17 July 2007 Forum : IT Services Evaluation & Management

The theme of this forum was the monitoring of IT services to assess cost effectiveness and its impact on performance. Partners in IT specialise in service management improvements for corporate IT providers, and their MD, Paul Cash, gave a presentation on aspects of this area.

Paul's address focused on ways in which the IT capacity of an organisation can be transformed through a constant process of assessing requirements, target-setting and process control. PIIT's Transformation Services use a cycle of "Predict" (understanding present capabilities), "Transform" (changing existing processes) and "Control" (maintain, measure and manage). As its IT capability improves, an organisation should expect to develop the capacity to provide increasingly innovative and complex services that constantly improve in an iterative fashion.

PIIT Transformation Services process

Diagram showing PIIT's approach to Services Transformation

Paul also spoke about the risks of a "hero" culture, where senior IT staff are counted on to "save the day". Proper processes, management and monitoring should replace this dependency, making IT performance more predictable and dependable. Investment in training (both for staff in general and IT personnel) is a critical element to success.

Paul referred to ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library), a widely accepted approach to IT service management and containing the principles of best practice. More information on ITIL can be found here.

Best practice incorporates monitoring and measurement of systems and processes to identify performance levels and rate and manage services more accurately. ITIL standards should be used as benchmarks to evaluate. IT services should be held to account and actual investment, rather than simple cost, made transparent.

Some principles of best practice Paul outlined were:

  • Employ 1 full-time IT support member to each 50 staff.
  • Monitor practice and performance.
  • Identify what is necessary to do the job via a business impact assessment.
  • Measure the productivity of training.

PIIT performance indicators example:

Paul displayed a presentation slide showing service status indicators.

In discussion it became apparent that the companies represented at the forum did very little in the way of performance monitoring, although they recognised that this could be a useful tool. They identified areas that affected productivity as internet access, poor office communication and difficulty in tracking issues.

There was general agreement that support tracking software was a vital tool for monitoring issues and was key to improvement. CLW discussed their issue management tool, which was currently being redeveloped, and offered to demonstrate this at the next forum meeting.

Partners in IT provide several subscription services that may be of interest to members of the forum. These include on-demand event monitoring and service desk support.

Partner in IT's website can be found here, telephone +44 (0) 1344 488123.

Attendees:
  • David Appel, Fielden Clegg Bradley
  • Chris Poulton, Wilkinson Eyre
  • Jim Rea, Silver Fern (Grimshaw)
  • Jane Sharman and Nick Marks, Western Williamson
  • Andy Sheldon, Urban Initiatives
  • James Tansley, Hamiltons Architects
  • Hannah Heathcote and Alet Mans, Hopkins Architects
  • Rory Campbell-Lange, Tim Whiteley and Mark Adams, Campbell-Lange Workshop
  • Paul Cash, Partners in IT