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Increasing IT maturity: “You have HOW many Severity 1 problems?”

During a recent call with a prospective client, he informed me that his organization has had 15 Severity 1 problems sitting in a queue for over 90 days. From what I know about this IT organization, and because it tracks its incidents, problems and duration, I would peg it at just over a level 1 IT maturity, where some foundational services are installed but not fully implemented.

Classically, an organization operating at, or just above, a level 1 is focused on “keeping the lights on” activities, as well as “putting out fires.” What’s broken rarely gets fixed because no one has the capacity to diagnose the problem (i.e. root cause) and then implement a change. Likewise, the demand for “getting it done” outweighs the need to do it right.

Here are some other indicators of an organization operating between a level 1 and 1.5 maturity level.

Nothing is tracked well. One former client’s company paid millions of dollars in penalties due to an over-allocation of software licenses because no one in IT was keeping track of the number users during a period of high employee headcount growth.
Documentation is sketchy. Another client’s organization had loads of initial process/software/configuration documentation but didn’t have the discipline, change control, and quality practices to maintain the knowledge as the environment evolved.
IT manages noise. My favorite anecdote is about a senior director who held a one-hour operational review meeting EVERY morning with all her senior staff just to understand what happened over the last 23 hours in case her peers or boss called.

Organizations between a level 1 and 1.5 usually have a myriad of problems across multiple dimensions. Assessing these issues can seem overwhelming. In fact, it’s often the hardest thing for an
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With A Little Help From My Friends

By |September 30th, 2013|Categories: time|Tags: , , , , , |0 Comments

In my travels, I try to pick up tidbits to help me be more effective at managing projects. We’ve all seen the various tools, techniques, methodologies, etc. to help us deliver against The Big Three: cost, scope and time—but is that really all there is? The funny thing about projects is that success is declared despite most of the project participants knowing that the outcome was somewhat less than successful. Why is that? You hear things like, “It came in on time, under budget and was executed exactly as documented in the requirements.” So it must have been a success, right? And yet there is an unspoken disappointment because it’s not really entirely what was envisioned.

The other day, I ran across a great piece by Gartner about improving project success. Its premise was that if you focus on three things—Partnership, Requirements and Resources—you can really increase the probability of a successful project outcome. Wow! . . .something different from The Big Three!! I was easily able to relate requirements and resources back to the big three, but what about partnership? The formal definition of “partnership” (courtesy of my dictionary) was of little use, but when I looked at its synonyms, I found words like alliance, collaboration, connection, relation, and union. And that’s when it hit me. Partnership doesn’t relate to the big three but rather comprises the foundation that enables us to deliver on them. Without true partnership, project realization or the ability to deliver the expected value from the project is unlikely.

This should have been obvious considering the successful projects I’ve participated in and led. It was partnership at all levels that helped drive realization. From various IT organizations to external partners to
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