In today’s business environment, many companies use one or several complementary management models to increase efficiency, and to help improve bottom-line results and overall competitiveness. An IT management framework that has been capturing worldwide attention as well as both public and private sector support is the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL).
Originating in the UK government as an exercise to document ‘best practice’ methods for managing IT services, ITIL has since evolved into a series of books, with the first volume published in 1989. The most recent version (V3) was published in mid-2007, consisting of five core volumes that define a service-oriented (instead of a technology-based) approach to IT provision:
Now considered the world’s most credible framework for IT service management, ITIL represents more than mere books. It has generated an entire industry that includes trade associations, consulting and software tools.
Investing in the right software is important, but it is critical to remember that ITIL is more of an investment in people. Just as you wouldn’t build a skyscraper without certified trades people, you can’t build world-class IT departments without certified professionals. Building in-house expertise will often require employees to change their behaviors, values and beliefs. This cultural shift is one of the main impediments to ITIL implementation, but this can be managed with proper training from accredited ITIL education providers.
The benefits of greater education include establishing a common language and understanding of ITIL concepts and terminology among staff, while from an organizational view, education can help illuminate the pain points, challenges and opportunities that are being encountered regularly. Education, coupled with a formal IT process maturity assessment, unveils the specific ITIL processes that can address these issues, deliver quick wins and set longer-term goals. The knowledge of public frameworks (such as ITIL) is more likely to be widely distributed among a large community of professionals through publicly available training and certification. It is easier for organizations to acquire such knowledge through the labor market.
In most companies, Pink Elephant recommends starting with customer-facing processes such as incident, service level and change management, which have daily interaction and visibility with the business. In terms of incident management, companies should begin logging all incidents and service requests, and define escalation and assignment procedures; for change management, they should create a Change Advisory Board and begin holding meetings to assess changes, as well as develop a change type model that provides an authority model for authorizing changes based on the change type. These tasks are relatively easy to incorporate into an IT department’s day-to-day routine, and deliver immediate value to the business that can help prolong the momentum of an ITIL project.
In summary, implementing ITIL will be a journey over many months and years depending on how many processes an organization wishes to implement. ITIL is a framework, and organizations need to adopt and adapt the most appropriate parts of the framework that meet their needs.
Knowing what is best for the organization can only come from attaining the necessary knowledge through a properly planned and executed education program that involves all IT employees. It’s important to include everyone, and to customize education to suit individual roles and responsibilities. Numerous courses are available on the market to educate (and certify) employees, but training has to go beyond just the ITIL IT service management model. An education plan should also include organizational design, organizational change, leading change, process maturity, quality and continuous improvement, and overcoming resistance to change.
About the author
With over 22 years of IT experience, Pierre Bernard is dedicated to the improvement and growth of IT professionals and organizations, and has trained all levels of ITIL certification and consulted with many organizations around the world in various industries.
Other articles by Pink Elephant
Service management strategies that work
Click here to download PDF