Getting a head start on ITIL

To survive in the 21st century, IT must manage itself based on the services it delivers

Any IT shop servicing a company that is undergoing major changes and/or servicing that company’s customers, will benefit from ITIL. For instance, a small shop facing recurrent network outages will find benefits in employing ITIL’s Problem Management process to predict and minimize future incidents. A midsize company with a complex IT infrastructure may find that the ITIL Configuration Management solution provides a blueprint for streamlining impact assessments for changes and new applications. A large organization undergoing a major acquisition or consolidation effort will discover that the consistent, repeatable processes outlined in ITIL make those efforts occur much faster and at less cost.

8. I’m convinced. How can I get started deploying ITIL?

Get trained and certified. Almost every major hardware/software vendor, and a slew of smaller companies, offers ITIL training. Search for “ITIL training” on the Web to reveal a treasure trove of capable vendors who can get you started. Exams and certifications are handled through independent agencies such as EXIN (Examination Institute for Information Science and ISEB (Information System Executive Board).

Fill in your knowledge gaps with books, Webinars, library material, and online resources. Some excellent sources include: IT Service Success, Service Level Management, and ITSM Watch. Most importantly, be sure to visit the main user group site in the United States for the IT Service Management Forum. You may want to consider joining this organization and attending local ITIL interest groups that meet regularly in many cities around the country.

9. Should I hire someone to help implement ITIL? Do big companies offer ITIL implementations?

Many companies offer ITIL consulting and implementation services, but this is still on the early part of the adoption curve. There is no market leader. Make your choice based on the experience of the people assigned to your efforts, not a brand name. Ask for résumés and look for experience, certifications, expertise, and track records. Avoid cookie-cutter solutions; these seldom work very well. ITIL has many facets, and there is no one “right way” to implement it. The best approach for your efforts will be highly dependent on your objective and the particular problems you are trying to solve. Make sure that consultants are prepared to work closely with you to understand your unique issues, and that their approaches match your specific needs.

10. I’ve been hearing a lot about ISO 20000. How does it relate to ITIL? Should I care?

ITIL is mainly about processes; it provides no criteria for measuring anything. ISO 20000, which has just been released, serves as a basis for benchmarking IT service management and improving IT services. It defines the requirements for service providers, and it helps you determine whether you comply with an acceptable IT service management standard.

ISO 20000 provides specific, measurable criteria that can be audited in areas such as scope, terms and definitions, planning and implementing service management, requirements for a management system, planning and implementing new or changed services, service delivery processes, relationship processes, control processes, resolution processes, and release processes.

To find more information, go to the International Organization for Standardization’s Web site.

Preparing for fundamental changes of the 21st century

The old operating model that originated when IT was a centralized, back-office function with limited numbers of platforms no longer meets the needs of the 21st century. IT can no longer operate successfully by managing silo technologies; it needs to administer operations based on the services it delivers.

ITIL provides the means for accomplishing this. As a Gartner Group analyst once noted, “IT service organizations must expand their technology focus to include the underlying business processes, engaging business process owners in establishing end-to-end measurements of effectiveness.” ITIL and ITSM provide the tools and concepts to make that possible.

Companies that have initiated ITIL efforts are already seeing higher customer-satisfaction levels and reduced costs and labor. Although not a panacea for all IT challenges, ITIL is a fundamental conceptual change for how IT will be doing business in the 21st century. Its time has come.

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