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ITIL v3: Bridging the Gap Between IT and Business

May 29, 2008

Augusto Perazzo,Glen Willis

By nature of the process such activities occur with a degree of isolation from day-to-day business concerns and mostly under operation's radar. This kind of protective mode hinders app groups from having insights into operational issues and vice versa.

In contrast, operations are concerned with the day-to-day activities required to maintain the IT infrastructure; making sure people have all the tools they need to perform their business duties and that eventual glitches are resolved on a timely manner. They live these duties and usually are not concerned with development work. Through the eyes of operations this “type” of work resides on a different environment, protected by a time bounded concept called a “project”. Operations has no defined duration and does not come to an end, it lives in perpetuity.

Although concepts in ITIL v2 have attempted to mitigate these issues, previous efforts were concentrated on the moment the baton passed from one group to the other. “You do your thing, we'll do ours." This limited, shortsighted overlapping between the two groups has proved to be a fiasco time after time.

ITIL v3 provides a greater opportunity to address this unproductive behavior. By incorporating the mindset of a service life cycle, v3 brings service management and operations much closer to the way app dev groups have been working for years.

First, ITIL v3 provides guidance on how operational concerns such as availability, capacity and incident management can be taken into consideration when new services are being designed. The Service Design phase seeks to ensure that new services are discussed and designed with business requirements in mind and operational realities on hand. New services will require technology and new, integrated software applications to realize its full potential. Therefore operations staff should be involved early on in the development process to advocate for operational needs and to understand any new demands placed on the live environment.

Second, through the Service Transition phase, v3 recognizes that a much more structured approach is needed in order to transition a service, its related applications and subsequent modifications from the development group into the live environment. This phase brings the two groups even closer together to ensure a smoother transition.

Third, by promoting a service life cycle as opposed to a software development life cycle, ITIL v3 can provide insights to the app-dev group about service management. App-dev groups must create applications inside the greater context of a service. They must ask themselves which IT service(s) will this application support and/or enable:

  • How efficient and effective will this application be in enabling day-to-day business processes once it goes live?
  • How can it be changed in the less disruptive way in order to adapt it to new business needs without introducing unwanted risks?
  • How to best support users without key technical resources being stripped away from critical new developments?
  • Those are all questions that ITIL v3 with the support of the operations group can help elucidate.


    In conclusion, ITIL v3 provides a mindset shift. It encourages service management organizations to step outside the operations realm and to work closer with the business in order to provide relevant services that are aligned to the business strategy in the most effective and efficient way. It goes further and provides a framework and an opportunity to unify and integrate IT groups to work together.

    Under the ITIL v3 umbrella, the two groups will better understand that new business strategies require new services realized by new applications that will eventually transition to the live environment and be supported by operations. They must then stop the blaming each other and work together towards serving and delighting the business.

    After all, isn’t this the Holy Grail of service management?

    Augusto Perazzo is a consultant in PA Consulting Group's IT Consulting practice. He has 14 years of extensive experience in managing IT organizations with a focus on process improvement programs, application development management, outsourcing and service management.

    Glen Willis is a consultant in PA Consulting Group's IT Consulting practice. He has more than 10 years experience as an IT professional and IT manager with expertise in IT Service Management, IT Governance, IT Risk Management, process engineering, IT performance improvement, data center management, and organizational change management.