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Better Managing IT and Business Performance During a Season of Peak Demand


This week I’m continuing to write about using process goals in the COBIT 5 standard to improve your IT performance, but I’m shifting the focus from development to ops. We’ll start by looking at availability and capacity.


According to COBIT, managing the availability and capacity process is about balancing current and future needs for availability, performance, and capacity with cost-effective service provisioning. This includes assessing current capabilities, forecasting future needs, analyzing business impacts, and assessing risks for identified future requirements. Wait a minute, didn’t say earlier that I was moving from development to ops? I did, but for the area of availability and capacity, operational leaders are responsible for assessing the risk as well as the implementation requirements for meeting for requirements in the planning stage.


How many ops leaders really get involved early? I know one VP of Ops that expressed frustration with not having insight into future demand from the business, but at same time said “My decisions cannot be focused more than a few months out.” COBIT is saying this must change. After all, the whole purpose of the availability and capacity process is to maintain service availability, efficient management of resources, as well as optimize system performance through prediction of future performance and capacity requirements.


Goals for availability and capacity

To improve the management of availability and capacity, COBIT 5 suggests IT organizations measure themselves against three process improvement goals. Let’s explore each along with their recommended metrics to get a better idea of the impact of this process as a whole. 


1.                  The availability plan anticipates the business expectation of critical capacity requirements. If we do this right, the business should just run if we ignore the success rate of changes. One metric is used to measure success against this goal: Number of unplanned capacity, performance, or availability upgrades. Poor performance against this metric suggests that either we have our eye off the ball or we are failing to work closely enough with business customers or appropriately anticipate their needs.

2.                  Capacity, performance, and availability meet requirements. Here, we are looking for a strong connection between and dev and ops. We want systems to perform as specified in their requirements. For this goal, three metrics are recommended: number of transaction peaks where target performance is exceeded, number of availability incidents, and number of events where capacity has exceeded planned limits. The first implies that transaction volumes are exceeding targets. This implies a poor job of planning or understanding customer needs. The number of availability incidents being high implies poor service or system design or, even worse, underestimating demand. Any of these is bad news for IT as a whole. And the last metric implies that the capacity plan is inappropriately created. This is also bad news for IT and maybe the business as well.

3.                  Availability, performance, and capacity issues are identified and routinely resolved. This says that when there is an issue of any kind it is fixed so there is minimal business disruption. This is what we want. One metric is recommended to manage this process goal: number and percentage of unresolved availability, performance, and capacity issues. Clearly, this number better be small.

So where should you start?


As always, my suggestion is that you start where the most immediate value can be driven. But if it were up to just me, I would start with process goal No. 3: availability, performance, and capacity issues are identified and routinely resolved. This is foundational in my opinion. What do you think? What would be first on your list? I would love to hear back from you.


Related links:

Blog post: Making COBIT 5 part of your IT strategy

Blog post: COBIT 5’s scorecard measures IT’s relationship with its customers

Blog post: COBIT 5 scorecard measures the quality of IT’s financial performance COBIT 5

Solution page:  IT Performance Management

Twitter: @MylesSuer

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About the Author


Mr. Suer is a senior manager for IT Performance Management. Prior to this role, Mr. Suer headed IT Performance Management Analytics Product Management including IT Financial Management and Executive Scorecard.

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