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Consensus is Vital

Even if your IT teams and users don't know they are granting it, getting their buy-in is critical to ITIL.
Sep 15, 2006

Drew Robb

In a previous article, Just Do IT(IL), I explained there was no need to wait for consensus to make forward progress on IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) initiatives. In this piece, however, I explore the alternative view: Consensus is vital. (Which model works best for you will depend on the organization you work for, its people and culture.)

“We achieved results with ITIL due to a solid executive sponsorship by my vice president and the CIO,” said Fran Findley, project management analyst in the Information Services department at MultiCare Health System. “We followed their lead, and that gave us the latitude to implement ITIL in other departments.”

MultiCare Health System, headquartered in Tacoma, WA, consists of three hospitals and about 60 clinics spanning four counties. IT is centralized into one main building with some spillover into another facility.

In keeping with its name, it is a multi-platform shop relying on mainly UNIX and Wintel, with a little Linux. It is currently in the midst of consolidating its two Hospital Information Systems into one hospital wide system.

Covert Operatives

Findley reports that the arrival of ITIL coincided with the sun-setting of a call tracking system. Senior management gave her a budget to replace it, as well as the authority to implement a new application. That led to the adoption of Unicenter Service Desk Service Plus by CA. Unicenter is used for call tracking, in conjunction with its knowledge base and an asset management module.

MultiCare used the Unicenter project to initiate the use of the ITIL framework. That began a little over two years ago. Yet Findley spent the first year not telling anyone about ITIL.

“We were covert for first year and only went official last year,” she said. “We didn’t hide it so much as couch ITIL in terms people could understand.”

Under the old help desk call tracking system, a backlog of 700 trouble tickets had built up. This “black hole” came about, said Findley, due to the lack of process. To her mind, the hospital operated on a people-driven manner, and so inefficiencies had evolved over the years.

For example, people called whoever they knew, or whoever they were referred to when reporting a problem. As a result, numerous people found themselves on the receiving end of service complaints.

“We decided to gradually work in the idea of process via ITIL,” said Findley. “You can’t just slam it in. It is a continual process that involves a lot of passion.”

Take the concept of a single point of contact for the help desk. Instead of forcing the issue, Findley allowed users the option of continuing as before or using the central contact point. After a few months, MultiCare transitioned to a single point of contact and the move was quickly accepted.

“Although, this was a huge change for our organization, we didn’t actually say it was an ITIL concept,” said Findley. “We said it was for organizational metrics to see how we were doing.”

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