Turning Your IT Department into a Service Center
Here we are again, talking about digital transformation. While the pile of buzzwords threatens to overwhelm at times, this particular movement has real benefits for organizations that are still running IT in the old style, with break-fix scrambling, disjointed service delivery, and a take-it-or-leave it approach to technology procurement.
Rather than focusing simply on the end goal from an IT perspective, your IT department should be focused on the bigger picture. Your users are in effect your customers — and your company’s customers are supported by those users. By bringing business goals and processes under the IT umbrella, you help foster communication, efficiency, IT service improvement, and most importantly revenue growth across the organization.
Here are three areas to focus on when transforming your IT department into a service center.
Embrace the Cloud and Address Legacy Infrastructure
Many of your legacy systems aren’t going away any time soon, and many of your frustrations likely stem from them. Isolated databases, incompatible apps, manual administration, lack of visibility, security problems, and costly maintenance can take up a significant amount of time and budget.
Slowly but surely you can migrate and modernize those systems as they age out of commission; or convince your CFO that a cloud migration will enable cost savings and more efficient management and go all-in right now. A service-oriented IT department can automate those manual processes like patching and compliance checks, spin up new services and servers in a matter of minutes rather than hours or days, and gain visibility into the entire infrastructure. Taken as a whole, a modern IT department is agile and responsive rather than bogged down by routine tasks.
Strive for Continual Improvements
DevOps culture is one in which constant improvements can be made to services and architecture without affecting the overall IT operations that underpin your business. Microservices, cloud VM templates, object storage, global cloud policies, and other cloud-native technologies help make this possible.
The ITIL model is useful for continuous improvement, grouping your IT teams into Operations, Design, and Transition. Service design is responsible for managing suppliers, SLAs, catalogs, and availability — in other words, where does this service come from and how does it function 24/7? Service transition provides testing, validation, production release, knowledge and training, and change management — or how do we get this service into production? Finally, Service operations focus on crisis management, patch management, troubleshooting, and problem/incident reporting – AKA why is this broken and how can we fix it?
All of these groups — which do not require their own job titles or specific teams within your department, but could — are working at all times to optimize existing services, create new ones based on business goals, manage risk and compliance, educate users, and report to stakeholders.
Focus On Business Value
IT must move from a cost-center in the eyes of management to a provider of value. That boils down to optimization and efficiencies with the ability to react in real time to business demand. Analytics, big data, a central knowledgebase, and expansive but focused service catalog are all important components to provide real value.
Modern cloud systems allow better reporting, better insight into common technical issues, self-service for your administrators, and universal governance tools and hierarchies that all combine for streamlined operations and proof of ROI.
The end result of transitioning to an IT service center? More time for your staff, more fluid and powerful abilities for your underlying services and infrastructure, and more resources to focus on business initiatives rather than putting out fires.