IT is changing from fulfilling operational and tactical functions within organisations to be playing a strategic role, says IT services management specialist Malcolm Fry.
As such IT departments need to think about services management and best practice.
Sydney-based Fry, a speaker at a help desk and call centre symposium in Auckland last week, says traditionally IT has worked at implementing systems (tactical) and maintaining them (operational). However, IT has become a sales enabler and organisations now depend on IT for their core business, thus elevating it to the strategic level.
That means IT services have to be managed and Fry recommends organisations work to a standard when doing that. He advocates the UK-developed IT Infrastructure Library, which he calls a consistent and comprehensive documentation of best practice for IT service management. Developed by the UK government, it covers best practice for six areas: service support; service delivery; planning to implement service management; ICT infrastructure management; applications management; the business perspective.
The ethos behind the development of ITIL is recognition that organisations are becoming increasingly dependent on IT in order to satisfy their corporate aims and meet their business needs. That growing dependency leads to a growing requirement for high-quality IT services.
Each module is intended to facilitate the quality management of IT services, and of the IT infrastructure in the organisation (IT infrastructure means organisations' computer and networks - hardware, software and computer-related telecommunications, upon which the systems and IT services are built and run).
According to IT market researcher IDC companies that practise asset management lower their annual costs by nearly 20% on average.
Fry says the first part of asset management is to find out what you have and put it in a database. To do this you have to set a scope, the depth you'll go to within that scope and what attributes you'll give to each item.
"The project plan will flow from there. You go on to identify current assets owned within the scope."
Fry says for many organisations, just discovering their assets is a huge task. This is borne out by the fact that 70% -- a figure whose source he is unsure of -- of money spent on Y2K work went on finding out what organisations had rather than fixing or changing anything.
"I would agree with that from my own experience and what I have seen."
And he sees no reason to stop at IT assets. He believes that organisations could build huge databases covering all assets including people, intellectual property, cars, furniture, real estate, warranties, contracts and leases.
"Once you have that you can manage the relationships between them."