Category Archives: IT Management

MTBF

Mean Time between Failures (MTBF) is the average or mean time between system failures, often referred to as a device’s “useful life.” Calculation of MTBF is under the assumption that a system fixes itself after a failure, and then placed in service immediately after its breakdown. The average duration between failure and return to service is known as Mean Time to Repair (MTTR) or Mean Down Time (MDT).

MTBF differs from Mean Time to Failure (MTTF), and the interchanged use of these is erroneous. MTTF is the average duration until a system terminally fails and needed replacement, or until a product, design, or process’ operation collapses. MTBF is only for components that are still repairable and can eventually function.

Determine MTBF through the following formula:

MTBF = MTTF + MTTD (Mean Time to Diagnose) + MTTR (Mean Time to Repair)

Commercial products describe the MTTF Lifetime as the duration that a product lasts, assuming its proper usage.

MTBF value qualification is an integral element in product development. Reliability and design engineers often use Reliability Software to compute product MBTFs through various standards.

The utilization of MTBF in the technological industry has always been in question due to its inaccuracy in terms of application to actual systems and the uncertainty of the culture that it embodies. Many system MTBFs are present in various databases, though these values are often imprecise. MTBF justifies a notion of a tolerable level of malfunction, thus eliminating the need to identify the root of a problem and taking measures to resolve it.

Organizations such as the British Royal Air Force are pursuing the development of other methods to calculate reliability such as the Maintenance-free Operating Period (MFOP). In addition, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is expanding its time-to-failure research with scenario- and condition- based techniques from the domain of prognostics.

Service Management

Service Management or Information Technology Service Management (ITSM) is a concept used in IT services and system management. ITSM fundamentally operates based on the customer’s viewpoint of IT’s importance to the business. ITSM is very different from technology-based approaches to business interaction and IT management.

ITSM’s main concern is the operations aspect (or operations architecture) of IT management and not the development of technology. ITSM is like an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) discipline for Information Technology.

ITSM is a main enabler of IT Governance/Information Management objectives. ITSM connects to Management Information Systems (MIS) in range, ITSM, however focuses on delivering IT to a business rather than identifying the business’ ‘information’ needs.

ITSM focuses on the processes and has links and common denominators to process-improvement methods and frameworks such as Six Sigma, TQM, CMMI, Business Process Management, etc. Small companies and international business entities can benefit from the use of ITSM, the discipline being in existence since the early 70’s and originally being a part of the discipline known as Operations Management.

The discipline does not focus on the details of how to operate a product or the technical details of systems management. It is concentrated on offering a structure or framework as the basis for IT-connected activities and the responses between IT personnel and business customers or users.

Many resource or service providers help businesses introduce the service management discipline into their companies or organizations. Some vendors providing management services include iSYS, Altrius Management Suite, IBM Service Management, Oracle Enterprise Manager and Novell ZenWorks.

Six Sigma: For Better Organizational Success

Six Sigma is a data-driven organizational strategy originally developed by Motorola. It is used to assess quality and aims to improve the business management sector of any industry.

By using data to analyze and interprets defects in an organization, the Six Sigma method can identify errors and properly correct them.

This method uses quality management and statistical data to determine the individuals most suited for a particular field in a particular industry.

Six Sigma follows a specific approach in meeting specific targets, may it be reducing costs or increasing the organization’s profits.

Statistical Representation

The use of statistic is a concrete way of quantitatively studying the different processes performed in an organization. There is, in fact, a Six Sigma calculator. In Six Sigma, a process is considered efficient if there are not more than 3.4 defects for one million opportunities. The term defects means anything that does not satisfy a customer.

Six Sigma Levels

For a better understanding of how efficiency is calculated, here are the various levels of Sigma as compared to the DPMO (defects per million opportunities):

  • One Sigma – 690,000 DPMO = efficiency 31%
  • Two Sigma – 308,000 DPMO = efficiency 69.2%
  • Three Sigma – 66,800 DPMO = efficiency 93.32%
  • Four Sigma – 6,210 DPMO = efficiency 99.379%
  • Five Sigma – 230 DPMO = efficiency 99.977%
  • Six Sigma – 3.4 DPMO = efficiency 99.9997%

Methodologies

There are two methods used in Six Sigma. DMAIC is used for improving the current business processes, while DMADV is useful when creating new designs or products.

  • DMAIC
  • D – Define processes responding to customer’s needs.
    M – Measure relevant aspects of the current business and data gathering.
    A – Analyze the data to evaluate results and determine if there is a need for improvement.
    I – Improve processes based on data gathered and result of evaluation.
    C – Control any variables so that results are according to what you have planned.

  • DMADV
  • D – Define goals to meet customer demands and make perfect business opportunity.
    M – Measure and identify elements to contribute to better quality.
    A – Analyze specific areas of the design to determine risks and find alternatives.
    D – Design and make specific steps to enable you to determine each phase of the process.
    V – Verify your plan to make sure it has satisfying returns.

ITSM

ITSM or Information Technology Service Management is a practice designed to align information technology systems with the convenience of the customers.

