As far as functions go in an organization, the service desk comes alive only when something goes wrong. A computer goes down or a software expires or during an important release or deployment or event, the server does something it shouldn’t do. The result is a frantic flurry of activity to get things back in working order.
This can be great fun if your system and hardware are all good, and all you are doing is watching a colleague having a hilariously bad day; this something to be filed away for use during after-work drinks. But it sure as hell isn’t anywhere near funny when you are at the receiving end. And when that (inevitably) happens, the first thing you’ll be frustrated at is the lack of processes that would have ensured that such lapses happen as rarely as possible. The second thing you’ll be frustrated at is the fact that there isn’t a set of steps to be followed in such situations; damage-control, in this case, being as important as ensuring that it never happens.
Mission, vision, goals, and objectives. Most of the organizations have some or all of these. From a business point of view, that’s fine and as it should be. But, what does it have to do with IT and its services?
Service is a key issue here. Service, in general, should bring value, be customer oriented and rely on the business case. It also brings business sense into IT. They certainly need technology, but they see it through (business) service glasses. Therefore, they need a tool, i.e. methodology, which is not technology driven, but service driven. ITIL is a perfect match.
ITIL does not have roots in theory, e.g. someone’s Ph.D. dissertation, but in practice. It encompasses experience from IT staff from all over the world; i.e. ITIL is the best practice for IT Service Management originated in IT organizations that deal with the same issues we found in daily activities, and therefore, everyone in IT Service Management can benefit from the fact that the wheel does not have to be reinvented.
ITIL combines people, processes, products (technology) and partners (suppliers) and, if implemented, it changes organizations’ structure and processes, service management, productivity and customer satisfaction. There are many areas where an organization can benefit from implementing ITIL. The three important factors are as follows:
IT Integrated With Business
The RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed) model brings clarity to organizations’ functions and roles, and it constitutes the foundation for communication between IT and business. Have you ever been a part of an organization where decision making, as well as execution, takes too long due to vaguely defined roles and respective responsibilities?
Professional and proven processes integrate customer value and outcomes in every process, role, and function, while at the same time increasing customer satisfaction. The organization changes from being reactive to a proactive one, IT is integrated with business and it can respond more quickly to changing business (or market) requirements.
Financial Management is integrated throughout the service lifecycle. That means that costs are planned and controlled, and cost justification can be easily made. The business can rely on the financial parameters provided and agreed upon with IT, and it can integrate them in business services provided within the market. The staff inside an ITIL based organization gains competence and increases capability and productivity, which lead to higher staff satisfaction and retention. Operational processes, e.g. incident and problem management, are efficient, controlled and measured, which increases productivity and the satisfaction of both staff and customers. Efficient IT organizations have defined roles and responsibilities for operational processes, they use tools with implemented SLA parameters, and they have incident/problem catalogs in place. In such a way, processes and procedures are clear, resolution of incidents and problems is measured and compared to SLA requirements, and staff utilization is documented.
Quality of Service
If an organization implements a framework that is proven to work, it is easier to agree on the service level and quality of the provided service to the customer. Constant measurements and improvements guarantee that quality assurance of the service does not end with the customer acceptance test, but it continues throughout the service lifecycle. Lessons learned and experienced on existing services will be integrated into every new service developed or improvement made on existing ones. The focus on customer needs and perception shifts away from a technological debate toward value received, customer satisfaction and customer relation. I found that many customers attach more importance to their perception of a provided service than to the purely technical description of what a particular service does. And that directly influences future orders and relationships with that customer.
There are many more areas where ITIL implementation means one step forward toward satisfied customers and the creation of a competitive advantage. The business world, as well as the IT world, is changing very quickly. IT needs to be a company’s engine, business oriented, adaptive and efficient. For a long time, ITIL mastered operational tasks, but Service Strategy, Service Design, and Continual Service Improvement are powerful tools in IT Management’s hands when implemented and used correctly.
If large organizations, with all their complexity and bureaucracy, are achieving so much success and results by embracing ITIL, there are no barriers to what SMB’s can do if they simplify and automate their processes and bring them up to speed with the rest of the world. The possibilities are endless in ITIL jobs.