Tool Creep

June 08, 2021

Tool creep. It’s not the weird handyman down the street, but a real problem for many organizations. Whether it comes from acquisitions, siloed IT groups, or change of IT personnel, it’s easy to understand how tool creep can happen.

The average number of network and application performance monitoring tools per company is over ten, yet less than half of them are actually used.

This, in turn, leads to a huge waste of money, gaps in coverage in some areas, and duplication in others. In my former position, while performing a tools audit, I found that we had the same product, purchased by three separate, siloed IT teams, doing virtually the same work. This tripled the cost to our organization and led to excessive headcount to manage the systems, excessive NetFlow and polling traffic, and further segmented the IT organization, making it more difficult to troubleshoot when problems arose.

Unfortunately, after months of work, the tools audit ultimately fizzled out when too many groups saw it as a threat. Nobody wanted to give up ‘their’ tools, and eventually, the audit ended without a resolution.

A complete failure.

In retrospect, I didn’t have the proper backing from senior leadership to get the audit completed and compel groups to participate. These two simple steps could have made all the difference:

Step 1: Create a tools committee

• Include a wide range of people from the server team to app developers to network engineers. Anyone who spends money on monitoring their environment should be in this group.
• The committee should decide what the monitoring requirements are and how they should be performed. Decide what can be done in-house and what can be cloud-based.
• The committee should be informal (not a full-time job) but have authority for all tools in the company. No tools should come in unless agreed by the group after careful evaluation.
• After a new monitoring solution is proposed, the committee should look at the impact on the production environment and determine the value of the new tool. The team should have the authority to recommend approval or to deny the new proposal.
• Having a committee will help ensure the tool will be implemented properly, and it will not be left unused.
• Keep track of all tools and costs for maintenance. When a maintenance agreement is up for renewal, it should be agreed to by the committee.
• A member of senior leadership should sit on the committee and have the final say, with backing from the CIO or CTO.

Step 2: Perform a Tool Audit

• The tools committee must perform a tools audit. Because the committee has a wide range of members from multiple teams, it will have an easier time getting responses from all necessary groups.
• Responses to the tools committee must be mandatory and timely. Don’t let some business units drag their feet on reporting. It can cost tens of thousands of dollars if maintenance is renewed that didn’t need to be.
• Look at currently installed tools and factor in cost for yearly maintenance, management, servers, storage, etc. Create a Venn diagram to see where tools overlap in their functions.
• The tools committee will decide on overlaps and where there are gaps and fill as necessary.

Like change management, tool management should be an integral part of IT and IT related business units. Not having proper oversight can lead to tool creep and cause companies to continue to waste money on overlapping and underutilized tools.

Teneo’s Visibility Tools Suitability Assessment enables organizations to benchmark current capabilities and identify areas for improvement to close visibility gaps.

For more information, visit teneo.net/visibility-tools-suitability-assessment/www.teneo.net/visibility

Author: Ron Husky, Visibility Consultant, Teneo

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