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Making the Business Case for ITIL

ITSMWatch guest columnists Anthony Orr of BMC and Erin Casteel of Solisma layout the the business case you can use to make ITIL a reality in your IT department.
Jun 4, 2009

Erin Casteel,Anthony Orr

Following a basic maintenance plan is the best way to keep an automobile running efficiently and at peak performance, in both good and poor driving conditions. Getting regular oil changes and tune-ups, checking the water level, keeping the tires properly inflated, and other such tasks not only will keep your car running smoothly, but also will lesson the chance of a breakdown on a long journey. Similarly, following the best practices outlined in the IT Infrastructure Library, better known as simply ITIL, will help your IT organization run at peak performance and efficiency on its journey through the current economic landscape.

It is not necessary to do everything ITIL covers, and it is acceptable—and often preferable— for improvements to be made incrementally, based on business priorities. Too many organizations become overwhelmed by everything that needs to be “fixed,” and this can lead to inertia. Counteracting inertia requires a first step. IT is a strategic asset of the business and is simply too business critical and complex to manage in an ad-hoc way. Try to focus on the benefits of a high-performing IT organization and implement projects that can provide quick wins and value to the organization and its customers. The following tips will help you get started.

Here are seven ways ITIL can help you "tune up" your IT organization:

Gain Greater Visibility and Control of IT - If you want greater visibility and control of your IT environment and how it supports your business services, you need a clear understanding of what you are doing, the educational needs, the dependencies in your IT landscape, and any areas of weakness or constraints.

An ITIL process maturity assessment is a key starting point. Ongoing measurement of IT service management processes can then help you gain visibility into how to prioritize improvements based on business objectives and your customers' needs. Clearly defined IT service management metrics also make it possible to address some of the greatest challenges CIOs face today, such as defining the impact of service delivery and support on business services, and quantifying the cost of service improvement.

Achieving end-to-end visibility and control of your IT environment also requires the ability to see every aspect of your IT environment, from the business and service levels down to the component level including all the relationships and dependencies. This is where a configuration management database can help.

The CMDB offers increased visibility into IT—from the business-critical services that require greater redundancy to the software licenses that can be discontinued. It also provides visibility into the potential impact of planned changes, facilitates faster resolution of incidents and problems, and reduces the number of failed releases. The CMDB provides the “single source of truth” in terms of accurate information upon which all other processes rely. This visibility helps IT organizations by giving them information to make more effective business decisions.

Achieve Better Integration with Business Objectives - Improvements to IT will make the business more efficient and effective by increasing customer satisfaction, reducing downtime, automating tasks, and achieving required compliance. Using ITIL can help IT cut the time needed to plan, schedule, and deploy by weeks in some cases. It can also help reduced system outages. These savings can then be use to reinvest in business growth and innovation strategies for future business continuity.

Sharpen Your Focus on Continual Service Improvement- ITIL recommends that you implement a continual service improvement program. This type of program uses the results of measurement and analysis to help IT prioritize improvements that will support changing business needs. A continual service improvement program is an iterative process that happens over time and makes it possible to add more value throughout the organization with each iteration.

A continual service improvement program helps you improve services by clearly defining, measuring, and subsequently controlling the services the IT organization provides to the business. With IT under increasing pressures from all parts of the business, some IT managers may be asked, "Once a program or hardware is installed and working correctly, why can't your team just step back and let it run?" But in a dynamic business and IT environment, change is a constant. Having a program that just runs as planned doesn’t take into account the evolving needs of the business and the customer, and how business changes impact IT.

This ongoing commitment to improvement is an important competitive advantage for any organization.

For example, an international telecommunications company we worked with had multiple service desk operations and had not consolidated incident, problem, or resolution management. The company knew that consolidation was important. To address these issues, the company adopted a business service management (BSM) strategy. BSM, which is discussed in ITIL v3, is a comprehensive approach and unified platform for running IT according to business priorities.

BMC Software, ITIL, ITIL best practices, ITSM

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