Building Operational Excellence: An Exercise


I'm reading a book by Bruce Allen and Dale Kutnick called "Building Operational Excellence: IT People and Process Best Practices." Allen is a Vice President and Kutnick is CEO of the META group. I'm about one-third through this book and really enjoying it. I'll write a full review of the book later, but there was something that caught my eye in Chapter 2 that I thought was worth noting now.

Allen and Kutnick focus on processes which they define as sets of related tasks. They create a process maturity model (PMM) that is based on the Capability Maturity Model for software. Chapter 2 contains a table of common IT processes which I reproduce here.

Application Optimization Negotiation Management
Asset Management Network Monitoring
Budget Management Output Management
Business Continuity Performance Management
Business Relationship Management Physical Database Management
Capacity Management Problem Management
Change Management Production Acceptance
Configuration Management Production Control
Contract Management Quality Assurance
Contractor Management Security Management
Cost Recovery Management Service-Level Management
Database Administration (physical) SLA Management
Disk Storage Management Service Request Management
Facilities Management Software Distribution
Hardware Support Software Management
Infrastructure Planning System Monitoring
Inventory Management Tape Management
Job Scheduling Test Lab Management
Middleware Management Workload Monitoring

The claim is not that this list is all inclusive or that all organizations will perform all of these processes. Still, most large IT organizations probably perform most of them. Here's the exercise: identify which of these processes (or any others) that your IT organization performs. Now, take one and identify the tasks that make up that process. Rank each task on a scale of 1 to 10 on how mature you think your organization is at performing it. There's a complete process catalog in the book which you can use to benchmark your answers.

Allen and Kutnick list ten attributes that they use to describe and classify processes. If you use these to describe your processes, you'll be able to easily compare them to the process catalog in the book. These include:

Process Name Automation Level
Stability Purpose
Skills Tasks
Staffing Automation Technology
Best Practices Metrics
Cross-Process Integration Futures

Some of these are merely textual descriptions and others are rankings on a 1 to 10 scale. They use these to form templates for processes that remind me in some ways of the standardized ways of defining software patterns.