Reactionaries miss out in value stakes

With no strategy to track assets, repeatedly making the same mistakes and handling system failures on a 'fire fighting' basis, many Australian IT professionals take a reactionary approach to managing value.

That's according to a Computer Associates report, IT Service Delivery Solutions - Are you Working in the Dark? which canvassed 105 IT executives in medium and large organisations in July.

The survey found that across five core best practices for IT system management and service delivery (issue management, request management, service level management, communication and service quality improvement), respondents rated themselves a 2.7 out 5 for their current capability.

While respondents considered practices like issue management and service improvement as the most important, the biggest gap between importance and their capability was in service improvement, according to CA.

Respondents said they were slack at logging problem history and also failed to use that information to improve their service.

Allan Andersen, Computer Associates vice president for Unicentre IT resource management, believes most corporate IT departments overlook the need to do simple things like draw on the value of the 'corporate memory' within their company to extract critical operational data.

"If you think about how many [technology] deals different business units in a company [do] over time, IT needs to be ask the business 'who is running the software and hardware' and keep an inventory on that," Andersen said.

Also, it was often unclear what business units had "ownership" over certain technology within the organisation, leading to confusion over who had a "right" to deploy and use it.

"Between this, you find more discrepancies like people installing their own software in the business, no one having ownership of that software, and then IT managers asking why they end up paying to maintain that software," Andersen said.

One of the most lasting impacts of lack of system availability and poor service delivery to organisations' customers was not financial, but cultural, CA's report said. "Help desks bear the brunt of dissatisfied users' frustration," the report said.

"Minute periods of unavailability loom large in the memory of users and management, and high levels of availability are forgotten. Their concerns -- despite sometimes seeming unfair -- are real."

The approach of most companies to managing their IT assets is not only immature but becoming increasingly costly over time, Andersen said.

Citing research by Gartner, Andersen said companies which lack a disciplined approach to managing their technology assets and levels of IT service delivery risk losing between 7 and 10 per cent of the total cost of running their IT systems by "putting out fires" as they arise.

About 60 per cent of the respondents were CIOs and the rest direct reports such as service desk managers and IT operations managers.

Some 30 per cent of the interviewees were from the government sector, 13 per cent from the technology and manufacturing and distribution sectors, and the remainder from education, mining and resources, telecommunications, banking and finance, tourism, entertainment, retail and utility.

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