ITSM as a Paradigm Shift

ITSM involves a redefinition of the typical method of managing IT as separate components. It now focuses on the delivery of services using the process models. It is not concerned with how to use a certain product from a certain vendor or what the technical details of systems under management are. Instead, it focuses on providing a framework for structure-related activities and interactions between technical IT personnel, customers and users.

ITSM as a Discipline

ITSM is technically a discipline that focuses on the management of information technology services. Insofar as it allows IT service providers to focus on the relationship with their customers, it contrasts with technology-centered models of managing technology.

This type of service management is sometimes viewed as a key factor for enabling IT governance or information management. However, that is not the only function of ITSM. It is not just about IT operations and it does not even encompass all of IT practices.

ITSM encompasses the field of management information systems, while allowing for a practitioner’s point of view. This means it is more introspective than management information systems alone. It does not include project management or program management concerns.

ITSM Audits

These audits are based on the analysis of four different performance indicators. These indicators allow the users to deal with problems regarding the system and then rectify the problem by acting on it.

These performance indicators are:

  • the growth and value involving the tracking of revenue growth against utilization and further investment,
  • budget adherence involving optimization of the use of available funds, thereby avoiding unnecessary expenses,
  • risk impact that involves the identification and evaluation of consequences of actions taken and the risks involved, and
  • communication effectiveness involving customer feedback analysis and customer satisfaction level.

A good ITSM audit allows management personnel to determine the status of processes and the identification of potential problem areas. In effect, the workplace becomes more productive and more efficient in dealing with problems. The only drawback is that it takes a lot of experience, knowledge and skill to fully unlock the potential of Information Technology Service Management.

ITIL

ITIL is the acronym for Information Technology Information Library. ITIL is an array of views and methods for the management of Information Technology (IT) operations and infrastructure. ITIL is published in a series of books that contain IT management topics. It is a registered trademark of the United Kingdom’s Office of Government Commerce (OGC).

How Does ITIL Operate?

ITIL presents detailed descriptions of the number of relevant IT infrastructure, operations and developments. These have comprehensive checklists, procedures and tasks that can be modified to suit various types of IT organizations.

How are ITIL Certifications Given?

The ITIL ICMB controls ITIL certifications, including the ITMF, the OGC and the 2 examination institutions EXIN and the ISEB.

The EXIN and ISEB administer the exams and qualifications for awards at the Foundation Practitioner and the Manager levels. The current levels are:

  • Service Management,
  • Application Management, and
  • Infrastructure of ITIL.

The ITIL Certification Register operates the voluntary registry of ITIL-certified practitioners.

Management Systems are not required to be “ITIL-compliant”, but an organization that has implemented the guidance of the ITIL in ITSM may be able to seek certification under the ISO/IEC 20000.

ITIL Alternatives

There are other concepts on the management of information technology operations aside from ITIL. These include the Enterprise Computing Institute’s library which deals with large scale IT Management; the Framework for ICT Technical Support which intended for UK primary and secondary schools; and The Visible OPS Handbook: Implementing ITIL in 4 Practical and Auditble Steps which is ITIL-based but focuses on specific elements of ITIL.

Criticisms against ITIL

There are some criticisms raised against ITIL which are:

  1. Some claim the books produced are not affordable for non-commercial/ non-business users.
  2. Accusations arise that many ITIL supporters feel the ITIL is the whole framework of IT governance.
  3. There are claims that the ITIL’s proponents instruct with so much enthusiasm, at the cost of expediency.

HIPAA

HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. It is a code of regulations developed to fight fraud, abuse, and waste in health insurance and health care delivery services.

Aside from this main goal, the Act works to improve the quality of the health care system. It also aims to enhance the continuity and portability of health insurance coverage, which would benefit both individual and group markets. Furthermore, HIPAA includes a set of consequences and penalties for those who will not follow the regulations included in the act.

To fulfill its goals, HIPAA incorporates a set of systems related to health care. It encourages the use of medical savings accounts to persons and groups that have health insurance. HIPAA provides policies that protect the health insurance coverage of an individual in case he changes or loses his job.

This act mandates that health insurance administrations should be simplified. The simplified administration of health insurance lessens the occurrence of loopholes and fraud. HIPAA also controls exclusions to pre-existing conditions and it allows special enrolment during unexpected events. This Act also supports the use of electronic transactions and the use of electronic data formats.

HIPAA ensures that qualified insurance holders can have guaranteed renewal of insurance coverage. It also prevents insurance plans from charging higher premiums and deductibles based on the holder’s health status.

The U.S. congress enacted HIPAA in 1996, and it became effective in 1997. For groups and individuals to fully understand HIPAA, they can purchase and read books and other publications about this Act.

Additional Reading on What is HIPAA?

Decision Support Systems

Decision Support Systems (DSS) are computer software systems commonly used for business and organizational decision-making activities.

These designs aid decision makers in gathering raw information, identifying problems, and formulating possible solutions and decisions.

Uses of DSS

Virtually any kind of organization can take advantage of a DSS. It can be programmed to handle information specific to the needs of the group and give support to the decision making process.

