The IT organization’s purpose is to deliver IT services to the business. IT services are produced in the IT environment. Without a functional IT environment, no deliveries are made to the business and the value supplied by the IT organization disappears.
An example of a comparison outside the IT industry is a factory with a production line which supplies products that are sold to the customers. If the production line stops then there is nothing to sell and consequently no income. The production line is thus the most important thing that the factory has.
That is not to say that everyone who works in the factory is engaged in production. There is a research and development department which produces the next products to be manufactured. There is a department which constantly measures and follows up the production process in order to find improvements. There are sales and marketing personnel who ensure that the customers are satisfied and there is a management team which analyses the market to find the next long-term plan for the factory.
Regardless of role in the factory, all departments are engaged in ensuring that everything that emerges from the production process meets the customers’ demands. In the same way, all activities within an IT organization should have the aim of creating a more effective and qualitative IT environment, the content of which creates a value for the business.
The model described in this book is based on the IT environment, which is the IT organization’s equivalent to a production line. Just as in the factory, the entire IT organization participates in the responsibility for IT services. To clarify the responsibility between the different parts of the IT organization, the services’ life cycles are divided into five different phases.
Operation – The IT department’s production line. The IT environment needs to be maintained in order to continuously produce IT services. Preventive maintenance activities are required, and if nevertheless errors occur, then they need to be rectified, and if problems arise then they must be investigated. All activities required to maintain functionality in the IT environment are included in Operation.
Transition -” Don’t fix what’s not broken” is a mantra in all technical environments, regardless of sector. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work in the reality of IT organizations, as the need and demand for IT services is constantly changing. The aim of Transition is to protect the IT environment in connection with changes, and to thereby ensure that the business experiences as little disruption as possible during deployment.
Delivery Control -It is in this phase that the IT organization leads the work and decides how the IT services are to be produced. The aim is to save time and expenditure for operations. However, it can also involve activities that have the aim of improving processes, documentation or expertise.
Relations – The aim of this phase is to understand the business’s requirements and simultaneously create understanding in the business for the value IT services supply. This is one of the fundamental aspects in establishing an IT department which is regarded as an asset for the business instead of a cost.
Strategy – Strategy shows how the IT organization will support the business in the work of achieving the goals set, indicating which IT services should be supplied to ensure that the goals are achieved, as well as how the services are produced in the most effective way.
All IT organizations have groupings that are engaged in activities and take decisions at different levels. The aim of The Rational IT Model (TRIM) is not to add groupings, but instead to help to sort out and clarify the purpose of the groupings which already exist. These groups are called functions. The reason for this is so the group is not linked to a part of the organization, but rather a group of employees which takes a specific responsibility for something. A function can be an organizational unit, but is more commonly a virtual group, staffed by employees from different parts of the organization.
The functions in TRIM are:
The IT Steering Group – the highest level within the IT organization, with responsibility for drawing up an IT strategy as well as defining the IT business’s parameters in a service portfolio. The function is staffed with key individuals from the IT organization and can usually be placed on an equal level with the entire or parts of the IT department’s management team. The IT Steering Group’s primary link to the business is the management team. It functions as the highest level for issues that affect several parts within the business besides the IT organization.
Service Management Office – The function is responsible for issues concerning how the IT organization performs its work, as well as for all levels of architecture. The aim of the function is to bring together common structural questions so that all parts of the IT organization work in a similar way and according to the same architecture. If necessary, large IT organizations can divide up the function into one for service management and one for technical architecture.
The function is directly subordinate to the the IT Steering Group and is usually involved in producing data for the majority of strategic decisions. The function is also responsible for drafting the policy documents which are ratified at strategic level and which subsequently govern work within the IT organization.
Customer Management – The function responsible for the delivery of IT services to the business. The aim of the function is to act as the business’s (the customer’s) single point of contact for the IT organization and also to ensure that the IT services supplied correspond with the business’s needs. The function consists of a number of groups which are divided according to business (customer), however for smaller IT organizations one group is usually sufficient.
Delivery Management – the function that is responsible for production of IT services, that everything is documented, that procedures are in place and that processes are followed. The aim of the function is to continually improve efficiency and also to govern and prioritize everyday operations. In a small IT organization Delivery Management can consist of a single group which includes all roles with production responsibility. However, it is more common for the function to consist of several groups divided according to system or technology.
Service Desk – The function responsible for all contact with the users of IT services. The function is the only communication channel to and from the users. Those parts of the ticket management system which are automated in the form of a web portal should be viewed as a part of the function. The aim of Service Desk is to serve the users in the business through processing orders, responding to questions and solve Incidents in the IT environment. If knowledge or procedures are not present within the function, the issue must be escalated according to procedure from the Delivery Management function, however, Service Desk still owns the contact with the user.
Technical Management – Technical Management is responsible for the everyday activities in the IT infrastructure. The function must ensure that all necessary expertise to manage the existing IT infrastructure is available. Technical Management functions acts functional escalation point for issues from Service Desk and also staff projects and activities determined at tactical level.
Application Management – Application Management is responsible for all applications and systems included in the IT environment. In distinction from Technical Management, they are groupings which manage applications that are often dispersed organizationally. Moreover, it is common that this function is managed by one or several suppliers. Application Management acts as functional escalation point for issues from Service Desk, and also staff projects and activities determined at tactical level.
The boundary for responsibility between Technical Management and Application Management is different in different organizations. For example, databases and integration platforms usually belong to the Application Management function, even though they can be viewed as part of the infrastructure. It is not important where the boundary lies, as long as it is clear and well communicated.
Processes and procedures
In order to define the activities needed in the different phases, a number of processes and procedures are described in TRIM. A process is a linked chain of activities with a defined starting point (trigger) and a specific result (output). Working according to a defined process is a prerequisite for being able to measure and improve activities in an organization. Furthermore, the quality of the result is regulated by the process so that it is similar regardless of who in the organization performs the activities. Every process needs an owner with responsibility to measure, finance and improve the process, as well as regularly follow up, inform and train the organization in how the process should be used. These activities consume resources, and in a small organization the cost of administering a process might not cover the efficiency gains that the process supplies.
Even though it is not worth defining certain activities as processes, the activities nevertheless need to be described in a documented procedure so that their quality can be ensured. The same activities can thus be defined as a process for a large IT organization with a high throughput of issues or as a procedure for a small IT organization which might only perform the activities once per month.
A simple way of deciding whether it should be a process or a procedure is by considering the number of issues which will pass through the process. If it is deemed to be a large number of issues, then it is usually profitable to create a process with an associated process owner, financing, training, measurement, tool support etc.
Roles within the IT-organization
Tasks and responsibilities in an organization are usually described in the form of roles. A person can have different roles on different occasions and a role can be held by several different people. The role is described in a certain context with activities, responsibilities and authorities. The role can then be staffed by one or several employees. TRIM describes a number of common roles within an IT organization. These roles are then linked to one or a number of functions which are responsible for fulfilling the purpose of the respective phase.
Instead of having unique roles for each process, the roles in TRIM are based on those which are normally present in an IT organization. The idea is that there should be a clear specification of how many roles are needed as a total and which responsibilities they have in the different processes and functions.
To ensure that the model described can be used by both large and small IT organizations, the book provides suggestions for roles and responsibilities for three different sizes of an IT organization.
The total responsibility is constant regardless of size, as all parts are also needed for smaller organizations, however, the workload for each part will be smaller, which means that the IT organization can distribute the responsibility over a smaller number of roles. With smaller organizations, there will also be a smaller number of people involved, and the flow of issues will decrease in each process. This means that there is often no need to manage the flow as a process and it can then be documented as a procedure instead.