IT Operational Excellence

When IT departments are tuned to run their best, they achieve more, spend less and drive success back into the organisations they support.

IT operational excellence is an approach that helps to ensure IT departments run efficiently and deliver great service. Without an operational excellence philosophy, IT departments lack vision and strategy, are slow to adapt and are more likely to be bogged down by trivial issues.

Achieving IT operational excellence isn't about implementing one particular framework. It is a mindset geared towards continuous improvement and performance that incorporates multiple principles designed to align team goals around delivering value to the customer.

IBRS can help organisations achieve IT operational excellence by revealing the most effective ways to leverage resources and identify the most valuable activities and differentiators in a given IT team.

Conclusion: This month, there has been a range of company acquisitions, consolidations and partnerships in the managed services industry. These types of purchases can allow vendors to obtain resources necessary to adapt to emerging industries and new offerings. Purchasing providers can be beneficial, expanding and enhancing a firm’s products and services with the successful integration of companies. This has resulted in trends including more targeted purchases such as company assets, or the amalgamation of a number of vendors with very different specialties to provide new offerings and adapt to market shifts. Failure to adapt offerings and business structures which allow for these changes can impact on vendor credibility and is critical in a market where proactive, innovative and highly specialised providers are required by customers.

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Conclusion: Given the frequency of acquisitions within the information technology (IT) sector, it is prudent that clients of the organisations involved spend time to consider the possible outcomes or consequences of the acquisition, and in particular if the outcomes are likely to be good or bad news for them.

Acquisitions are likely to always involve changes in staff. The staff most at risk of being made redundant are usually in non-client-touching administration roles, such as finance, supply or HR. What clients do need to think about are possible changes to key technical or product development teams, as well as key staff that they deal with on a regular basis.

The other area where impacts may be felt is in the future direction of ongoing product development, with outcomes that can again be positive or negative for clients.

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Related Articles:

"Acquisitions Part 1: Determining the goals" IBRS, 2018-12-03 09:49:50

"Mergers, Acquisitions and Divestitures: What does it mean to your business?" IBRS, 2017-01-01 10:35:33

"Running IT-as-a-Service Part 28: IT-as-a-Service Procurement Maturity Model" IBRS, 2017-03-04 16:52:54

"Running IT-as-a-Service Part 46: Mergers and acquisitions impact on service contracts" IBRS, 2018-09-04 13:46:42

Conclusion: Increasingly, IT departments are looking for ways to divest their operations of undifferentiated activities – that is, activities that are common among most organisations. One technology that is ubiquitous across every organisation, in every vertical sector, is end-user computing. Theoretically, it should be an easy area of IT to be deployed via a fully managed service. In reality, IBRS has seen more failures in the space than successes.

The reasons why fully managed (aka “as-a-Service”) end-user computing initiatives fail is a result of the initial rationale for the go-to-market strategy and the resulting request for proposal (RFP).

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Related Articles:

"IBRS Compass: Beyond the Desktop: Creating a Digital Workspace Strategy for Business Transformation" IBRS, 2016-01-02 11:39:29

"The Components of a Self-Service Desktop" IBRS, 2014-10-01 18:36:09

"The use and abuse of Personas for end-user computing strategies" IBRS, 2017-03-04 16:53:10

  IBRSiQ is a database of Client inquiries and is designed to get you talking to our Advisors about these topics in the context of your organisation in order to provide tailored advice for your needs.
 

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 IBRSiQ is a database of Client inquiries and is designed to get you talking to our Advisors about these topics in the context of your organisation in order to provide tailored advice for your needs.

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Conclusion: This month, discussions regarding the need to strengthen security and recovery solutions have been prevalent. The increased number of breaches which compromise private user data and interfere with business operations has become apparent. While technologies and frameworks can assist with avoiding and recovering from security events, weaknesses still exist when integrating security strategies with company structures and culture. Human error, and the failure to educate or provide all employees with skills to avoid, detect or respond to security events, has been flagged as a particular concern. Any security structure must provide resources that can support employee vigilance and slot into a company’s culture.

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Conclusion: Acquisitions are a frequent occurrence amongst information and communication technology (ICT) vendors and solution providers. The outcomes of an acquisition or merger will impact clients as well as the employees of the organisations.

