Removing the Top 3 Barriers between Production and IT

August 10, 2017 Corey Stefanczak

Production and IT teams share a similar goal - to create value for their organization. Their responsibilities, however, are often at odds with each other. Production is commonly judged by the output produced, while IT is evaluated based on system uptime and cybersecurity defense.

These differences often cause three troublesome barriers between Production and IT that must be eased to promote organizational objectives. The first barrier is the blurred lines of responsibility between Production and IT. This most often occurs in areas that are critical for both teams.

Defining the places where Production and IT departments meet used to be a lot easier. For example, Ethernet was solidly under IT, while the control bus sitting on top would be the responsibility of Production. However, evolving technologies using Ethernet and the advent of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) has blurred these lines. Production must operate farther into the infrastructure, and IT has to provide maintenance and support while keeping those same assets secure from attack. Production thus wants everything to be as accessible as possible to improve the speed at which they operate, while IT needs tighter security controls, which can lower efficiency and usability.

Resolving this issue requires a single system of demarcation that helps to separate disputes between IT and Production, as well as a system that provides visualization, clarity, and insight into activities. This approach helps ensure that everyone is working on the same page, and should include automatic issue notification and resolution. IT and Production are on the same side, but need help in working together given the complexities of modern infrastructure.

Another barrier organizations must overcome between IT and Production is a reluctance to take on yet another system. Insufficient staffing and a lack of familiarity with a new system can make IT departments hesitant to install new production-oriented systems. To address this issue, organizations can leverage vendor experts who understand the production and IT worlds. Those experts can create plans that will reduce the level of effort required by IT, while also satisfying Production as needs change and grow. Additionally, organizations should install systems that can be supported with common tools and which use common platforms and architecture like SQL that the IT staff have already mastered.  

The third barrier that lies between Production and IT relates to security concerns. Specifically, Production is responsible for the operation of devices, but IT is responsible for the security of those devices. To resolve this issue, organizations should institute a system of demarcation that separates networks between IT and Production. Additionally, the proper cybersecurity tools are required to manage IT, IIoT, and production assets.

One final way to break the barriers between IT and Production networks is with an assembly management system like Leidos’ AMS. The AMS bridges the IT network with the production network by providing one entry point for IT to manage. Thus, it is IT-friendly and requires limited training, even when accessing advanced functionality. Should IT hit a snag or need help with a process or operation, Leidos provides 24/7 support for both production and IT issues. Beyond AMS, other commonly deployed solutions like Industrial Defender can also help provide cybersecurity monitoring and management for IT, IIoT, and production assets.

Production and IT teams share the same goal of creating value for their organization. Despite often being at odds with each other, by removing the top three barriers between these two groups and leveraging solutions like AMS or Industrial Defender, organizations can benefit from unified IT and Production teams working together for the good of the whole enterprise.

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