How would you feel if you visited your financial planners office and saw past-due credit card notices on their desk? Would you trust an auto mechanic whose car backfires and produces black smoke? A dentist with bad teeth? A banker in shabby clothes? An interior designer whose offices are a shambles?
This is the position of the IT capability in many large organizations. The designated custodian of critical business processes and data does not manage its own processes and data reliably. A response in the form of Enterprise Resource Planning for Information Technology is emerging from major companies, research firms, and vendors; they are labeling these offerings "ERP for IT," IT Resource Planning, and related terms.
This groundbreaking, practitioner-authored book provides an independent examination of and response to these developments. An analysis of the large scale IT capability, with specific attention to business processes, structured data, and enabling systems, it is essentially a comprehensive systems architecture, not for the business capabilities IT supports, but for IT itself.
Review By: Robin F. Goldsmith 06/15/2010In this book, author Charles Betz addresses the 900-pound gorilla in most large organization's systems development—the ongoing operation and maintenance of large support function systems, whose unplanned costs Betz likens to fiscally irresponsible, underfunded liabilities. By applying IT’s enterprise architecture principles to managing IT itself, Betz presents an analysis and high-level design of a logical IT value chain. The framework’s primary application and infrastructure delivery activities involve demand/relationship management (plan), solutions development (build), and service support (run), enabled by secondary support activities.
Betz frequently references specifics of COBIT, CMMI, and ITIL—the three major frameworks with the most effect on enterprise IT that Betz feels emphasizes secondary processes such that core delivery becomes swamped in bureaucracy and the secondary control processes ultimately lose support. When equating automating IT management processes with effectiveness, Betz says services should be managed as a portfolio addressing IT-business alignment. It should also enable demand management, including equipment and human resource capacity utilization. To overcome silos, Betz proposes a comprehensive IT enablement conceptual data model cross-referenced to processes, which when implemented in a database would enable reporting ordinarily un-reportable complex IT service relationships and dependencies.
Betz describes numerous types of automated tools that help manage individual pieces. A set of core value chain patterns describes process situations that apply to multiple and commonly occurring situations, such as any customer or user contact with the IT service provider. Acknowledging the breadth of his treatment, Betz says this reference architecture should be implemented iteratively and incrementally based on use cases.
Betz is by no means the first to point out that the IT, to which society turns to organize complexity, does a poor job organizing and managing its own complex self. Ironically, IT's strength historically has been in operations, the area Betz targets and which (except for ITIL) largely has been ignored by IT authors. Thus, none of StickyMinds' book review topic categories seemed applicable; and while on the one hand, the book is all about quality in the biggest "Q" sense, on the other hand it has little to do with what QA and testing folks are likely to have use for.
Betz's proposed framework, data model, and value chain patterns may well be correct, even brilliant; but I couldn't get into the textbook-like descriptions of item after item enough to analyze whether all the details added up. Perhaps its target audience of people immersed in running a large organization’s IT department or a COBIT/ITIL/CMMI aficionado would find this book helpful. The book seems better suited as a guide for big consulting firms that already are in the "run IT like a business" market or for some ERP software vendor to adapt its product to managing IT.
The IT enablement conceptual data model probably was the most valuable part of the book. Unfortunately, Betz overly complicated the discussion with excessive configuration management and metamodeling theory. Value chain patterns also seem to have merit, but it wasn't clear how one would use them.