Efficient management of IT services and operations in manufacturing

There is a need for an integrated tool to manage the services, operations and assets within the organisation. Shafi Ahamed documents how an organisation can potentially benefit through IT services and operationsShafi Ahamed,CEO and Co-founder, SapphireIMS
As organisations grow, it is found that the management of IT services, operations and infrastructure also becomes increasingly more complex. Earlier, when much of the management could be done with use of simple tools like spreadsheets, the same may not hold true beyond a point.
The IT department has to do this herculean task against a budget which keeps shrinking. Improved user experience and satisfaction, efficiency in operations, managing IT security, better utilisation of assets, regulatory compliance all become necessities for IT to manage. Hence there is a need for an integrated tool to manage the services, operations and assets within the organisation.
Some of the key areas are service desk, asset management, automation of IT operations and business service monitoring.
Using an ITIL-certified software can ensure that the service desk processes are aligned to ITIL standards and helps in implementing ITSM best practices. A service catalogue can be defined which details the services available to users and standardises the services. Workflows for delivering the services can be configured. The workflows can include approval control as some services may require authorisation. Service Level Agreements (SLA) can be defined and the service levels measured. Upon breaches in SLA, there are alerts to get management attention. There are escalations which can be raised and which get directed to the appropriate level based on a pre-defined hierarchy. The tools allow efforts to be captured which in turn can be an input for cost computation and thus provide reports on service costs. The tool can be configured to report status and progress of service requests through SMS or emails to the user who has requested for the service. Finally, tools have some form of knowledge management which allows the knowledge with respect to the services to be captured.
Asset Lifecycle Management is a feature which enables management of assets in the organisation through its life from purchase to disposal. Both IT and non-IT assets can be managed within the same tool. As the asset moves through the lifecycle, there are workflows which can be defined for managing each phase in the lifecycle. For example, a purchase workflow handles the purchase process including purchase order generation, receiving the asset and storing the asset information. In the case of IT assets, the tool can automatically discover an asset connected to the network and collect the inventory which includes the configuration of the assets. This also allows enforcement of IT policies and ensures that IT equipment in the organisation comply with organisation policies. IT assets can be allocated and their installation, movement and changes to configuration as well as support can all be managed through workflows. The workflows can be configured to manage the vendor support also. The tool provides alerts for renewal of maintenance contracts when they are due to expire.
Mobile devices can also be managed through Mobile Device Management capabilities. In addition, tools have support for “bring your own devices” as well. One of the important features is the ability to manage software assets and license compliance. The tool can track license usage with respect to entitlements and helps keep track of any violations of license agreements. Also, unused licenses can be tracked and use of software assets can be improved.
Automation of IT operations is another area where organisations can potentially benefit through the use of right tools. As the number of assets and users in the organisation keep growing, routine tasks like patch management, anti-virus updates, routine maintenance activities, software installation etc. start to consume lots of effort if manually done. Many of these repetitive tasks can be automated and then centrally scheduled and monitored through the tool. Centralised management also allows enforcement and monitoring compliance to organisation IT policies.
Business services like email service can be monitored for ensuring availability. Proactive alerts for corrective steps can be triggered if the service becomes unavailable. This is done by modelling the component services on which the email service is dependent like the underlying application, hardware and network which can be continually monitored.

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