The job of managing Enterprise Information Technology comes with the knowledge that at any point in any day – something could go wrong and cause critical business problems. We have so many pieces of hardware and software that are connected, interdependent, and unfortunately hard to manage. We have people who are connected, interdependent, and have varying degrees of management difficulty. We have bad guys trying to steal or corrupt our data and a growing demand for new services and systems.
Recently William Vanderbloemen wrote a piece for Forbes that offered some brilliant advice for Entrepreneurs that I believe is particularly relevant for Enterprise Information Technology Executives. He used the recent European Open Golf Tournament (aka British Open) as a teaching lesson. If you saw any part of that tournament you would have seen that there are hundreds of sand bunkers and they are some of the deepest and most treacherous you would have ever seen.
Great golfers learn early on that the best way to hit the ball out of the bunker is to not hit the ball into the bunker in the first place. For example, Tiger Woods won the British Open in 2001 despite there being 112 bunkers and he had to play the course on four successive days (448 bunkers in play) – he never hit the ball into the bunker over those four days.
Bunkers suck and system outages suck. The best way to deal with both of these events is to avoid these events.
I think there are four key steps to take to stay out of the bunker in Enterprise Information Technology.
- Enhance Your Change Management Discipline
Yes, we all have heard that the vast majority of outages are self-inflicted – but have we truly instilled and inspected our Change Management Discipline? Is it part of your organization’s DNA? Most importantly, are we continually learning from past changes and any/every service disruption and using those lessons to strengthen our processes and technology fabric? Is our Change Management Program a strength in our organization?
- Simplify Architecture
This is so easy to say/recommend and not that easy to do. But technologies available today provide powerful abstraction management layers on top of the complex technology components (for both hardware and software). Your Infrastructure of tomorrow should resemble AWS in your private cloud – with monitoring, self-healing, and high resiliency.
- Simplify (Automate) Processes
Repeatable processes need to be automated and workflows that string together processes need to be orchestrated.
- Continue to Build and Improve Your Team
Even with abstraction management layers, incredible technology, connected micro-services, automation, and orchestration – the most important piece of your capabilities stack is in your people. Continually refine and improve how you hire (even in today’s job market) – hiring mistakes are your number one problem. Continually work to retain the people you hired – attrition is your number two problem.