The magic potion for IT

80% of IT funds are spent on systems support and only 20% are used for growth.

There are 46 major known IT issues and the majority of them can be avoided.

We all know that there is no perfect world where IT is functioning flawlessly and IT managers are sleeping well at night. But it doesn’t mean that you have to settle for this fact and just live with it. There are ways to avoid most painful pitfalls.

If you look at all IT problems that they are tripping over and start digging deeper in most cases the issues are caused simply by the lack of prepared bases  (such as policies, procedures, due diligence, accountable resources, etc.). That means that there is a gap in outlined processes or a failure to follow them. But it is very possible to fix all that.

One of the fixes is creating a very good framework (system) where every new technology, resource or piece of data falls into this existing channel and treated accordingly. You can call it “Internal Compliance” or “IT Governance” or whatever makes you happy.

The trick, however, is not only to create a system for the processes, but making this system very flexible and dynamic, so if new issues are coming up you’ll pivot and align the system to accommodate new unforeseen circumstances fast and efficient – it is possible to achieve as well.

All new initiatives, projects, and ideas especially where a massive amount of content/data is involved are just a major headache without the established foundation and if your company is touching areas with Big Data, AI  – you can’t do without a proper system.

When a good system is created and followed the list of benefits is almost endless: Improved security, better SLA delivery, decreased outages, better applications performance, customer response, avoidance of unnecessary complexity and duplicated services, obsolete data or obsolete systems. You’ll save money on production licenses, unnecessary infrastructures and man/hours for production support such as backup, monitoring, emergencies, pricey 3rd party resources. You’ll have an increased end-user productivity, improved compliance with regulations, better content searchability, and just simply less mess.

Here are details:

I’ve done a lot of projects in this area and I can definitely state that one of the keys to an architecture of a successful system is paying attention to important components which contribute to a business success and sadly there are two major ones that are usually not taken too seriously: 1.Well established IT processes and 2. Well established Information Management  (including data retention) processes  (they both are IT governance subjects). Any gaps in them can be painful.

Before this boat sails, however, C-suite has to have a full understanding of the importance of creation and enforcement of this system otherwise it is a useless effort.

So where do you start?

Of course, starting with the most painful and obvious issues is no brainer. However, the way you deal with them will determine the success of this venture. There are several techniques for creating a very good system. One good approach is to find a way to develop a shared solution that will address many of the issues at the same time. Another way of efficiency is to see which problems can have the same root. So go for the “host” – this will bring the “mothership” down. Go through multi-layered root cause analysis where you can either pinpoint a real issue or catch a very good pattern which can point to a certain gap which is not visible on the surface. This way you are not really fixing a leaking pipe with a gum.

Here is a simple example: application’s performance is way below acceptable → reason: One of the DBs has reached its capacity. The obvious possible solution (a gum method) is to add more Storage and DBs (and I know it would be done in many corporations). But if you dig dipper (for a real fix method) → Why this is happening? 1. Tons of obsolete records, but what if they would be good, active documents? Here comes an app misuse: nobody communicated to the end user how to use the application. Real solution: 1. Need to create records management policies (move the obsoletes out of prod), 2. Need to create a policy for all new incoming applications where its users/admins are instructed about what is a proper usage of the application including the capacity limits. 3. And yes, add that gum – an additional storage temporarily while you are migrating the old records away – you have to do it now.

Now let’s look globally: how many problems are solved by these policies? Besides SLA and end-user productivity, infrastructure related benefits where you save money on support and licenses for unnecessary components, rerouted resources, etc…. and translate it all into $$$. 🙂

To conclude: This system will help your main business goal happen faster by increasing the revenue, avoiding a “surviving” mode and going into“ a growing” mode

If you feel like reading further let’s briefly review what does it mean to have well established IT processes and Information Management Processes:

Well established IT processes – rules (policies and procedures) which you follow that help you mitigate or manage risk and avoid major pitfalls in delivering IT services to your internal business units. Here are some of the main ones: (applicable to companies who have infrastructure on-prem or hybrid or IAAS).  

  • Operational Standards (Managements: Change, Release, Configuration, Etc.)
  • Infrastructure Management (Access, security, monitoring, upgrading backup/recovery, etc. for each component such as servers, networks, applications, etc.):
  • Application management (app support, app catalog, end-user rules, etc.
  • Software development rules (in case you are updating the apps in the house or developing your own and hosting them – SDLC methodologies including testing, peer review, sign off, deployment rules, etc.)
  • 3rd party tools management rules
  • More

Well established Information Management processes – rules which you follow that help you manage information (structured or unstructured data) from its birth to its expiration.

It should include:

From Business Perspective:

  • Data Classification (including identification of sensitive data, attaching metadata, alignment with regulations, etc.)
  • Data Flow including outlined stages: Active → Near Active → Archived → Deletion

From IT perspective:

  • Storage, Backups and Monitoring rules, for Near-term and Archived data
  • Timeframes
  • Access controls

For structured Data, there should be additional management rules to make sure that data is of a high quality and usability, properly integrated…

There are a lot of points to look at besides the items I’ve mentioned in this article, but these are the core ones.

So it all boils down to the bases of the processes that in many cases are missing. Fix this and your sailing will be much smoother.