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The Comprehensive Guide To Leveraging ITOM in Manufacturing

Every second of downtime in the manufacturing industry can equate to significant financial losses – up to $50 billion a year,1 according to Forbes. As manufacturers embrace Industry 4.0 and integrate new connected technologies across operations, the costs of IT downtime will only increase. Implementing robust IT operations management (ITOM) solutions is critical for manufacturers to avoid disruptions in today’s data-fueled, automated environment.

In this blog, we’ll discuss what ITOM entails, its benefits and challenges, and how manufacturers can get started with ITOM to reduce downtime and boost productivity.

What Is IT Operations Management?

IT operations management (ITOM) is the strategic approach to managing a company's IT environment. It refers to the processes and services that a company's IT team oversees to ensure the efficient delivery of IT resources, such as computing infrastructure, networks, applications, help desk services, and more.

As an essential component of any business, it's no wonder that the ITOM market is forecasted to surpass $35 billion by 2031.2 Its goal is to carry out routine IT tasks in a way that improves security, reliability, and the end-user experience. By optimizing IT operations management, organizations can ensure their IT systems are running as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible.

What Is the Role of ITOM?

Effective ITOM ensures that all the IT systems and applications a business relies on are available and operating properly. To achieve this, IT teams oversee the following operations management functions:

Network Infrastructure Management

IT operations management tools facilitate network infrastructure management by monitoring network traffic, bandwidth utilization, and other IT infrastructure metrics, which allows IT professionals to optimize network performance and troubleshoot issues before they disrupt operations.

Help Desk Operations

ITOM oversees the service desk and technical support needs of the business to ensure prompt resolution of employees' IT issues. This typically includes tasks like ticket management, service request management, knowledge base creation, and SLA monitoring for service desk functions.

Server and Device Management

ITOM software manages server infrastructure, including provisioning, performance monitoring, and capacity management for servers, both on-premises and within cloud services. It also manages endpoints across the hardware and software infrastructure – such as desktops, mobile devices, operating systems, machinery, and more – by applying application management, asset management, software deployment, and security controls.

Data Security Management

ITOM teams implement data security protocols and controls across the organization's IT systems to protect sensitive company data and intellectual property. This typically includes identity and access management, encrypting data, maintaining network security, and more.

Event Management

ITOM solutions also facilitate event management across the entire infrastructure and service lifecycle, including centralized event monitoring, correlation, notifications, and alarms. By detecting issues and establishing event response plans, IT operations management software can automatically take action to resolve incidents and trigger tickets for incidents requiring human intervention.

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ITOM Benefits for Manufacturers

Implementing ITOM provides several advantages for manufacturing companies, including:

Increased Productivity

With IT operations management tools proactively monitoring and managing critical manufacturing systems, IT staff can prevent or resolve issues quickly before causing significant downtime. Less unplanned downtime translates directly into higher employee productivity on the plant floor and in back-office operations, as workers don't waste time waiting for systems to come back online or working around outages.

Enhanced Security

ITOM provides several security improvements for a manufacturer's IT infrastructure. Automated patch management ensures systems are promptly updated to address vulnerabilities, while robust access controls prevent unauthorized system access. Real-time monitoring identifies anomalies that could indicate an attack. It also helps organizations achieve regulatory compliance and protect critical intellectual property like proprietary production data.

Reduced Costs

The proactive maintenance and performance monitoring enabled by IT operations management tools reduces the number of major, unplanned IT outages manufacturers experience. This significantly decreases costs associated with downtime, such as lost revenue, wasted materials, and overtime to catch up after an outage. ITOM also reduces expensive emergency repairs needed to fix issues that could have been addressed earlier for less.

Improved Agility

Modern ITOM tools like workload automation, containers, and virtualization give manufacturers the flexibility and agility they need to scale production up or down based on changing demand. With ITOM, IT systems can be dynamically reconfigured and resources reallocated much faster than manual provisioning allows, maximizing operational efficiency.

Better Decision-Making

The data aggregation, dashboards, and reporting capabilities in ITOM solutions give manufacturers much deeper visibility into how IT resources are utilized across the organization. This allows data-driven decisions when purchasing new hardware, software, or services since ITOM teams have insights into current utilization and needs.

