ITIL and Process Development
Work instructions are the tasks required to perform the procedures. So, an effective model must define the processes, procedures and work instructions in order for each process to be repeatable (thus achieving a Level 2 maturity).
Lastly, there is a definite difference between process and workflow.
Many IT departments get mired down in the detail of their workflow versus process. The process should be focused on the activities contained in ITIL and not the details for each of the tasks that IT performs for the business. For example, the Incident Management process should contain procedures for incident logging, assignment, classification, investigation, diagnosis, resolution and closure.
Each incident should follow the same process, no matter the type of request or incident being handled.
Workflow, on the other hand, is how particular types of incidents/requests are processed (i.e. password resets, new hires, email setup, network access requests, etc.).
How you handle an incident or service call does not change (process is not dynamic), whereas workflow is dynamic to accommodate the specific needs of the customers request and the support group, or groups, responsible for fulfilling the request.
Focusing on the activities in ITIL allows IT departments to develop processes that can traverse their typical silos such as network, servers, storage and security. Creating a standard process to handle incidents and service calls ensures consistent information is gathered, necessary parties are informed, the customer is kept up-to-date on their request and a proper solution is obtained and shared with the customer.
Once the process is defined, repeatable and documented, IT departments can re-focus on the workflow tasks that must be incorporated into the process. These workflow tasks can be ever-changing as the support groups revise the tasks necessary to accomplish the desired results and meet the customers demands.
Additionally, the process can be modified to achieve more optimized results; however, changes to the process should undergo a detailed review to ensure its application can be applied across the organization vs. changing to accommodate a particular support group.
Adopting ITIL requires sound process development techniques. But, before you attempt to adopt ITIL, layout the plan for your process development with a complete understanding of the level of detail you desire.
The best-practices contained in ITIL are valuable to your organization; however, the process design effort must receive just as much if not more attention in order to achieve the desired level of maturity. The journey begins with effective education and planning.
Mike Tainter, Forsythe's ITSM practice manager, has been managing technology and large scale projects for more than 20 years. His expertise encompasses IT service management, ITIL, operations management, process design, IT operations support system development, and IT logistical requirements for a wide variety of organizations including highly-mobile global organizations.