What Does IT Have to Do with Baseball?

Baseball and bat on the grassTo paraphrase a line in the movie Field of Dreams, “What does IT have to do with baseball?”

Perhaps a lot more than you think.

Last weekend, I watched a more recent Academy Award-nominated baseball film, Moneyball, starring Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill.  Based on Michael Lewis’s biographical book of the same name, Moneyball recounts how General Manager Billy Beane (Pitt) and the 2002 Oakland A’s competed against wealthier teams, like the New York Yankees, despite a payroll roughly a third the size of the Yankees’.

In one scene, Peter Brand (Hill) uses a video to make a point to his boss, Beane.  At the end of the video, Beane says to Brand, “How can you not be romantic about baseball?”

Thinking Beane may have missed the point of the video, Brand says, “It’s a metaphor.”  Beane understood.

I also saw a metaphor in the story as a whole, though probably not one that the writers or director intended.  Beane’s challenges in Moneyball mirror the challenges we face today in the IT industry.  Let’s take a look at some ways Beane overcame his challenges and how we might apply similar thinking to IT:

1. Identify needs.  Beane realized he had to think differently and identify the real challenge he needed to solve:  How to produce enough runs to win games and make the playoffs or win the World Series, despite severe budget constraints.

How it relates to IT – In order for IT to meet the needs of the business, we can’t make assumptions.  We must capture the actual business demand for IT services or development projects using an application like Serena Demand Manager.

2. Define a quantifiable solution.  Beane created an innovative way to address his challenge of producing runs.  With the help of Brand, a fictionalized composite of an assistant General Manager with an Ivy League economics degree, Beane ignored traditional baseball statistics and focused on statistics that directly impacted run production and minimized outs.

How it relates to IT – We can’t afford to spend our time or our money on low priority items, and we need to add value as efficiently as possible.  Therefore, we should design services that best align to the needs of the business.  Well-defined services should be published in a service catalog and should include measurement goals.  Serena Request Center enables customers to quickly publish IT’s services to the business.

3. Evaluate and improve.  Together, Beane and Brand found ways of quantifying value and evaluating performance to assemble a team that would help them better predict success in the form of runs scored and wins.  Throughout the season, they continued to tweak their roster to get the greatest value from the team.

How it relates to IT – We must continually evaluate performance and look for areas to increase value, reduce cost or gain efficiency.  Monitoring service levels associated with the items in the service catalog often gives us the best snapshot of performance.  Serena Request Center allows you to quickly and easily define the service levels and view both real-time and historical performance.

Tighter budgets.  Need for greater innovation to increase value and drive success.  Finding ways to quantify performance and determine how to continually improve.  Maybe we don’t romanticize IT as much as baseball, but it’s only a metaphor.

For more information on how Serena can help you drive home value with our award-winning solutions, visit the Serena Demand Manager or Serena Request Center product pages or check out one of our Orchestrated IT videos.


Jeff McKinley is Serena Software’s ITSM Solution Specialist. He is a 16-year veteran of the IT Service Management industry and has worked with hundreds of customers around the world in a variety of roles, including VP of Sales and Marketing, technical instructor and solutions consultant.



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