Monitoring, part II

Do you get what you want? Do you deliver what you promised?

Operationalize your vision, living up the promise needs a certain kind of monitoring just to be sure that everything goes fine or that appropriate actions should be made.. This monitoring is part of your quality management. There are a lot of people out side the IT world that spend time and effort  on this subject. So why don’t we borough some ideas instead of re-inventing the wheel again. A very known acronym is PDCA. PDCA (plan-do-check-act) is an iterative four-step problem-solving process typically used in business process improvement. It is also known as the Deming cycle. This is the improved version of what is also called the Wright cycle (guess-do-crash-fix).

  • Plan: Establish the objectives and processes necessary to deliver results in accordance with the expected output. By making the expected output the focus, it differs from other techniques in that the completeness and accuracy of the specification is also part of the improvement.
  • Do: Implement the new processes. Often on a small scale if possible.
  • Check: Measure the new processes and compare the results against the expected results to ascertain any differences.
  • Act: Analyze the differences to determine their cause.

The Check and Act steps are some times catch up by the notion of Monitoring. These are the steps to determine where to apply changes that will include improvement. The P-D-C-A steps can be repeated again and again in an self chosen time frame.

Need To Know

Maslow is noted for his conceptualization of  the hierarchy of human needs. His hierarchy of needs is predetermined in order of importance. It is often depicted as a pyramid consisting of different levels: the lowest level is associated with physical needs, while the uppermost level is associated with self-actualization needs, particularly those related to identity and purpose. The higher needs in this hierarchy only come into focus when the lower needs in the pyramid are met.

We can use  Maslow’s hierarchy as a analogy for monitoring in the IT world. You want and need assurance on the environment, availability and performance level. If these things are not in place you cant focus on business services and give assurance to communication and information. At the lowest levels we talk mostly about IT Operations, on the mid level about Information Management and on the highest level about Business Service Management. By using a layered model of monitoring needs you give focus to the different needs and also give a transparent and structured view how to organize monitoring.

Monitoring

Monitoring is knowing, but …

  • Simple: no complex models because people don’t like complexity
  • Visual: create a mental picture by visualizing because people don’t like the burden of tons of paper reports
  • Memorable: catch the most important properties so no more large handbooks that don’t work
  • Effective: maximize information throughput and delivery so now more interpretation discussions about figures
  • Active: put you to think, leads to actions

But beware, you can’t summarize complex systems in just a few one liners. But by improving fact finding you win time. Time you can spend on thinking about the won information and how to give direction to wanted improvements. Deming advocated that all managers need to have what he called a System of Profound Knowledge, consisting of four parts:

  • Appreciation of a system: understanding the overall processes involving suppliers, producers, and customers (or recipients) of goods and services;
  • Knowledge of variation: the range and causes of variation in quality, and use of statistical sampling in measurements;
  • Theory of knowledge: the concepts explaining knowledge and the limits of what can be known;
  • Knowledge of psychology: concepts of human nature.

Assurance Framework

The different levels of assurance can be put in an framework, an assurance stack, where each layer is the fundament for the layer on top of it. The environmental, availability and performance assurance are typical issues for IT operations. Information and communication assurance are topics for Information management. Service assurance, business service monitoring (BSM) is part of Business management. This framework can give direction and structure to the general concept of monitoring.

IT Maslow

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