In today's rapidly changing world of technology, businesses must be flexible and agile to adapt quickly when delivering critical IT services or risk getting left behind. This means setting up a wide range of processes, policies, controls, and activities to ensure that IT becomes an asset to the business and that your customers' ever increasing demands are satisfied in a cloudy, "as-a-service" world. When in discussions about this issue, two acronyms always come up: ITSM (IT service management) and ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library) ̶ however, though complementary, they often get confused.
First, it's worth noting that the two terms should not be considered as mutually exclusive - they go hand in hand. Simply put, if you are running IT systems, you are most likely already performing some type of ITSM activities like change management, system and application performance monitoring and management, and budget management to ensure business continuity and that you are delivering the services your customers signed up for. ITIL is a standardized framework of guidelines and best practices to provide ITSM in the most efficient and cost effective way possible.
In its current version, the ITIL framework is broken down into five main categories: service strategy, to define business needs, assets and strategy; service design, to map out services and identify supporting elements; service transition, for development and implementation; service operation, to manage, maintain and monitor and the end user experience; and, continuous improvement, to collect data on service performance, benchmark against set standards and make any necessary changes for improvement.
Implementing ITIL not only has the potential to improve IT service but can also solve many wider compliance and business issues. Also, ITIL is a standard that is highly regarded and utilized throughout the world by large industry and government players such as Microsoft, Disney, the IRS, the Bank of Canada and British Airways, to name a few. Some benefits include:
- Align business with IT. While ITIL doesn't create business strategies, it supports them. Put another way; the ITIL framework enables IT to act as a service provider and become a core and more strategic part of the business.
- Systems integration. ITIL is compatible with third-party project management systems, to optimize workflows, and enable better collaboration and visibility across multiple teams within the organization.
- Reliability. Monitoring and incident and problem management processes included with the framework enable businesses to review performance, perform root cause analysis, resolve issues and through problem management, prevent future incidents from occurring.
- Quality of service. ITIL includes business relationship and service-level management processes that provide visibility into the customer experience, and the ability to better manage customer expectations by ensuring that IT services are highly available.
- Change management. ITIL processes provide an agile environment that gives businesses the ability to respond to changing requirements quickly and without disruption to services, thereby enabling an environment of continuous improvement. Change management is one of the main components for IT compliance and enables tracking and documentation of all major activities performed on the IT systems and applications.
- Transparent costs. Without clear visibility into costs in a service-oriented model, bills can add up quick and much to your customer's dismay. Through processes in the ITIL framework, you can keep a close check on costs based on detailed metrics and make better budget decisions.
- Business agility. Times change fast today, and businesses must be agile to stay ahead of the competition. The pre-defined processes and best practices the ITIL framework enables businesses to react quickly to today's rapidly changing technology landscape, focus on innovation and ultimately keep customers satisfied.
ITIL should not be viewed as a set of rules, but guidelines to follow to design and deliver the unique services each business offers. Further, implementing ITIL requires a deep understanding of your business requirements and significant customization, and if it isn't done right, you could end up reducing productivity and making bad decisions that are hard to recover from. One common mistake businesses make it focusing too much on the technology, rather than the services, business outcome and, more importantly, customer requirements which could lead to wasted time, unhappy customers and wasted money. Implementing ITIL also requires participation at every level of the organization, and if you are new to the framework, it can be challenging to put together a sound strategy and find the people with the right expertise to perform specific functions.
By working with a managed service provider that has extensive experience with ITIL, building good business practices and processes and delivering continuous improvement, you can eliminate the frustration you will likely encounter if you try to do it in-house and from scratch. It can also save you a lot of time and money down the line by reducing risk from the beginning of the process and by giving you the opportunity to focus on improving your core business rather than the tedious and time-consuming tasks of the day-to-day operation of IT.
Auxis IT Managed services have been implementing and using the ITIL framework to provide a structured and reliable way to manage customer’s systems, proving its value by improving availability and supporting business strategies.
Contact us today for a free consultation with one of our ITIL experts