ITIL -The Business Perspective Approach
Understand and communicate the business impact
The importance of understanding the business impact is a key concept of the business perspective approach. IS needs to know the company's key requirements and drivers. It is then up to IS to present a summary of the IS impact to the business in a language that can be easily understood - not in IS or IT terminology.
Business impact analysis is a risk-assessment approach that helps determine what will happen to different areas of the business if there is a loss of service. An extension of this process would be to analyze how the loss of an IS service, or combination of services, would affect one or more vital business functions.
The level of an actual or potential impact that an incident, problem or change may have on the business can vary based on perceptions by the business. Therefore, it is important that IS has the ability to monitor and manage the health of IS services from a vital business-function oriented view in order to deliver the services that are expected.
Solutions help enable the business perspective
Many best practices are difficult or impossible to implement without solutions that enable the effective prioritization of activities based on business impact. Service impact management technology can help IS deal with business-impact related issues. They should look for technology that identifies the IT infrastructure components, maps their dependencies, and then manages IT tasks based on business impact and priority. It should offer CIOs, IS managers and business managers the ability to monitor and manage the activities from a dynamic, business-oriented view.
Armed with business-aware information, IS staff will be able to quickly initiate the appropriate actions to address the most urgent business problems. In addition, actions can be performed to respond automatically to events based on pre-established policies and rules. This is important because automatic response reduces IS workloads, permits proactive management of the environment, and raises the maturity level of service impact and event management processes.
Without a solution that can manage business impact-related issues, the IS staff is limited to guesswork and a restricted view of the business value of IT. With these capabilities, the staff can visualize accurately and ad hoc the business impact of changes made to the IT infrastructure by performing what-if scenarios. This capability allows them to assess the cost of performing changes, and then to decide whether it is beneficial to the business to carry them out.
IS organizations will be able to support and improve the delivery of quality services if they follow the principles outlined in ITIL's business perspective approach. They must align their own organizations effectively in order to support the business and they must understand the business impact of their initiatives. The right processes and solutions can help make this happen.
Ken Turbitt has broad experience in best practices management, IT, and consulting. Turbitt is the Global Best Practices Director for BMC Software. He is focused on best practices for IT services (e.g. ITIL, COBIT, eTom etc), and presenting this information to clients, partners, and analysts. He has held an ISEB ITIL Manager/Masters qualification for more than 10 years and has been a Gartner-qualified TCO consultant for more than seven years.