How to track IT performance issues to cut cost and complexity

By Piet Loubser, Senior Director, Product Marketing, HP Software

(Piet Loubser serves as senior director of Product Marketing for Software at HP. He is responsible for the IT Performance Suite and leads product marketing and market-category definition, bringing together the HP Software portfolio in a comprehensive suite offering.)

 

An article by Mark Gibbs on Forbes, titled “Dear CEO, you need a clue about IT” caught my attention recently. Quite often you hear comments about how IT does or does not do its job to deliver some service. The point Mark makes though brings into focus the very delicate balancing role that IT plays in the modern business. More specifically, he asserts that “IT is much bigger and more important than a service because it provides the entire basis for doing modern business.”

 

This is a big statement indeed, but one that echoes what I have been hearing from customers, consultants and partners. During the past six weeks I had the opportunity to discuss the notion of IT performance management with numerous IT leaders.  They pretty much agree that new business initiatives in their companies are either technology dependent or technology based.

 

Interestingly, as much as there is agreement on the importance of IT, there also seems to be a universal problem that stubbornly hampers IT from realizing its full potential.

 

What are you doing with my money?


To start with, there is a money problem for both business and IT. Too much of IT budgets are locked up in activities that keep the lights on operational and maintenance efforts. We often hear that 80  percent  of the IT budget is spent on operational tasks, leaving  20 percent  for growth and innovation– meaning business cannot get IT to support enough of the new things they want. And there is no respite in sight from the budget side with revenue growth remaining depressed for many businesses.

 

Technology promises unbelievable complexity


To compound the problem, IT is inundated with the promise of new technologies and services – like the cloud. Businesses frequently push cheap cloud-based services and compare them with seemingly similar IT-provided services. In one of our discussions, Keith Morrow, former 7-Eleven CIO, explained, “The complexity is unbelievable. It’s just exponentially worse. If you go far enough back, you had one or two or three core systems that sort of did everything. Now you have hundreds and hundreds of systems.”  The challenge is to understand how to pick the right initiatives – whether based on cost benefits or business impact.

 

Learn from other areas of the business


The only way for IT leadership to solve this is to gain comprehensive insight across their entire IT landscape – in a systematic fashion. Much as the CFO gains insight through ERP or sales gets insight through CRM, IT has many systems to help it run various functions or parts of the business. IT has testing tools or a solution to help automate server provisioning or a service desk to help manage incident reports.  What is missing is a systematic approach to collecting performance data in near real-time from across all these various functions and correlate them into meaningful metrics and Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s.) For example, the new HP IT Executive Scorecard does this by automatically extracting data from the entire HP IT Performance Suite (or other non-HP software). It then provides a set of predefined KPI’s such as:

  • % of projects associated with business objectives
  • Time to market of new services
  • % of employee utilization rate

The system provides that single-pane-of-glass view into the performance of IT. At a glance you can identify where things are going well or where attention is needed.

 

Establish a common language with business partners


Keith Morrow hits on the second part of the solution which is about using your insights to conduct the trade-off analysis. “You can’t do everything and be everything to all people – performance management helps you prioritize and removes low value tasks,” Keith says. By implementing a systematic approach to measure the entire IT organization’s performance you can identify where you are spending your time or money and implement continuous improvement processes end to end. What’s more, it forms the basis of your discussion with your business counterparts. And, if it turns out the CEO will want to dig deeper into the world of IT, you have a tool in your hands to talk about the business of IT. You can demonstrate where their money is going, how IT connects to new business initiatives and how well you are keeping the lights on.

 

 

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Labels: IT Performance
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