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Goodbye, blame game: how performance management breaks down siloes

Barry Cooks, Vice President of Engineering –

It’s no secret that within an IT department, various teams often function in siloed environments. This situation has been characteristic of the IT profession for many years, and because so many different personalities and system owners work within departments, it can result in a tendency for team members to pass the buck when issues occur. Most of us have seen this before; in the event of a system outage, performance issue or IT error, rather than rolling up their sleeves to solve the issue, team members are more inclined to begin a blame game that accomplishes nothing.

Forward-thinking IT departments are beginning to understand that by gaining holistic visibility into their systems, they can eliminate the question of who is at fault. After they pinpoint exactly what caused a problem, teams can work collaboratively to solve performance obstacles.

For example, let’s assume there is a problem in an IT system around storage replication. When this happens, because of a lack of visibility into the real cause, a guessing game ensues. More often than not, the storage vendor gets blamed for the issue. In fact, blaming the storage vendor is a common theme throughout the industry, when there are actually many causes – and responsible parties – for storage replication failures.

Without proper visibility, teams are blind to solutions. The exercise becomes one of trying to solve a jigsaw puzzle while the pieces are changing as you put them down. The key to solving the puzzle – or at least to keeping the pieces consistent – is reliable infrastructure performance management. When you give your teams insight into the whole system in real-time, you empower them to proactively find solutions. Maybe the cause of the particular problem above wasn’t storage; maybe the issue was in the applications layer. By knowing the “guilty party” right away, precious time and energy that would normally be spent blaming can be used to problem-solve. And in the best-case scenario, the IT team discovers and mitigates the potential issue long before the team or layer at fault even knows something is wrong. With this approach, the moniker of “guilty” doesn’t have to be assigned, at all.

When initially implemented, performance management tools offer a way to demonstrate a team’s “mean time to innocence” – in essence, “it wasn’t our fault and now we can prove it in a hurry.” Once the conversation ceases to be about finding culprits, it’s interesting how quickly teams come together to find solutions. Suddenly, teams that used to compete with each other use data sets to fix problems – and your entire IT culture benefits from this shift.

See the difference holistic visibility can have on your organization’s culture.