Complexity is a recurring theme for today’s infrastructure and operations (I&O) executives. Complexity is currently cited as the root cause of all IT operations ills. I&O teams are desperately trying to reduce or abstract it, but there is precious little information as to what complexity is and how to evaluate it. Today’s I&O executives must tackle complexity by learning what it is and how it applies to IT operations. To do so, I&O must focus on the bigger picture and how IT operations interconnect and interrelate. To get started, assess six key indicators:
1) time management;
2) release and deployment of business services;
3) configuration and change management;
4) incident and problem management;
5) infrastructure projects; and
6) batch updates and applications. From there you can remediate the complexity by focusing on the people, process, and technology associated with the underlying activities.
The report is available at http://www.forrester.com/rb/Research/assessing_complexity_in_it_operations/
Nolio was interviews for this report.
Four Questions Every I&O Exec Should Use To Start Measuring Complexity
The foundation of complexity theory is that a complex system’s behavior can’t be predicted.
Managing complexity throughout the enterprise is based on the recognition that all organizations
are changing due to the ever-evolving relationships and interactions between components, with
results that are impossible to predict. Complexity management focuses on perceiving complexity
patterns and using these patterns to signal changes needed in the organization. Complexity
management then leads to organizations that are constantly adapting to their environment and are
capable of constantly improving themselves. So what does all this mean for I&O? Attempting to use
these same concepts for IT operations leads to the following questions:
- What is the difference between maturity models and complexity assessments? Maturity
models and best practices paint everybody with the same broad brush, but IT operations come
in different shapes and sizes. A complexity assessment is an early detection of an organization’s
capability limits in its own context, not a generic one. It is fundamentally a problem similar to
capacity planning: detecting the point at which a specific organization is saturated by demand
and can no longer function efficiently.
- What are the consequences of not doing a complexity assessment? IT operations are
intuitively conducting such assessments, by deciding, for example, that more resources are
needed in a particular process or function. Not understanding the need for extra resources
would lead to saturation of that specific process and the risk of tasks not being done on time,
with a ripple effect on other IT operations’ functions and processes.
- How is such an assessment conducted? It has to be a simple, pragmatic approach that looks
at the effect of complexity in an IT operation. The objective is to detect how well a given
organization is able to cope with the current issues and determine whether extra capacity is
available to absorb more changes and complexity.
- What are the corrective actions? Once it’s determined that an IT operation is close to its
breaking point, I&O execs must take measures to remove the complexity obstacles. These
include increasing staff, simplifying the infrastructure and applications, streamlining processes,
or automating routine tasks.