Clients and employees should invest in thinking about the announced acquisitions, what the stated goals are for the acquisition, and what exactly might be the reasons and likely outcomes of the acquisition. Whilst clients and employees are unlikely to be able to influence an acquisition being completed, it may be in their interest to take steps to help secure their own position, to either capitalise on the opportunities or reduce the risk of any possible negative outcomes.

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Related Articles:

"Running IT-as-a-Service Part 28: IT-as-a-Service Procurement Maturity Model" IBRS, 2017-03-04 16:52:54

"Running IT-as-a-Service Part 46: Mergers and acquisitions impact on service contracts" IBRS, 2018-09-04 13:46:42

IBRSiQ is a database of Client inquiries and is designed to get you talking to our Advisors about these topics in the context of your organisation in order to provide tailored advice for your needs.
 

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Conclusion: This month, IT vendor acquisitions and partnerships have been prominent. The incentive for companies with disparate products and services to consolidate has increased, resulting in strategic arrangements aimed at expanding offerings and future company developments. However, this kind of consolidation can result in difficulties when separate entities make efforts to integrate. This type of integration requires an orderly transition and establishing a solid foundation for ongoing operations to maximise benefits associated with new resources. Detailed planning and execution is necessary to establish direct relationships and better understand the resources available, customer base and externals from both companies and allow for a more consistent fit between internal departments as well as a framework for practical and flexible implementation of plans.

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Conclusion: When scanning the market to find new solutions or vendors, it is usual to consider who else uses the solutions, the size of the organisation and their customer base. Vendors often publish examples of clients that use their solutions, and particularly like highlighting those clients that represent well-known global or local brands.

Whilst being nice to know, the details provided are usually very shallow, and should never be relied on in terms of influencing a buying decision. It will take a significant effort to get any details that may actually help a project team, and in many cases, the detail will simply not be available.

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Related Articles:

"Don’t let poor research cloud your thinking" IBRS, 2015-12-02 19:54:39

"Embedding research and advisory into an organisation" IBRS, 2016-07-02 04:20:00

Conclusion: Carried out using reliable cost and performance metrics, a benchmarking exercise can yield significant benefits. Conversely, when costs are unclear and few performance measures are available, IT managers may struggle to justify their budget and enhance service delivery.

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Related Articles:

"Benchmarking - A Waste of Time or a Taste of Wine" IBRS, 2003-07-28 00:00:00

"Identifying and comparing IT costs - Why it is a must" IBRS, 2010-08-30 00:00:00

IBRS iQ is a database of Client inquiries and is designed to get you talking to our Advisors about these topics in the context of your organisation in order to provide tailored advice for your needs.
 

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 IBRSiQ is a database of client inquiries and is designed to get you talking to our advisors about these topics in the context of your organisation in order to provide tailored advice for your needs.
 

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Conclusion: This month, discussions regarding enterprise agreements combining products and services to provide highly tailored solutions have been prominent. In particular, market transformation with smaller vendors offering new products, different enterprise consumption models, collaboration and new capabilities have driven growth in this area. A greater demand for flexible customisation and configuration of offerings has also driven growth, as well as vendors offering incentives to utilise products and services, or establishing partnerships in order to support organisations when developing solutions.

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IBRS iQ is a database of Client inquiries and is designed to get you talking to our Advisors about these topics in the context of your organisation in order to provide tailored advice for your needs.
 

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Conclusion: This month, discussions regarding data-driven products and associated services have been prominent. There has been an increased interest in offerings that facilitate the collection, measurement and quantification of useful data, then translation to optimise business operations or internal processes. These types of offerings are particularly useful when automating functions, identifying and tending to inefficiencies and resolving intractable problems. New regulatory standards, increased competitive pressures, growth opportunities in evolving markets and responding to customer behaviours and preferences are critical issues for clients. Managed service providers need to be sufficiently flexible when providing offerings that incorporate data-driven services that can support changes in a company’s organisational culture, business processes and internal management frameworks.

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Conclusion: Technology leaders in organisations brought together through a merger or acquisition (M&A) play an extremely important role and can significantly impact the potential economic benefits and success of the M&A. IT needs to align with the business units to understand how the business units are going to align or change through the M&A. IT must then develop plans and execute on appropriate IT strategies to support the new organisation.

