It doesn't take a crystal ball to see that an IT organization is ripe for unexpected service outages. In fact, there are six hallmark signals which should caution you that unplanned is downtime ahead. Effective IT leaders must keep an eye out for these signs and put a plan of action together to correct them.
1. Unauthorized Changes
This is one of the largest telltale signs that an environment is exposed to a high number of unplanned outages. If people are allowed to implement changes without following strict Change Advisory Board sanctioned change management process, you should expect loads of unplanned downtime events along with hours upon hours of human effort trying to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it.
2. High Amounts of Unplanned Work
High percentages of unplanned work has a direct correlation to high levels of unplanned downtime. If the team is spending more than 5% of their time reacting to service failures then the environment can be defined as reactive. A study has shown that effective IT departments spend less than 5% of their total effort on unplanned tasks.
3. Low Throughput of Effective Change
Since the majority of the team's efforts are spent putting out fires, there is little time left to spend on implementing the changes needed to stay competitive. If you can't implement a high number of changes each year, the business will fall behind - a leading reason companies slide out of the Fortune 1,000. Their IT staff just can't adapt. Low throughput of effective change is a signal of unexpected downtime.
4. Server-to-Administrator Ratio is < 100:1
This is an informal metric which allows you to see how many administrators you have per server. If on average you require one administrator to manage less than 100 servers, the chances are the resources are spending too much time executing unplanned work as a result of too many outages or poor management. Keep in mind, there is a direct correlation between the administrator-to-servers ratio and throughput of effective change.
5. Lack of Indicator Measurements
If you aren't measuring performance, one does not have the metrics needed to show results and justify management-type decisions. If measurements are in place but not understood, the same is true. If you have no measurements, then success is largely based on subjectivity. In the information technology world, availability, reliability, maintainability and serviceability are critical indicators for the management of success. Effective IT leaders live by these and many other indicators.
6. Recurring SLA Commitment Breaches
Vendors are contracted to respond within a certain amount of time and in a certain way. If a vendor is being paid to keep a service available than they need to be held accountable to the defined SLA. Understanding how vendors are performing in relation to the contracted SLA is critical to your business' success. A breach can send an IT team into chaos causing a high volume of unplanned work and a low change throughput. Managing a vendor is just as important as choosing the right vendor.