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May 17, 2005

The Key to Effective IT Process Improvement

Boris By Boris Pevzner

You can often overhear us IT folks complaining about shortages:  a shortage of resources to do a critical project, a shortage of skills resulting in the pressure to outsource, a shortage of time to complete an infrastructure rollout on schedule.  One thing you will never hear an IT person complain about is the shortage of IT standards.

This is particularly true in the area of IT process improvement, where standards proliferation has been particularly notorious: that is where we've got Six Sigma, ITIL, CoBIT, BS 15000, CMMI, Baldrige, EFQM, ISO 9000, Scorecards, and an assortment of other process improvement frameworks.

Simon Mingay, a Gartner Research VP, did a great job positioning all these different frameworks in his presentation at the Gartner show today: some of these are general business frameworks, while others are more IT-specific; some take a more “holistic” view while others are more akin to “point-solution” guidelines.  The three clear “winners” in the IT process improvement context in the last two years have been ITIL (in the service management domain), CoBIT (in the compliance domain), and CMMI (in the outsourcing domain), although Six Sigma is now starting to gain steam in the IT context.

Simon made two very important points in his presentation.  The first point was that, while implementing a performance improvement framework could well be a worthy goal, IT organizations should not let it become a religion.  For example, while “ITIL compliance” could be the mantra du jour at your shop, the real reason we are implementing ITIL is to create a more agile, more efficient, and more business-focused IT organization.

Simon’s other key point concerned the importance of a clearly defined service catalog in IT performance improvement initiatives.  “Fundamentally, if you don’t define what it is that you are supposed to be doing, it’s very difficult to have a view of how it is improving,” Simon remarked. “Which is why we encourage IT service catalog definition as the very first step of any ITIL implementation.  It’s an absolutely critical first step, and it’s fundamental to any IT performance improvement initiative.”

Posted on May 17, 2005 | Permalink


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