Insights Fixing IT’s Most Costly Mistake – Part 1

Fixing IT’s Most Costly Mistake – Part 1

Question: What is the return on investment of an IT solution that cannot be deployed and operated at acceptable cost and risk?

Answer: Amount negative equal to your development investment plus lost opportunity costs and possible fines and penalties.

The magnitude of this problem cannot be underestimated. I personally witness as much as a half billion dollars each year wasted on IT solutions that cannot be deployed or operated at acceptable cost and risk. I personally witness IT operational organizations that go into chaos when new IT solutions are deployed experiencing untold amounts of unplanned labor, cost overruns, delays and service outages. I am just one person.

IT does not implement applications – that is only the utility side of the solution. They implement services. This means that concerns should exist not only for the applications and technologies being deployed, but also warranty requirements such as availability, capacity, working support processes, trained support staff and the need to operate at acceptable cost and risk to the business. This requires IT development teams and operational support organizations to work together. Here is an approach, used successfully, for doing so.

As shown in the above diagram,  the ITIL Service Lifecycle stages are shown at the top. These are used as developmental phases for building the operational support. At the bottom, a typical development lifecycle is shown. The top stages are done in parallel with the application development effort at the bottom . For example, during the application requirements stage, Service Strategy activities will take place at the same time. During the application design stage, Service Design activities will take place and so on.

The large boxes under each ITIL stage summarize the kinds of operational activities to take place in that stage. For example, during the ITIL Service Design Stage (which is done in parallel with application design), the operational readiness activities to design the Service Support Organization, processes, technologies, data and reporting infrastructure will also take place. The details of all these activities are described further in this article.

The process, technology, organization, partners and governance tracks are there to show that operational readiness activities address the entire service solution holistically. For example, when designing technologies, other designs may be needed for process activities, support organization roles, governance roles, and supplier (partner) agreements and relationships.

 Checkpoint gates are used at the end of each stage to confirm readiness to proceed with the next stage. This ensures agreement across development and operations to move forward to the next stage.

In Part 1 of this series, a set of considerations is presented for each stage looking at both development and operations. These activities can be done in parallel between IT application development teams and IT service management teams.

A summary of key activities and the division of tasks between development and service delivery teams is described in detail below for each of the lifecycle stages:

Stage 1: Strategy – done in parallel with the application solution strategy

This phase focuses on high level service requirements such as solution key requirements, sourcing strategy, availability needs and expected business volumes. Development team considerations are on the left and operations team considerations are on the right.

Overall Solution Model
Business Volumes
Specialized Support Needs
Implementation Timeframes
High Level Functional Requirements
Development Organization
Working Standards
Sourcing Partners
Application Architecture
Overall Enterprise Fit
Standards To Be Used
Frameworks To Be Used
Opportunities For Reuse (SOA)
Estimated Build Costs
High Level Service Requirements e.g.
    – Performance
    – Availability
    – Incident Support
Support and Delivery Strategy
Solution Operating Plan
Current Support Capabilities
Hosting/Sourcing Partners
Required Support Suppliers
Timeframes For Production
Ongoing Operational Costs
Management Tooling Architecture
Support Skills Needs

Stage 2: Design – done in parallel with application design

This phase focuses on design for each solution support area. Design tasks might include selection of specific tools, customizing tools, putting support contracts together, identifying event alarms and alerts, designing backup and recovery procedures or designing support processes.  Development team considerations are on the left and operations team considerations are on the right.

Development Team ConsiderationsOperations Team Considerations
Application Designs
Software Package Customizations
Testing Requirements
Capacity Requirements
Component Configurations
Procurement Requirements
Operational Detailed Requirements:
Required Alerts
Backup Requirements
Solution Configurations
Data Architecture
Functional Architecture
Technical Architecture:
Data Models/Data Design
Operational Architecture
Availability Designs
Capacity Designs
Capacity Estimates
Service Continuity Designs
Security Designs
Deployment Designs/Strategy
Process and technology designs for each support area in the framework
Support Roles/Responsibilities
Operational Control Tasks
Facilities Designs
Monitoring Designs
Procurement Requirements
Training Artifacts
Management Technology Specifications

Stage 3: Transition – done in parallel with application build, test and deployment

This phase focuses on build, test and deployment of the designed hardware, software and management processes for each solution support area. Transition tasks might include implementation of systems management tools, implementation of event monitors and agents, building and testing of server and desktop images, software distribution activities, and construction of physical data center facilities and closets.  Development team considerations are on the left and operations team considerations are on the right.

Development Team ConsiderationsOperations Team Considerations
Application Coding
Package Implementation
Migration/Code Libraries
Rollout Schedules/Volumes
Maintenance Needs
Testing and Validation
User Acceptance
Support Call Lists
Release Deployment
Server/Desktop Images
Operational Testing
Site Surveys/Preparation
User/Support Training
Process Implementation
Operational Integration:
Service Desk
Technical Support
Operation Control
Facilities Management
Application Management
Production Cutover

Stage 4: Operation – done in parallel with application early life support and then ongoing

At this point, the solution should already be operating in production. Tasks in this phase represent ongoing activities to deliver services provided by the application solution. These activities focus on meeting service targets, delivering the services, monitoring them, processing incidents, problems and changes, maintaining applications and providing operational data.  Development team considerations are on the left and operations team considerations are on the right.

Development Team ConsiderationsOperations Team Considerations
None – at this point Application Management takes over for ongoing application maintenance and supportThese are considerations by ongoing operational delivery teams:
Delivering Services
Ongoing Support
Monitoring/Event Management
Maintenance of applications
Maintenance of IT infrastructure
Execution of planned operational control tasks
Incident,/Problem Management
Request Fulfillment
Access Management

Stage 5: Improvement – done in parallel with ongoing application management activities

The improvement phase generally operates in parallel with the operations phase. Tasks here focus on reporting service quality and proactively reviewing the solution to identify ongoing improvements.  Development team considerations are on the left and operations team considerations are on the right.

Development Team ConsiderationsOperations Team Considerations
None – At This Point Application Management Takes Over For Ongoing Application ImprovementCollecting Service Measurements
Service Quality Reporting
Review Of Service And Operational Results To Identify Further Opportunities For Improvements

It is hoped the considerations presented here better focus application and operations teams such that they work together towards a solution, deploy that solution together and avoid the chaos that occurs each time a major new service goes into production.

Parts 2 and 3 will examine each stage in more detail identifying the kinds of design considerations that need to be considered for each stage and what to look for at each checkpoint gate.