Six steps to Windows IT service management

Managing a Windows IT service management structure encompasses everything, from developing a plan to monitoring and reporting service quality. Expert Harris Kern explains how to harness the complicated world of Windows IT service management and shares his experiences with implementing and executing a solid structure.

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Harris Kern
Harris Kern
Windows IT service management is the cornerstone of your IT organization. Covering everything related to planning, providing, monitoring, coordinating and reporting service quality, Windows IT service management drives all aspects of managing an effective IT organization.

As an IT manager, you have to consider quite a lot when surveying the state of your Windows IT service management. The entire structure involves service-level agreements, Windows server availability and capacity, Windows security, and production operations management. Then you have to consider the Windows support processes like Windows upgrades and migrations and configuration and release management.

Not to worry. There is a process for implementing and managing a Windows IT service management structure.

A case in point

Recently, I was hired by a small IT organization with a Windows environment, which was supporting a rapidly growing company. The issues this company faced in regards to their Windows IT infrastructure were enormous:

  • Poor system availability
  • Poor customer support
  • Poor communications
  • Inefficient
  • Reactive nature
  • Lacked organization structure
  • Lacked service-level agreements
  • Lack of respect throughout the business
  • My objective was to implement structure and change the staff culture from reactive (support mentality) to proactive; creative and resourceful (service-oriented) and to focus equally on people development and service management. My overall goal was to improve IT performance by doing more (efficiently) with less.

    Here are the results:

  • Designed a formal Windows IT infrastructure support organization based on a customer-oriented (proactive) approach for infrastructure services
  • Improved customer satisfaction
  • Integrated the Windows IT infrastructure with business objectives
  • Got the staff to do more with less
  • Six steps to Windows IT service management

    In order to get to those results, we used the following six steps, which can pay off for you, too:

    Step 1: Define your Windows IT services

    First, you need to identify, understand and describe the services your Windows IT organization provides. It is important to describe these services from the customers' perspective and cover service levels and main service components and to focus on aligning IT with desired business outcomes. So, if you're planning to migrate to Windows Vista or Windows Server 2008 (Longhorn), figure out the technical aspects of that migration as well as how the attributes of these new operating systems affect your organization's business processes.

    Step 2: Define your Windows IT service levels

    For well-defined service levels, you need to describe and quantify expectations for the services your Windows IT organization provides to its customers. You also need to define service levels your vendors provide to your IT organization. The main objective is to set specific targets to evaluate performance and to provide a foundation to define formal agreements and the quality of service. With appropriate performance measurements, your IT organization can provides acceptable levels of service. For example, IT service levels may cover hours of operation (24 by 7 support), connectivity (redundant network connections), availability (99.99% uptime), capacity, accessibility, backup and restore, disaster recovery, call response and problem management.

    Step 3: Identify Windows IT growth projections

    To plan capacity you have to quantify the expected growth in Windows IT service demand. The best projections are based on models that use built-in feedback mechanisms to ensure accurate inputs and planning assumptions. IT growth projections may also include strategies for meeting anticipated growth. The main objective is to understand Windows IT performance and capacity characteristics in order to determine their impact on Windows IT services. With an understanding of the factors that impact the demand for IT services, you will have the right capacity to achieve desired service levels and will optimize the use of IT resources.

    Step 4: Identify critical Windows IT assets

    You need to identify the key components of your Windows IT services, covering people, process and technology. Without these components, the committed service levels cannot be achieved. Your objective is to understand critical Windows IT assets and their impact on Windows IT services. With an understanding of critical Windows IT assets, you can make special provisions for availability and security to achieve committed levels of service.

    Step 5: Identify Windows IT opportunities and risks

    Windows IT opportunities are conditions that could be exploited to improve Windows IT services for the benefit of your business. Conversely, risks are threats and vulnerabilities that may need to be mitigated. The objective is to understand your IT organization's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats so appropriate actions can be taken. At any point in time, be aware of opportunities for and threats to your IT organization's ability to achieve committed service levels.

    Step 6: Establish Windows IT control and design objectives

    Establish key criteria for the design and management of Windows IT services and the underlying Windows IT infrastructure. The main objective is to identify and understand the criteria to assess, build and manage Windows IT services and provide linkages with Windows IT services and the underlying elements of the Windows IT infrastructure. With well-defined control and design objectives, you can achieve service levels in a cost-effective way. You can use principles such as: CoBIT, SysTrust Principles and ITIL assessment to evaluate your Windows infrastructure.

    Harris Kern is the author of 44 IT and self-help books. He is recognized as the foremost authority on providing practical guidance for solving IT management issues. Harris is the founder behind Harris Kern's Enterprise Computing Institute and the best-selling series of books published by Prentice Hall. The series includes titles such as IT Services, IT Organization, and CIO Wisdom. Harris can be reached at harris@harriskern.com.


    This was first published in May 2007

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