ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) is the framework that explains how you can provide IT service management for the organization. Preparation for ITIL is like preparing for any other project implementation.
The pre-requisites: To begin with, preparation for ITIL requires management commitment. Apart from commitment, the management also needs to actively participate in the endeavor. Therefore, a competent project leader is a pertinent aspect. Further, you have to identify process owners for the different processes that have to be implemented during preparation for ITIL.
Working through the implementation: Preparation for ITIL implementation must include process breakdowns that have to be recorded through flowcharts, dashboards and so on. These are critical to keep track of the phase-achievements to ITIL implementation. A detailed documentation of the process should be carried out prior to the ITIL preparation and implementation.
Adoption of project management principles: If you adopt the project management concept while preparing for ITIL, your implementation will be driven by project management principles (which translate to defining objectives and following timelines). In this regard, the core team has to be identified while chalking out the various phases of ITIL preparation and implementation. The phases have to be marked against the timeline.
Training: The core team acts as the foundation for preparing for ITIL. Hence, the team members need to go in for training and certification. Specialized training for specific modules, masters and expert training is available now. As for certifications, the available ones include the foundation certificate and practitioner's certificate. While some people need to go in for all these, the rest of the organization requires at least ITIL awareness training, which can be organized internally by the core team.
Besides these training sessions, several simulation programs and workshops are available with regard to the preparation of ITIL implementation. These could be utilized for conducting training in the production environment. For instance, workshops could be conducted in a controlled environment, along with role-playing of various process-owners during preparation for ITIL and its implementation. These people can be trained in processes and technology. Further, subject matter experts need to be identified. These will provide comprehensive awareness training for the employees.
Interface: In preparing for an ITIL implementation, the organization needs to deploy tools such as monitoring tools and locking tools on the interface front. For this purpose, readymade products are available in the market. These tools are specifically designed for IT service management, and lay down the flow of any process as per the framework. But these tools are to be deployed only after the processes are in place, so as to ensure integration of the systems. Complete process re-engineering will be needed during your preparation for ITIL implementation.
Managing the user community: Motivation is key for success, and rewards (such as incentives) are a good way to motivate people during the preparation for an ITIL implementation. Besides, career opportunities should also be provided in a proper manner. People have a key role in terms of using and accepting the new systems.
That apart, the organization needs to ensure systems, processes, and technology, all of which have a big role to play. The implementation requires knowledge management and management information. This can be achieved by ensuring process, management, technology and people.
Support for your users: In terms of support for preparation and implementation of ITIL, you can put in place a helpdesk or service desk application. So the single point of contact for your user community will be the helpdesk. Users will communicate their problems and as per the defined commitment, the concerned people should ensure that the problem is taken care of. People be handling the service-desk will also require certain skills like business knowledge. They need to be trained if not certified. With regard to people skills, they should also have soft skills when it comes to preparation and proper implementation of ITIL.
Assessing benefits of ITIL implementation: While preparing for ITIL, it has to be kept in mind that some benefits will be seen faster than others—these can be either tangible or intangible. Some of the visible benefits include improved availability, security and reliability of critical IT services. These will be followed by discernible improvement in resource utilization and service quality. Cost will also reduce in the long-term. Added to all these is the advantage that these are structured processes that require no rework.
Root cause analysis will ensure that repeated problems are dealt with, and costs will come down. The biggest benefit of preparation and implementation of ITIL is that since all the processes are integrated and monitored, they will cause an overall effect on employee morale, which will help change the image of IT.
Though preparing for ITIL implementation and having an ITIL-certified infrastructure offer a definite advantage, it is still a debated topic as to whether companies really need ITIL. Thus on the one hand, there are companies which also pursue certification for ISO 20000, on the other there are those which do not see any business benefit from preparation and implementation of ITIL.
About the author: Deepak Madan is the head of IT at DLF Group. He specializes in IT infrastructure, IT service management and information security.
(As told to Sharon D'Souza.)
This was first published in August 2010