Paying Lip Service

The pressure is on to deliver new IT services: client/server, intranet, a Web server for external clients, a new financial system or a data warehouse. In your spare time you are concerned with the millennium issue and the reduction of your budget and staff numbers.

There's scant time to worry about how existing services are running, but that's why there's a help desk. You've implemented Service Level Agreements (SLAs) -- or would like to. But now is not the time to deal with that or the new systems implementation schedule will slip. Everyone is doing their best, but there are only so many hours in the day, and a lot of the internal customers' service expectations are unreasonable.

Sure, the popularity of outsourcing in the market is a bit of a concern, but your internal IT organisation is vital to the company and as good as the next one. Besides, how can an outsourcer have the intimate business knowledge resident in the heads of your IT people?Sadly, by the time some internal IT departments get around to considering how to deliver the level of IT services required by the business, it is too late.

Someone else -- or some other organisation -- has that responsibility. Not being able to tell the CEO precisely what services your IT people provided and how much those services cost did not help. The lack of regular account meetings with the business units to review SLAs and get feedback on service delivery meant that you did not have the support of the business unit managers.

The above scenario may not apply to your situation. Perhaps you are driving outsourcing activity in a planned manner in partnership with the business unit managers. Still, there is always room for improvement. Best practice in the delivery of IT services requires:* aligning IT services with business requirements* developing a customer culture in IT* implementing cost-effective Service Level AgreementsAn organisation is unlikely to provide the level of quality IT services it needs without access to professional staff, skilled in IT service management (either in-house staff or via a contract). However, the business managers must develop the right degree of understanding of the IT infrastructure if they are to specify their needs, ensure those needs are met and plan their business to take best advantage of the IT services available.