7 Characteristics of a High-Performance IT Organization

December 20, 2012

By Steve Mezak

Re-Engineering_Legacy_Software_AppsFor one reason or another, your IT department has to develop software. Although it may not be a main component of the organization, it is guaranteed to be an important one, and high performance is always something to strive for.

For the company leaders that want the most functionality out of their software development, keep in mind the seven characteristics of a high-performance IT organization, taken from “The Visible Ops Handbook.”

The first characteristic is high levels of service and availability of systems. There should be a low mean time between failures and a low mean time to repair. This ensures that anything that does go wrong is corrected in the shortest amount of time possible.

A high throughput of effective change is the second characteristic. This characteristic is closely related to the first one. When changes are made, they are done quickly, leading to the ability to do more changes over time, in comparison to lesser-performing organizations. This culture of change allows for clearly defined processes that provide stability to a company and prevent ineffective changes.

The third characteristic is high investment early in the IT lifecycle, a characteristic that is particularly critical when developing software. In order to achieve stable and predictable service levels, high-performance IT organizations use their resources and people early in the operational lifecycle. Much of the work and testing is accomplished up front, rather than spending time fixing issues after a release. When choosing an outsource partner, you need a vendor that is familiar with hosting and security issues.

As important is the fourth characteristic, which is establishing a good integration between operations and security. This simply means that the security is built into everything they do It is something that is high priority rather than an afterthought. Security concerns are taken care of before anything goes to market, to prevent unauthorized access to the programming.

The fifth characteristic specifies that all software should meet external compliance requirements, including ISO 27001. A company should consistently be careful about completing audits, and verifications, reporting regularly on the changes that are made. A strong willingness to comply greatly impacts IT.

A strong collaboration between various job functions in the working relationships between operations and security, as well as others that interact with IT is the sixth characteristic.

Finally, the seventh characteristic is low amounts of unplanned work. Everything is planned ideally so there is very little that comes along unexpectedly.

There is an eighth characteristic, but it is not emphasized due to its controversial nature. It is suggested that there should be a server to system administrator ratio of one hundred to one, but this could be used as an excuse to cut manpower within the IT department rather than use their resources to fix servers.

Those who plan ahead are the most successful companies, and some of our own partners are very proud of their high-quality software. These seven characteristics of high-performance IT organizations, from “The Visible Ops Handbook,” are the building blocks of any high performing IT organization, and this book is highly recommended to any IT department.

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