M&As provide organisations with the opportunity to rationalise, deduplicate, and modernise especially in the areas of applications, data, infrastructure and facilities.

Whilst keeping the existing systems operational, IT should set up specific integration teams, to quickly develop the direction and priorities that will be of most importance and value to the new integrated organisation.

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Related Articles:

"Dealing with conflict in an IT environment" IBRS, 2018-09-04 13:35:55

"Mergers, Acquisitions and Divestitures: What does it mean to your business?" IBRS, 2017-01-01 10:35:33

"Running IT as a Service Part 4: Transforming from Service Level Agreements to Service Value Agreements" IBRS, 2015-01-29 18:59:44

"Running IT-as-a-Service Part 46: Mergers and acquisitions impact on service contracts" IBRS, 2018-09-04 13:46:42

 IBRS iQ is a database of Client inquiries and is designed to get you talking to our Advisors about these topics in the context of your organisation in order to provide tailored advice for your needs.

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Conclusion: This month has seen a high number of security incidents globally. The high demand for security services requires vendors to provide transparency with service offerings, implementation and management. While security provider offerings must cater to a changing environment and support the protection of critical information and business functions, it is also necessary for vendors to foster trust with customers and within individual markets. Difficulties experienced by security service provider Kaspersky Lab in the United States have resulted in a range of issues, particularly when establishing trust in global markets. This month, Kaspersky Lab has been in discussions with the Australian Government to avert these types of difficulties, and foster trust in both public and private sector customers, which is especially critical for security service providers.

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Conclusion: Keeping business continuity plans (BCP) succinct, up to date and easy to read will reap rewards when they are required during a business disruption.

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Related Articles:

"Astute Leadership needed in a crisis" IBRS, 2017-01-01 10:35:45

"Investing in Business Resilience Planning - the CIOs hardest sell" IBRS, 2012-08-31 00:00:00

"Running IT-as-a-Service Part 40: Aligning business continuity and IT disaster recovery plans" IBRS, 2018-03-31 06:56:00

Conclusion: This month, discussions regarding critical security issues have continued to be prominent. In particular, an increase in the ineffective management of security threats and incidents was flagged. A high proportion of companies have cited a preference for paying off ransomware demands due to a perception it is a cheaper and less complex resolution to security incidents. These types of short-term solutions often produce other risks and create larger, associated problems in the future. A growing trend to under-report security incidents and a lack of cyber threat intelligence has left many companies exposed. Customers often deprive themselves of opportunities to improve cyber security controls and processes when they do not adopt long-term mitigation strategies to reduce risks and enhance response measures.
Such long-term and consolidated efforts allow customers to take advantage of all resources available to the company, founded in threat intelligence. Accessing a wide range of cyber threat intelligence and establishing ways to obtain this information is particularly critical. Plans must include ways to identify and assess security incidents, how staff communicate and share information regarding incidents, as well as harnessing data from external sources such as service providers and other tailored data specialists. Whilst complex, establishing sturdy threat identification, protection, response and recovery frameworks will improve a company’s capacity to manage security risks, utilising all resources and information available.

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IBRS iQ is a database of Client inquiries and is designed to get you talking to our Advisors about these topics in the context of your organisation in order to provide tailored advice for your needs.

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Conclusion: This month, there have been increased discussions regarding highly targeted, industry-specific security threats. Security issues for managed service providers can be especially complex due to the nature of the industry and delivery frameworks. Targeted attacks on vendors that support a large and diverse client base, utilising intricate, often intertwined solutions which cater to a wide range and large number of business functions, can result in difficulties when security issues arise. Problems such as theft, malicious attacks, denial of service and framework collapses can cause added risks because of vendor/client structures in this sector. For vendors, attacks can result in difficulties such as managing security issues over a large number of clients or associated entities which provide services. For clients, outsourced networks spanning different sites and critical functions are amongst the variety of threats which can leave clients exposed. Responses for vendor co-ordination with clients, as well as associated service providers and partners, must be considered and thoroughly planned when developing response measures for service providers. Measures must be as robust as possible, as well as sufficiently flexible to cater to unforeseen events and the complex nature of the managed services sector, where threats can be highly variable in nature, volume and extremities.

