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Seven keys to implementing an ITIL framework

This information is based on the article "Implementing the ITIL framework."

Version 1.0 August 9, 2005

IT shops have traditionally focused their energies inward and concentrated on resolving technical issues. But todays business environment demands that IT be more attentive to customer requests by delivering quality solutions and aligning with the business objectivesin other words, to focus on service management. When your clients turn to you for help in improving their IT service management, suggest that they implement IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) best practices. Ill explain how to do it and some of the steps my company has used to implement the ITIL framework.

Assess

ITIL best practices cover five service support processes: Incident Management Problem Management Change Management Configuration Management Release Management ITIL also includes five service delivery processes: Capacity Management Financial Management Availability Management Service Level Management IT Service Continuity Management Begin your implementation by benchmarking the activities of the IT organization to determine how well its performing. The Office of Government Commerce (OGC), which owns ITIL, provides online resources you can use to assess the IT organization and a worksheet that you can download from its Web site. Youll answer sets of questions for each of the processes. For example, the evaluation for Incident Management includes questions like Is the business need for a Service Desk clearly identified and understood? and Does the Service Desk provide a status update to the customer on the closure of incidents? Take the test and score the results. When my organization went through the assessment, we expected our results to be much worse than they were. (I think theres a normal tendency to predict that youre not performing as well as best practice guidelines or you would not be going through an exercise like this.) We found we were doing more things consistently with best practices than we realized. For example, our financial management process was well on its way to being optimized, mainly due to how we were able use a product/service model to determine the costs of the individual services we provide to our clients.

Determine goals

After you know where the organization stands, ask your client to what extent it wants to implement ITIL best practices. You can use a Process Maturity Framework (PMF) to score the results from the assessment and determine what level the organization will attempt to attain. Scores range from zero to five; zero indicates absence and five indicates optimization. As a consultant, this is where your input is extremely valuable. Your client may think that optimization should be the organizations goal, but you may have to explain that it is too lofty because of the high cost. When my organization began its pursuit of ITIL, we decided we would strive for processes that were defined and in control, which scores a three on the PMF. That way, we could take advantage of the ITIL best practices at a reasonable cost to the organization and our IT clients.

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Seven keys to implementing an ITIL framework

Identify gaps

Once your client has settled on an appropriate organizational goal, its time to determine the gap between how the organization is performing and the best practice target it has selected. Analyze the results of the assessment and explain to your clients management team where the gaps exist and how large those gaps are. Continue to seek their approval for the work that youre doing on their behalf, because without the IT management teams acceptance, the staff will never buy in to any changes you might suggest. At my company, our CIO sends regular e-mail messages to all the IT staff reminding them of the benefits we hope to achieve from our pursuit of ITIL, along with updates of our project plan progress.

Choose the process

After youve performed the gap analysis, it will become obvious which processes will be more difficult to improve. Most organizations choose not to improve all 10 processes simultaneously. Determining which process or processes to begin with is sometimes a difficult decision, but this is where your experience as a consultant can really pay off. Your client will expect you to offer advice about which process can most easily be brought to the defined, controlled state. If your clients Incident Management process hasnt reached a controlled state, or a three on the PMF scale, I recommend starting there. The goal of Incident Management is to restore normal operation as quickly as possible to clients. Therefore, Incident Management is a foundation process on which many of the others will depend. Problem Management, Configuration Management, and Change Management may be the next processes for you to consider. In my companys case, we determined that we could move our Incident Management process to a more controlled state with little effort due to its state of process maturity, so it was one of the first processes we set out to improve.

Begin a project

Develop a project plan for how your clients should expect to change an IT process to adopt the best practice standards. (A formal project management methodology like PRINCE2, Projects in Controlled Environments, is complementary to ITIL because it has similar origins.) Our organization uses The Project Success System, a project management methodology from Young, Clark, and Associates (YCA), for all development projects, and we chose to use it for our ITIL implementation as well. The project plan should allow for the development of multiple drafts of your deliverables and several checkpoints for reviews by your clients organization to ensure that it buys into the new way of managing IT services. During the course of your project, youll identify process activities that should be monitored and measured. Your selection of these activities will be dependent on your clients goals for the process and will support the clients desire to meet the ITIL best practice criteria.

Measure

Once the project has concluded and the changes to the IT process have been implemented, you can take measurements of various taskswhich ITIL helped you identifythroughout the process. For example, you might want to measure in percentage the reduction in time to respond to a help desk call after implementing changes to the process. By measuring these tasks, you can determine whether the process will reach your clients desired results. If the results arent being achieved, now's the time to adjust the newly revised process. If youre satisfied with the results, perform another self-audit to ensure that the process has reached a defined, controllable state of maturity.

Work toward continuous improvement

No process is ever perfect, so explain to your clients the importance of continuous improvement efforts. As the process is tested over time, employees will suggest further refinements. Likewise, when you help your client select another process to work on, there will be a natural tendency to revise processeseven those that have been deemed to be in control. The overall implementation of ITIL best practices isnt something that can or will happen overnight. In most cases, adopting these best practices will require a culture change for your clients organization, in addition to the anticipated changes to the process itself.
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Seven keys to implementing an ITIL framework

Additional resources
TechRepublic's Downloads RSS Feed Sign up for our Downloads Weekly Update newsletter Sign up for our IT Management NetNote Check out all of TechRepublic's free newsletters "Where to begin implementing service management" (TechRepublic article) "Introducing ITIL standards for service to your clients" (TechRepublic article) "Move toward more effective business services with service oriented architectures" (TechRepublic download) "Criteria for a service level agreement" (TechRepublic download)

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Version: 1.0 Published: August 9, 2005

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