Monday, May 18, 2009

ITIL At Your Service

“People do not want quarter inch drills, they want quarter inch holes” - Professor Emeritus Theodore Levitt, Harvard Business School.

Service is defined as “a means of delivering value to customers by facilitating the outcomes that customers want to achieve without the ownership of specific risks and costs”. In other words, it is the ability of the provider to supply their customer’s wants and needs effectively, reliably, securely and economically.

A welcome paradigm shift currently taking place in IT is the service oriented approach towards IT management and governance (not to be confused with Service Oriented Architecture which is a development technique). This is a move towards viewing the value provided to the customer as the paramount service that the IT department provides to the customer. In the past, the IT department was usually so caught up in achieving technical excellence, that alignment with the business was lost. Due to this missed alignment, the external customers would be unsatisfied as their needs were not being adequately met and the company would suffer loss of market share and profits.

The old paradigm was the “product” approach in which the company that made more of the product for cheaper and sold masses of it was considered the winner. Thanks to far stiffer competition now, the customer has the ability to quickly and easily shift loyalties and patronage to the competition. Therefore, the focus now is the satisfaction of the customer to the point that the customer will not even consider shifting to the competition. This can only be achieved by pleasing (or as some like to say, delighting) the customer at many different levels.

ITIL is the hottest buzzword in the world of IT these days with widespread interest in training and certification as well as implementation. In my opinion this is a desirable development and in this post I would like to provide a brief summary of ITIL and its benefits and how it ties in to the new challenge of delighting the customer at all levels.

ITIL stands for Information Technology Infrastructure Library and as the name suggests consists of a standardized definition of various processes relevant to IT. The “library” reference indicates that like a library, the body of knowledge is capable of being used in parts or all together as a whole. After all, you can read all the books in a library or only one or two. The choice is made based on what is needed. If ISO/IEC 20000 certification is being attempted by an organization, however, then all the processes recommended by ITIL must be deployed to at least the prescribed minimum amount.

ITIL is structured around a service lifecycle approach. The service lifecycle consists of 5 major phases: Service Strategy, Service Design, Service Transition, Service Operation and Continual Service Improvement. The figure below describes the interaction of the phases at a high level.

As shown, Service Strategy is central to the successful delivery and support of services to a customer. This is because all the other phases of ITIL regularly refer to Service Strategy with their current state and metrics throughout the service lifecycle. Not only does Service Strategy initially create a strategy for a service and provides high level requirements to Service Design, this phase also proactively monitors success of the strategy implementation from data provided by all the other phases at regular intervals and decides if the current strategy is appropriate. Modifications to the strategy are made, if necessary, and the updated strategy is then provided to and followed by the other phases. The processes within Service Strategy are:

  • Service Strategy

  • Financial Management

  • Demand Management and

  • Portfolio Management

Together these processes assist Service Strategy to set objectives, policies and guidelines for Service Management successfully.
Service Design provides guidance for the design and development of services and Service Management processes successfully. Based on initial high level information provided by Service Strategy, Service Design provides the creation of services and related processes that are required to accomplish the service delivery and support to the customer. The processes utilized by Service Design are:

  • Service Level Management

  • Service Catalogue Management

  • Capacity Management

  • Availability Management

  • IT Service Continuity Management

  • Information Security Management and

  • Supplier Management

Service Transition ensures the quick transition of services to the customer without disruptions by building capabilities that facilitate this functionality. This involves the management and coordination of processes, systems and functions that package, build, test and deploy a service in to production. The processes utilized by Service Transition are:

  • Transition Planning and Support

  • Change Management

  • Service Asset and Configuration Management

  • Release and Deployment Management

  • Service Validation and Testing and

  • Evaluation and Knowledge Management

Service Operations ensures efficiency and effectiveness in the support of delivered services to the customer. This is a critical phase as the customer, who is the source of revenue, is provided the service at this stage. Customer interaction with the organization also occurs here making it the “face” of the organization to the customer. The Service Operations processes are:

  • Event Management

  • Incident Management

  • Request Fulfillment and

  • Problem Management and Access Management

Service Transition also utilizes the following functions:

  • Service Desk

  • Technical Management

  • IT Operations Management and

  • Application Management

Continual Service Improvement has a role throughout the service lifecycle and seeks to improve the design, transition and operation of service provided to the customer constantly. ITIL provides a guideline for a 7-Step improvement process model to facilitate constant improvement. The 7-Step improvement model consists of the following steps:

  • Define what you should measure

  • Define what you can measure

  • Gather data

  • Process data

  • Analyze data

  • Present and use information

  • Implement corrective action

This model is utilized not only to improve the service but also to improve the processes themselves as needed.

As may be observed, these five phases of ITIL provide processes that cover significant areas that an organization may need to work on. The beauty of it is that each process consists of standardized pre-determined steps including input information, output information and metrics produced. Therefore, a structured and repeatable way of implementing the steps required for service management can be utilized by adopting the ITIL methodology eliminating the usual chaos and inefficiency typically associated with IT.

1 comment:

  1. Hi,

    The above article is very help for the person who looking for ITIL base. This is basic step to know what exactly ITIL is.

    I done Foundation module but few things was not mentioned in that session.

    Great thanks to Mr. Vivek for posting such a valuable blog.

    Saurabh Gupta