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Conclusion: Unless the process of allocating IT and business resources to competing projects is transparent, and follows agreed procedures, disaffected management could develop shadow IT solutions and create additional technical debt. To ensure the allocation process is equitable, develop pragmatic guidelines so sponsors need only provide information needed for an informed assessment of their proposals.

To minimise the risk of project failure, it is imperative the right projects are allocated resources and those at risk are rejected or reworked. When developing the guidelines, ensure the information requested is succinct, apt for the size of the project, and the risks are clear and can be contained. The objective must be to ensure the process is as transparent as possible, uncomplicated and not protracted.

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Conclusion: This month, discussions regarding ICT outsourcing project completion and outcomes have been prominent. Whilst project successes outweigh those which are still struggling, the results make it clear that the capacity to develop and implement a strategic approach to the adoption of managed services is critical. Projects experience difficulties due to failures to stay within budget, set timeframes or providers cannot meet basic milestones. Difficulties are also experienced when unforeseen problems arise because of miscalculations regarding the size or complexity of a project, as well as technical issues. Project successes, which provide a stable working relationship and added value to customers are the result of clear strategies, allow the services to facilitate business objectives, and a thorough consideration of adoption barriers during a project, including administrative, technical, legal and regulatory.

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IBRS iQ is a database of Client inquiries and is designed to get you talking to our Advisors about these topics in the context of your organisation in order to provide tailored advice for your needs.
 

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Conclusion: This month, the large outsourcing agreement between Thales and the Department of Defence/Airservices Australia has been the subject of discussion. Whilst the contract value is high, more significant are the complex project objectives which resulted in a lengthy contract negotiation period. Initially, agencies involved anticipated an off-the-shelf solution to replace national air traffic control systems. However, it became apparent that a customised solution to support system functions was required, given the large and technically complex nature of the project. In order to reduce risks associated with contract failure, a two-year negotiation period was undertaken to ensure delivery responsibilities and specifications were well-defined. Project oversight and monitoring frameworks, vendor incentives to stay within project budgets and meet fulfilment targets were also described in detail within agreements. Although concerns were flagged regarding the delay in finalising this agreement, extra care was warranted given the critical functions the system will support, as well as the high value and complex system foundations. By adopting this approach, all parties have a sturdier agreement which can provide value for money, performance incentives, frameworks for contract execution as well as a better chance of project success.

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Conclusion: When multiple application software vendors claim they have the solution to an organisation’s requirements, challenge them to prove it by demonstrating their product’s differentiators and ability to process use cases.

To make the right buying decision, clients must insist the demonstration stretch the software’s functionality and the vendor’s grasp of its nuances. If this is not done, the likelihood of a wrong buying decision looms.

Vendors that do not know their software’s capabilities intimately, or are ill prepared to demonstrate them, should be rated accordingly and, unless there are mitigating circumstances, omitted from the final round in the procurement process. Vendors that are comfortable in demonstrating the software’s functionality and its ability to meet an organisation’s requirements should be seriously considered for inclusion in the final round of the procurement exercise.

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Conclusion: This month, discussions regarding digital transformation efforts have been prominent. Plans to upgrade, improve and modernise internal ICT frameworks are critical for effective value creation and faster results delivery. Customers need to invest in technological change in order to establish a set of digital products which address stakeholder needs and integrate with business operations and functions. Customers often struggle with identifying and evaluating vendor risks and establishing appropriate audits and controls for service providers. Whilst customers are familiar with issues such as contract compliance and security, obtaining a managed service provider with a deeper understanding of business requirements can be difficult. However, this understanding is critical when developing digital transformation solutions, and vendors need to augment skills, develop more detailed strategies and address concerns specific to particular customers in order to deliver business value during digital transformation efforts.

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Conclusion: BYOD strategies need to be updated regularly to keep pace with the evolving nature of not just the devices themselves but also the increasing challenges and complexity to stay secure; all this needs to occur while offering increasingly flexible services to a 24/7 mobile workforce operating on-premises and offline. It is valuable to engage key stakeholders within the organisation’s leadership team, employee champions and also industry peers to ensure the BYOD strategies are as relevant and acceptable as initially reported in an earlier IBRS article in 20081 when personal electronic devices (PED) were being introduced into corporate networks.

