Process vs. People

I heard an interesting phrase today when talking to some consultants about SMS infrastructures they had worked on.  “In company A they didn’t really have that large of a staff so we focused more on making sure the SMS infrastructure was rock solide, whereas in company B they had so many Administrators worldwide that process had to be a heavy focus more than company A just because you need to make sure that everyone is following propper procedures”.

This statement really holds true for a couple of reasons.  Start with the smaller company.  Usually its hard getting resources dedicated to SMS and when you do they are usually splitting time between other responsibilities.  It would be natural then that these Administrators don’t have time to become not only product experts for SMS but for other things impacting SMS as well such as AD maintenance, server monitoring, etc.  When an outsider is looking for areas to improve this organization then its more technical because that is an area that would be lacking and less people are doing the technical work so you don’t need to waste all that time on process when so few will be using it.

That being said, process is critical as an organization grows larger.  More importantly though process needs to mature and improve as teams grow larger to ensure that all Administrators are doing thing in a consistent and correct manner.  Take reporting for example:  Corporate headquarters institutes custom registry logging in their SMS Packages which is also rolled up into inventory.  They can then see all sorts of data – lets use image version here as well.  Well the CEO can now see all imaged systems out there and also all non-images on the network and you also correlate this into a report showing that the unlicensed software on your network is coming from the non-imaged systems.  This helps you true-up licensing and everyone is happy.  But what happens when upper management finds out that this is only for headquarters and a couple other locations?  This is where process is key, so that you could have this consistent reporting across all your sites globally and not be out of compliance.

I could go on for hours about being bitten in the past because process wasn’t developed for something I just took care of on a case-by-case basis on different servers (ahh, sms_def.mof I know you well).  The point is if you are an Administrator faced with the challenge of planning for a growing organization its best to develop and document sound processes and procedures ahead of time.  This will make things much easier on you down the road and let you focus on more important things, like surfing with Scoble 🙂


3 thoughts on “Process vs. People

  1. Good points, all…. in fact this all seems to fit VERY nicely into the Microsoft Operations Framework (or MOF as its known)… this is a very important – and often overlooked – leg of the three-legged stool called Systems Management, where the other two are SMS and MOM. The MOF discipline lays out an excellent model of "process" that should be applied – to *some* degree at least – to all companies.

  2. Its great to see someone writing about the entire solution, not just the software component. Failing to put people and processes/procedures in place along with the application is a major soapbox issue for me. Notes from the field in this area should be treated like gold. Keep up the good work.

    Like I always say SMS is like UPS "what ever you want to ship, we deliver"

    Without processes in place to manage this environment we can also become the plumbing for your organization….

  3. I agree with Ed… MOF is essentially Plug-and-Play into your environment.

    If you’re new to MOF, I’d recommend you start with using it for your Patch Management strategy. Then, once you’ve applied the methodology there you can branch out into other service management functions.

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