IT Operations Management Best Practices for 2021
IT operations management (ITOM) demands an integrated, service-centric approach. Looking to maximize your IT agility and efficiency? Here are a few best practices to get you started.
What is IT operations management (ITOM)?
IT operations management, or ITOM, refers to the administration of an organization’s networking, hardware, technology, and application needs. The ITOM umbrella is far-reaching. Functions include:
security management for all IT assets
best practices for managing each
What do ITOM tasks consist of?
As a business expands, its technology needs — software and other assets — will often expand in kind. IT operations managers take on the responsibility for this ever-expanding array of services and solutions. Their main priority is to make sure that all of these services and applications are stable and available for use by their stakeholders. To this end, IT managers and IT professionals typically perform management tasks in three key service areas:
1) IT infrastructure/ IT network operations
IT network infrastructure includes all of the hardware and devices necessary to provide internal and external communications, data storage, and data management for the organization. Tasks that fall under this category include:
All networking functions related to communications
Management of internal telephone/VoIP system
Providing remote access for authorized users and managing access control protocols
Internal and external telecommunication management
Port management for safe outside server access
Regulating traffic via firewalls and maintaining network security
Discovering and resolving any issues related to network resources
2) IT support operations and help desk
ITOM includes the management of help desk services and your standard “tech support” roles. These tasks can include service calls, ticketing, troubleshooting, and request fulfillment. IT operations managers are also responsible for managing and testing backups, communicating information about incidents and network outages, controlling system access/licenses/user accounts, and implementing a disaster recovery/continuity plan for the business. Tasks include:
Data center and facility management
Help desk management/Network operations center (NOC)
Provisioning of users and accounts
Conducting audits and testing
Ensuring maximum uptime/network stability
Creating disaster recovery plans/business continuity
3) Device and server management
In addition to administering network infrastructure throughout the organization, IT operations teams are also typically responsible for managing network endpoints such as servers and devices. Tasks include:
Maintaining, patching, and upgrading servers and any cloud-based infrastructure
Storage and network management
File server and email setup and account authorization
Provisioning IT assets, including devices issued to users
Management of the organization approved devices and BYOD
Ensuring that applications have access to the hardware resources they need to operate
Top 4 IT operations management challenges holding organizations back in 2021
Modern IT operations management demands an integrated, service-centric approach. It’s essential to maximize service quality, optimize processes, enable innovation, and ensure a stable, reliable IT environment.
Many IT professionals struggle with the logistics and realities of actually implementing such an approach. This can lead to wasted time and confusion, which in turn leads to service outages, poor response times, financial losses, and damage to company reputation. The following are four of the most common challenges IT teams run into:
1) Lack of integrated IT operations management software and tools
Cobbling together disconnected data from multiple tools is not ideal, especially when modern software solutions can provide a clear, real-time view of a network and IT infrastructure health. There’s no reason to wrestle with detecting, diagnosing, and resolving service issues while fighting the clock or hoping for no catastrophic service outages. One should also consider that as the demand for cloud resources grows, so does the complexity involved in managing these resources. As organizations of all shapes and sizes continue to adopt new technologies such as cloud-based computing services (SaaS, PaaS, IaaS, etc.), virtualization and the Internet of Things (IoT), IT organizations are challenged to evolve and adapt. At the end of the day, IT operations must always face the same challenges: deliver IT performance, manage risk, provide security, and control costs.
2) Lack of visibility into IT architecture
Adaptation and agility require a high level of visibility into the IT architecture in order to provide quick response and remediation. Organizations still using legacy software systems with traditional on-premise hardware are often dealing with limited visibility into their own systems. It doesn’t help when information is spread across multiple systems, software, and team members, as is often the case in these situations. These obstacles should be remediated to provide IT operations the proper controls and oversight to meet their strategic objectives.
3) Disparate tech and applications Impaired visibility into the IT architecture is largely caused by the independent (and unintegrated) functioning of various technologies, tools, and processes. These days, a typical organization may have some applications running on-premise, some applications through SaaS, and a few other applications hosted entirely by a third-party provider. When these applications and solutions lack the ability to share information, they must be monitored separately. This introduces more room for human error and carries a greater cost in terms of money, time, and resources.
4) Poor scalability
Lack of visibility and limited control over disparate technology often means that IT managers hit a wall when it comes time to scale their operations. A difficult to manage environment is not conducive to introducing or maintaining a new service. Without a system for integrating data from various collection points, the addition of any new hardware, service, or solution can result in an even more fractured IT infrastructure. Let’s not forget the security vulnerabilities that often arise from all of these disparate tools and applications, either.
IT operations strategy and best practices
Looking to maximize your IT agility and really get a handle on ITOM? Here are a few best practices to get you started.
1) Stop fighting fires and start actively managing
The break-fix model is obsolete; organizations can no longer operate under the traditional idea of calling IT only when something stops working. Adopting IT operations best practices starts with moving organizations away from the ad-hoc model of IT that can only fix problems once they’ve already happened and toward active monitoring and proactive maintenance.
2) Align IT management with service
How you look at your IT can be the difference between your business’ success and failure. Viewing IT operations in the old break-fix “tech support” light doesn’t allow you to take full advantage of modern IT. Current ITOM methodology shifts focus away from managing applications and infrastructure in a silo and instead focuses on understanding IT in relation to your business goals. ITOM processes and workflows are often designed around service delivery and customer experience. This allows for a greater ROI on IT investments while raising customer satisfaction.
3) Create goals and plan for success
Effective ITOM requires that you clearly define roles within your IT team and hold everyone accountable. IT teams, especially those within small businesses, often struggle to understand what their responsibilities and objectives are. Automated ITOM processes, ticketing systems, and process-driven management allow IT professionals to make the best use of time and IT resources.
4) Partner with a trusted MSP provider
Small business owners often have to make hard choices when it comes to investing and managing expectations. Developing in-house IT teams can be extraordinarily expensive, and many of the ITOM goals we’ve discussed here can seem very cost prohibitive. Managed services providers (MSPs) help solve this problem by giving businesses access to technology experts, hardware, and solutions that make IT Operations strategy easier to plan and execute — even on a budget.