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Phrases like certifications, quality management, quality assurance and standardisation attract both positive and negative response. And, it has not been any different for the ISO certification. Some businesses believe it is a complete waste of time, while others see it as an accepted standard for quality control.

 

The promoters of the ISO certification believe it brings in customer confidence; hence boosting their business. After all, the standards published by the International Organisation for Standardisation, is about the fundamentals of quality management. Technology firms are familiar with the ISO900x accreditation and the benefits it brings to organisations that have aligned their businesses to accepted frameworks for quality management within the frameworks of service delivery.

 

The ISO certification has a companion framework for excellence in network management and service delivery operations. However, like its companion ISO900x structure, arranging the IT infrastructure and service delivery procedures to be compatible with the framework is more suited to service providers and corporates. It is difficult to achieve in many cases.

 

The accreditation is likely to overwhelm small firms, adding many layers of unnecessary administration overhead, and reducing efficiency rather than improving it. In order to have a certification that would add the benefits and discipline of the full ISO specification without the increased administrative resources and procedures, a solution had to be found

The answer was found with the United Kingdom government in the form of Information Technology Infrastructure Library. The ITIL. Back in the 1980's, the UK government was concerned about getting better operational and financial value from the then new IT systems which were starting to emerge.

 

The challenge, however, was the need for a technology framework such as the ISO, which could be applied to all government department regardless of size. The government central procurement body CCTA (Central Communication and Telecommunications Authority) was tasked with developing an internal framework to be used by government departments.

ITIL

The answer was the first iteration of the service assurance and delivery platform known today as ITIL. It seemed to push all the right buttons. ITIL addressed the shortcomings of IT operations and service delivery found in government departments and provided the flexibility needed to be adapted across all departments.

In fact, ITIL was so successful, it was soon adopted as the de-facto standard across other European government agencies and private companies. By the 1990's, the original framework had been adapted into multiple libraries that could be applied to any kind of IT enabled firm.

Highlights of ITIL

  1. Empowering first level support to provide better initial support, thus freeing second level support resources.

 

  1. Change management efficiency. Reducing costs and resource required for implementing change. Reducing the risk of change failure by improving risk assessment and configuration management procedures.

 

  1. Understanding the costs of service delivery. Removing the non-value add activities from service delivery. Re-designing internal processes to avoid unnecessary costs. Managing third party resources to realise better value.

 

  1. Capacity management. Ensuring the IT infrastructure can cope with business growth. By designing systems which align storage, bandwidth and infrastructure requirements with the direction and growth of the business, can significantly reduce downtime and cost.

 

Getting the Business on Board

If you are seriously thinking about implementing ITIL as restructuring of your organisation's IT strategy, then be prepared for a bumpy ride. Installing multiple new strategies that is perceived as more work and bureaucracy, is not going to win you new friends. Here are some tips to get things moving along with the ITIL process.

 

Baseline your current network processes. What is the average time it takes to log a fault, resolve a problem, what is the escalation process, and the effectiveness of the entire process. If you embark on an ITIL program people will want results; hence the need for a comprehensive baseline of your current processes.

 

  • Attend some ITIL training workshops first. The worse thing to do is to rush out and purchase new software and hire ITIL consultants without understanding the areas in your business that need attention. Training workshops are a good low key approach to ITIL that will help you make more informed decisions.
  • Establish a set of KPIs for areas which are important to the business. Demonstrate how ITIL can help meet or exceed those expectations.
  • Get a few processes in place first without mentioning to the business that these processes are ITIL objectives. Areas which affect all organisations usually include incident, problem and change management.
  • Create an internal charging catalogue. This is also an ITIL milestone, controlling departmental IT costs is at the heart ofITIL.
  • Don't rush into ITIL. Most firms take two to three years to establish ITIL best practices.
  • Also, it isn't particularly important whether you adopt ITIL 2 or 3.

Benefits

 

The goal of ITIL is to improve efficiency by defining procedures and policies for IT service delivery and management. The side effects of the increase in efficiency is achieving more in a short period of time, and reducing service delivery costs as a result. Since ITIL is a collection of libraries, ranging from incident management to procurement cost analysis, different companies may see immediate benefit in adopting the principles in a specific area first.

Accreditation

 

There is a certification process for ITIL practitioners who act as consultants, mentors and mediators to help companies adopt the processes. It is useful to invite other departments to talk about developing business processes and the problems they have experienced with the existing systems. A neutral third party is helpful to act as a referee.

Versions

 

There are two versions of ITIL currently used by businesses. They are version 2 and 3. Version 3 is seen as an improvement to Version 2, which was process intensive consisting of many procedures. Organisations are often required a complete structural overhaul to align service operations with ITIL. Version 3, however, focuses on the service life cycle and specifically enables the firm to provide better business value.

Both versions of ITIL comprises a number of core libraries. Version 3 is seen as an extension to Version 2, rather than a replacement. The following table outlines the difference in the heading of the libraries. There are two ITIL libraries. The ITIL Red book (Service Support) and the Blue book (Service Delivery).

 


Version II

Version III

Service Support

Service Delivery

ICT Infrastructure Management

Planning to Implement Service Management

Application Management

The Business Perspective

Security Management
Service Strategy

Service Design

Service Transition

Service Operation

Continual Service Improvement


 

It is a common myth that a firm must complete each library in order to start with service strategy. In reality, ITIL libraries can be started in any order. Some corporations for example, may benefit more by starting with service improvement first, because it needs immediate improvement. Once this has been achieved, the company can move into another area, which makes more sense to the business.

 

Over the years, a number of organisations have been established to provide service management frameworks. These frameworks cover things like third party connectivity and general best practices among other things. In some countries when dealing with government entities, authorities may insist the network management solution is compliant with particular directives.

 

Also, in the post-economic fallout, compliance with firms adopting Sarbanes Oxley and other business accounting practices, meant that service assurances standards were also adopted. However, some organisations which fully embrace the directives in these frameworks may find productivity suffer, as the firm feeds the processes within the operational frameworks. Striking a balance on what is helpful and what is a hindrance is something which is particular to each individual firm.

 

ISO/IEC 20000- An IT Service Management Foundation

 

The ISO/IEC 20000 is an International Service Assurance Standard, which supersedes the existing ISO/IEC 15000 standard. It contains elements of both the ITIL ITSM framework and components of the COBIT frameworks. It is a process based standard designed to automate many of the processes in service delivery.

 

Benefits of adopting this framework are:

 

Uniform service assurance commitment to customers in terms of the way the organisation handles issues, internal auditing, capacity planning, service delivery, change management, security and pro-active monitoring against KPIs. In many organisations, service delivery attracts the largest budget from management, typically in the region of 85% of the IT budget.

 

In the wake of an economic meltdown, management needs assurances the service delivery spend is being used efficiently and not wasted on underdeveloped processes or technology.

 

Achieving the ISO/IEC 20000

There are nine separate clauses which make up the ISO/IEC 20000 accreditation.

These are as follows:

BIP-0030 Terms and definitions, management responsibility and documentation requirements
BIP-0031 Competence awareness and training
BIP-0032 Service reporting
BIP-0033 Service level management
BIP-0034 Budgeting and accounting for IT Services
BIP-0035 Configuration, change and release management
BIP-0036 Service continuity and availability and incident/problem management
BIP-0037 Capacity management
BIP-0038 Planning & implementing new/changed service, plan-do-check act cycle
BIP-0039 All of the above.*

*(c) ISBN 058047348-1

By Craig Sutherland

 

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