Downtime – The Average is 235 Hours a Year!

Less than half (48%) of large UK companies have a formal policy in place to measure the quality of internal IT operations service and delivery, finds new independent research¹ published today by global IT solutions and services provider Dimension Data. Furthermore, half of IT executives surveyed admitted that they do not have the right level of operations management tools in place to help manage IT. This lack of investment contributes to significant levels of system downtime, equating to 235 hours a year for the average UK company.

Given this situation, it’s unsurprising that fault resolution is the number one issue relating to IT operations for business managers. More than three-quarters (76%) of business managers surveyed said that a performance increase in fault resolution was ‘critical’ to the productivity of their business. Other issues identified where improvements were critical included hardware management (68%) and helpdesk performance (64%).

However, IT executives point out that they lack the proper resources to manage IT operations effectively. Four in five (79%) say they face particular challenges from having to deal with configuration and change management issues, while almost three-quarters (73%) say that operations management cost control is a key problem.

Terry Wilson, Business Development Director, Operations Management Solutions at Dimension Data in the UK, said: “The problem starts with a lack of agreement on measurables such as service level agreements (SLAs). In the majority of cases the IT group is seen as a central overhead, and only two in five companies that we surveyed said that they regularly monitor SLAs. More than a third of IT executives also said that they don’t have any formal SLAs in place and rely on guidelines and informal procedures only. Given the huge importance of IT operations to any organisation, it’s surprising that so few companies have any mechanisms in place to measure their effectiveness, and that so many fail to invest in the right tools and resources to manage them.”

In-house IT departments are also failing to adopt industry standard best practice methodologies that would help them provide high quality services to the business. Only one in 10 companies has adopted the BS15000 standard for systems management for example, while the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) framework has been adopted by just one in five companies. Although use of ITIL is expected to rise in the future to one in four companies, adoption of Six Sigma in this area is not expected to expand beyond the 20% of companies that use it currently.

Another challenge is that communication with the IT team to discuss departmental business issues is sporadic. Although 18% of business managers say that they meet their IT team on a weekly basis, a worrying 31% claim that they never, or hardly ever, meet them at all.

One option that businesses can take is to outsource or out-task different elements of operations management to a third party specialist who can manage processes according to agreed SLAs. Sixty-five per cent of CIOs stated they would consider outsourcing services if the business case was right or it was a truly viable option, with 49% citing “improved service delivery” as the critical benefit.

Terry Wilson concludes: “Our research exposes a clear business risk for organisations in a range of different sectors. By failing to understand and address the reasons for IT downtime, which include a lack of formal SLAs, investment in management tools and slow progress towards quality standards and outsourcing arrangements, organisations are incurring unnecessary risks to their operations and the reputation of their brand. As technology sits at the heart of nearly every business operation, it’s about time that board directors began asking some serious questions about how the value of IT operations to the business is managed and measured.”