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A Fast, Practical Start to ITSM

Getting ITSM going is easier by utilizing ITIL's best practices, write ITSM Watch guest columnists Chuck Kirchner and Mike Tainter of Forsythe.
Aug 16, 2006

Chuck Kirchner,Mike Tainter

IT organizations must address an increasing number of issues today, such as providing IT services to the business at optimal cost and quality, enabling compliance with industry and government regulations, addressing the challenge of outsourcing versus in-sourcing, and creating an IT “service”-oriented culture where employees want to work.

At the same time, IT organizations face rising pressure to evolve from reactive, technology-focused cost centers, to proactive, business-focused service providers. To do this, IT organizations must transform and align with the business to survive, and they must do so quickly.

While each IT organization has specific challenges related to its business, they all share common themes. The most prevalent questions being asked today are: “What are the current business attitudes and expectations for IT?”; “What is my IT organization’s overall maturity level?”; “At what maturity level should we be?”

One of the most challenging aspects of ITSM (IT service management) is defining the services that IT delivers to its customers. The goal is to create a basic service catalog. The greatest path to success in defining services is to talk to the business and understand their needs from their perspective.

Having a complete understanding of the user experience is necessary in order to begin properly aligning IT to the business. Based on this understanding, IT can implement the processes, organization, and tools necessary to support these services.

To transform, an IT organization must first determine how well it is aligned with the expectations of its business customers.

Customer Expectations

These expectations and the perceived value of IT within the organization, as well as how it is funded, are based on an established history of interactions and IT service delivery. Trying to deliver IT services in a manner that differs from existing expectations, without first taking steps to secure appropriate business interaction and funding, is the single greatest cause of business and IT misalignment.

Once business expectations and funding requirements are understood—especially when improvements in IT service delivery and maturity are desired—an IT organization must evaluate and improve its capabilities to deliver on these service expectations.

ITSM is an overall framework for the effective delivery of services by an IT organization to its business customers. ITSM is an integrated approach that addresses the processes, organizational components (people), and supporting tools necessary for IT to provide these services.

ITSM is built upon the set of operational best-practices identified and documented in the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL), that are available in the public domain. They are a tool, technology and industry independent.

The ITIL approach deconstructs service management into two aspects: service support and services delivered.

ITIL and Service Support

The best practices identified by ITIL are not new theory. ITIL was compiled in the late 1980s in the United Kingdom and has been used in Europe for more than 15 years. As the U.S. market begins to understand its value, ITIL standards continue to gain momentum.

Furthermore, whether or not they were specifically following ITIL, many IT organizations have spent considerable time and money trying to implement core service support processes that ITIL addresses, such as incident, problem, change, release and configuration management.

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