An ITIL strategy primer for the IT services industry

IT services industry can improve business logistics by dealing with delivery processes using an appropriate ITIL strategy. Here are some useful guidelines.

For companies operating in the IT service industry, an Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) strategy is a critical aspect. This is because companies which serve customers externally or internally (by their own IT team), need critical evaluation of business logistics to ensure better performance and output. And an ITIL strategy tells them how to be organized and improve their services.

For example, in one of the Chinese projects which we were handling, we found that there were only five people providing IT support. The company faced problems like data theft, people logging in from various systems and improper documentation (of issues that were raised). In this case, an ITIL strategy helped bring the entire IT structure on track.

When a company decides to opt for an ITIL strategy, it has to first employ an ITIL specialist for evaluations. This exercise will include a study of the company’s current status vis-à-vis the standard ITIL way of functioning. It is followed by identifying the pain areas, critical aspects for the company and the big issues. With this in hand, a plan has to be prepared about the processes that have to be deployed in order of criticality. Processes can be deployed one by one or in parallel.

In terms of usable ITIL strategy, there are two ITIL versions available today. One is ITIL Version 2 which has 10 process areas and one function. The other option is ITIL Version 3 which has five core areas or process clusters (you can say that Version 2 is a subset of Version 3). By and large, it is noticed that most companies opt for ITIL Version 2 implementation. This is because ITIL Version 2 has been there for some time. It’s stable and addresses the Service Management’s operational aspects, which are easier to implement. However, the world is slowly moving towards ITIL V3 now.

Processes under ITIL version 2

The 10 processes under the ITIL framework version 2 are divided into two areas: service support (which includes five process areas) and service delivery (which consists of five process areas).

Incident Management: Any issue which can cause disruption to a service or decrease the quality of a service needs to be resolved as soon as possible.

Problem Management: This underlines the unknown root cause. Then, we address the inherent issues. When the burden would be reduced, the number of issues that happen from next month comes down. So you will have more space and scope to perform better work.

Change Management: This process is applicable when an organization wants to build a change. For example, a business wants to build a new report or deploy a new router. To do this, a set of processes is followed.

Release Management: This means the processes to be followed when a release goes into production or live environment.

Configuration Management: This is about managing an organization’s IT and Service Assets, and its relationships. For any change, impact analysis can performed in a better fashion.

Service Level Management: It is about documenting, negotiating, agreeing to service levels, monitoring service performance, reviewing service level agreements, and initiating service improvement programs (SIPS).

Availability Management: Ensuring that the infrastructure is available, as per the agreed norms with the customer.

Capacity Management: This is a very forward-looking process, which manages the present as well as the future capacity requirements of an organization, and also optimizes performance by smart usage of Demand Management techniques.

IT Service Continuity Management: It can basically be used to manage disaster recovery — averting disasters and recovering critical data.

Financial Management: It is meant to manage the budgeting, charging and accounting aspects of IT.

In addition to these processes, the ITIL framework has a function called the service desk.

ITIL version 3 constituents

If you are looking at ITIL framework’s Version 3, that includes five core areas or process clusters:

Service Strategy: This has four functions—Strategy Generation, Demand Management, Service Portfolio Management and Financial Management (this has been brought forward from ITIL Version 

Service Support: This includes seven process areas – three of them are newly defined and four of them have been brought forward from ITIL Version 2. The newly-defined ones are Supplier Management and Service Catalog Management. The other processes including Information Security Management, IT Service Continuity Management, Capacity Management, Availability Management and Service Level Management are carried forward from ITIL Version 2.

Service Transition: These include seven processes with (four newly defined processes for ITIL Version 3). It includes Knowledge Management, Evaluation, Service Validation and Testing, and Transition Planning and Support. While Release and Deployment Management, Service Asset and Configuration Management and Change Management are carried forward from ITIL Version 2.

Service Operations: These include five processes and four functions. Among the newly-created processes there are Request Fulfillment, Event Management and Access Management. The two processes – Problem Management and Incident Management—have been carried forward from the Version 2 of ITIL.

The four functions belonging to this core area include the IT Operations Management function, Application Management function, Technical Management function and Service Desk function.

Continual Service Support: This does not have anything in process areas, but spans across the above-mentioned four core areas.

Thus, looking at the various levels at which the ITIL strategy works and helps companies, its adoption spells a win-win situation for both companies and vendors. Companies will improve on their RoI and vendors get compensated for deploying ITIL.

About the author: Sharada Prasadita is the group head of ITIL Practice, a part of Mission Quality and Wipro Way, at Wipro Technologies.

(As told to Anuradha Ramamirtham.)

This was first published in September 2010

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