09/01/2008 by Marco Gerussi
Historically developed IT structure
Within their IT organizations, enterprises historically distinguish between project business, IT operations and IT development. In addition to these separate areas, there are several processes and systems for project requests, notification of incidents and problem management.
ITIL, PRINCE2 and PMI are Used Separately within their Silos?
For these processes, there are standards such as the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL), PRINCE2 and the PMBOK of Project Management Institute (PMI). But the project management office (PMO) and the change advisory board (CAB) execute their requests and analyses separately. This way of thinking in separate categories creates redundancies and ignores the synergistic potential. Interdependencies and influencing factors are neglected. IT Service Management Forum (ITSMF) states:
„Change management is responsible for the control of changes within the productive environment. It is not responsible for changes within running projects. However, a close coordination between development project managers and the change manager is expected.“
From a project perspective, PRINCE2 and PMI require that operation must be included into planning. But the prioritization process in classical project portfolio management only covers project requests. Also change requests are only managed for projects. Neither of the two seems to be responsible. However, regarding them in isolation from one annother is a barrier to a holistic handling which enables a provisioning of IT services conforming with strategy.
An Isolating View has Negative Effects
There is no basis on which decision makers could define an order of priority for the activities between project business and IT operations. Although IT service management (ITSM) as well as project portfolio management (PPM) are already implemented and operated with a good process maturity level, the list of problems is long. Typical examples are:
- Repeated processing of the same objects
- Intransparent dependencies create higher risks
- Troubleshooting and project implementation are delayed
- Inaccurate planning due to lack of information
- Critical resources can not be optimally used
- Service level agreements (SLA) are defined only selectively
- Changes cannot be tested comprehensively
Comprehensive Service Portfolio Management is Desirable
- Would it be helpful to view and evaluate all requests and requirements?
- Could harmonizing the individual release processes (CAB und PMO) facilitate IT control?
- Would pooling of problems and projects increase efficiency?
- Could a holistic resource and schedule planning help to reach overall enterprise goals more efficiently?
- Would a comprehensive view on risks help to avoid failures of IT operations?
The Solution: Problem Portfolio as Part of Service Portfolio
For these requirements, there are no established standards. The following method of procedure helps to clearly improve the efficiency of IT organziations:
1. Establishing a problem portfolio
- Situation analysis of incident, problem and change management
- Definition of requirements for an overall problem management handling
- Definition of an integrative problem management process
- Harmonizing with incident and change management
- Establishing a problem portfolio as a control instrument
2. Expanding and integrating service portfolio management
- Defining standardized evaluation criteria and weighting scales
- Determining qualification features of the different events (incident, changes, problems, requests, projects and so on)
- Synchronizing events with project portfolio management
- Establishing comprehensive analysis, release, planning and implementation processes
- Expanding project portfolio to become a comprehensive service portfolio
- Embedding problem portfolio into comprehensive service portfolio & project management
- Aligning resource planning comprehensively with IT
ITIL, PRINCE2 and PMI are highly useful frameworks capable of laying the foundation of an IT organization. But in order to challenge the „silo mentality“ and to take adequate advantage of them, they must be integrated with one another forming a holistic service portfolio & project management. Otherwise, they will be nothing but paper tigers.