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IT Automation & Service Management
IT Automation & Service Management

The Executive Guide to Service Management in an Uncertain Economy

by Jeffery Hicks

SYNOPSIS

In an uncertain economy, IT departments can count on two very certain demands: increase productivity and cut costs. When it comes to service management, CFOs, CIOs, and IT managers face the difficult challenge of developing a strategy that is tightly aligned with business goals yet still delivers its services in the most cost-efficient manner possible. In The Executive Guide to Service Management in an Uncertain Economy, author Jeffery Hicks delivers an approach to service management that will show you how to meet the many business requirements of the IT department, such as reduced staff and lower budgets, all while still meeting the IT demands from customers, partners, and compliance organizations. You will learn how to develop an efficient service management strategy focused on effective asset management, data center automation, and management consolidation. You will also receive an action plan for each focus area, providing a checklist of must-do's to execute on your service management strategy.


CHAPTER PREVIEWS

Chapter 1: Creating a Well-Managed Service Management Strategy

The contemporary Information Technology (IT) environment has rarely seen such unfriendly conditions, both internal and external. IT management is under more pressure than ever to ensure optimal productivity. Although I'm sure there are exceptions, IT is a service‐oriented part of any modern business. IT offers intangible products to its customers. Sometimes the customers are external—think of the traditional definition of a customer. Sometimes, more often than not probably, the "customer" is an internal consumer of IT services.

The internal customer might "consume" any of these typical IT "products:"

  • File storage
  • Internet access
  • Email
  • Remote and VPN access
  • Databases, data mining, and data warehousing
  • Internally‐developed applications
  • Web‐based applications
  • Line of business (LOB) applications
  • Telecommunications

This infrastructure must be managed to offer high‐quality services so that the business can carry out its mission. The challenge IT managers face is developing a service management strategy that is in alignment with business goals and guidelines. The days when IT could "do its own thing" are long gone in case you missed the memo. In today’s economy, IT is an integral business component that must offer value to the company. It must be held accountable. In fact, a recent Gartner poll found the top‐two CIO priorities were linking business and IT strategies or plans and reducing the cost of IT (Source: "Align Enterprise Architecture to the Top 2009 CIO Priorities" at http://www.gartner.com/DisplayDocument?id=1068512). A solid service management strategy ensures that the company can meet its objectives, relying on critical IT services delivered in the most cost‐effective and efficient manner possible.

In this guide, I’ll discuss approaches to developing an efficient service management strategy focusing on consolidation, asset management, and automation. A consideration to keep in mind is that even though I will focus on IT, service management can apply across the entire enterprise. For example, asset management is a key component to an effective service management strategy, but assets can include anything from desktop computers to utility trucks to printing presses to aircraft or even satellites. As you read this material, you may have to translate to a corporate area where there are opportunities to maximize value and minimize cost.


Chapter 2: Creating a Well‐Managed Data Center

I venture to say that the crux of any effective service management strategy begins in the data center. Even though your strategy extends across the enterprise and involves non-IT assets and services, you most likely have a substantial investment in your data center, and I can’t think of any organization that doesn’t rely to some degree on IT for daily business operations. Your challenge is to squeeze every scintilla of value from your IT infrastructure, which you can only accomplish through a well-managed data center.

In Chapter 2, we will cover the crunch that is placed on the data center, including internal and external customer demands, compliance requirements, and budget constraints. You will learn about the best ways to reduce your IT operations costs and improve financial controls as you make your way towards a well-managed data center.


Chapter 3: Effective Management Consolidation

Any attempt at building a solid service management strategy must include management consolidation. Unless you are a very small IT shop with only two or three products or applications to manage, you are most likely spending unnecessary resources on managing not only your IT infrastructure and applications but other parts of your enterprise as well.

Management consolidation is a critical component of an effective service management strategy. Once the consolidation process is complete, the way you do business will fundamentally shift and you will be well on your way to a solid service management strategy that will be cost-effective, efficient, proactive, and far-reaching.

In this chapter, we'll examine the need for management consolidation as well as the process for achieving effective management consolidation. Through an expert set of tips and suggestions, you will find out what you should be looking for as you consider a vendor or toolset that will become the foundation of your management consolidation efforts.


Chapter 4: Effective Asset Management

In tough economic times, having an effective service management strategy can be the difference between surviving, and while I won't say thriving, at least maintaining a competitive edge. By closely aligning IT and business operations and goals, organizations can extract more value from their current infrastructure, keep costs low, and yet still provide the necessary value to their customers, both internal and external.

A critical element of any such strategy is effective asset management. Effective asset management is a key component in developing a dynamic infrastructure and an overall service management strategy. This makes it easier for companies to manage business and IT assets as services and transform these assets into business value. Today more than ever, with slashed budgets, slumping sales, and a slow economy, companies must make the most of their existing assets. They must reduce management costs, extend the life of such assets, and otherwise discover ways to leverage their assets to a competitive advantage.

In Chapter 4, I'll be discussing assets in the broadest sense of the word, not simply traditional IT assets such as servers and software licenses. But any physical asset your company may own from copiers to drill presses to airplanes. In fact, you may have one or more of these asset classes:

  • IT Assets
  • Production Assets
  • Moving Assets
  • Linear Assets
  • Facility Assets
  • Material Assets
  • Non-Critical Assets

The goal of an effective asset management strategy is a unification of all these assets across the enterprise. With a unified and consolidated asset management solution, this chaos can be restructured into a more manageable and valuable system.