Information that a DSS application might be able to generate includes sales figures that can be compared from one week to the next, inventory counts of current information assets, and projected revenue figures based on the new product sales forecast.

What are the Benefits of DSS?

DSS has helped organizations in its efficient use of information systems. DSS improves personal efficiency, speeds up the problem solving process, and eases interpersonal communication. It also encourages learning and training processes, helps regulate organizational control, and produces new evidence to support decisions. Moreover, it improves competitive advantage, supports the discovery of those who make decisions, and shows new ways of thinking in problems.

Taxonomy in DSS

There is no commonly acceptable taxonomy in DSS. Several authors have different classifications. Haettenschwiller uses the connection with users as the standard to distinguish active, passive, and cooperative DSS.

  1. Passive DSS – helps in the decision-making process but does not offer suggestions
  2. Active DSS – brings out decisions, suggestions or solutions
  3. Cooperative DSS – allows the person making the decision to edit, complete, or improve decisions that are provided in the system, prior to sending it to the main system for its validation

Power, another author, uses support as the criterion to create different classifications. They are as follows:

  1. Model-Driven DSS – stresses access to and the manipulation of statistical, optimization, financial, or even simulation models. This DSS uses the data and its factors provided by the users to help decision makers with their analysis
  2. Communication-Driven DSS – supports two or more people in the operation of a common task
  3. Data-Driven DSS – stresses contact to and the manipulation of the time sequence of internal data from the company and, often, external data
  4. Document-Driven DSS – retrieves, manipulates, and manages incomplete information in various electronic formats
  5. Knowledge-Driven DSS – gives focused problem-solving styles of expertise that are piled as facts, procedures, rules, or other similar structures

For more information on Decision Support Systems read:

  • Decision Support System
  • Decision Support System
  • Change Management

    Change Management is a field in the IT Service Management (ITSM). Change Management ensures the use of standard methods and procedures to efficiently handle changes in IT infrastructure and decrease the number of any related occurrence to IT services.

    The changes in IT infrastructure may stem from responses to problems or external requirements such as legislative change, business initiatives, and program-project or service-improvement initiatives.

    Change Management comprises the following procedures:

    • rising and recording of changes;
    • benefit, cost, impact, and risk assessment of projected changes;
    • development of business validation and acquisition of approval;
    • management and coordination of change implementation;
    • monitoring and reporting change implementation; and
    • review and closure of change requests.

    Change Management is the management of change processes involving communications software and equipment, hardware, system software, documentation, procedures related to the operation, support, and maintenance of existing systems.

    ITSM Change Management does not usually oversee changes within deployment or the delegation of development projects decreed by project management methodology. However, the project manager may use Change Management to supervise items in production or the requisite criteria for testing, production, and subsequent release methods.

    Any projected change to the Change Management process must be approved before being implemented. Change Management facilitates the process under the examination of the Change Advisory Board (CAB). The CAB is mostly composed of individuals under other functions in the organization.

    The Change Advisory Board filters changes and manages changes and change process. It also chairs the CAB and CAB/Emergency committee. It requests for Change (RFCs) review and conclusion. It also manages reporting and the provision of management information.

    Additional Reading on Change Management

    DMAIC

    DMAIC stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control. It is a process improvement plan working under the Six Sigma Technology. It is a stratagem aiming to calculate and generate beneficial changes by using the DMAIC tactic.

    The Six Sigma Management Technology was developed in the 1980s by Motorola. It concentrates on the organization’s ability to deal with customer and stockholder requirements. The technology’s main philosophy is to manage factors that cause defects and to work with a system that will eliminate these defects.

    Six Sigma Objectives

    Six Sigma is a system of management techniques to differences that cause deficiencies. The driving force behind Six Sigma is to operate with high performance, dependability, and value to the end market of the company. Originally, it was identified as a metric for quantifying defects while increasing quality.

    It is a methodology to improve work systems, implementing practices in the workplace that will help improve productivity and trim down corporate defects.

    The Corporations that Have Adopted it

    This management process is adapted by many leading corporations within the United States and by major corporate players around the world. Its scope has reached the global scene due to its outstanding approach towards corporate excellence.

    How does Six Sigma Function?

    Six Sigma integrates all the winning elements that the past initiatives have practiced. It has added something more than what the others have not done. It is called the Sigma Performance. This strategy aims to measure the performance of a process in relation to the customer requirements. All qualities, both the countable and measurable variations, are combined into a single grade.

    It has three phases of management strategies:

    1. The Process Redesign;
    2. The Process Management; and
    3. The Process Improvement.

    Process Redesign

    Process Redesign uses tactics to identify key inputs facilitating new or markedly customized processes to meet customer needs. This strategy uses the DMADV-Define, Measure, Analyze, Design, and Verify.

    Process Management

    Process Management uses tactics for identification and control of the key inputs, including the process variables, to achieve the suitable outputs. The particular strategy used is the PDCA – Plan, Do, Check, and Act.

    Process Improvement

    Process Improvement seeks to identify the process variables and modify them to account the persisting normal performance. It is used to continuously accomplish a higher level. Process Improvement makes use of DMAIC.

    Additional Reading on DMAIC