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ITIL Drives Service Management at Toyota Financial

But the long journey has required negotiating roadblocks and building bridges to the business.
Jun 7, 2007

Jennifer Zaino

At Toyota Financial Services, national business technology manager Dave Howard is leading a service management journey that began a few years back, when Toyota Motor Corp. of Japan split the manufacturing and distribution arm of Toyota Motor Sales from the financial services arm.

It had an application development organization but no longer had the IT infrastructure, such as a service desk, that had been provided by Toyota Motor Sales, giving it the opportunity to build from scratch.

Howard recently spoke with bITa Planet about how that effort morphed into its IT service management initiative.

bITa Planet: What first steps did you take toward ITSM?

Howard: We looked around at the different types of frameworks out there and decided that ITIL would be a great framework to fit our needs. The main reasons were that it was flexible and scalable, so we could use it at whatever level we wanted to use it for in our service management process.

And it was descriptive, not prescriptive, so we could take the framework and apply it from a practical perspective. One of the lessons to pass on is that you have to tailor the framework to your organization, because any successful IT shop has best practices in it already — they just may not be consistent, organized or the most efficient, but you still have the pieces there. So when you look at doing the implementation, don’t just throw everything out. Look at what you have first — you may be able to use that practice or pieces of it.

We pretty much started from scratch — two areas we started with were the service desk and change management. We had outsourced the service desk and it was an OK engagement — since we hadn’t started down our service management journey [at that point], we probably could have done better in negotiating the contract. We probably didn’t know what we needed.

Then we did change management. We had the application development side but not the infrastructure side, and we had to start to manage the infrastructure. So we implemented change management processes that would give us governance and control to effect good management of our infrastructure. Today, every change that goes into the production environment is under the control of change management — everything.

The service desk is still outsourced?

Yes. We refocused on incident management [internally] and formalized it ... and aligned that with our service desk. We work in partnership with our service desk. Our incident management oversees the entire incident process. The service desk takes the calls, does the initial triage and handles as much as it can on first call resolution, then it’s escalated to level 2 or 3, when the incident management process gets involved, to monitor those instances and resolve them in a timely manner and within service levels. Our incident management group also acts as situation managers. For example, when there’s a major incident — say the site is down — the incident manager is charged with bringing that up to speed.

Some of the challenges you face with an outsourcer is that every outsourcer has a statement of work to work with. So you have to understand that, and if what you try to do is outside that, you may have to renegotiate. However, what we’ve asked for is usually within the statement of work. The challenge is every outsourcer is in business to make money and increase margins, and some of the things we asked them to do was cutting some margins, even though it was something that should be done. The challenge is how to strike that balance of what you need with the outsourcer’s internal needs.

To me the way you do that is you have to balance what can be produced by the outsourcer, and how far you can push the envelope on that to get what you need. It comes down to really understanding what the value is of what you’re asking for. A lot of the time people ask for specific reporting or metrics that don’t add value. It’s a good thing to really understand your data and what you’ll do with it, but some of the challenges can be around whether the outsourcer has the capabilities to provide the data you need. They don’t always have as much of a connection to your internal systems and so forth.

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