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The Five Critical Questions to Ask Before You Sign

When choosing an ITIL service provider look for experience and good governance, write ITSM Watch guest columnists David Cannon and Ken Wendle of HP.
Feb 26, 2007

David Cannon,Ken Wendle

When General Motors announced a $15 billion outsourcing deal with six IT vendors in February 2006, the news shook the IT world. It was not only one of the largest outsourcing deals in history, but served as a new model for IT outsourcing.

Indicative of a continuing trend within the IT outsourcing industry, CIOs are increasingly looking to partner with multiple IT service providers to leverage best-of-breed capabilities.

In working with customers like GM, we’ve learned that while they enjoy the benefit of working with multiple service providers, they are also looking to ensure that they are receiving the highest levels of quality service. In a multi-sourced environment like this, disciplined and rigorous governance is critical because it ensures that all parties work with established and coordinated mechanisms, linking IT and business objectives to measurable results.

The primary mechanisms guiding the implementation of governance are best practices from the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), drawn from the public and private sectors internationally. It is supported by a comprehensive qualifications scheme, accredited training organizations, and implementation and assessment tools.

Developed by the British government in the 1980’s, ITIL adoption is gaining speed in the United States as companies find that ITIL can help cut costs, improve IT services through proven best practices, and increase productivity by providing a common IT language. In the case of GM, they are turning to HP for ITIL-based processes for service support, service delivery, security and compliance.

There has been a definite increase in interest from our customers in the U.S. to implement ITIL. Executives from IT Service Management Forum (itSMF) project that the number of companies adopting ITIL in the U.S. could grow to about 75% by 2007. Forrester Research projects that 80% of global 2,000 companies will adopt the framework by 2010.

Interest in IT Service Management (ITSM) is on the rise as well. As companies identify and support IT services that are critical to enterprise business process, they need the ability to improve service quality with real-time information about IT impact on service level agreements, and then to understand how to optimize service support. This mission-critical management is delivered through ITSM solutions that enable CIOs to run IT as a service delivery business.

Choosing Carefully

As interest in ITIL and ITSM continues to rise, it’s important to make certain the service provider you engage with can provide a proven approach to governance and best practices in a multi-sourced, IT environment. Only with a structured IT governance model can enterprises be more effective at synchronizing IT strategies to align with business goals.

Below are the five critical questions you should ask a potential vendor when implementing ITIL:

1. What experience do you have working in a multi-sourced IT environment? Or, can the IT vendor play well with others?

Managing an assembly of outsourcing partners can be time-consuming, complex and expensive. You want a partner that can communicate with you and others in your partner ecosystem to ensure the job gets done right. It’s also important that the vendor has the ability to resolve conflicts, adapt to changing business conditions and work toward common business and IT goals.

2. Are your engineers ITIL trained and certified?

Does the vendor truly have the capability to implement ITIL-based best practices and ITSM? To be ITIL-certified at the manager level, the highest current level of certification, an IT engineer must undergo rigorous training that consists of lectures, exercises and exams. This ITIL certificate signifies the engineer has a solid understanding of best practices for ITSM that can be applied immediately at some level.

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