Baselining your ICT infrastructure and Operations

Baselining is a fundamental step often undertaken before introducing organised change across an enterprise. For a new CIO it is a means of coming to terms with what is usually a complex technical environment, compounded by differences between business units, countries and acquisitions.

Baselining is also a means to quantify the likely impact of the proposed change in terms of technology, processes, people and cost. This may provide the necessary evidence to support the business case for a change programme. It can also serve as a contractual baseline for outsourced services or in operations for future continuous improvement activities.

Most enterprise-wide baselining exercises fail, at least the initial attempts. I don’t have the statistics, but if you are a wise old head, you are probably nodding, you have seen it too.

The most commonly provided reasons for failure amount to:
1. poor ‘experimental design’ that is, not collecting the right data (so the exercise needs to be repeated)
2. applying people (internal employees or external consultants) with the wrong skill sets to the data collection,
3. not committing the right internal people for the required period as they are already “fully committed to other activities” or
4. data unavailability.

What has been your experience with baselining?