Tools of IT departments of large companies: how to get rid of chaos and count every penny
Imagine that you come to a large company to manage an IT department, and understand that the horse was not lying there . In the simplest case, you have 50 people or more, a bunch of pieces of paper about purchases and transfers, an inventory inventory of equipment ... and, perhaps, that’s all.
The first task with which the analysis of chaos begins is the audit of units / processes and work with the most important and inhibitory ones. I want to know exactly how the failures are resolved - an incident ticket system is started ... I want to automate most of the tasks - the ticket system is overgrown with business rule functionality. I want users to unload support - and now they have their own tools for generating applications, and it’s simply impossible to send an application without filling out all the necessary data.
The next level is to understand what IT should do and in what time frame - a catalog of services and agreements with the business appears; where is which server, license, how are they used - discovery and accounting system; who has access to what, who needs to coordinate changes, how much it costs to provide each IT service. Final - a clear understanding of IT costs and the ability to clearly / quickly explain to the business where his money is going. And at the same time and how much his new Wishlist will cost.
As a result, the IT department, designed to automate the work of the company, automates its work, too. Naturally, to solve such problems there is a special ready-made software. We’ll talk about him.
- “Somehow” everything works on historical principles. No one documents anything, in case of a difficult situation they ask or decide on the ground. Automation is unsystematic, that they could do something.
- There is no zone of responsibility for specific specialists - they are responsible all-for-all or no-no-no-for-anything.
- There are a couple of people whose care will drop the department a year ago.
- Financial processes are not described, everything is done “somehow” or on the basis of spontaneously established processes.
- Asset accounting is conducted so that you can draw anything;
- Everyone believes that they are working well and are struggling, while the business regularly makes complaints. And this sincerely surprises your subordinates.
- Control tasks are unrealistically difficult.
The situation is described as extreme, but I bet that some points will exactly match.
And here you need to remember that the goals and objectives of your work are already agreed upon when hiring, and the current situation is unlikely to contribute to this. Suppose, in general terms, your goals will sound like this - to ensure the effective operation of IT; or reduce IT costs by 10% without losing quality; or prepare for the takeover of a smaller company (along with its IT); or all at once.
Everything, with the theoretical introductory completed, go to practice. To understand how effectively IT works, you just need to answer 2 questions:
How well does IT work?
How many extra movements? Do I need to improve the quality? What about loading everyone in the department? Do we still need licenses for Windows Server 2012?
To understand how well IT works, you need to have some kind of guidance. As such, the best practices are usually used - ITIL, Cobit, ISO 2000 and so on. These are the very concepts that were puzzled for the first time by the effectiveness of IT work organization and laid down the basic principles that are now widely used around the world. It is these concepts that recommend to isolate such entities as processes and IT services in IT activities, and to build the work of IT departments around them. But what are processes if they are not automated (unless, of course, we are not at the enterprise of the beginning of the 19th century)?
What about the infrastructure?
How do we change the infrastructure and how do we coordinate it? “Why is there no virtual machine on this hypervisor? a month ago was ”
How do we collect and store infrastructure information? “And where did they transfer it then!”?
How exactly does this server affect users? - “the server vbs.company.ru fell off! mm ... so what? ”
There are a lot of questions. The solution is the organization of processes with an eye to best practices (the same ITIL), which will structure the work and make its implementation effective. And then comes the understanding that you need to take software somewhere that will help combine all this in one solution ...
Step 1: process management
- The process begins with an incident and ends with its decision.
- Each application has its own priority. For example, bookkeeping applications during the submission of a declaration are more important than Vasya’s storekeeper’s problems. The server needs to be fixed before Antonina Petrovna’s Internet access. It would be nice if most of the priorities were set automatically - that is, you need to describe each and assign value to it.
- A task can be automatically assigned to an employee who is able to solve it in accordance with priority and classification.
- Each task has a person in charge at every stage.
- If someone slows down, an alert for the leader is generated about this.
- If somewhere something goes wrong (for example, mice run out of stock), an alert is also generated about this. Or a new ticket is automatically created. That is, automation and a system of rules apply.
For any change that the user wants, there are coordination rules: if the mouse wants it, we upwrite it by default; wants a new laptop - a letter to the head; need to move software - approval of the person responsible for the service. How much work falls off when between the asked-done the simplest statement is wedged.
Users see on the portal what equipment and services they are supposed to, we have information when contacting who uses what
- Each process is divided into subtasks that are easy to perform. For example, the process “put the computer on the workplace of the accountant” and the process “put the computer on the workplace of the developer” already contain a description of the software licenses and where to get them inside the company.
- All documents are executed automatically. If you move a computer from a warehouse, then a record of this remains.
- Where something can be done out of order, the process parallels.
Moreover, the good news is: since your IT department is not the first in history, all this is already very well described and documented. But there is a nuance. Ideally, it doesn’t fall perfectly on reality anyway. Each company will always have its own specifics, which simply cannot be changed. Some specialists are less confused, they need fewer fields, otherwise they will fill out for a long time; for others, management wants to conduct detailed analytics on applications, so you need to display on the form "this and this." A banal example - the specifics of the customer required the conclusion on the application form of all available information about the user (phone, address, position, his manager and 3-4 fields) so that the operator could see it as quickly as possible. Usually, the user is simply indicated and, if necessary, parts can be opened. And now the ready-made solution needs to be completed, writing down new rules.
