IT Excellence

IT Operational Excellence: Best Practices

This is part of a continuing series with Bob Anderson, IT Operational Excellence, presented by Anne Grybowski.

Do you think the term “best practices” is overused?  If you are nodding your head in agreement, you are not alone.  However, best practices are a vital component of operational IT excellence.  While the over-use of buzzwords does not pay off, the employment of the right best practices for the situation does.  In this third article of the “IT Operational Excellence” series, Bob Anderson notes that common sense can be hard to come by.  Therefore, best practices are indeed necessary.  However, these best practices must be more than anecdotal:

Those words have been overly used, misused, and misunderstood I think for as many years as we have been using them.  It’s kind of like a ‘catch-all’ when nobody knows what to say about good stuff…When we talk about best practices, what I mean is industry standard processes for different operational areas within IT that have been accepted internationally, if you will, by the IT community as the best processes for achieving specific objectives or goals within the IT development or services arena. 

Critical Success Factor:  No “One-Size-Fits-All”

The IT Operational Excellence Puzzle discussed in this series by Bob Anderson.
The IT Operational Excellence Puzzle discussed in this series by Bob Anderson.

Anderson notes that best practices (and The Puzzle as a whole) are not one-size-fits-all.  In order to get the most out of the best practices you are employing, you must tailor everything to the specific needs of your organization.  Knowing your context and your goals is crucial to choosing the best practice that is right for you.  Anderson reminds us that one of the biggest missteps one can make in choosing best practices is to decide on said best practice before solidifying your end goal.

In the world of large project development and IT service management, there is no singular best practice.  IT service management must level with the needs of business to find what is best for the organization as a whole.  When deciding upon best practices in this environment, make sure that your processes are defined and repeatable.  Furthermore, you must ensure that you can pick at your metrics and measurements.  You must have a method of collection.  As Anderson says, “it’s all about service and product delivery.”Overall, organizations must be more specific than they currently are when choosing best practices.  You should be asking yourself:

  • What suits us best?
  • What is driving value here?
  • Is this a pragmatic (and not intellectual) exercise?

You must be concerned with practical best practices instead of best practices that sound good.  Many people think that if they are verbal with their plans that will be enough to create a successful environment.  This is clearly not the case in the real world.   Anderson reminds us that if you are not getting anything back, your best practice is really not “best.”  From Anderson’s view, the worst thing is lacking metrics.  As has been a common theme within this series of articles, visibility and control are crucial to operational excellence in IT.


Robert Anderson’s Bio:

Bob Anderson has been with Computer Aid, Inc. since 1988.    The majority of his 38 years of IT experience have been spent as a senior executive in large IT organizations.  In addition to being published, Anderson has been the principal architect of CAI’s process management, event tracking, and resource management tool, “Tracer” and most recently created a free assessment survey to help organizations recognize where and how they can improve their operations.  He has also built CAI’s Production Support & Training department.  Anderson is also a decorated US Marine.  He and his wife have two grown daughters and reside in Boiling Springs, PA. 

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