Taking ITIL beyond IT to leverage true value
BUSINESS| Aug. 27, 2012, 8:42 a.m.
By Colin Scott, Business Developer at Marval Africa
The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is the most widely adopted best practice approach for IT Service Management (ITSM) in the world. It provides a practical, no-nonsense framework for identifying, planning, delivering and supporting IT services to the business. However, ITIL is simply a framework for service lifecycle management and improvement.
ITIL practices, tools and software can be harnessed for many other areas of business. Leveraging the true value of ITIL means taking it beyond IT, creating a culture of service improvement throughout the organisation.
The ITIL framework and software designed to support ITIL practices are simply tools that can be adopted, adapted and improved. They can help manage collections of items that have certain dependencies and relationships.
The IT department fits this bill, being a network of computers that are interlinked and interact with each other, but this definition can be adapted to include many other aspects and areas of any organisation.
Any industry, organisation or environment that relies on processes; or resolves incidents; that require the management of risk and the impact of change, can also benefit from ITIL. By the same token, any organisation that is already using ITIL in the IT department can leverage greater value from the tools by applying ITIL in different areas of the organisation.
Public transport services is one area where ITIL can be harnessed beyond IT, with trains, bus routes and even airports being regarded as large networks. The challenge with these networks is that they are geographically dispersed.
Using the ITIL framework and a good ITSM tool, it is possible to develop solutions that highlight stations, bus stops or airports as hotspots or important entities held in the Configuration Management Database (CMDB). Users can then expand or search each hotspot to find out more information. For example, problems that could disrupt transport as well as what equipment is currently located at which station, who is responsible for it, the equipment’s history and what might be wrong with it, just like it could if it was a computer in a network.
Effectively this equipment, its relationships and dependencies are no different to a computer network, and the fact that the components of the network are not necessarily a computer, but a ticket machine, a gate, an air conditioner or anything else, is irrelevant. The system is still capable of managing these ‘incidents’ relating to this equipment in the same way as it would if this was a computer network. Using the ITIL framework, public transport service companies are able to manage services, processes and their interactions that typically are not related to IT.
Health services is another area where the ITIL framework can be exploited. Hospitals need to manage many things, often from a central service desk, most of which are not traditionally related to IT. From fleets of ambulances to surgeries, life support machines to laundry services, and understanding the condition of equipment, scheduling maintenance and making sure everything is running cost-effectively and trouble free is vital to the smooth running of any hospital or clinic.
There are many other industries and examples of ITIL being leveraged outside of IT. In the hospitality industry, ITIL can be used to manage room bookings as well as conferencing facilities and more. Other areas include casinos to manage various gambling machines, fire brigades and emergency services to ensure that equipment is managed and maintained, and even at ports to manage ships, offloading and docking.
Any service provider will need to make sure their services are stable, provide value for money, are fit for purpose and support their customer strategy. This is the same for IT services and non-IT services. Consideration needs to be given to planning, designing and managing incidents, events, problems and requests; new or changed services, accountability, risk; making sure there is sufficient capacity, security and agreed availability of services for current and future needs. All of the above and more are underpinned by Continual Service Improvement.
Ultimately, ITIL is a service lifecycle and process control mechanism, and ITIL process compliant software will follow set workflows or procedures no matter what the process is. Service management can be applied across departments and environments, which mean that service management tools and software based on the ITIL framework have multiple applications outside of IT. Taking ITIL beyond IT will enable organisations to leverage true value and efficiency from service management solutions.
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