Businesses need strategic systems management - report

Companies must plan IT systems management with their overall business strategy in mind, rather than acting only on departmental level, Butler Group has advised.


Companies must plan IT systems management with their overall business strategy in mind, rather than acting only on departmental level, Butler Group has advised.

The focus for IT managers has shifted to providing an efficient and coordinated business service, as their companies demanded increased service availability and quality, said the Butler Group in a new report called ‘IT Systems Management (Technology Comparison)’.

Roy Illsley, co-author of the report, said: “Organisational IT structures are often characterised by many different siloed teams of technical specialists. These silos often drive the technology selection process in organisations, which to a large extent is governed by the existing skills within the IT department.”

The approach had created tensions between business user requirements, and IT staff managing the technology, he said. “The result ... is that IT resources are locked into technologies, and organisations face expensive retraining or new hiring costs if technologies new to the organisation are selected.”

Systems management had become easier as relevant software tools became more sophisticated, the report said. It pointed out that the main suppliers had integrated the ability to monitor and manage a variety of infrastructure components, from virtual servers to network switches.

As a result IT departments were able to manage efficiently a wider range of technology, and become proactive instead of reactive, Butler Group said.

But the careful allocation of IT resources was also essential as many IT budgets were hit by the tighter economic conditions.

In order to help with this, IT departments needed envoys in the business units who act as the “eyes and ears” of the IT department, while also representing the business unit when IT changes were made.

Butler Group lamented a situation where “IT is not usually invited to the business strategy table”, and said businesses needed a chief technology officer responsible for IT strategy, as well as a chief information officer for IT staff to report to.

It was important that the IT department acted as a mediator rather than decision maker in the prioritisation of business demand. In order to do this, the report said, IT departments would chair a cross-departmental strategy meeting, where decisions were made on which new changes are developed, and which services are of a greatest importance.

“The concept of business-driven demand is not new - in fact IT has evolved based on this premise - however, currently the IT department responds to the department or business unit that either shouts the loudest, or has the capital to invest in new projects," Illsley said.

“It is our contention that the landscape is moving, and chief executive officers are increasingly looking toward the CIO as the guardian of business process prioritisation; in other words the IT department is being asked to police the business units based on corporate prioritisation.”

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