Don't Overlook Process
When thinking of IT and its importance to helping an organization in providing business value, what first comes to mind? It's usually the technology. The technology tends to be top mind, where it is perceived to drive all/majority/some of the value associated with using IT to achieve business value. While we all know and understand the importance of the technology, what often takes a back seat—at least from a perception standpoint—are the resources needed to implementation/maintain/support the technology as well as the processes that are put in place to ensure success. I want to focus upon the processes this month.
I do recognize that a post and discussion around process might seem a bit drab, but I believe the opposite is actually true. Nothing happens within IT without the right processes in place. Actually, let me rephrase that: nothing happens efficiently within IT without the right processes in place. It's something we all know and understand, but you'd be surprised how many organizations that we work with do not have efficient or the right processes in place. And "right processes" can be somewhat objective--I total understand that--as "right" is what works for you and your organization. But not having the "right processes" in place makes ITs job harder and more convoluted then it needs to be.
A process is simply defined at as "a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end". It's such a simple, straightforward thing and very powerful, but yet people and IT departments tend to overlook the importance of it. I've even seen signs up at customer locations that say process with a red x through it, as to state "no process" or "process not wanted here". And they are proud of that, which is a bit baffling. But the bottom line is that we cannot run efficient IT environments and efficient IT operations without good processes.
Vicom hosted a forum last week around what we call Enterprise Management Services (EMS) in which we brought together many of our customers to discuss the successes and challenges that they are having in managing their IT environments. Just about all of them stated they were all doing well in regards to technology management, meaning that they all had a good handle on the tools that they need to manage their environment. And just about all of them said that where they need help is not around technology management, but around the processes around the tools and use of technology within their environment. That's where they need help. Some even jokingly said that even if we say we have good processes in place, don't listen to us and other customers who say that, as we do not. The truth is that some organizations are very mature when it comes to their processes, but many are not, even if they think they are.
The comments we heard from our customers at this meeting reflect a few things: 1) how important process is overall to their success and 2) how most organizations really need help in this regard. And it can be processes around pretty much anything associated around IT Service Management (ITSM) and/or technology, and as it pertains to the ITIL framework. Where we see people are looking for help is generally within Event Management, Incident & Problem Management, Change & Release Management, Asset Management, CMDB, and Service Desk. Most organizations have or know what specific tools they want in these regards, but where we see they need help is how to integrate processes into their tools and within their existing, or newly defined environments. To state it simply: organizations need good processes for using their technology to drive efficient Service Management (delivering IT services) and drive business value to the organization.
What does this ultimately mean? You can have great tools and frameworks in which you follow, but if you don't have the processes to tie it all together and allow these tools and frameworks to provide real world (and not just theoretical) value within day to day operations, the IT environment will not be efficient. And in many cases, the technology gets the blame, and not the lack of good/strong processes. Good processes pertain to onsite technology as well as public cloud based infrastructure or services. It doesn't matter. In fact, it's even more important if using public cloud or SaaS since the technology doesn't reside onsite at your location.
So as you are managing your technology (including cloud) it can be easy to overlook how truly important strong and effective process are needed to ensure success. On the surface it might not seem so important—compared to the technology—but it's absolutely critical. And the truth is we all know it; it just needs a bit more focus from IT and business leaders, so it doesn't continue to get lost in the woodwork or relegated to a secondary priority. And it's important to continually revisit processes to make sure that are still valid and still provide the value they were designed to provide. As things certainly do change.
IT will have a lot more success and their lives would be that much easier and more efficient (get the pun?) with good processes. And making our lives easier is what technology is supposed to be all about.
Your thoughts? Let me know where you stand in terms of your IT processes.