Want to try and pick it out? We have an HP Service Manager at our solution center. My colleagues can list a couple more analogues, but I work with him, he appeared in Russia in 2007-2008, and, in fact, is still the only product that covers all the needs of IT departments.
On the screen again the application form
The next stage of chaos in IT is confusion with what we have, where it is and how we use it. The fact is that very often IT assets are bookkeeping as ordinary assets. In practice, this means that your company may have a lot of “depreciated” in use, but in fact it’s working iron, it is not clear where and how the licenses used plus a lot of other surprises.
To remove chaos, they take and collect a single database of all documents where the necessary IT assets can be mentioned:
- All warranties.
- All delivery contracts.
- All inventory documents and all movement history.
- All license agreements.
- Information about the configurations of the iron-license.
- Information about who has what kind of hardware (name and phone numbers of employees, for example).
Further, of course, they organize the process of maintaining all this up to date: it is banal to write off or pay the contract if they are not in the database. An unaccounted girl pops up at the moment.
Among other things, this approach allows you not to miss the deadline for completing a guarantee or supporting something important. In my practice, a couple of times the situation was with the customer, when critical equipment failed, and it turned out that there was no one to fix it. The first time, and so the unpleasant downtime increased several times, while they were looking for a counterparty and were moving parts. The second time, a simpler solution was to buy new hardware in general to replace the failed one, which in one fell swoop consumed the part that was significant for the IT budget and launched an internal investigation.
Where is the money, Johnny? How much does IT cost?
One of the serious questions for the IT department, which arises more and more often - how much does it cost to provide one or another company service? In theory, this can be counted once, although the procedure is not fast. But adult IT departments make automatic accounting systems that allow them to understand the situation in almost real time.
For example, you have an email platform. There are licenses for the virtualization platform for mail, there is the cost of equipment and support. You yourself prescribe a formula for whom to count — for example, bookkeeping by box, marketing by volume, directorate — a fixed amount once a month — and so on. You can take into account each call support, traffic overruns, all Wishlist and so on. Formulas are not necessarily fair (because they are set manually), but they give an understanding of who to hang money on.
And when your bank, your retail or your insurance opens a new branch, you can clearly say: "Everything in our part will cost 243 bucks per employee per month."
Again, in my practice, such a system leads to the fact that support calls come in on the case, plus unused equipment returns on time. When the head of each unit understands what and how much it costs (and this money hangs automatically in his budget), it becomes much easier.
We are solving this and the previous task of HP Asset Manager. It also integrates with the ticket system to obtain data on the movement of values within the company and internal accounting for each action. Again, I repeat, my colleagues will name a few analogues, but it is precisely in my work in practice that I observe such a connection.
“Morning traffic light” - each task unfolds to any level of detail
Example of an application for the purchase of a server
Example of an asset card
Alright, right? Everything has been taken into account until the last bolt, nothing is missing anywhere, there is financial planning, it is always clear from an internal accounting point of view. Old problems with tickets at the wrong time and complicated processes are already forgotten. It’s easy to train new Padawans - the login is in the service manager, and then he appoints tickets in the right order and tells what to do.
So now you can exhale. And those who are abruptly move to the next stage of automation to engage in really interesting tasks.
Is IT working efficiently?
The third level of work is not only to organize processes and automate them, but also to centrally control their work, while spending a minimum of time on this and not jerking managers. Here we will be helped by a system of balanced indicators, which will show in numbers how much the work of a department, department or a particular manager corresponds to the tasks set.
The architecture of the scoring solution allows us to obtain the necessary information from unstructured data.
The HP Executive Scorecard balanced scorecard is a fairly tough thing that is not always needed. There are many other tools to control the quality of work, but consider the tool on its example.
HP Executive Scorecard main interface
Here is an example of a scorecard for which the Chief Operating Officer, COO, is responsible. The indicators are not for individual activity, namely for the activities of the unit as a whole. As an example, COO’s attention should be drawn to a parameter from the “Operation” group, and it can detail it to composite KPIs and see what exactly is violated:
A good “side” effect from using a balanced scorecard is understanding by managers which of their key tasks. And what are the unambiguous criteria for their assessment. Did not appear during the year - a bonus. And if there are problems, then they will be visible at least immediately.
Since the beginning of the 2000s, TOP-200 domestic companies have come to a similar work pattern, starting to build the work of their IT departments in this way: first, tickets, so that nothing is lost and there are clear priorities; then other processes, management of the service catalog, configurations of changes ... then - an accurate understanding of exactly how much it costs and what share in each project of the company is IT; and only recently, IT management began to come to a comprehensive quality control of the IT department through balanced indicators.
At our HP solutions center, this entire ecosystem is deployed on demo bases (a large company IT simulator) - if you are interested to see, come or write to firstname.lastname@example.org. I repeat, the light did not converge on HP, but their solutions are deployed in our center, and my long-term practice is also related to them, so if something is interesting, I will answer and tell in more detail.