Budget pressure and – crisis-related – budget cuts force IT operations to develop recurring strategies to boost efficiency and performance continuously and to pursue them further.
As described in IT operations – the secret treasure chest of IT, the area of IT operations consumes by far the largest proportion of an IT budget. A large part of the spending is tied up over the long term. This significantly reduces the freedom to shift resources at short notice and the opportunities to make savings.
The complexity of systems is one of the main drivers of costs. A distinction is made here between technically essential IT complexity and non-essential complexity, which generates unwanted additional ballast: in day-to-day operations, the technical heterogeneity is evident, among other things, through technical and functional intersections, data redundancies, sometimes even inconsistencies and through complicated interdependencies and interfaces between the components used.
This complexity is always difficult to manage and leads to a continuous increase in maintenance and operating costs, brings greater risks and often severely restricts the agility of a company. If it is possible to lower the costs of HR, maintenance, operation, infrastructure components, etc. incurred in this way, many hidden treasures can be exploited with no disadvantages.
The structured basis
In practice, an analysis of four independent but associated steps – which in part build on one another – has proven valuable:
implementation of associated improvement measures is often carried out in the form of programs which can be used as a synonym for the steps mentioned above.
- Standardization in the form of consistency of technical components, systems, processes and procedures and therefore a reduction in the products and technologies used in an architectural layer (e.g. databases, server types, desktop services, etc.) usually forms the basis for economies of scale and procurement benefits.
- Consolidation in the form of standardization and combination of systems, data and applications has the objective of simplifying the IT infrastructure and making it more easily scalable.
- Harmonization pursues the objective of sustainable reduction of complexity through the principle of designing functions, processes and even entire IT systems of the same type in the same way in different IT environments. In turn, this forms the basis for further consolidation.
- Virtualization allows much better use of physical computing power by combining different systems and components using an abstraction layer in standardized environments. Virtualization makes significant gains in efficiency possible with a simultaneous reduction in further IT expenses.
Continuous requirements for changes to systems, interim solutions and workarounds, which often take on a long-term character, continually increase the complexity in operations, hinder performance and reverse any cost savings and efficiency gains achieved. It is therefore worthwhile initiating programs of this sort periodically and carrying out a review!
Further analyses help to identify the treasures.
Within each stage or program, an analysis using several dimensions is effective:
gains in efficiency of processes, costs of automation, management, operation and maintenance, personnel, expertise and training can be compared with economies of scale, procurement and purchasing benefits, the significance and impact of technological changes, impacts over time, the effect of (disruptive) developments, etc., and can be assessed overall.
We will provide more details about the individual stages and programs and the resulting purchasing strategies, delivery strategies, architecture strategies and application strategies as central mechanisms for exploiting these treasures in subsequent articles.
On the basis of the Act2Perform© procedural model, ResultONE can provide excellent support for your company in these areas, too.