Tom Peruzzi's thoughts on digital, innovation, IT and operations

Is IT ops a core competence?

Posted in startup failures by opstakes on May 11, 2011

When talking to a lot of companies they all start with their idea, the development (business and tec) of the idea and the operations of the business including IT operations. They mostly don’t care about whether it makes sense to have it ops capabilities  in house or not, it is usual to do so and it sound’s much easier and cheaper at the beginning because

  • you have to care about cost much more (and 2 ops engineers are enough for 24/7 😉 …)
  • it’s all about time and market speed, quality and sustainability don’t care that much
  • meeting regulations and laws is not king and key to success

So as a result, the ops department is growing more or less equal to business success and after a while you have a very strong, profound and even expensive ops department in house. Processes start to get sowing down, compliance in all different facets arrive and people get more settled than at the beginning, you are now a real company with HR, structures, processes and it ops.

At latest at that point you should think about whether it makes sense to have them on board or not, you should ask questions like:

  • what is the reason for having ops on board?
  • are they that unique?
  • are they faster, more agile than the market?
  • are they more experienced than the market?
  • do they have special skill or knowhow and why, is it good or bad?
  • is it cheaper than the market?
  • will we fulfill the technical, organizational and compliance requirements for the next 18 months?

There is pretty high chance that you can answer some of those questions quite easy and with the result to better have them in house but to be honest it will happen quite often that the result is that it ops is not key to success, it just has to work. At that point you should think about outsourcing/outtasking or whatever (see some of my former posts) and concentrate on the key aspects of your organization.

One very important remark: if you come up with the conclusion that you want to outsource because of it ops bad processes than you will fail. A problem getting outsourced will become an outsourced problem! If that’s the output think about increasing process quality before and doing the doublecheck a second time, afterwards you still have plenty of time to do some outsourcing lessons.

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