ITIL Compliance Supports Corporate Goals, Keeps Systems Running
Use of a standard IT governance model, such as ITIL, gives organizations specific information on how to improve IT disciplines related to service support and delivery.
- By Michael Marks
Today, IT infrastructure is the definitive backbone supporting every mission-critical business function. This one fact is the hinge of some of the industry’s most electric shifts: business service management (BSM), utility computing, and the all-encompassing “on-demand” businesses.
Organizations rely on their IT infrastructure to provide the reliability and performance necessary to achieve ROI and, ultimately, support corporate business goals. With the multitude of services and applications at work, businesses require tools to help them maintain high system availability and performance, and also prove IT's worth and contribution to their business and bottom line.
The business services that generate revenue almost always depend on the integrity and performance of the IT infrastructure. The IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) has emerged as a definition of best practices for a range of IT disciplines. ITIL is the accepted standard that enables IT managers to run their business services through a series of proven processes and methodologies. ITIL compliance promises to improve effectiveness, productivity, and competitiveness by enabling organizations to ensure business continuity and efficiency. It’s not hard to understand why ITIL’s gaining so much traction in today’s “prove-it-or-lose-it” climate.
IT Governance: Making IT Accountable for Business Results
IT has become a vital part of a company’s ability to drive profit. As a result, there are more stringent requirements for the IT department to manage, measure, and report on IT services relative to standards. To measure accordingly, companies must understand their business processes and the IT services on which they depend. This allows an enterprise to achieve two fundamental tenets of IT governance: measuring the value that IT brings to the business and holding IT accountable for business results.
When working toward this goal, IT must:
- Identify the IT services that support your company’s key business activities
- Establish metrics that measure the quality of the business service that is delivered to customers
- Manage the entire IT infrastructure that supports the key business activities
Use of a standard IT governance model, such as ITIL, gives organizations specific information on how to improve a variety of IT disciplines associated with service support and service delivery. IT managers should look for tools that provide a broad set of management solutions focused on business service, application performance, and network management that support the best practices recommended in the ITIL Service Delivery and Service Support specifications.
What to Look for in an ITIL Solution
When considering implementing IT best practices, organizations need to find an integrated technology solution that improves performance across applications and business services, assisting the IT department in mapping services to business needs, measuring the actual end-user experience, and managing across all organizational systems and networks. CIOs and IT managers should look for a BSM model that supports service delivery and service support frameworks in order to strengthen the IT organization’s role as an equal partner to the rest of the business. By spotlighting the value of the IT infrastructure to the business' bottom line, ITIL helps prove the business case and ROI for ongoing IT investments that can drive the business.
Tips for Successful ITIL Deployment
IT organizations know what disciplines operate least efficiently and contribute to user dissatisfaction. Addressing these areas first provides experience with the process, while quickly relieving pain points. Many organizations have benefited by simply applying best practices to the area most in need. If you need availability management, for example, start there.
Documenting benchmarks is one way to communicate IT value. The beginning benchmark lets the organization measure progress. Later benchmarks serve as a baseline for efficient operations. As IT services become more highly scrutinized, it becomes more important to quantify service levels.
Change can be difficult. As with any major initiative, management buy-in is a must. Significant work is required of the IT department to deploy best practices for even a few of the IT disciplines, so top-down endorsement makes the difference. Also, if management is committed to the process, they will be willing to support training efforts that will smooth the deployment process.
Business service-oriented organizations everywhere are requesting tools to meet ITIL compliance. In fact, according to Forrester Research, 2005 "will be the year when ITIL goes mainstream.” Organizations require tools to monitor and manage the service levels, application performance, and network management, helping organizations prove IT's worth.
Making IT investments manageable and cost-effective is the primary objective when considering an organization’s ROI and implementing best practices for IT is the most effective method for achieving solid results and increasing competitiveness.
Michael Marks is the director of strategic alliances and service provider market development for Concord Communications, a global provider of business service management software.