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 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.

Read more ...

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.

Read more ...

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.

Read more ...

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.

Read more ...

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.

Read more ...

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.

Read more ...

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.

Read more ...

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.
 

Read more ...

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.

Read more ...

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.

Read more ...

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.

Read more ...

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.

Read more ...

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.

Read more ...

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.

Read more ...

 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.
 

Read more ...

 
 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.
 

Read more ...

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.

Read more ...

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).

Read more ...

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

Read more ...

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.

Read more ...

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.

Read more ...

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.

Read more ...

Conclusion: Technologists consistently under-estimate the growth of data volumes. The result is tactical actions aimed at increasing capacity achieved by adding storage on-premise using traditional bulk storage solutions or moving technical workloads, such as back-up or disaster recovery, to Cloud-based Storage-as-a-Service offerings. This reflects a decades-old mantra of “disk is cheap, buy more disk”.

When the lack of predictability of data volume growth is combined with the need to capture then distribute data from new sources as well as control the hidden cost of data movement across networks, these tactical responses fail to deliver transformational value to end users.

To deliver effective and efficient data storage solutions, IT infrastructure architects must collaborate with their information and data management colleagues to identify the demographics of data being managed1; they must then select storage solutions that optimise data capture, storage, distribution and access based on these characteristics, not simply by volume.

Read more ...

Conclusion: This month has seen an increased focus on security threats posed by managed service providers and associated vendors. ICT service providers are attractive targets because they can provide access to a wide variety of customer networks, or can be used as a starting point for other malicious attacks. Compromised commercial or government data, or products which facilitate vendor service provision, can result in serious breaches and unexpected losses. More in-depth reviews of vendor security protocols, products and response measures to threats are required for customers to obtain the best possible protection against attacks launched through their managed service providers.

Read more ...

Conclusion: The range of channel and customer engagement tools needs thorough and continuous evaluation. There are two challenges to this objective. Firstly, the initial impediment is to gather data from various sources. The second problem is to apply a coherent and durable methodology to all of it.

The greater complexity of technologies and increased channel support means organisations must have a path to understand how their technologies perform. The most common assessment of return on investment can be applied to all data sets but it lacks sophistication. Developing a use-case will help establish a secure methodology which will make clearer the real value of customer satisfaction.

Read more ...

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.

Read more ...

Conclusion: This month, there has been an increase in the launch of digital communities or marketplaces which facilitate partner access to resources, information and collaboration in specialist areas. These types of initiatives can be beneficial to both vendors and customers, providing the capacity to identify disparate services and combine them for specific needs or develop new tailored vendor offerings. Products, service offerings, project delivery, financial models and contract structures can be enhanced by targeting individual needs. In an environment where innovation is critical to remain competitive and relevant, these types of initiatives are valuable. They also allow for a clearer and broader perspective when developing solutions.
This kind of transparency can help to address some of the challenges associated with complex outsourcing agreements which result in technical or contract management difficulties. Allowing this kind of exchange can help drive fresh ideas and new approaches to IT outsourcing, as well as more effective customer and partner engagement.

Read more ...

Conclusion: Technology decision-makers have a larger and ever-growing set of technologies to choose from. The creative entrepreneurship driving the expansion of products is generally beneficial to end-users because it stimulates change and helps to drive innovation from the major vendors.

For larger organisations, in most cases, the major enterprise offer will be selected for many reasons, incumbency being significant, along with compatibility. For other organisations, examining the new and emerging vendors’ technologies may unlock a better process. However, assessing all the vendors within a category vertical, each with their own range of solutions, features and technical aspects, can result in a lot of information to process. The most effective method is to apply the principal business objective and assess how it aligns with strategic execution.

Read more ...

Conclusion: Effective risk management, whether it is for a change initiative or for ongoing business operations, will ameliorate harm or at the very least reduce the impact of harm. Leaders must understand risk management, and plan and engage with risks and mitigate the risks as appropriate on an ongoing basis.

Read more ...

Conclusion: This month, discussions around the difficulties associated with establishing and maintaining managed services agreements have been prominent. Contract or service failures typically cannot be attributed to one issue, but are usually the output of a number of underlying factors. Inherent technological flaws, security attacks, human error, configuration errors, management procedures and delivery delays amongst a wide range of other factors often combine to result in contract failures and disagreements. These types of complexities and variables, which are often unforeseen, require stronger foundations between vendors and customers when establishing agreements.
More simplistic, outcome-based targets, as opposed to a focus on technological solutions, can often provide a beneficial framework for providers and their clients. Establishing and implementing complex agreements from this perspective can help provide the flexibility required to avoid disagreements as well as resolve problems which do arise.

Read more ...

Conclusion: In the last few years the structure and shape of ICT investment have undergone a series of shifts. The results are varied and complex and they reflect wider changes in the investment and use of ICT products.

