IT Operations Management

IT Operations Management

In business, the term ‘Operations Management’ is used to mean the department, group or team of people responsible for performing the organization’s day-to-day operational activities such as running the production line in a manufacturing environment or managing the distribution centers and fleet movements within a logistics organisation. Operations Management generally has the following characteristics.

Operations management generally has the following characteristics: 

In business, the term ‘Operations Management’ is used to mean the department, group or team of people responsible for performing the organization’s day-to-day operational activities such as running the production line in a manufacturing environment or managing the distribution centers and fleet movements within a logistics organisation. Operations Management generally has the following characteristics:

  • There is work to ensure that a device, system or process is actually running or working.
  • This is where plans are turned into actions.
  • The focus is on daily or shorter-term activities although it should be noted that these activities will generally be performed and repeated over a relatively long period.
  • These activities are executed by specialized technical staff, who often have to undergo technical training to learn how to perform each activity.
  • There is focus on building repeatable, consistent actions that if repeated frequently enough at the right level of quality will ensure the success of the operation.
  • This is where the actual value of the organisation is delivered and measured
  • There is a dependency on investment in equipment or human resources or both
  • The value generated, must exceed the cost of the investment and all other organisational overheads if the business is to succeed.

In a similar way IT Operations Management can be defined as the function responsible for the ongoing management and maintenance of an organizations IT  Infrastructure to ensure delivery of the agreed level of IT services to the business. IT operations can be defined as the set of activities involved in the day-to-day running of the IT Infrastructure for the purpose of delivering IT service at agreed levels to meet stated business objectives.

IT Operations Management role

The role of Operations Management is to execute the ongoing activities and procedures required to manage and maintain the IT infrastructure so as to deliver and support IT services at the agreed levels. Operations Control,  which oversees the execution and monitoring of the operational activities and events in the IT Infrastructure. This can be done with the assistance of an Operations Bridge or Network Operations Centre. In addition to executing routine tasks from all technical areas, Operations control also performs the following specific tasks:

  • Console Management, which refers to defining central observation and monitoring capability and then using those consoles to exercise monitoring and control activities
  • Job Scheduling, or the management of routine batch jobs or scripts
  • Backup and Restore on behalf of all technical and Application Management teams and departments and often on behalf of users
  • Print and output management for the collation and distribution of all centralized printing or electronic output
  • Performance of maintenance activities on behalf of Technical or Application Management teams or electronic, output
  • Performance of maintenance activities on behalf of Technical or Application Management teams or departments

Facilities Management, which refers to the management of the physical IT environment, typically a Data Centre or computer rooms and recovery sites together with all the power and cooling equipment. Facilities Management also includes the coordination of large-scale consolidation projects, e.g. Data Centre consolidation or server consolidation projects. In some cases, the management of a data center is outsourced, in which case Facilities Management refers to the management of the outsourcing contract.

as with many IT Service Management processes and functions, IT Operations Management plays a dual role.

  • IT Operations Management is responsible for executing the activities and performance standards defined during Service Design and tested during Service Transition. In this sense, IT operations role is primarily to maintain the status quo. The stability of the IT infrastructure and consistency if  IT Services is a primary concern of IT operations. Even operational improvements are aimed at finding simpler and better ways of doing the same thing.
  • At the same time, IT operations are part of the process of adding value network the ability of the business to depends on the output and reliability of the day-to-day operation of IT. As such, IT  Operations Management must be able to continually adapt to business requirements and demand. The business does not care that IT Operations complied with a standard procedure or that a server performed optimally. As business demand and requirements change, IT Operations Management must be able to keep pace with them, often challenging the status quo.

IT operations must achieve a balance between these roles, which will require the following:

  • An understanding of how technology is used to provide IT services
  • An understanding of the relative importance and impact of those services on the business
  • Procedures and manuals that outline the role of IT Operations in both the management of technology and the delivery of IT services
  • A clearly differentiated set of metrics to report to the business on the achievement of Service objectives; and to report to IT managers on the efficiency and effectiveness of IT Operations
  • All IT Operations staff understand exactly how the performance of the technology affects the delivery of IT services
  • A cost strategy aimed at balancing the requirements of different business units with the cost savings available through optimization of existing technology or investment in new technology
  • A value, rather than cost, based Return on Investment strategy.

IT operations Management objectives

IT operations Management objectives include:

  • Maintenance of the status quo to achieve stability of the organizations day-to-day processes and activities4
  • Regular scrutiny and improvements to achieve improved service at reduced costs, while maintaining stability
  • Swift application of operational skills to diagnose and resolve any IT operations failures that occur.

IT Operations Management organization

IT Operations Management is seen as a function in its own right but that, in many cases, staff from Technical and Application Management groups form part of this function. This means that some Technical and Applications Management departments or groups will manage and execute their own operational activities. The other will delegate these activities to a dedicated IT Operations department.

There is no single method for assigning activities, as it depends on the maturity and stability of the infrastructure being managed. For example, Technical and Application Management areas that are fairly new and unstable tend to manage their own operations. Groups, where the technology or application is stable, mature and well understood, tend to have standardized their operations more and will, therefore, feel more comfortable delegating these activities.

IT Operations Management Metrics

IT Operations Management is measured in terms of its effective execution of specified activities and procedures, as well as its execution of process activities.

  • Successful completion of scheduled jobs
  • Number of expectations scheduled activities and jobs
  • Number of data or system restores required
  • Equipment installations statistics, including the number of items installed by type, successful installations, etc
  • Process metrics, IT Operations Management executes many Service Management process activities. Their ability to do so will be measured as part if the ability to do so will be measured as part of the process metrics where appropriate.
  • Response time to events
  • Incidents resolution times for incidents
  • Number of security-related incidents
  • Number of escalations and reason for those escalations
  • Number of changes implemented and backed out
  • Number of unauthorized changes detected Number of releases deployed, total and successful tracking against SIPs
  • Expenditure against budget
  • If maintenance activities have been delegated, then metrics related to these activities will also be appropriate:
  • Maintenance performed per schedule
  • The number of maintenance windows exceeded
  • Maintenance objectives achieved
  • Metrics related to Facilities Management are extensive, but typically include:
  • Costs versus budget related to maintenance construction, security, shipping, etc.
  • Incidents related to the building, e.g. repairs needed to the facility
  • Number of security events and incidents and their resolution
  • Power usage statistics, especially as related to changes in layout and environmental conditioning strategies
  • Events or incidents related to shipping and distribution.

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Eddie Potts

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