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Potential ITOM Challenges

While ITOM is critical for operational success, it can also present several challenges during implementation – especially in complex manufacturing environments. Some potential challenges of adopting IT operations management include:

Integration Difficulties

Connecting new ITOM systems and platforms with legacy infrastructure, custom manufacturing systems, and solutions from multiple technology vendors can be challenging. IT operations management depends on the ability to collect and integrate data from disparate systems. Manufacturers often lack staff with strong skills in systems integration and API connectivity needed to overcome this.

Data Security

With the rise of connected systems and OT/IT convergence in smart manufacturing, securing data is an increasing challenge. Manufacturers must implement proper controls, encryption, network segmentation, and security monitoring to safeguard intellectual property and production data.

Ongoing Management Needs

ITOM software, infrastructure, and processes require ongoing management and maintenance. Manufacturers that don't dedicate enough resources to effectively manage ITOM post-implementation often see poor tool performance, inaccurate data, and limited value from the investment.

Scalability

Manufacturing environments are always evolving, and scaling ITOM along with changing IT infrastructure is difficult. Lacking visibility into all systems can make it hard to adapt tools and support new technologies like IoT devices.

IT Operations Management vs. IT Service Management

While IT operations management and IT service management (ITSM) are related disciplines, there are several core differences between the two.

ITOM deals primarily with the day-to-day activities involved in managing IT infrastructure, systems, and services. It focuses on the operational side of IT – the tactical tools, processes, and teams executing routine tasks to keep systems running smoothly on a daily basis.

ITSM takes a broader, more strategic view of managing IT across the organization. It deals with designing and improving IT services over time to align with changing business needs. While ITOM teams handle daily system administration and help desk tasks, IT service management involves planning capacities, roadmapping the future, and managing IT like a business. ITSM focuses on the big-picture strategy for IT service delivery.

Though differing in scope, ITOM and ITSM work hand-in-hand for effective IT management processes. Integrating the two creates alignment between operational IT activities and strategic objectives. A unified framework like ITIL helps bring consistency across ITOM, ITSM, and IT governance.

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Best Practices for Implementing ITOM

Implementing IT operations management software for your manufacturing business requires strategic planning. Here are some best practices to keep in mind:

  • Assess Processes - Documenting current IT workflows and pain points identifies where to start with ITOM and how to design improved processes.
  • Select the Right Tools - Audit your IT infrastructure and determine the software and solutions that best fit your service operations and business requirements.
  • Train Employees - Provide training on new processes and tools to aid adoption and maximize utilization of new capabilities.
  • Define Capacity Plans - Assess team bandwidth and construct capacity plans to right-size ITOM support for the environment.
  • Implement Problem Management - Proactively address root causes of incidents to prevent recurrences through a structured problem management process.
  • Standardize Change Management - Standardize how changes are requested, assessed, approved, and implemented across IT staff to minimize risk.
  • Monitor and Optimize - Continuously collect data on ITOM processes, identify issues, and make improvements to maximize value.

Get Started With a Trusted ITOM Provider

As manufacturing processes grow more complex, IT operations management is essential for boosting productivity while minimizing disruptions. But while the benefits of ITOM are clear, implementing it correctly can be challenging without the right support system. Luckily, partnering with an experienced technology provider can help make implementing ITOM across your organization easy.

Andromeda specializes in helping manufacturing companies across the Midwest solve their complex IT needs. Whether you have an in-house IT department or not, we’ll help optimize your systems, reduce downtime, and secure your supply chain with proactive IT solutions tailored for manufacturers. From device patching and maintenance to security solutions and proactive support, our experts provide the managed IT or co-managed IT services your organization needs to keep operations running smoothly.

Book a meeting today to learn more.

Sources:

  1. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2022/02/22/unplanned-downtime-costs-more-than-you-think/
  2. https://www.businessresearchinsights.com/market-reports/it-operations-management-itom-software-market-106820

Keep Your Business Safe, Secure, and Running

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