An introduction to the Microsoft Operations Framework

Organisations of all sizes throughout the UK rely on their Information Technology core platforms, business processes and application platforms for day to day operations. In fact, IT is so fundamental to a businesses performance that without it, many companies would cease to exist. Despite this, most organisations remain in the dark as to how well their IT function performs. After all, how do you measure IT performance?

Also, many companies throughout the UK rely upon the services of an outsourced IT support company or an internal IT department whom they simply trust to get on with the job. This decision is often the responsibility of the Finance Director who has overall authority for the IT budget as it accounts for a large proportion of ongoing spending throughout the financial year. But what does a finance or procurement professional know about IT? It’s not their chosen realm of expertise nor probably even remotely interesting to those in a financial or procurement role.

What’s the solution?

Many IT professionals believe that Service Delivery Management is the answer, more specifically that ITIL (the Information Technology Infrastructure Library) bound Service Delivery Management best practices provide the framework for improving IT performance within a business. Whilst there is no doubt that this is true, it’s also true that many IT professionals aren’t familiar with ITIL as its one of the dullest and most difficult to read works of literature ever written. It’s also true that even fewer finance or procurement professionals are familiar with ITIL which is why Microsoft invented the Microsoft Operations Framework (MOF).


Figure 1. The Microsoft Operations Framework.

MOF is based upon the ITIL framework and consists of integrated best practices, principles, and activities that provide comprehensive guidelines for achieving reliability for IT solutions and services. MOF provides question based guidance that allows you to determine what is needed for your organisation now, as well as activities that will keep the IT organisation running efficiently and effectively in the future. Most importantly, this question based guidance approach is consultative and ensures that both interviewee and interviewer understand each other and that consent and understanding are gained at all steps throughout the implementation and adherence to MOF best practices, principals and activities. Or put simply, the person or IT solutions provider implementing MOF throughout an organisation are forced to use language the business decision makers understand – or else how could they interview them in any meaningful way? This approach raises the levels of IT best practice throughout an organisation as topics are introduced and explained that require input from senior business decision makers throughout the organisation.

The guidance in MOF encompasses all the activities and processes involved in managing an IT service: its conception, development, operation, maintenance, and ultimately its retirement. MOF organises these activities and processes into Service Management Functions (SMFs), which are grouped together in phases that mirror the IT service lifecycle. Each SMF is anchored within a lifecycle phase and contains a unique set of goals and outcomes supporting the objectives of that phase. An IT service’s readiness to move from one phase to the next is confirmed by Monthly Service Reviews, which ensure that goals are achieved in an appropriate fashion and that IT’s goals are aligned with the goals of the business.

How do we implement MOF?

At First Solution, we’re experts in MOF and have even developed a unique IT IQ™ process that benchmarks a business’s current state, identifies their desired state and provides an action plan (called a Service Delivery Plan) that helps organisations of all sizes achieve their desired business outcomes. Most importantly, our unique IT IQ™ process begins with a Proactive Services Maturity Review (PSMR) which identifies a score (out of 100) that clearly communicates the current state of your businesses IT operational maturity. Armed with your IT IQ™ score, a finance or procurement professional can concisely present to the board the business’s current state, desired state, and IT IQ™ score with an action plan to improve the IT IQ™ score and thereby ensure that IT’s goals are aligned with the goals of the business and that both are progressing together.

How can I work out my IT IQ™?

Simply get in touch to arrange a free Proactive Services Maturity Review and one of our MOF experts will conduct an interview with the person responsible for the IT function (and other senior business decision makers) within your business and provide an IT IQ™ score with which you can measure the performance of your IT function. Once you know your IT IQ™ score we can provide a Service Delivery Plan to help you improve it each month and measure and report progress back to you during a Monthly Service Review. And there we have it, an ITIL based solution to simply identify and measure the performance of your IT function. So, how does your IT perform? Let’s find out…

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