16 min read

Microsoft Operations Framework: An In-Depth Overview

May 22, 2024

IT service management (ITSM) can feel like solving a rubix cube: only the exact right combination of decisions will produce the results you want. 

That’s why so many IT leaders rely on ITSM frameworks to guide management decisions, control costs and ensure operational excellence. 

But with a range of frameworks available – and only so much time in the day – how can you be sure you’re using the right one? 

For companies that use Microsoft, there actually is a clear answer – and this article explains why. 

What is the Microsoft Operations Framework? 

The Microsoft Operations Framework (MOF) is a series of operational, governance, compliance and management guidelines made publicly available by Microsoft. They are designed to help organizations achieve “mission-critical system reliability, availability, supportability, and manageability of Microsoft products and technologies.”  

There have been multiple iterations of the framework: it was first introduced in 1999, and whitepapers are still available from as early as 2002. But when IT professionals discuss it today, they are typically referring to the MOF 4.0, which was published in 2008 and integrated best practices from the Microsoft Solutions Framework (MSF). 

This updated version of the MOF was intended to respond to new challenges IT teams faced. In a whitepaper released one year after its launch, Microsoft cited “demonstrating IT's business value, responding to regulatory requirements and improving organizational capability” among the framework’s key goals – all of which are just as relevant today.  

Microsoft ITSM

How Does the MOF 4.0 Work? 

The framework is broken into three phases – each with its own set of goals, activities and service management functions (SMFs): 

1. The Plan Phase explains how to plan and optimize an IT service strategy. This includes: 
  • Aligning processes with wider business goals, including service mapping and demand management 
  • Putting key policies into place, such as security, privacy and asset protection 
  • Ensuring all systems are reliable through various management processes 
2. The Deliver Phase provides clear guidance for the design and delivery of: 
  • IT services 
  • Infrastructure projects 
  • Packaged product deployment 
3. The Operate Phase helps IT teams operate, monitor and support services. This involves things like:  
  • Service monitoring and control 
  • Customer service management 
  • Problem management 

These three phases are treated as a continual cycle: the operate phase leads straight back to the planning phase, so that IT professionals integrate information and insights from real-world operations into their ongoing planning and strategizing.  

There is also a Management Layer which is separate from the core phases. This helps IT teams establish decision making processes that will be used throughout the product lifecycle, ensuring each phase is conducted with optimal processes and strong controls. 

Microsoft Operations Framework vs. ITIL: What’s the Difference? 

Many readers will be wondering why the MOF is relevant to them. Sure, it’s important to use an ITSM framework – but isn’t the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) considered the gold standard? 

The short answer is yes: the ITIL is still the go-to framework for most IT leaders. 20% of organizations were using ITIL 4 2020, and that number has likely increased a great deal in the preceding four years.  

However, there are two key differences to consider: 

  1. Cost: While the MOF 4.0 is freely available for all to use, the ITIL involves expensive training and certification processes 
  2. Scope: The ITIL can be applied to a much broader range of IT products and processes, which explains its popularity. In contrast, the MOF 4.0 is designed exclusively for using Microsoft products – which makes it the most effective ITSM framework for this specific use case. 

It’s also important to note that the two frameworks are not mutually exclusive: many companies opt to use both simultaneously - and see clear benefits from doing so. 

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What are the Benefits of the Microsoft Operations Framework? 

Users of the MOF 4.0 report: 

  • Improved service delivery because the framework helps standardize their processes, meaning everybody is speaking the same language and using the same protocols. 
  • Stronger risk management as the framework provides clear guidance to identify, assess and manage risk within the Microsoft environment. 
  • Better governance and compliance based on clear best practices that can be applied directly to Microsoft products. 
  • Enhanced communication due to every member of the IT team having a clearly defined role within the framework. 
  • Continual improvement driven by the framework’s guidance on how to measure and monitor service performance. 

However, the single clearest selling point for the MOF 4.0 is that it works directly within the Microsoft environment – meaning it is directly relevant to DeskDirector users. 

Why Is the Microsoft Operations Framework Important for DeskDirector Users? 

A growing number of business users rely on Microsoft products for virtually all of their daily tasks. That is why DeskDirector developed our unique Microsoft integrations: they enable organizations to issue and resolve tickets without leaving Teams or SharePoint. The result? Tickets are resolved faster, processes are more efficient and IT services produce greater the value for the organization. 

The MOF 4.0 therefore provides a vital resource for users of our integration: it will help you get the most out of both Microsoft and DeskDirector – and ensure you achieve the service and operational excellence you’re aiming for. 

Elevate Your Microsoft Environment with DeskDirector 

DeskDirector is trusted by over 2,000 teams to streamline, automate and improve their IT ticketing. With Microsoft integrations and a range of customization options, our system helps companies resolve tickets 4x faster and increase ticketing adoption 20%. 

Want to improve your ticketing within the Microsoft environment? 

Book a Demo 

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