helpful information in getting the right people involved.
This is why companies struggle with Problem Management. They expect the PM process to give them root-cause. This will never happen if the proper data is not collected and managed in a meaningful way.
For my next posting I'm going to breakdown the Problem Management process we've used to isolate faults quickly. -I promise it won't take me 9 months to write it. :)