As a computer user, have you ever thought about how well your information technology (IT) department supports you? Would you rate them as doing a great job, an OK job or do you wish you had someone else to do the job?
You are not alone in this exercise. In fact, over the years organizations have been pressuring IT departments to address this issue of providing quality IT services. Many IT departments, in their role as an IT Service Provider (ITSP), have responded by embracing the IT Service Management (ITSM) approach. This approach strives to align the delivery of IT services to the needs of the organization that uses them. There are numerous frameworks available for implementing such an approach, with Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) probably being the most popular framework.
Before we address the role of ITIL in ITSM, let’s have a brief look at the evolution of a traditional IT department. Historically, IT departments focused on providing computer hardware and software required by organizations. Indeed, in some cases the IT departments were sometimes called “IT Shops,” where one could “shop” or request computers, software applications, daily reports, etc. By the way, they probably did offer support services to some degree, if at all. Thus, business units became customers of IT as they acquired the necessary technology for their employees to conduct their daily work. Over time organizations began to realize that IT could not only provide the aforementioned assets but also assist in automating business processes. When IT departments engage their specialized capabilities in such a manner they are providing services to customers and users. Examples of services include email, content management, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and automated accounting services.
ITSM combines people, process, technology and information to deliver these services. The ITIL framework provides a set of best practices for managing that IT infrastructure in order to deliver cost-effective and quality IT services. Therefore, customers purchase or fund IT services to assist in achieving their business outcomes. The business outcomes can range from acquiring sales and producing products, to providing entertainment and managing finances. With the proper application of ITIL an organization has the potential to realize a reduction in costs, proof of regulatory compliance, reduction in IT complexity, an improvement in operational efficiency and perhaps most importantly, alignment of IT services with business processes. IT should be providing the services necessary for an organization to meet its goals and objectives. For example, if a business goal is to produce sales, automate the sales process from beginning to end. If an organization’s goal is to provide payroll, request IT’s help in automating the process.
Hopefully you can see that since one of the primary goals of ITIL is to have IT aligned with the business, the services that IT provides should assist the business in achieving their critical business outcomes. In doing so, both IT and the business are working together on meeting the business’ goals and objectives.
While an organization can derive enormous benefits from ITIL, it is the proper application of ITIL that is necessary, not ITIL itself. Implementing the ITIL best practices that make sense for your organization is the key.
Remember, ITIL is a framework of best practices for managing an IT infrastructure while ITSM combines the application of that framework with people, process, technology and information in order to deliver cost-effective and quality IT services that satisfy business needs.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bill Lipiczky is an information security and service management professional with numerous years as an IT consultant, author and technical trainer. He has been involved in IT consulting, training and course development since the days of NetWare networks. Coauthor of books on information security and preparing for the CISSP exam, Lipiczky’s certifications include ITIL Expert, CISSP, CISA and CompTIA Technical Trainer+.