Keeping the IT Lights On

Run the business, or RTB, consists of all infrastructure, systems, and resources necessary to process and fulfill the transactional requirements for a business on a real-time, near real-time, hourly, shift, daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually and other cyclical basis as required by that business. Any interruption to the RTB processes has a material effect on the business and requires (usually) immediate attention and remediation. Resources involved in RTB may include full time dedicated employees, OEM or 3rd party vendor support resources under maintenance agreements, outsourced service providers on contract, resources secured on a time and material basis, resources re-prioritized from other initiatives to provide support, or any combination of these. Speed with which faults can be remedied will vary with the complexity of the problem, level of expertise and resources available, in depth knowledge of the system at fault, in depth knowledge of the business environment, service level commitments, and other factors. Predictability of problem resolution and potential resulting business impact will be strongly correlated with the level of performance capabilities engineering into a specific solution.

All RTB capabilities should be in place because the total cost of supporting and maintaining those capabilities is lower than the benefits associated with having those capabilities on an ongoing basis. The costs will primarily be visible in the IT budget; the benefits will primarily be visible in business performance. Having a certain level of transparency matching costs with benefits is essential in order to insure that priorities are aligned and that the impact of any RTB changes in IT are accurately reflected in the business. All changes in RTB will have an impact on the business – a critical capability is to understand that impact and to receive sign-off from the business to implement change.

A unique dynamic associated with reducing RTB beyond which IT is no longer self-sufficient is that it requires a detailed dialog with the business since a reduction in RTB cost in IT may yield a potential increase in cost or risk in the business, or eliminate a service upon which the business has some dependency. From a procurement perspective, IT continually strives to reduce the cost of goods and services from its vendor, and passes those savings on to the businesses it represents. Where the goods and services procured yield the same predictability and quality just at a reduced rate, further business dialog is not required. Where the potential for a change in service or capabilities may result, dialog with the business is essential.

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