Monday, March 2, 2009


Welcome to the first posting of the IT Process Improvement blog. My goal in publishing this blog is to provide a site where we may share our experiences, learn what’s new, and network with like-minded folks. Experts, novices and everyone in between are welcome to participate and contribute with their perspectives, questions and comments. My posts will vary in technical depth and subject coverage depending on the topic of the post but I will attempt to compose the posts in a way that everyone benefits from the read. Feedback is welcome at

The title and central theme of this blog site is “IT Process Improvement”, but what do these words really mean? It would behoove us to fully comprehend and understand the significance and implications of this much used but much misunderstood phrase.

“IT” or “Information Technology” is defined by the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) as “the study, design, development, implementation, support or management of computer based information systems, particularly software applications and computer hardware”. But what do we mean by “information systems”? “Information systems” refer to a system of persons, tools, data records and activities that process data and information in an organization. Therefore, “IT” can be thought of as the use of computers and software to convert, store, protect, process, transmit and retrieve data within an organization.

“Process” as defined in the ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library) body of knowledge is “a structured set of activities designed to accomplish a specific objective”. ITIL further explains that correctly defined processes are measurable, provide specific results, are customer-centric and are traceable to a specific trigger.

“Improvement” as defined by the dictionary is “a change or modification by which a more valuable or desirable condition is achieved”.

So now that we have clarity on each of the individual words, putting it together we may state that “IT Process Improvement” may be defined as “changes and modifications made to a structured set of activities that organizations utilize to manipulate their data utilizing computer software and hardware, that results in value being added to the activities” Or to put it more simply, the goal of IT process improvement is to add value to the organization and its customers by modifying the activities carried out by the organization to achieve its goals.

I had stated earlier that this is a much used but misunderstood phrase. It is much used because management in general and senior management in particular wants to “improve their processes” and be in a “state of continuous improvement”. Their attempts to implement the various process techniques and methodologies then create buzzwords that circulate around the water-coolers and cubicles of the organization. However, companies are rarely successful with their process improvement attempts and most of these well-meant undertakings peter out like poorly maintained jalopies. And this is where the “much misunderstood” statement comes in. Management must be clear right from the beginning about what their goals regarding process improvement are, what they plan to achieve and in what time period, what the costs and impacts to the business will be and the steps that they will take to achieve this. The staff of the organization should be educated on the process model to be followed and the benefits of implementation to the organization as well as to their own work lives emphasized. My experience with attempting to implement IT process improvements in the past has ALWAYS run into these two snags:

  1. Unrealistic expectations of the process implementation and its benefits by Senior Management.

  2. Resistance by the staff due to:

    1. generic resistance to change (inertia, apathy, laziness) and

    2. fear of a negative impact on their career and status in the organization if their work should actually be measured and metrics reported.

On the other hand, competition is intense. Perhaps more so in IT than in any other industry in the history of the world. Those that do not change and change fast, simply die. This has been more than validated in the current recession/depression ensuing worldwide. A point that is being made clear by the spate of bankruptcies and layoffs manifesting worldwide is that companies that did not position themselves to be extremely competitive are paying the price. Not staying competitive was never an option and IT process improvement which was generally considered a luxury by both IT and business decision makers has been proven to be a necessity. It was never a luxury in the past and never will be in the future, either. In reality it is an indispensible way that any organization can gain a significant advantage over its competitor in cost-control, superior product design and service delivery and customer satisfaction which obviously translates into increased sales and increased profits. Details of how IT process improvement creates a competitive edge will be addressed in future posts.

So the conundrum we have here is that a state of continuous improvement must be attained if an organization wishes to survive and yet achieving this state of “continuous improvement” requires more than just studying the process techniques or even attaining a certification or two. It takes AWARENESS. Awareness of the need to improve, awareness of the tools, techniques and methodologies out there. Awareness of the roadblocks that one will almost certainly encounter along the way. Awareness by the staff and employees that this is not a way for them to lose their jobs but a necessary part of everyday life to simply exist. And this awareness must exist at every level of the organization for the improvement initiative to be successful.

Hence my desire to publish this blog; I hope that in doing so, I will steadily, week by week, reach out to the IT community and increase the levels of awareness out there so that IT process improvement will be a much more accepted and successful undertaking carried out by organizations worldwide. Fortunately, forward thinking organizations such as SEI, ASQ, PMI, OGC, IFPUG etc. provide a rich source of knowledge and tools for use by IT professionals to stay competitive. Stay tuned for awareness of these techniques and more in future posts at the “IT Process Improvement” blog.


  1. Great first post Vivek
    It's so true about the reasons they don't implement improvements
    Let's hope the blog gets people moving


  2. u know what wuz weird?
    I couldn't define IT even though I have lived it for years!!
    Never thought about definitions.
    I'll be back next week to see what else u got up your sleeve.


  3. Vivek!
    I am so glad you are keeping busy.
    What a nice surprise to see your new blog site.
    I loved the post. Wish we could get my company to clean up their processes.
    Keep writing and maybe one day we will live in a world of well defined IT processes.

    Jen Bradley

  4. Hi Vivek,
    As quality professional, it was not something that we do not know. However, a reiteration is always helpful. For your next blog can u focus on the need and importance of Customer Satisfaction Survey. Is a CSS required even if an organization has a well defined Metrics scorecard? If yes, why?


  5. Hi Shalini,

    Thanks you for your feedback.
    As the first post of the blog, I wanted to set the correct tone for the blog so it was not new information for most IT pros. However, future posts should be more instructional.
    I am planning to write about the benefits of IT process improvements in my next posting.
    I will, however, write about CSS and Balance Scorecards in the posting after that.

    Thanks again and regards,


  6. Hi Vivek,

    Can you please tell us what topics are you planning on writing in the next few blogs.

    I hope you can touch on very specific topics such as 'Stakeholder's role in process improvement initiative', 'Role of middle level manager's in executing process changes' and 'Understanding organization culture and 'how to tweak process improvement initiative based on what ticks the organization'.

    Great start !!!

  7. Hi Macroni,

    Thanks for your feedback.
    My next week's post will deal with benefits of IT process improvement and how IT processes are important for any company (not just IT companies)
    The week after next, I was planning to write about metrics and balanced scoreboards and Customer Satisfaction etc.
    My plan was to start of the blog with some high level, "let's get some definitions clear" type of posts after which I would tackle interesting suggestions such as the ones you made in your comment. So thanks for the input.
    You are welcome to keep coming back and spread the word to friends and co-workers if you like.