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Conclusion: Consolidating information systems after a MoG change or a company acquisition is not only risky but also likely to be expensive. The problem is compounded when the benefits expected from the merger are out of reach or, in the case of a company acquisition, the buyer has paid too much, and the stakeholders are demanding accountability.

To maximise the probability of a successful merger from a business systems perspective, do not take claims made of the ICT systems’ integrity at face value. Verify them and develop plans to integrate the systems where feasible, while minimising risks and retaining skilled IT and business professionals.

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Conclusion: This month has seen a focus on ICT 2018 forecasts and 2017 reviews. These types of analyses are important for vendors in order to strike a balance between providing new, high quality service offerings customers’ demand and traditional concerns, such as privacy and legislative compliance. It is critical that new offerings are carefully planned so they align market drivers such as cost savings, utilising new technologies and business improvements with basic needs that are common to all customers and integral to establishing, managing and completing outsourcing agreements.

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 IBRS iQ is a database of Client inquiries and is designed to get you talking to our Advisors about these topics in the context of your organisation in order to provide tailored advice for your needs.
 

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 IBRS iQ is a database of Client inquiries and is designed to get you talking to our Advisors about these topics in the context of your organisation in order to provide tailored advice for your needs.
 

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Conclusion: This month has seen an increase in activity for public sector outsourcing. While reports this year have flagged sector growth, with more diverse offerings and a greater uptake of smaller providers, difficulties with contract performance in this area are still clear. While the size and complexities associated with these projects can present serious problems, they are aggravated by issues that are especially prominent in the public sector. For instance, running critical functions such as financial management, customer service and human resources, on disparate, large or obsolete systems, can result in a wide range of vulnerabilities for government agencies. These can interfere with business continuity, pose security threats, hamper disaster recovery or prevent appropriate skills development. As vendors evolve to offer more specialised services that cater to customers’ requirements, it is important for the public sector to continue to review and analyse its outsourcing projects because of serious consequences associated with catastrophic failures, outages and exploitation of government systems.

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Conclusion: AI includes a very broad range of technologies being applied in virtually all industries. AI is being used in new stand-alone services like real-time language translation1 or extensions of existing common IT applications such as the increasing use of chatbots in contact centres or recommendation engines in digital marketing.

This means that the use of AI in both IT and operational technologies2 (OT) requires C-level attention.

Business leaders will need to convert recent global interest and agreements in AI safety and ethics into AI governance guidelines in the exercise of their triple bottom line responsibilities (for profit, social responsibility and sustainability).

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Conclusion: Organisations know that they have legal obligations in terms of record retention and privacy. The foundation of good information management governance is an effective record retention schedule (RRS). Organisations need to regularly review and audit their RRS not only in terms of it being current, but also in terms of it being effective and being complied with.

An effective schedule is one that is being complied with, is easy to understand, meets all legal and regulatory requirements and allows for effective record discovery or e-discovery if required.

Effective management of records is an organisational issue, not an IT issue. IT makes a contribution in provisioning solutions to assist in the management of digital records or helping convert non-digital records into digital records as appropriate. IT also needs to determine the best practices for managing data based on its value rather than its volume.1

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IBRS iQ is a database of Client inquiries and is designed to get you talking to our Advisors about these topics in the context of your organisation in order to provide tailored advice for your needs.

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Conclusion: Discussions regarding the increased presence of small-to-medium businesses (SMBs) and start-ups in the IT industry have been prominent this month. Initiatives aimed at generating growth in the sector, such as funding for smaller providers, information exchange and facilities which allow for access to government contracts, are showing clear results. Support for smaller providers that offer specialist services are in high demand, as well as resources and information regarding sustained growth, product development and consumption frameworks. Both vendors, and customers seeking tailored and competitive offerings in a market traditionally dominated by large vendors as well as smaller customers hoping to access quality services, have benefitted.

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Conclusion: Most organisations do not know the extent of shadow or departmental IT. It is likely to range from using complex SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) solutions for core business systems to use of spreadsheets for simple applications, such as managing grants for local sporting organisations.

Unless there is a filter to assess requests for and identify non-compliant software, e. g. with inadequate security processes or using unapproved technical architecture, management conflicts are inevitable.

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