Now and again, we hear rumblings about IT governance and how synergy must be developed between IT and the rest of the organisation, to work in harmony as a “business partner”. The principles are praiseworthy.
The business will drive IT strategy by clearly communicating enterprise objectives, and IT will also contribute to the success of the enterprise by innovating and adding value through systems development and deployment. At C-level, everything is set to go.
But what is the situation at the IT operational level? Will IT services be managed in a way that connects up with business needs or will the focus be purely on the numbers defining the service level agreements (as in observing SLAs or not)?
There are two challenges to overcome, if the IT department and IT service management in particular are to be business partners for the rest of the organisation.
The first is awareness. Too many IT operations people simply do not see a link between what they do on a daily basis and the impact that has at a business level. Failing to stick to an SLA is perhaps a black mark in their performance appraisal, but not more. The second challenge is communication.
Operational activities are defined in technical language and by IT configuration item, making it harder for IT operations staff to converse with their non-technical counterparts to warn about business impact or prioritise IT service management actions accordingly.
Possible responses to these challenges include targeted education and suitable IT service management tools. Awareness needs to be created and fostered by explicitly showing IT operations staff how IT service management and business objectives are interlinked (with business objectives driving service management objectives).
IT service management tools can include business analytics, business contribution and financial impact metrics, and tools to show dependencies between configuration items and business systems.
With these two resources (education and tools), IT service management staff will be able to better converse and interact with internal business customers, and lay the foundations of a useful, relevant business partnership.