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Updated by Charles Bystock on 08/05/2014

it-infrastructureHow well you define your current IT infrastructure service costs and output directly affects your ability to make sound business decisions, not merely your ability to tighten a few line items in your budget. You want to consider your situation from two standpoints -- service quality and cost efficiency.

That’s why most organizations now talk about optimizing their spend, rather than simply focusing on cost reductions. Spending less overall isn’t a viable goal if the result is weakened capability. You want to spend as little as necessary to get the biggest explosion of value from your IT infrastructure – power when you need it, no cost when you don’t.

You can define and measure quality in terms of Service Level Agreements, customer satisfaction survey results, and key performance indicators. But the cost side of the equation is more complex, because service costs aren’t always readily apparent. If you combine like costs for different types of hardware, for instance, you’ll need to break down those costs by service. And you’ll need to mine non-IT budget categories for hidden IT expenses relating to personnel, overhead and so on.

You need to take a holistic approach.

It’s essential to define all the elements of your IT infrastructure that affect service cost and output. That way when you measure performance, you’ll be looking at the whole picture, not just a snapshot that may not tell the whole story. And using flawed data to compare your current operations against potential marketplace alternatives will produce a predictably flawed result.

Historical data can pinpoint patterns, but as quickly as the IT world is changing, you may not want to replicate those patterns in the future, no matter how well they’re working for you now.

An IT infrastructure assessment helps you compose that big picture.

When you look at everything, you can be sure you’re missing nothing. Defining your service costs and output is really a process of creating a baseline. From there, you can identify your unfulfilled or emerging needs and proceed to comb the marketplace for more productive solutions.

Ask yourself:

  • How fast can we respond to changing business priorities or unforeseen opportunities?
  • Is our IT infrastructure fully aligned with our corporate strategic goals?

Remember that service output includes reliable business continuity. If you’re down even briefly, you can lose real money and you can lose reputation. It’s a risk no company, especially very large enterprises, can afford to take. Exactly how you define “continuity” dictates how you assess your disaster recovery planning, so you’ll want to pay particular attention as your conduct your assessment to identify whether an upgrade is in order.

Could an external provider provide some of all of your current services, at greater efficiency and/or lower cost? You may decide to outsource some functions, but you still need to know costs and output for the functions you retain. Your assessment will help with that.

You can get help.

IT infrastructure consultants can help you conduct an assessment that’s detailed in all the right ways. And they’ll help you review the results with an unbiased eye – no personal or financial agenda, free of internal politics.

With their guiding hand, your IT infrastructure assessment will cover relevant:

  • Financials – your budget, assets, current contracts.
  • Technology – hardware and software, architecture, service volumes, projects underway.
  • Personnel – your org chart, how well-staffed you are, how IT staff are deployed.
  • Corporate considerations – overall goals, IT strategy, cultural factors.

The best consultants give you the benefit of the acumen they’ve acquired through years of senior level technical and operations management experience, their familiarity with the latest IT trends and alternatives and their understanding of your industry. They don’t just stop by to help you crunch some numbers, they bring actionable insight and recommendations you can rely on.

That’s how to define your current IT infrastructure service cost and output.