10 Best Practices For Guaranteed ITOM Success
IT Operations Management – What is ITOM?
ITOM or IT Operations Management is an umbrella term that covers all activities involved in the setup, design, configuration, deployment, and maintenance of the infrastructure that supports business services in an organization. Simply put, ITOM is how the IT landscape is managed in your company. From network security, configuration, and monitoring to devices, applications, and personnel, ITOM is what keeps your IT going. Generally, ITOM leverages several tools to manage these activities individually.
Before we dive into ITOM best practices, let’s briefly take a look at the origin of IT operations management and how it evolved into its current shape.
ITOM: Deep Historical Roots
Operations Management basically got its start the same year the U.S. declared its independence. In the year 1776, philosophist and economist Adam Smith wrote “The Wealth of Nations.” In that work, Smith argued that a team of workers, each assigned a specific task, could build products more efficiently than having each worker build a single product from start to finish. This argument led Henry Ford to create what we now call assembly lines. It was also the foundation of what could become operations management.
With the Industrial Revolution and the rise of mechanization, Ford and others began collecting and analyzing data about production processes, and using that data to improve those processes. Then, as computers started becoming business tools, data collection and analysis became more automated and sophisticated. Inventory management systems began to add more information to the operations management mix.
Throughout most of its history, operations management focused on manufacturing and related areas, such as inventory and distribution. With the rise of the service industry, operations managers began to apply their knowledge and experience to the development and delivery of services. And as IT systems grew in popularity and business value, IT service management (ITSM) became a distinct discipline and another area of focus for operations managers.
ITOM Best Practices
There are multiple prerequisites for effective IT operations management. Listed below are a few best practices that will help drive ITOM success for you.
Get your leadership on board
ITOM success requires a major, sustained commitment of resources to achieve and sustain. Executive buy-in and support can ease the pursuit of that commitment. Executive support can also help navigate cultural changes and minimize or overcome any encountered resistance.
Take stock of existing processes
To optimize and manage IT operational processes effectively, you must know what they are, and their connections to your IT landscape and business goals. This means you need a manageable knowledge base of IT operational processes, and robust solutions for discovery and mapping of your IT landscape. If your business doesn’t already have one or both of these, your ITOM goals might help justify acquiring them. Depending on the size and complexity of your IT landscape, the scope of incumbent processes, and available management resources, your discovery may begin with a manual audit of your environment and processes.
Define and prioritize your goals
Remember that for any successful IT project, a project plan is indispensable. It is important to give yourselves direction, and a step-by-step plan of action in order to achieve your desired goals. In the case of IT operations, the goals may range from acquiring new applications or services to saving operational costs.
Choose your deployment method(s)
If you choose multiple management methods, you may also need to consider multiple paths to deployment. Alternatives include dedicated management staff, consultants, and vendor-provided “inventory management as a service.” Evaluate candidate methods closely. If external expertise is involved, pay particular attention to relevant experience and transparency regarding costs.
Align with business goals
Ensure that your ITOM plan is aligned with your business’s goals for IT and its digital transformation initiatives. Also, make sure your ITOM plans reflect the inclusion of input from all stakeholders and key influencers.
Run a data audit
Operational IT process decisions must be based on the best available data. Before moving too far down any particular ITOM solution path, ensure your current data across different platforms is accurate, complete, consistent, up to date, and able to talk with your chosen ITOM solution.
Identify mundane and repetitive IT management tasks that can be most easily automated. Then, automate those tasks, using rules based on business policies. Automation ensures that tasks are performed consistently, eliminates human repetition errors, and frees skilled workers for more complex and valuable tasks.
Integrate with other IT solutions
Wherever possible, integrate ITOM with other IT management functions, mainly but not limited to ITSM and ITAM. If your business isn’t using a configuration management database (CMDB) to consolidate IT management data, ITOM and IT management integration efforts could justify the investment.
Make sure all directly involved in ITOM efforts at your business receive comprehensive initial and periodic follow-up training in your chosen solutions and processes. Communicate with them and your key business stakeholders regularly, to create an inclusive culture of ITOM awareness across your business.
To deliver sustained benefits to your business, your ITOM commitments must be both high-level and long-term. Your chosen solution and service providers must be equally committed to your business’ success, with ITOM and beyond. You must ensure that those providers have the strength and relevant experience to deliver on the commitments they make to your business, now and in the future.
ITOM: What’s Next?
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are poised to bring transformational changes to ITOM. Several vendors already offer AI-powered solutions designed to improve ITSM and service desk management, via virtual assistants (“chatbots”), intelligent recommendations, and predictive data analysis. Similarly enabled features will soon make ITOM solutions easier to use and more powerful.
ITOM is also becoming more closely aligned with cybersecurity efforts. This follows and parallels the growing convergence of ITSM and security. ITSM leaders and teams are increasingly adopting more agile methods for service development and delivery. These have evolved from more operational approaches first adopted by software developers, and now known as DevOps. ITSM and cybersecurity are being brought closer together via methods known as DevSecOps. ITOM will quickly become integrated into such efforts as well.
ITOM: A Critical Success Factor for Your Business
The past, present, and foreseeable future of developments in and surrounding ITOM all lead to the same conclusion. To maximize its business value and agility, IT management must become fully operationally focused and guided by business needs and goals. Effective ITOM is a critical step toward that goal. It is also a critical element of the firm, flexible foundation upon which your business can pursue future IT improvements and digital transformation efforts.