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By Wilhelm Hamman These days, everyone seems to be defined as a customer. Indeed, it's the one thing that unites a bank account holder, an online shopper and even an end user of a corporate IT system. And, the one thing these customers all want and expect, is service.
Jul 12, 2004

ITSM Watch Staff


By Wilhelm Hamman

These days everyone seems to be defined as a customer. Indeed, it's the one thing that unites a bank account holder, an online shopper and even an end user of a corporate IT system. And, the one thing these customers all want, and expect, is service.

Until recently IT departments would seldom have been described as shining examples of customer service. Fortunately, this image is changing and many organizations now class their help desk as a "Service Desk" and their end users as "customers".

The trend towards value and customer-based IT services has spawned a whole new set of standards, processes and skills. Then there's also IT Service Management (known as ITSM). In fact, ITSM has become so important that it is currently the subject of a British Standard accreditation.

So, if you're only at the beginning of this ITSM evolution, where do you start? Well, implementing a well-known standard such as the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is a strong option that will enable you to deliver high-quality IT services that meet both customer and your own business needs. Indeed, ITIL helps guide organizations through the numerous steps they must take to create a services-led IT culture and department.

ITIL and Service Management
ITIL has been evolving since its introduction in 1989. It initially began as a set of processes used by the UK Government to improve IT service management and has since then been adopted by the industry as a basis for successful ITSM.

At the core of the library are two volumes on the service management discipline which were rewritten approximately two years ago. Security is also covered in the Security Management volume.

The service management area, for example, offers an immediate value to almost any IT operations organization supporting and providing mission-critical functions. The ITIL service management is divided into two categories - Service Support and Service Delivery.

These categories then cover a number of process areas that critical to the success of a service delivery model.

  • Service Support: Configuration Management, Incident Management, Problem Management, Change Management, Service/Help Desk and Release Management
  • Service Delivery: Service Level Management, Capacity Management, Continuity Management, Availability Management and IT Financial Management.

Implementing ITIL
There are various paths to the successful implementation of ITIL. For many organizations, a good place to start is with an assessment that compares your actual practices with ITIL practices. As well, partner with an ITIL expert that can help you create a plan tailored to your organization's needs as well as offers you IT solutions that will enable its successful rollout.

However, one critical attribute of a successful ITIL integration project is Executive Management buy-in and support. As with most process improvement technologies, Executive support is needed to protect critical resources and provide momentum for lasting organizational and behavioral changes.

Another handy tip is to discuss ITSM best practices with your peers in the public and private sector, or join a forum that provides access to a network of experts, information sources and events.

The benefits of adopting a standard framework
By implementing a well-known, proven framework such as ITIL your company will undoubtedly experience a number of key benefits.

Firstly, why should you reinvent the wheel? In today's highly competitive IT and business industries, time is a precious commodity. Therefore, why spend all of the time and effort to develop and framework based on limited experience when international developed standards such as ITIL already exists.

Model frameworks also provide an excellent structure that companies can follow. Essentially, employees can work towards the same goals, guided and supported by a definite structure.

Indeed, standards have been developed over time and accessed by hundreds of people and organizations all over the world. The cumulative years of experience reflected in, for example, the ITIL model can not be matched b a single organization's efforts.

Lastly, standards enable knowledge sharing. By following it, people can share ideas between organizations, web sites, magazine, books and so forth. Proponents of company-specific ad hoc approaches do not have this luxury.