Operational Reviews

IT OPERATIONAL REVIEWS DEFINED
An IT operational review is an in-depth and objective review of an entire organisation or a specific segment of that organisation. It can be used to identify and address existing concerns within your company such as communication issues between departments, problems with customer relations, operating procedures, lack of profitability issues, and other factors that affect the stability of the business.
Operational reviews allow the organisation members to evaluate how well they are performing, given that they perform appropriately according to the procedures set by them, allocating their resources properly, and performing such tasks within time frame set and using cost-effective measures. More importantly, it also shows your company how well it is prepared to meet future challenges.
Simply put, the goals of an operational review are to increase revenue, improve market share, and reduce cost.

THE BENEFITS OF AN IT OPERATIONAL REVIEW
The main objective of IT operational reviews is to help organisations like yours learn how to deal with and address issues, instead of simply reacting to the challenges brought about by growth and change.
In such review, the information provided is practical from both a financial and operational perspective. Using these data, the management can then come up with recommendations, which are not only realistic, but more importantly, can help the organisation achieve its goals. The review recognises the extent to which your internal controls actually work, and enables you to identify and understand your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats

To be more specific, let’s list down the ways wherein an effective operational review can contribute to the success of the organisation.

The review process can:
– assess compliance within your own organisational objectives, policies and procedures;
– evaluate specific company operations independently and objectively;
– give an impartial assessment regarding the effectiveness of an organisation’s control systems;
– identify the appropriate standards for quantifying achievement of organisational objectives;
– evaluate the reliability and value of the company’s management data and reports;
– pinpoint problem areas and their underlying causes;
– give rise to opportunities that may increase profit, augment revenue, and reduce costs without sacrificing the quality of the product or service.
Thus, each operational review conducted is unique, and can be holistic or specific to the activities of one department.

Our Operational Efficiencies cover the entire spectrum:

  • What to buy
  • Optimising what you’ve already bought e.g. underutilised servers, duplicate processes, poorly managed bandwidths
  • Making your team comfortable with the changes
  • Instilling Best Practices

UNCOVER WAYS TO DRIVE YOUR PROFITS UP, THROUGH OPERATIONAL REVIEWS

More Operational Review Blogs

Is Change Management a Myth or a Possibility

The theory that it is possible to manage organizational change (Change Management) in a particular direction has done the rounds for quite some time, but is it true about Change Management. Was Barrack Obama correct when he said, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we have been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”
Or, was business coach Kelly A Morgan more on the button when she commented, “Changes are inevitable and not always controllable. What can be controlled is how you manage, react to, and work through the change process.” Let us consult the evidence and see what statisticians say.

What the Melcrum Report Tells Us
Melcrum are “internal communication specialists who work alongside leaders and teams around the globe to build skills and best practice in internal communication.” They published a report after researching over 1,000 companies that attempted change management and advised:

• More than 50% report improved customer satisfaction

• 33% report higher productivity

• 28% report improvements in employee advocacy

• 27% improved status as a great place to work

• 27% report increased profitability

• 25% report improved absenteeism
Sounds great until we flip the mirror around and consider what the majority apparently said:
• 50% had no improvement in customer service

• 67% did not report increased productivity

• 72% did not note improvements in employee advocacy

• 73% had no improved status among job seekers

• 73% did not report increased profitability

• 75% did not report any reduction of employee absenteeism

This shows it is still a great idea to hear what all parties have to say before reaching a conclusion. You may be interested to know the Melcrum report gave rise to the legend that 70% of organisation change initiatives fail. This finding has repeated numerous times. Let’s hear what the psychologists have to say next.
There is a certain amount of truth in the old adage that says, “You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him drink.” Which of us has not said, “Another flavour of the week … better keep heads down until it passes” during a spell in the corporate world. You cannot change an organization, but you can change an individual.
At the height of the Nazi occupation of 1942, French philosopher-writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said, “A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral”. Psychology Today suggests five false assumptions change management rests upon, THAT ARE SIMPLY NOT TRUE.

1. The external world is orderly, stable, predictable and can be managed

2. Change managers are objective, and do not import their personal bias

3. The world is static and orderly and can be changed in linear steps

4. There is a neutral starting point where we can gather all participants

5. Change is worthy in itself, because all change is an improvement

Leo Tolstoy wrote, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” A prophet can work no miracles unless the people believe. From the foregoing, it is evident that change management of an organization is a 70% impossibility, but encouraging an individual to grow is another matter.
A McKinsey Report titled Change Leader, Change Thyself fingers unbelieving managers as the most effective stumbling stones to change management. To change as individuals – and perhaps collectively change as organizations – we need to “come to our own full richness”, and as shepherds lead our flock to their “promised land”, whatever that may be. Conversely, herding our flock with a pack of sheepdogs extinguishes that most precious thing of all, human inspiration.

