Every day I speak to professionals in the IT industry about improving IT performance. Whether it’s increasing tracking of purchased assets, or simply handling requests for new assets and services, one common theme is consistent: Everyone knows where they want to be.

However, another common theme also manifests itself: No one really knows where they are.

The journey toward continual improvement is based on four fundamental principles:

1. Know where you want to go.

2. Know where you are.

3. Plan the steps to get from where you are to where you are going.

4. Monitor and measure progress to ensure you are directionally accurate and equipped with the right resources.

Simple enough? Well, not quite. The first principle is pretty straightforward. I could confidently say that 90 percent of IT organizations will have the following as their destination goals:

1. Create high levels of trust throughout the business for durable, high-performing, cost-effective IT services.

2. Establish levels of organizational agility and transparency to provide business growth through capitalization of cross-functional shared services.

3. Operate technology-enabled business services with the lowest cost of ownership and risk, while maintaining compliance and regulatory requirements.

How did I do? Pretty close? Here’s the basic reality:

IT is like an onion; it has many layers. (Okay, it’s like a parfait.)

Core IT operations have continued to move up the layers in their utility.

For example, Internet, power, voice, and data center operations are core services in most organizations that are acquired as a service from third-party vendors. Operating systems, database, storage, email, and other layers of IT have now also become utilities that can just be purchased as a service. HR systems, sale workforce systems, and even ITSM platforms are all now another layer of IT capability being purchased as a service.

So while it’s pretty straightforward for IT to want to know where it’s going, you can see where you are has become really complex.

Asset management

Take asset management. Asset managers have traditionally worked in finance—under the direction of a controller—tracking what was purchased, who had what asset, and when it could be written off the books. Now asset managers are more focused on contracts for entitlement, vendor and third-party risk, and asset to service alignment for Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and Service Level Management (SLM) for effective asset governance.

The layers of services and assets that IT has to wade through forces them to increase controls for governance and policy management. Yet, at the same time, business drivers are forcing IT to be more agile and responsive to business demand.

So, how can IT improve performance under such seemingly opposing agendas?

Where you are is relative. Doing things right or fast is just matter of perspective. The only way to truly know where you are is to put your current performance into context. Managers must gain insight into context by contrasting the reality vs. the need.

For example, many organizations reach out to Ivanti because they want to improve their self-service. They get very excited to have users fill in details on their own into the ITSM tool, thinking this is going to help transparency and build trust.

In reality, users don’t want to fix their own issues. They want to not have issues. They don’t want to search knowledge, they want to get answers and get back to work.

Insights: Where are you now?

Do you know:

  • What are your top five service requests? (New laptops, password reset, new user accounts, access permissions to files/data, etc.)
  • What are your top five incident generating systems? (Email, CRM, ERP, network, etc.)
  • Who are your worst performing service providers? (Telecom, data center, Internet, backup, etc.)

Knowing the answers to these questions is crucial to how you will take your next steps toward where you want to go.


With automation, you can now get there faster with greater consistency and compliance.

For example: Access and identity management. Having a self-service request item in a portal is a great start. However, just having one employee ask another employee to do something does not get you to where you want to go (review the three destination goals).

True performance is looking at creating agility and compliance through automation. Have your request catalog capture the access request, manage the approval, then perform the privilege extension, all the while recording who asked, who approved, and what changed.

Focusing on the top five and automation through these pressure points will eventually create excess capacity within IT. With this relief of constraint will come the ability to plan more proactively and assess the performance of supporting areas (externally and internally).

Through the unification of governance and automation, organizations are building institutional process improvements for ITSM, ITAM, and Identity Access Management which improve IT throughout and increase IT’s value.

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