The Production Support Portfolio

Organizations insist on the development of a set of business- and management- related information for new systems such as the following:

  • Scope and objectives,

  • ROI (costs and benefits),

  • Project risks,

  • Stakeholders, and

  • Project quality management approach.

In other words, for the business case model that we have been exploring throughout this book, a set of management-related information should be gathered for each production system and technology infrastructure using the system efficiency review.

This information provides management with a snapshot of their investment in each system and technology and provides the basis for management tracking and decision making.

The System Efficiency Review

The purpose of the product or system efficiency review is to ensure that the system continues to provide both service and the expected quality over its life cycle.

Whereas the process of benefits realization will monitor benefits, the product or system efficiency reviews provide a vehicle for monitoring both the costs of supporting the system and ensuring that it is still " healthy " and meeting clients ' requirements.

The product or system efficiency review would aggregate all work undertaken (including effort undertaken by business clients) on the production product or system and would contain the following information at a minimum:

  • Name and description: A brief overview of the business functions supported by the product or system.

  • Product or system age: The age of the product or system including the date of first production and the dates of major enhancements.

  • Size and profile: The size of the production product or system. For IT systems, this is measured in function points, lines of code, number of nodes, or other relevant factors. Also, a brief overview of the programming languages used in the system.

  • Annual product or system growth: A summary or average of the number of new functions or data added each year. Alternatively, for software, a graph showing increase or decrease in size annually using a sizing metric such as function points or lines of code.

  • Number of active business clients: How many business people depend on the product or system and the nature of their relationship with the system. For example, how many people depend on the system to perform essential activities.

  • Strategic impact: The relationship between the product or system and the current strategic direction of the organization. This is generally measured from low to high.

  • Interfaced systems: The other systems with which the system has interfaces.

  • Product or system quality: An assessment of the internal quality of the product or system. Using models such as the one in Chapter 10, an assessment including structuredness of code, internal design structure, data quality, and so on would be made (also expressed from low to high).

  • Product or system risk: This assessment is a summary of the quality, client impact, and team skills, but includes additional factors. The measure is from low to high and provides a clear indication of potential system failure.

  • Estimated replacement value: The replacement value can be easily derived from the production product or system size using well-established industry benchmarks for development such as $800 “$1,000 per function point (equivalent to 100 lines of code in COBOL). For example, a system of 100,000 COBOL lines of code would have a replacement value of between $800,000 and $1,000,000.

  • Team/skills: A summary of who is maintaining the support system and their skills.

  • Monthly support costs: A monthly update and summary of the support activities undertaken on the product or system and a graphical representation of the total support costs or system. This also should include any production running costs (e.g., disc storage, transaction costs, operating system, and/or CPU costs).

This information should be gathered on each production system and presented to the executives of your organization and reviewed with them at least every three months.

Production System Activities and Support Costs

As we have mentioned a number of times (after all, support is that important), the following subcategories of support work occur to differing degrees in production system support work. It is important to understand that the following categories of work are, in effect, "transparent" to business clients if performed correctly:

  • Defect repair: The correction of errors in the delivered process, data, function, or documentation.

  • Performance tuning: The alteration of process, code, or data structures to improve response times, execution efficiency, and data communications use.

  • Perfective maintenance: The engineering or restructuring of existing process, code, data, and documentation to make it easier to maintain.

  • Adaptive maintenance: The expansion of data size, alteration of calculation variables (that were correct but need to change), "cosmetic" alteration of screen, and input and output layouts that do not require new data.

  • System education or consulting: The provision of help and advice on how to use the production system.

  • Operating support: The support of systems in computer operations (e.g., the effort and cost in executing systems).

  • Environment monitoring: The monitoring of the operating and technical environment. Monitoring network usage, DASD, and CPU usage are typical of this work. The alteration of the environment as a result of this monitoring is treated as performance tuning.

A monthly summary including the effort, cost, and rate of all the production support work completed and in the backlog for each production system should be attached to the production portfolio and forwarded to senior management.

It is of note that in a number of the client companies of our group , adaptive maintenance and system help or consulting comprise more than 50% of the total production support effort.

Radical Project Management
Radical Project Management
ISBN: 0130094862
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2002
Pages: 136
Authors: Rob Thomsett

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