I met with an acquaintance recently, who was looking for some input into forming a cohesive IT strategy, aligned more closely with business strategy and processes, and supporting the anticipated growth of the company. I hope that she doesn’t mind my sharing some of our meeting dialogue as a learning experience for others.
The company that she presently works for is well established across Canada, and has started to reach into the states as it steadily grows. My acquaintance is concerned that current growth may exceeded IT’s ability to keep pace shortly, and the company will be facing capacity, capability and security issues in the mid to long-term. Better to identify and plan to address these issues now, than to wait for a major flame up. I couldn’t agree more.
IT is all about providing, managing, measuring and changing services for the constituents within the organization. The first question that I asked was, “how is change managed in the organization?” There was a pause, and I followed up for clarity “do you manage change, using say, ITIL practices?” It turns out that she has had little exposure to ITIL, and asked for a quick explanation of the term. My short two sentence expansion was probably far too brief to offer any real guidance or expression of value, so I am following up in more detail, here.
ITIL is short for the Information Technology Infrastructure Library. This library provides an organized set of core IT concepts and a framework of practices and processes for Information Technology Services Management (ITSM), development and operations. Each of the core concepts and process groups inter-relate, with input and feedback linkages. Each concept is designed to create order from chaos, improve service delivery and customer service, increase productivity, reduce complexity, and streamline costs. ITIL gives detailed descriptions of a number of important IT practices and provides comprehensive checklists, tasks and procedures that any IT organisation can tailor to its needs. Read this white paper for more information on ITIL basics.
A 2007 article in IT World Canada reports that an “implementation of ITIL was estimated to save 10 to 20 percent in technology support costs over a five-year period. Actual returns have been higher, according to Senior Vice President of Enterprise Technology Operations, Robert Turned, but it’s difficult to attribute all of the savings directly to ITIL.”
ITIL does not require adoption of the entire body of its framework in order to be successful in bringing to light substantial benefits to the organization. A company can choose what to adopt, how far to mature the model and framework, if and when to introduce automation, and can choose to adopt only a single module if that is all that it requires. In fact I have been responsible for introducing select modules at several places of work, and have worked at others that had elected to introduce formal Change Management only, because that was all that they needed at the time. CoBIT has been mapped to ITIL, as have other best practice sets, and Microsoft’s own Operational Framework is based directly on the ITIL model.
ITIL is published in a series of books, each of which covers an IT management topic. Each topic contains one or more sub-processes. Version 3 is a significant update to the framework and its processes. The Version 3 IT Service Management core process group includes: Continue reading