Only the most progressive organizations are adopting best practices in IM/IT service management, while many IM/IT departments continue to rely on informal, “seat of the pants, “ error-prone processes. This leads to reactive “fire fighting” operating norms within IM/IT departments, when formal, proactive approaches would be more effective. Recent studies suggest that one of the most accurate indicators of IM/IT departmental effectiveness in delivering quality services is the percentage of unplanned work in which the departments is engaged (Glandon, Smaltz, and Slovensky, 2008, p. 170). Why does unplanned IM/IT work increase costs?
Glandon et al. (2008) describes unplanned work as any activity in the IM/IT organization that cannot be mapped to an authorized project, procedure, or change request. While unplanned work can never be entirely eliminated from an IM/IT department, the nature of the unplanned work is very different for high- and low- performing IM/IT departments. In a low performing IM/IT department, low-performing unplanned work includes the following:
1) Failed changes: The production environment is used as a test environment, and the customer is the quality assurance team.
2) Unauthorized changes: Engineers do not follow the change management process, making mistakes harder to track and fix.
3) No preventive work: Failing to conduct preventive work makes repeated failures inevitable. Mean time to repair may be improving, but without root-cause analysis, the organization is doomed to fix the same problems over and over.
4) Configuration inconsistency: Inconsistencies in user applications, platforms, and configurations make appropriate training and configuration mastery difficult.
5) Security-related patching and updating: Inadequate understanding and inconsistency of configuration make applying security patches extremely dangerous.
6) Too much access: Too many people have too much access to too many IM/IT assets, causing preventable issues and incidents (170).
In contrast, high-performing IM/IT departments had very different types of unplanned work, such as product failures, release failures, and human/user errors. Regarding of the performance level, many IM/IT departments will continue to have high levels of costly, unplanned work, resulting from poor adoption rates of leading-practice process frameworks (Glandon et al., 2008, p. 171). These will be more clearly defined in the following question.
Ultimately, unplanned work increases cost as correction and rework must be done. If properly planned, many of the failures or configuration issues could have been potentially prevented as the “what ifs” would have been initially addressed. Identify some process improvement frameworks that are applicable to an IM/IT department. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each?
Process improvement frameworks that are applicable to an IM/IT department include Capability Maturity Model (CMM), Control Objects for Information Technology (CobiT), ISO 9000, and Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) (Glandon et al., 2008, p. 172). A more detailed description of each will be provided below to include the advantages and disadvantages of each.
CMM is an IM/IT process improvement framework best suited to process improvements surrounding the application development and maintenance domain. It is based on five levels of maturity and describes what characterizes an organization at each level. However, it does not describe how to get there (Glandon et al., 2008, p. 172).
CobiT is an IM/IT governance, oversight, and process audit framework recently linked to Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 corporate compliance reporting law. It is made up of four areas of control objects. Like CMM, CobiT tends to describe what characterizes an organization that has solid internal control mechanisms in place but falls short of “how to” descriptions (Glandon et al., 2008, p. 172).