How DevOps Oils the Value Chain

DevOps – a clipped compound of development and operations – is a way of working whereby software developers are in a team with project beneficiaries. A client centred approach extends the project plan to include the life cycle of the product or service, for which the software is developed.

We can then no longer speak of a software project for say Joe’s Accounting App. The software has no intrinsic value of its own. It follows that the software engineers are building an accounting app product. This is a small, crucially important distinction, because they are no longer in a silo with different business interests.

To take the analogy further, the developers are no longer contractors possibly trying to stretch out the process. They are members of Joe’s accounting company, and they are just as keen to get to market fast as Joe is to start earning income. DevOps uses this synergy to achieve the overarching business goal.

A Brief Introduction to OpsDev

You can skip this section if you already read this article. If not then you need to know that DevOps is a culture, not a working method. The three ‘members’ are the software developers, the beneficiaries, and a quality control mechanism. The developers break their task into smaller chunks instead of releasing the code to quality control as a single batch. As a result, the review process happens contiguously along these simplified lines.

CodeQCTest
CodeQCTest
CodeQCTest
CodeQCTest
Colour KeyDevelopersQuality ControlBeneficiary

 

This is a marked improvement over the previously cumbersome method below.

Write the CodeTest the CodeUse the Code
Evaluate, Schedule for Next Review

 

Working quickly and releasing smaller amounts of code means the OpsDev team learns quickly from mistakes, and should come to product release ahead of any competitor using the older, more linear method. The shared method of working releases huge resources in terms of user experience and in-line QC practices. Instead of being in a silo working on its own, development finds it has a richer brief and more support from being ‘on the same side of the organization’.

The Key Role that Application Program Interfaces Play

Application Program Interfaces, or API’s for short, are building blocks for software applications. Using proprietary software-bridges speeds this process up. A good example would be the PayPal applications that we find on so many websites today. API’s are not just for commercial sites, and they can reduce costs and improve efficiency considerably.

The following diagram courtesy of TIBCO illustrates how second-party applications integrate with PayPal architecture via an API façade.

Working quickly and releasing smaller amounts of code means the OpsDev team learns quickly from mistakes, and should come to product release ahead of any competitor using the older, more linear method. The shared method of working releases huge resources in terms of user experience and in-line QC practices. Instead of being in a silo working on its own, development finds it has a richer brief and more support from being ‘on the same side of the organization’.

imgd2.jpg

 

The DevOps Revolution Continues …

We close with some important insights from an interview with Jim Stoneham. He was general manager of the Yahoo Communities business unit, at the time Flickr became a part. “Flickr was a codebase,” Jim recalls, “that evolved to operate at high scale over 7 years – and continuing to scale while adding and refining features was no small challenge. During this transition, it was a huge advantage that there was such an integrated dev and ops team”

The ‘maturity model’ as engineers refer to DevOps status currently, enables developers to learn faster, and deploy upgrades ahead of their competitors. This means the client reaches and exceeds break-even sooner. DevOps lubricates the value chain so companies add value to a product faster. One reason it worked so well with Flickr, was the immense trust between Dev and Ops, and that is a lesson we should learn.

“We transformed from a team of employees to a team of owners. When you move at that speed, and are looking at the numbers and the results daily, your investment level radically changes. This just can’t happen in teams that release quarterly, and it’s difficult even with monthly cycles.” (Jim Stoneham)

The Child at Work: Fun Team Builds with LEGO SERIOUS PLAY

There is a child just below the surface in all of us. When were kids, adults lopped off the sharp bits that intruded into their ‘genteel’ society. Schools, to their everlasting shame sanded away our unique free spirits, as they stuck us into uniforms and imposed a daily classroom discipline. We received badges and prizes if we obeyed, and strict sanctions when we did not. This produced a generation of middle-age managers who no longer know how to play.

Life can be so deadly serious …

Things work pretty much the same in business. Life is deadly serious. If we want to keep our jobs, we must deliver on the bottom line in our departments. There is little time for fun outside the Christmas party, when we may, within the limits of decorum engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation, rather than a serious or practical purpose.

Team builds (and strategic planning sessions) can be deadly boring affairs that proceed down narrow funnels defined by human resource facilitators. No matter how hard HR they may try, the structural hierarchy will remain intact, unless they find a way to set it aside during the program. Injecting fun into the occasion liberates independent thought, and this is why.

