My name is Simon Hall and I'm an Operations Consultant at Microsoft.  My role is to work with customers to define and refine the processes that support their IT infrastructure.  A key goal of mine is to help customers adopt a strategic approach to increasing their IT health and maturity.

Our experience tells us that IT departments must reduce their cost.  We also understand that businesses are demanding more from every IT department.  We believe that it is possible to reduce your IT budget and deliver new capabilities to your business.  In this article we'll show you:

  • Reactive IT Costs More Than You Think
  • How To Start Delivering Proactive IT
  • An Operational Strategic Review Can Help

Reactive IT Costs More Than You Think

Exact figures are hard to define as every organisation is very different.  However, research has shown that maintaining a reactive IT department is significantly more expensive than maintaining a proactive one.  Here are some interesting stats:

  • A proactive IT organisation costs 66% less to run
  • A proactive IT organisation has 61 % less down time
  • A proactive IT organisation can deploy new systems 29% faster
  • A proactive IT organisation receives 8% fewer support calls

Source:  Optimizing Infrastructure: The Relationship Between IT Labor Costs and Best Practices for Managing the Windows Server (IDC, Jan 2008)

Furthermore, proactive IT organisations often see improvements in the following areas:

  • Delivering service availability the business demands
  • Increased end user satisfaction
  • Reduced amount of "out of hours" labour
  • Increased staff moral
  • Improved time to deploy new services

An IT organisation that spends a high proportion of its budget on fire fighting delivers significantly less value than a proactive organisation.


How To Start Delivering Proactive IT

The Operational Consulting team use the following basic framework to start the shift to proactive IT:

  • Understand Current IT Maturity
  • Define Where You Want To Be
  • Align IT Objectives To Business Objectives
  • Look At Top IT Challenges and Create Service Improvement Plans

Understand Current IT Maturity

The first part of your journey is identifying where you are starting from.  Start by base lining your IT Maturity. There are many maturity mapping tools available, but an excellent starting point is the Infrastructure Optimisation.  This can be done with assistance from Microsoft or can be completed online.  The question and answer process will output your current state of maturity.  This in itself will not provide a solution, but provides the baseline for improvement.  Many of our Premier customers are using this as a yearly assessment to measure the improvements that they are making.

Define Where You Want To Be

Before you start the journey define where you aspire to be.  Is it enough to be a "cost centre" to the business, or do you look to be a "business enabler"?  Planning your aspiration will make sure you can define what technologies and processes you require to move forward.  Using IO can help here too providing a measure of your on-going success.  A rationalised organisation can cost up to 66% less to run (White Paper).  This alone can help build the business case for doing things differently.  But IT efficiency is more than reducing cost.  It means that IT can more closely align its services so that they are business driven, and can drive more value.

Align IT Objectives To Business Objectives

Are your IT objectives aligned to the business objectives?  This may sound simplistic, look at what is driving IT and make sure that IT objectives are directly aligned to what the business is looking to achieve.  Is IT meeting with the business stakeholder often enough to ensure that service is focussed to achieving their goals?

Look At Top IT Challenges and Create Service Improvement Plans

It is no surprise to many organisations that downtime is rarely caused by technology alone.  Typically 80% of IT failure has its underlying root cause in People and Process.  In fact that is what we see in analysis of all Severity A call data from Premier.  When looking at your biggest challenges look at poorly performing processes to see where improvements can be made.

Create your roadmap for health based on overcoming your internal IT challenges, ideally the challenges that give you the most pain. 

By having a clear plan to address these challenges, means that a roadmap for health can be drawn up and bought into by the business. 


Operational Strategic Review Can Help

 Microsoft Premier Support's Operations Consulting Team can help with all of the aboveDuring a three day onsite engagement, we provide a facilitated approach to mapping out your current state, and looking to where you ideally want or need to be. Through the engagement we take you through a process of envisioning what the future should look like, and defining what steps need to be taken to get there.  We take you biggest IT challenges and create with you a bespoke roadmap for operational health, based on overcoming your biggest areas of concern, and making sure these are mapped clearly to the future.

Leading By Example

And it is a process that works.  Many of our Premier customers now use the OSR as an annual process to make sure they have a measure of success, and use the review to align to their overall IT objectives.  In the Case Study here, St Helens and Knowsley Health Informatics used their first OSR to plan for the future and improve their Service to the Business.  In the Video Driving Efficiency, you can hear Phil Corrin and Matt Connor talk about how they used the OSR to assist in this journey.


Simon Hall
Operations Consultant
Microsoft Premier Support UK