We were able to get assyst up and running very quickly and achieve a tangible return on our investment within the first year.
Aviva - View the full case study
In many cases, the IT department is responsible for the largest chunk of the organization’s capital investment and operational expenditure, attracting a great deal of pressure to control costs and demonstrate value during times of economic difficulties. Applying best practices for managing IT services can help by improving efficiency and releasing resources for more strategic IT initiatives. The majority of organizations spend up to 80% of their IT budget on 'keeping the lights on', and only 20% on strategic business support initiatives. In an economic downturn, this is an opportunity for IT to cut costs, increase value, release resources and drive the business forward.
An economic downturn brings new challenges to IT. Often perceived as a cost center, it’s difficult for the IT department to fend off budget cuts and staff losses, so it’s critical for IT to demonstrate value, maximize efficiency and work with the business to build a competitive edge. With the right tools, the IT department can capitalize on the economic environment as an opportunity to show just what IT can do for the business.
While it is easy for your sales force to demonstrate their impact on the company’s bottom line, the value of IT to an organization is often underestimated. Justifying continued spend on IT is difficult at the best of times. In times of economic turmoil, IT is often the first department to suffer from budget freezes and scrutiny from the Chief Financial Officer (CFO). To counter this, IT must demonstrate value to the business by illustrating the part it plays in revenue generation. Databases, application servers, web servers, routers and communications networks all play a part in supporting IT services. These services are critical links in the processes that underpin customer facing business services. Making that link between the two is the key to understanding the importance and value of IT to the business.
The challenge here lies in identifying IT assets and mapping them to the IT services, business processes, business services and revenue streams they support. Without this link, it’s easy to question the value of a server, process, service or even a member of staff.
The first step to achieving this is to identify and model the IT environment by populating a Configuration Management Database (CMDB) using an automated discovery tool. The model facilitates the linking of IT equipment to the services and revenue streams they support by creating logical relationships within the CMDB. This CMDB forms the foundation of all good IT Service Management (ITSM) and provides, amongst many other benefits, a powerful reporting capability that can be used to justify IT spend.
When the business is under pressure, IT is under pressure. The need for new business services is increased and new business services means demand for new IT services to support them. The business wants to be agile, so IT has to be equally responsive. Business units want new IT services to support competitive initiatives but budget cuts can mean resources are stretched to the limit.
The key to tackling this problem is to reduce the operational cost and effort of supporting non-critical IT services in order to release time and money to deploy new business services. Automated tools can drive the shift from reactive to proactive IT Service Management that is needed to release these resources. For example, a self-service support portal for end users, coupled with a knowledge management tool with pre-populated resolutions to service interruptions can reduce service desk call volumes by a significant percentage - meaning that service desk staff can be reassigned to assist deployment of new services. The time between demand and delivery of new IT services has been cut, the business has become more agile and the budget remains static.
In prosperous times, few companies survive a major IT disaster. In a downturn, the risks are even higher and a solid plan for continuity of IT services is an essential element of a company’s disaster recovery plan. Change to the IT infrastructure is often the single largest cause of interruption to services, the impact varying from a reduction in system performance to significant loss of revenue. By managing IT infrastructure change effectively you can avoid service downtime and the introduction of errors to the infrastructure - making it more efficient and reliable.
To maximize stability, it is important to have an accurate, up-to-date model of the IT estate: the Configuration Management Database (CMDB). The CMDB underpins planning for changes by showing which other items, services, processes and people are dependent on the item that is the subject of the change. The impact can be seen in advance, the risk can be managed and potential disasters averted. To further support risk management, the CMDB can be utilized as a blueprint for creating duplicate offsite IT support infrastructures for business critical IT services, while a CMDB baseline, a ‘snapshot’ of the infrastructure, can be used to roll back to a known safe configuration or reconstruct the IT estate in record time.
IT Service Management initiatives drive a change in IT from being a misunderstood cost center to a strategic asset that engages with the business.
Find out more about how Axios can help you weather the economic downturn - contact us now.