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Operations Support

IT Operations

This article stream is devoted to the quality disciplines and best practices used in IT Operations Management (also referred to as ICT Infrastructure Management in the ITIL language). Over time, we are seeking support from our collective community of experienced Operations Support practitioners to contribute articles and support resources from their hands-on experience and accumulative knowledge.

Our Vision at QualityHelp is to guide IT support folk in the principles and value of quality management through team involvement and sharing.


Treat all Changes like Projects

Whether you are in a small business or large organisation, the principle of Change Management is the same - If you want to get it right every time and save heaps of money, then you must treat every Change Management exercise as rigorously as a project.

In our article on Get Change Management Right , we discussed the close alignment of Change and Project Management practices and methods. The Release Management phase of a Project is itself an exercise in Change Management. Planning, Review, Communications, Logistics, Collaboration, Documentation and Approvals are all crucial components of both a well-managed Project or a Change.

In our QH Management Information System model, we've plonked our Change Management records into the Project Management database, rather than create separate tables.

Creating Restricted Catalogue Zones

We started a series of recent articles on integrating a Document Catalogue with Document Control.  Our Catalogue model might look simplistic, but Drupal provides a number of modules and methods to extend the functionality to cover the needs of most small to medium businesses. In the real world, public access to most of the Catalogue would be severely limited.  Ours is open for the purposes of training and discussion. But how would we restrict access to documents with Drupal?  How could we customize the Catalogue to limit access to documents, and even sub-catalogues based on user profiles?

One solution lies with the Drupal Content Access module, which provides methods for restricting user access to certain types of Drupal Content, based on content specific or user type rules.

Get Change Management Right and Downsize the Problem Management Team

Within IT Operations, the two most critical functions for ensuring consistent, stable and quality services and products are Change Management, followed by Project Management.  If you were thinking Quality Management then you've missed the basic concepts of quality.  Neither your company nor your customers (internal and external) want to pay for quality controls and inspections, internal audits, problem management teams or helpdesk staff dedicated to customer complaints and incident management. You can't fool the customer, and delude yourself if you claim that these costs are absorbed internally.

Defective products result from ineffective design, development and projects.  Release Management and Change Control are the gate keepers that are ultimately accountable for the quality of products and services reaching the end user. If you perfect these functions, you will then start to modify your strategies for product design, development and project management.

Do the cost analysis of achieving excellence in design and development versus reactive service management, then reap the rewards with market and customer trust and respect.


Process for Managing Team Documents

In our previous article on Building a Document Catalogue , we gave an overview of both the catalogue, the Drupal components and using control records to integrate the catalogue with a Document Control system model.  Now we might have some fun and describe in more detail, the process for building a team catalogue and adding documents.

For our demonstration, we will use the Quality Team, and create a catalogue for their procedures. Then we will register and add a process document, in that order.  Create a control record to register the document, tag it to add to the required catalogue/s, then link the document source page/file as well as a distribution document.

It seemed most appropriate that the document we register for this example is the DCS Registration Process.

Building a Document Catalogue using Views and Control Records

The two fundamental building blocks for constructing a practical, dynamic and maintainable Document Catalogue in Drupal are Views and Control Records. By Views we mean instances of tables generated by the Drupal View module. The Control Records we refer to are created from a custom content page (appropriately named Record), which acts as a template allowing us to achieve the following objectives:

  1. Meet our organisation's Document and Quality Management standards for document and record control.
  2. Provide a consistent document entity for populating any number of linked Document Catalogues, in a consistent , managable and scaleable format.

There are other clever Drupal modules and methods we employ to make this ongoing project a fascinating exercise.

Building a Cloud based Document Control System

This is one of a series of articles on the subject of managing records and documents, in a cloud environment. Our approach at QualityHelp will be to provide a practical, progressive and interactive format to the articles, blog discussions and our evolving Document Control framework.  You can get involved by reviewing  the structure of the Control Records, Master Catalogue, Team Indexes and Document templates as we develop the framework and components. Then provide feedback and input - suggestions and constructive comments.

Participate in our site's Continuous Improvement objectives and become a contributor to the evolving design.

The Role of the IT Operations Manager

No matter how big or small the business, it is fair to say that most companies are relying more and more on complex Information Technology infrastructure. The capacity, power and communication capability are growing at rates that could barely be comprehended 20 or 30 years ago. Add to this the dynamics and innovation of global competition, not only in services and product delivery, but also in operations support techniques, then it is little wonder that any sub-standard Operations Management model is at risk of crippling an otherwise viable enterprise.

The foundation to a succesful and sustainable Operations Support team lies with the diligent selection of the right IT Operations Manager, plus the clear, detailed, well planned and unequivocal role description by which he or she is directed on a daily basis.  "Making it up as you go" will not cut it any longer.


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