The Value of Defined Process within an IT Organization
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In IT organizations, there is a wide range of points of view surrounding the definition of processes within the group. Why is organizational process definition important? Which methods need to be defined? How much time to spend working on this effort? What level of detail should be defined? These are just a few questions that are asked within the organization when discussing this topic. The goal of this post is to highlight a few of these questions and some corresponding basic approaches.
Why is Organizational Process Definition Important?
If an activity is taken up without a plan or an approach, it can be defined as an ad-hoc solution. Over time, an ad-hoc approach will result in lower quality and an ultimately lower value to the organization. If your end goal is business or organizational success, then quality and value need to be increased. Many methodologies apply to the IT organization, and all of them place value on the definition of process.
Which Organizational Processes need to be Defined?
This can vary based on the IT organization; however, a good rule of thumb is to start with those processes which are high risk to the organization, contain a high level of complexity, or have a high failure rate. Each of these will vary by organization, but within any IT organization, some processes fall into these categories. Changing a firewall rule, hardening a device for foreign travel, or de-activating a former employee’s account and data are just a few examples.
How Much Time to Spend on this Effort?
This can vary based on the IT organization; however, spending just a few hours week to define processes will result in time saved over a year. As with any organizational goal, it takes leadership and discipline from all staff to contribute to the effort. Start small to prove out the concept and incrementally adjust as needed.
What Level of Detail Should be Defined?
Enough detail to understand the basic concepts behind the process. You can be agile here and continually add more information as time goes on, and maturity in the process grows. Generally, several sentences answering each of the following questions is a good start:
1) Who owns, executes, and benefits from the process?
2) What is the process?
3) When do we perform the process?
4) Where are the tools, documentation, or other artifacts to complete the process?
5) Why do we do have the process, and what value does it provide?
6) How does the process start, finish, and interact with other
How can Organizational Process Definition Help Us?
Taking activities from ad-hoc to a documented state can help increase the operational maturity within an organization. By taking some necessary steps, an IT organization can see value relatively quickly in the areas of quicker process execution, fewer errors in process execution, and broader staff capability to perform the task. Each of these contributes to increasing the quality of the process, resulting in a higher value for the IT organization or business.