Going for IT Best Practices: Where are We?

by Joe Lee
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It is true that every IT organization, including the Computing Services Centre (CSC), has already practiced a bit of so-called best practices as documented in the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL). Our current well-received Help Desk support, total automation of work request processing, efficient problem management and event handling, adoption of a ITIL (v2)-compliant IT Service Management (ITSM) software and others show that we have achieved most details specified in “the blue book” – Service Support in ITIL v2. Also, we have practiced some recommendations mentioned in “the red book” – Service Delivery in ITIL v2. Indeed, stepping up to the best practices for ITSM is included in the 5-year IS strategic plan. (See Network Computing, Issue 47 - March 2006 for details.)

Although ITIL v2 was presented in seven core books, Service Support and Service Delivery received most attention while the rest had almost been neglected. ITIL v2 is typically depicted as 10 processes (covered in Service Support and Service Delivery) plus 1 function (the Service Desk), showing that its focus is on day-to-day process efficiency. However, this picture has been dramatically changed in its successor, ITIL v3, which was announced in May, 2007. In ITIL v3, there are five core books which focus on service lifecycle, providing a way for business and IT integration. It starts with Service Strategy followed by Service Design and ends up in Continual Service Improvement. Obviously, the service lifecycle never ends since there are explicit feedback loops between the core components, implying that there is always room for service improvement at various stages.

In fact, ITIL v3 requests IT organizations to re-think the provision of IT services in a business way so that every service has reasons for its existence and every service can evolve dynamically to meet business needs. As the CSC has been defined to be service-oriented from the very beginning, a service catalogue has been fully developed according to our existing services which are designed to fit the need of the university. On top of these basics, components of Service Strategy can be reviewed and Service Design can be re-built. Of course, the whole process may take some years to mature and keep evolving in a life cycle.

What will be the challenges ahead? The most challenging task is to build up a complete Configuration Management Database (CMDB) with all configuration items documented, including hardware, software, policy, procedure and so on. As the CMDB covers all ingredients of the services, it therefore facilitates change, release, deployment and asset management. Another challenge is to build up metrics and measurement for the services so that they can be improved continually to deliver best values to users while the CMDB is setting up. Last, but not the least, is to implement one complete service management solution using an ITSM application that supports ITIL v3.

References

  1. The IT Service Management Forum (itSMF)
    http://www.itsmfi.net/index.htm
  2. itSMF Hong Kong Chapter
    http://www.itsmf.org.hk/