Some of you know that next to managing TechAcute I have a corporate service provider day-job in which I focus on ITSM (IT Service Management) and Project Management. When I think back in time, I remember one key training that changed the way I run operations and that was my ITIL v3 Foundation. I strongly recommend everybody who is working in IT operations to get as many ITIL trainings and certifications as they can.
I did the ITIL course together with my line manager at that time and it suddenly dawned on us. All the processes, terms and practices we were confronted with within client operations suddenly made sense and the bigger picture was clear. Having passed the ITIL exam then I knew “why” I was doing what I was doing and not only following requests. Therefore I could also then anticipate requirements and prepare accordingly. My work was from now on designed to be ITIL v3 compliant and following the best practices framework.
What is ITIL?
ITIL is the short form for “Information Technology Infrastructure Library” and is a framework for managing IT services. However it can also serve as a general operation management framework for non-IT services. A good ITIL practitioner can even apply it for a hairdresser’s shop.
Its current version is known as ITIL 2011 Edition and it’s based on 5 books for the particular ITSM spaces:
- Service Strategy
- Service Design
- Service Transition
- Service Operation
- Continual Service Improvement
ITIL is also not a new game changer. It has been around since the 1980s and originally was developed by the UK government to give organisations some guidelines on managing IT services in a mature way to achieve a maximum of service stability as well as quality. Ever since then it was updated to reflect the experiences and knowledge of the practitioners.
Interview with an Industry Influencer
I had the pleasure to do an interview about the value of ITIL with Steve Lawless, CEO & Lead Consultant of Purple Griffon. We got some really interesting conclusions and here are the highlights for you:
Q: What do you think is the strongest value add of organisations following ITIL best practices?
A: A tough first question Chris. Which one to choose? ITIL brings so many benefits to an organisation. I think it has to be ‘Service Excellence’. The focus on core concepts like service quality, customer focus and integrated underpinning processes are key to successful implementation and improvement and is a real differentiator. It does rely on a committed management team and workforce along with stakeholder involvement to make it work long term.
Q: What was your first impression about ITIL when you participated in your first training as a learner?
A: This is when I show my age, I did my ITIL Foundation back in in the 90’s when it was version 1. I suppose my first impression was similar to yours in that it clearly explained why I did what I did. To me it was just ‘common sense’, but now I had documented common sense to help me drive improvements through. Over the years though I’ve discovered that common sense isn’t always that common.
Q: … And what was your feeling about ITIL by the time you held your first training as a teacher? What has changed?
A: On the very first course I delivered I was nervous, but at the same time I actually felt very proud of what I knew, and I could now share that knowledge… if that doesn’t sound too big headed. I still love talking about IT Service Management and the benefits it brings to any organisation. Over the years I’ve seen ITIL expand in scope being very operationally focused to becoming a cradle to grave framework, which has huge benefits for those organisations that see the big picture. Some things haven’t changed if you really understand ITIL. To me it’s always been about striking a balance between establishing a required level of control within an organisation to manage risks, whilst at the same time not stifling flexibility and innovation.
Q: How would you describe the business case for organisations to train their staff in ITIL? Is there a ROI?
A: There is a huge business case, especially for organisations that haven’t really looked at formally adopting ITIL in the past. You do have to ‘get it right’ to achieve the ROI, and by getting it right, I mean you need to have a vision of where you want to be, understand where you currently are and know how to get from A to B. The ROI will be in terms of becoming more customer focused allowing you to win and retain customers; becoming more efficient in handling incidents and reducing downtime; better planning reducing costs; you’ll become better at managing risks preventing failed change and associated rework and costs. The list goes on and on, and it’s not just in monetary terms there is also an overarching VOI (Value on Investment) which can be represented in staff satisfaction and employee retention.
Q: Are there other similar standards and frameworks like ITIL? What about Project Management for instance? Would it not be beneficial if project managers and project teams would speak the same language?
A: Yes there are ITIL lookalikes, but if you look at them they tend to be propriety and based on ITIL, so I would always promote the use of ITIL Best Practice to implement and improve IT Service Management. There are also lots of established and emerging frameworks and methodologies that build on, interface and integrate with ITIL. There are a number of process interfaces with Project Management, two obvious ones are Design Coordination and Transition Planning and Support. The contents of the Service Design Package can also be defined as deliverables within a project, so there are great benefits in Project Managers understanding IT Service Management, and vice versa. This is equally applicable whether you adopt a waterfall type approach like PRINCE2 or an AGILE approach to Project Management. I even developed a 2 day workshop which I nicknamed ‘L’ITIL PRINCE’, to teach people how Project Management and Service Management could work hand in hand.
Whether you are an organisation that does B2B business or an individual that looks for new challenges in their career, ITIL is a standard in the industry and people are actively looking for staff and service providers with ITIL certifications. This is important so they can interface their IT operations directly with yours in a standard way that has proven to work best.
If you are applying for a new position in your professional life, I can already promise you that a candidate with ITIL certifications is a lot closer to getting the job than a person without the same. This is not just a paper to put on the wall – this is proof that you understand how to manage IT services and that you are not starting this from scratch.
Before I’m closing for today, I’d also like to point you to ITSM training and consultancy specialist Purple Griffon, who also have great free resources to learn more about ITIL. I really liked the whitepapers and templates over there. Especially the SLA template and the BYOD whitepaper were particularly useful.
What are your experiences with ITIL? We would love to hear your opinion in the comment section below. Many thanks for reading!
Photo credit: Sebastiaan ter Burg / Torkild Retvedt