It is important for organisations to take note of these transitions and to adapt and utilise methods which can improve the efficiency of their ICT portfolios.

Read more ...

 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.

Read more ...

Conclusion: This month has seen increased discussions regarding systems integration service uptake and service range. Outsourcing agreements, partnerships and new vendor offerings indicate a heightened demand for services to consolidate disparate software systems and data sets, allowing for greater efficiencies, high-quality information access and analysis. Both customers and vendors have seen value in integrating multiple subsystems and data sets to function as a whole, and the trend towards systems integration service adoption and expanded offerings is expected to rise.

Read more ...

Conclusion: This month, a number of high-profile systems outages were reported, again flagging risks associated with operating complex IT environments and business functions which rely on these systems. Seemingly minor incidents, or a combination of disparate problems, can result in serious and costly system failures. These problems are exacerbated when issues impact on a company’s service delivery mechanisms and their own customers. This month, a power surge which triggered a global systems outage at British Airways left 75,000 customers stranded, at an estimated cost of $135M. A failure at Westpac left online users unable to access funds for 24 hours, following a similar week-long online and mobile banking failure in November 2016. The Australian Taxation Office has experienced serious service disruptions as a result of three outages in recent months, related to two separate service providers. A review of two failures by service provider Hewlett Packard Enterprise found a number of issues contributed to ATO system collapses and an inability to respond to them, including monitoring systems used to detect operating errors that were not activated, and access to recovery tools required to resolve problems being stored on the network which failed. These types of incidents highlight the impact of unexpected failures and inadequate response measures as well as the need for both vendors and customers to prepare for such events.

Read more ...

Conclusion: Vendors use sales incentives, such as bonuses or rewards, as levers to focus the behaviour or outcomes of their sellers or channel partners. Many vendors work on quarterly results for their sellers, and set sales incentives for these periods. Vendors view sales bonuses and incentives as levers that they can put in place to try to drive a specific focus, or specific sales results.

Being aware of the existence of these incentives can help an organisation understand that incentives may be driving the negotiations approach that a vendor may be prepared to take, and on what solutions are being offered.

Read more ...

Conclusion: There are four broad approaches to consider when procuring Software Asset Management. The approach should be based upon an organisation’s SAM maturity1, and its appetite to grow this maturity2.

Read more ...

Related Articles:

"Software Asset Management Maturity Part 1: A pragmatic model" IBRS, 2014-05-30 00:00:00

"Software Asset Management Maturity Part 2: A Process for bootstrapping maturity" IBRS, 2014-06-29 00:00:00

"Software Asset Management Maturity Part 3: Aligning Architecture" IBRS, 2014-07-29 11:24:24

Conclusion: Astute CIOs and business managers must consider not only which COTS (Commercial off the Shelf) vendor best meets their needs, but also how to best deploy the solution. This is because many vendors not only offer a mix of on-premises or private Cloud or SaaS (Software as a Service) solution but due to a limited local presence may lack the capability to implement it.

A further complication in the debate is that many COTS solutions are functionally mature which often means the selection decision hinges on their meeting qualitative and non-functional requirements.

Read more ...

Conclusion: This month, discussions regarding skills gaps and talent shortages in ICT services have been prominent. Difficulties obtaining staff with specialist skills are expected to be apparent throughout 2017, and managed service providers are adopting a more strategic approach to obtaining and retaining qualified staff in key industry areas. The past year has seen a noticeable increase in acquisitions and collaboration between firms to provide services in high demand and maintain market relevance. However, vendors have recognised the need for long-term and strategic solutions to avert, rather than respond to, expected skills gaps. This has resulted in new positions being created dedicated to sourcing and further developing workforce capabilities that are sufficiently flexible to cater to a highly volatile and fluid industry, while providing environments that attract staff. A shift in perceptions of talent acquisition from an expense to a long-term asset investment is also required to ensure vendors can maintain a quality skills base.

Read more ...

Conclusion: Organisations that by law must issue open tenders for systems solutions know they will be inundated with multiple responses and spend scarce work days assessing them. Staff involved in the process also know that many solutions proposed are not practical and, even if they are, often doubt the vendor has the capacity and capability locally to implement them.

The alternative, if not required to issue an open tender, is to conduct a market scan and qualify vendors with a viable solution and the ability to implement it. Having qualified them, they can send them a tender knowing they can probably meet its requirements. If this approach is adopted, there is the risk a potential vendor might have been overlooked.

Read more ...

As outlined in “Human Capital Management Solutions: Why your ICT Group needs to get involved with HR right now” (IBRS, 2017) vendors are increasingly offering capabilities right along the spectrum of human capital management (HCM), starting with recruitment, through learning and performance management, to succession planning. This infographic provides a snapshot of vendors key strengths within the HCM. This Infographic is a useful starting point for conversations with HR professionals as to the HCM areas that may be worth considering in the short, mid and longer term, and links this discussion to product selection.

Read more ...