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There is no doubt that almost every business, large or small, relies upon its Information Technology systems in order to operate efficiently. Indeed, for many organisations, if the IT systems are unavailable business rapidly grinds to a halt. Given such a key role in business operations, why do so few of those charged with delivering IT services actually talk to their “customers”?
Today much attention is being paid to aligning IT services with business requirements. Strange then that a survey undertaken by Coleman-Parkes found that amongst 214 FTSE 750 organisations, only 18 percent held weekly meetings between business managers and the IT teams. The research, which was published by IT service and solution provider Dimension Data, also indicated that 31 percent of those surveyed claim that they never or hardly ever have such meetings.
This result alone is alarming and appears to indicate that in many blue chip organisations there is a gulf separating IT from its customers. This state of affairs benefits no one. IT must make the effort to go out and listen to its customers, as frequently as can be managed and let business users know how IT can help, what it can deliver and at what cost. Equally there is an onus on business managers to seek out its IT service providers and let them know what it wants and, more importantly still, what it needs from IT services.
The research went further and discovered that only 48 percent of those questioned employ formal policies to measure the quality of internal IT service delivery, whilst half stated that they have not deployed the tools necessary to help manage IT and its service delivery adequately.
These results will shock no one who has worked or who is currently working in IT. Line of business customers of IT services will be equally unsurprised. Indeed, IT today is taxed simply with keeping systems running, leaving little time to interact with customers or to adopt any of the various “best practice” methodologies available. Highlighting the latter the Coleman-Parkes / Dimension Data research established that only ten percent of organisations are employing the BS 15000 standard for systems management, whilst only one in five have adopted the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) framework.
73 percent of organisations questioned by this research state that operations management cost control is a key challenge they face today. Nearly two out of three would consider outsourcing or “out tasking” some elements of IT operations management if service delivery would be improved.
IT and Business managers must address these issues. Freeing time to talk will not be easy but it is essential. Good management can never be achieved without having the means to report on its success. Today the only “trusted” measurement that business has of IT is its cost. This is not a viable situation. Without IT and business working effectively together the business itself will never garner all the benefits that IT can deliver. Without IT and line-of-business managers communicating with each other frequently and coherently, costs will never be optimised and returns will not be maximised. In fact, without such communication IT will never earn the trust from business users that is often richly deserved and business managers will not be content with the service they receive.