When I was in college, my summer job was as a painter. I painted the outside and the inside of new and existing homes. I painted with a sprayer and a brush and roller. I even stained woodwork. All the work I did, directly impacted the revenue, profit, and success of the painting company I worked for. Needless to say, I know A LOT about painting! Since that is the case, I always do all the painting in my house.
Now, when you are neck deep in delivering IT yourself, it is very important to make sure you have organizational and technical expertise and that you’re directly impacting the business. The IT organization must be aligned with the business and have mature processes and procedures. The IT organization must also have wide and deep knowledge in IT technologies. In today’s business climate, the IT department is no longer able to hide behind the curtain and be satisfied with taking requests from their user population. The successful IT organization engages with their business leadership regularly, proposes ways to impact revenue, and delivers responsive service. In some cases, it makes sense for organizations to provision and manage IT infrastructure internally. In many other cases it doesn’t and then there are service providers that can help. To help you get started with an evaluation of your own situation and make a decision about doing IT yourself or with a service provider, I’ve provided a sampling of questions in 3 areas.
Is provisioning and managing IT infrastructure strategic and a core competency?
Begin by identifying whether provisioning and managing IT infrastructure is a core competency. In most businesses, it’s the Applications that are strategic and impact the business, not the IT infrastructure. Here are some of the key questions to ask yourself.
- Does IT infrastructure directly impact business revenue and profit?
- Does my company gain competitive advantage by performing IT infrastructure services?
- Does my company market and sell IT infrastructure services?
How mature are the IT infrastructure delivery services?
Once you identify that provisioning and managing IT infrastructure is or could be a core competency, the next thing to understand is the IT delivery team’s level of maturity.
- Are there Run Books, documented processes and procedures, for provisioning and managing servers, storage, backup, network, etc. infrastructure and are they updated consistently?
- Has a standard delivery model like ITIL been adopted and institutionalized?
- Has an IT governance set of processes been implemented?
- Are the business users satisfied or, better yet, happy with the service?
These questions delve into documentation, processes, and procedures that directly impact the ability of the IT team to deliver a highly available and responsive service.
How deep and wide are the skills of the IT staff and how effective is the team?
If you are this far along in your evaluation, this is a critical area in which to focus. The skills of the delivery people are essential to the quality of the IT infrastructure service. Here are some of the questions you should ask yourself in this area.
- For each area of IT infrastructure, how many years of experience do the employees have?
- For each of IT infrastructure, how deep is their level of knowledge?
- Is the IT infrastructure running at a high level of availability?
- Is the team capable of designing and architecting the IT infrastructure?
As I stated earlier, the IT department and the services it supplies can no longer operate from “behind the curtain”. Any IT department that continues to operate this way will be maligned, ignored, and supplanted eventually. There are many different service providers that offer a variety of services in a variety of ways that help businesses achieve their goals every day. Each IT department should understand their strengths and weaknesses in terms of business impact and decide whether to continue delivering IT infrastructure services internally or to partner with a service provider that they feel comfortable with. Once this is achieved, the IT staff can devote their time to aligning with the business and contributing directly to the bottom line!