… But not for a little child at play

Next time you dine out at a branded family restaurant, select a seat that allows you observe the kiddies’ play zone. Notice how inventive children become, when the family hierarchy is not there to tell them what to do (although parents may try from the wrong side of the soundproof glass). The ‘serious play’ side of fun team-builds aims to liberate managers by releasing their child for the duration. Shall we dig a little deeper into this and discover the dynamics?

Many of us have less than perfect oral communication skills. This is one of the great impediments to modern business meetings. We may not have sufficient time to formulate our thoughts for them to remain relevant when we speak. When we express them, we sense the group’s impatience for us to hurry up, so other members can have their opportunity to contribute.

Sharing better thinking with LEGO® bricks

Most of us feel an urge to click the brightly coloured plastic bricks together that carpenter Ole Kirk Christiansen released into a war-weary world in 1949. The basic kit is a great leveller because the blocks are all the same, and the discriminators are the colours and the power of our imagination. Watching a free-form LEGO builder in action is equally fascinating, as we wonder ‘what they will do next’ and ‘what is happening in their mind.’

Examples of LEGO Serious PLAY in action

Instead of asking team members to describe themselves in a minute, a LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® facilitator may gather them around a table piled high with LEGO bricks instead, and ask them to each build a model of themselves. The atmosphere is informal with interaction and banter encouraged. It is still serious play though, as team members get to know each other, and their own personalities better

The system is equally effective in strategic sessions, where the facilitator provides specially selected building blocks for the team to experiment with as they learn to listen, and share. This enables them to deconstruct a problem into its component parts, and share solutions regardless of seniority, culture, and communication skills.

Creating problem- and solution-landscapes three dimensionally this way, enables open conversations that keep the focus on the problem. Participants at these team builds do not only reach effective consensus faster. They are also busy building better communication skills as they do.

The Future of Cloud Backup and Recovery

We came across a post on Docurated that pulled together thirty-seven suggestions for the top cloud storage mistakes user companies make. Given that cloud storage seems to be the best backup solution for now at least, we decided to turn these ideas around to sense the direction cloud backup and recovery needs to take, if it is still to be relevant in say ten years’ time.

Has Cloud Storage Largely Saturated the West?
It probably has. Outside of major corporates who make their own arrangements – and SME’s that use free services by email providers – the middle band of companies in Europe and America have found their service providers, although they may have never tested the recovery process, to see if it works.

The new gold rush in the cloud backup and recovery business is, or should be emerging markets in Asia, Africa, South America, and the Middle East. There, connectivity is brittler than over here. To be relevant in these fragile, more populous areas our cloud backup and recovery industry need to be more agile and nimble.

• It must provide a simpler service emerging commerce can afford, refresh its user interfaces in third world languages, have more accessible help, and be patient to explain how cloud storage works to newbies. In other words, it must source its call centre operators in the areas it serves.

• It must adapt to local connectivity standards, and stop expecting someone with ADSL broadband to keep up with cloud server networks running at up to 1GBPS compared to their 10MBPS at best. For user sourcing and retention purposes, these new cloud backup and recovery services must be the ones who adapt.

• It must facilitate disaster recovery simulations among its clients in calmer moments when things are going well. Are they backing up the right files, are they updating these, and are their brittle ADSL networks able to cope with their cloud service providers’ upload and download speeds?

• It must develop lean and agile systems slim enough to accommodate a micro client starting out, but sufficiently elastic to transfer them seamlessly to big data performance. The Asian, African, South American, and Middle Eastern regions are volume driven, and individual economies of scale are still rare.

• It must not expect its users to know automatically what they need, and be honest to admit that Western solutions may be wrong-sized. Conversion funnels in the new gold rush are bound to be longer. Engagements there depend on trust, not elevator sales letters. Our competition in these countries already works this way.

• It must be honest and admit cloud storage is only part of the solution. To recruit and retain users it must step back to 1983, when Compuserve offered its customers 128k of disc space, and spent an amount of effort explaining how to filter what to put there.

Cloud Storage of Data is Only One Part of the Solution
Governance reports and stock certificates burn just as easily as do servers in a fire. We must not transfer bad habits to exciting new markets. We close this article with the thoughts of John Howie, COO of Cloud Security Alliance, as reported in the Docurated post we mentioned, and these apply across the globe, we believe.
There is no single most important thing to carry forward into the future of cloud backup and recovery. We must be mindful when moving data that this can be fragile too. We must also create layers of backup the way insurance companies reinsure, that make any one cloud backup and recovery business redundant if it happens.
We hold the trust of our customers in our hands but trust is delicate too. We must cease trying to make a pile of money quickly, and become more interested in ensuring that data transferred back and forth is synchronised. The cloud backup and recovery industry needs only one notorious mistake, to become redundant itself in the ten years we mentioned.