Getting Great ICT Service Delivery

I am prompted to write a post around ICT Service Delivery as I have a request-for-proposal from a prospective client to review their ICT Service area.  Without giving too much away, they seem to have a reasonable number of people in their IT area (about one staff member for every 20-25 PCs) which by every benchmark I’ve ever read is probably twice the normal benchmark.

And yet, the users aren’t happy.  In fact, they’re quite unhappy, it would seem – almost to the point where boiling oil, pitchforks, and tedious jokes about broken coffee-cup holders are considered necessary.

It just highlights to me, I think, that the area of ICT Service Delivery is one that businesses still haven’t got right – particularly SMEs, I think.  I consider that this is due to a distinct lack of engagement between the business and the IT service area.  It’s a governance problem – business doesn’t tell IT what it needs, and so IT guesses and fills in the blanks.  And good on IT for trying, but it doesn’t help much, even if they’re really good at guessing.  Really, the need is for the business to give direction to IT and identify what the needs are.  The current situation that all too often arises is that IT gives the correct answer to the wrong question.  One client had four network administrators and one person on the help desk.

Not surprisingly, at a technical level the network worked very well (packets were not lost, data was transported around) but users were exceptionally unhappy (no application maintenance people, apparently, results in applications that don’t get maintained).

Anyway, the answer to great ICT service delivery seems to be:

  1. Know why you are doing something
  2. Know what it is you are trying to achieve
  3. Know who is responsible for achieving which aspects of the service
  4. Be informed as to how performance is going.
  5. If you are tempted to go beyond points 1-4, have a Bex and good lie down.

This means that you have to get the planning component right (links with the business – do what is needed), and then have the best practice components together for your building and managing components of the IT function (some version of ITIL/COBIT/PRINCE2/PMBOK) and THEN focus on the ‘running’ of IT.  In my experience problems in ICT service delivery really relate back to problems in the governance of IT – but it’s usually easier and more satisfying to yell at IT than to fix the real problems of the business.

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