While Information Technology Service Management (ITSM) is prevalent in larger organizations, other organizations are still looking at implementing ITSM and haven’t taken the plunge yet. Chances are good some of those same shops have created their own do-it-yourself (DIY) service delivery models over the years, and they don’t see the value in switching to a formal ITSM environment yet. After all, why change something that’s not broken?
In today’s post I’ll attempt to answer the question “Why bother implementing ITSM if what you have is working fine?” I’ll do this by highlighting three specific benefits most shops experience when implementing ITSM inside an Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) framework.
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Three of the key benefits of implementing ITSM and ITIL are:
#1 – ITSM and ITIL provide a framework to continually deploy, improve, and retire services
The ITIL service lifecycle (shown in figure 1) provides a framework for creating, deploying, delivering, improving, and retiring IT services, through these five core areas.
Figure 1: The ITIL service lifecycle
- The ITIL Service Strategy core area helps you create a service portfolio that consists of the service pipeline, the service catalog, and retired services. It provides a past, present, and future view of what services an organization offers, has offered, or will offer to its customers. The service pipeline tracks services that have been proposed or are being developed, while the service catalog exposes all the available services that a customer can order now. Retired services are kept for reference and possible reactivation or redevelopment as pipeline services.
- The ITIL Service Design core area provides the roadmap for adding or changing services in the ITSM/ITIL environment.
- The ITIL Service Transition core area defines how IT services move from one state to another in the service portfolio, transitioning from pipeline to catalog to retirement.
- The ITIL Service Operation core area helps organizations insure that their IT services are delivered effectively and efficiently, through incident management, problem management, and event management (more in a minute).
- The ITIL Continual Process Improvement (CPI) core area defines the effectiveness of IT services, and provides a template for how services are evaluated, improved, monitored, and corrected.
The ITIL service lifecycle helps you define and setup standard processes for how IT services are created, delivered, evaluated, improved, and ultimately retired. It provides industry standard practices and consistency for your IT service delivery and management, more so than with a DIY service management solution that may have been created in a previous decade.
#2 – ITSM and ITIL help provide standard IT service delivery through a service catalog
The ITIL framework helps you develop a standardized framework for users to request and receive services. An ITIL service catalog provides a single point of contact for customers requesting a specific service or requesting help when an incident occurs. Shops without an ITSM framework typically have separate (frequently home-grown) interfaces for user adds, deletes, and changes: IT requests; and Help Desk tickets. Developing an ITIL service catalog and service desk for your customers provides a standardized one URL structure for requesting and receiving IT services, cleaning up the myriad interfaces that a customer might have to navigate when they need something.
#3 –ITSM and ITIL provide a standardized framework for dealing with IT incidents, problems, and events
ITIL also helps provide consistency and defined roles when IT service delivery goes wrong, including:
- Incident management that responds to unplanned interruptions in IT services, where the goal is to restore the service as soon as possible. An example of an incident would be an application failure that corrupts an in-process order, where the fix is to correct the order so it can be processed.
- Problem management that identifies and corrects the underlying root causes (problems) causing multiple recurring incidents. A typical problem management situation might involve identifying why a customer ordering application occasionally crashes (causing incidents with order entry and fulfilment) and fix the app.
- Event management for constantly monitoring IT services or configuration items that are changing from one state to another, determining which event changes are normal and which event changes are exceptions. A change of state can be normal (e.g., an IBM i system has entered backup mode at its usually scheduled time) or it can be an exception (e.g., an IBM i system did not exit from backup mode at its expected time). Since not every system event needs attention, event management filters each event, determines which events are exceptions, and initiates the appropriate actions and alerts for any exceptions it finds.
Applying the practices listed in the ITIL Service Operations core areas, organizations can set up processes to restore IT services that have been interrupted, repair root causes that result in multiple incidents, and initiate responses and alerts for IT services that need attention as they change state.
The big Three
To summarize, these are three of the biggest benefits an organization can realize when implementing an ITSM environment using ITIL.
- A consistent framework for creating, delivering, evaluating, improving, and ultimately retiring IT services
- Standardized IT service delivery through an organization-specific service catalog
- Provides consistency and defined IT roles for dealing with IT services that have failed, fixing root causes of persistent problems, and monitoring services and taking appropriate actions when an exception occurs in a running service or configuration item.
These are only three of the most valuable advantages in implementing ITSM and ITIL. There are several other advantages that can be realized with ITSM/ITIL. For more information on ITSM and ITIL, check out BMC’s Complete Guide to ITIL along with BMC’s simple primer for understanding ITSM and ITIL.