IT services management and best practices: An enterprise CIO guide
A comprehensive collection of articles, videos and more, hand-picked by our editors
In this guide, learn about ITSM and ITIL processes and best practices, using our FAQs, news, tips, expert advice
and case studies on organizations that have used these frameworks effectively.
The IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is a set of processes and standards to help enterprise organizations practice effective IT Service Management (ITSM). Companies employ ITSM and ITIL best practices to achieve business process improvement, cut costs and improve efficiencies within the organization.
To be more productive, many enterprises are now combining ITSM and ITIL processes with other methodologies, such as Lean IT, Six Sigma, ISO 20000 and project and portfolio management (PPM).
This guide is part of SearchCIO.com's CIO Briefings series, which is designed to give IT leaders strategic guidance and advice that addresses the management and decision-making aspects of timely topics. For a complete list of the topics covered to date, visit the CIO Briefings section.
What is the ITIL framework? How does it differ from other process methodologies?
The ITIL framework is a globally recognized set of best practices for IT Service Management. ITIL consists of a series of core books called the IT Infrastructure Library that provide guidance for improving the quality and effectiveness of IT services.
The ITIL framework was developed in the early '80s to help IT provide high-quality services that meet the needs of the business. Companies that use the ITIL framework see an improvement in customer satisfaction and productivity, and the ability to allocate people's skills and experience. The most recent version was released in May 2007.
Mark Hamilton, an IT management consultant at Pink Elephant, described the ITIL framework as "a set of options that I can use in the IT space to make myself more efficient and effective." It's all about "process, activities and options," according to Hamilton.
Learn more in "FAQ: Understanding the ITIL framework." Also:
- FAQ: Lean thinking for IT
Lean thinking is the process of incorporating Lean principles into an enterprise. In this FAQ, learn how Lean thinking works and how IT is benefiting from this improvement methodology.
- FAQ: How does the Six Sigma methodology benefit IT?
The Six Sigma methodology has helped companies improve customer service and eliminate errors for years. Learn how IT can reap the benefits of this service-driven methodology.
- Learn more about IT Service Management: From ITIL to cost savings
An IT Service Management implementation isn't always a top priority for CIOs on a tight budget -- but why? Test your knowledge and learn ITIL and ITSM facts with our quiz.
Are ITIL best practices and other process methodologies only used to cut costs?
In lean times, CIOs should apply Lean Six Sigma practices to IT operations, experts say. But Lean is not about cost cutting, or simply chipping IT costs equally among business units, said Alexander Peters, a principal analyst at Forrester. "Lean is about eliminating waste."
This is easier said by analysts than done, Peters conceded. For mature IT processes, such as incident management, change management and release configurations that have been codified by frameworks like ITIL, applying lean thinking should be par for the course. On the other hand, applying lean thinking is much more difficult in application development, which is more of a "moving target" and less mature, Peters said. But it should be done, by keeping value uppermost in mind. Resources should be focused on the people who can really add value to the process.
A lean IT organization is also continually evaluating systems and processes for "overkill," said Forrester principal analyst Marc Cecere. A 700-person IT shop that requires 18 signatures on every approval is an example of overkill, Cecere said. In addition, every problem does not deserve its own process, he said, urging CIOs to adopt the "Kill stupid rules" policy of one of his clients.
Learn more in "Six Sigma, ITIL, other business processes cut IT costs in lean times." Also:
- Top five reasons to start using ITIL and ITSM today
Looking for a reason to start following IT Service Management and ITIL frameworks? We have five. Learn how to get the most out of ITSM and ITIL initiatives.
- How an ITSM implementation can help in a recession
Some expert guidelines to use ITSM to increase IT efficiency and align with the business -- all with little investment.
How can ITSM and ITIL best practices work with other process methodologies?
Many IT shops are using the ITIL framework with other methods, such as Six Sigma, PPM and ISO 20000, to improve customer satisfaction, increase productivity and provide more value to the business in a shorter period of time. Here's a closer look at how each of these other process methodologies can complement the ITIL framework in an organization:
Six Sigma is all about meeting the needs of the customer, eliminating defects and improving the quality of processes, with metrics to show progress. Using Six Sigma in conjunction with the ITIL framework, companies can more effectively achieve the long-term goal of ITIL -- continual service improvement -- and deliver better service to the end customer.
Learn more in "Complementing your ITIL framework with other process methodologies." Also:
- Service portfolio management: Helping IT get back to business
More mature IT shops are adopting ITIL v3's service portfolio management approach to better manage the service lifecycle and provide business-centric services to the organization.
- Uniting ITSM, PPM process methodologies yields IT management benefits
ITSM and PPM are typically separate disciplines, but integrating them can increase visibility, help with budgeting and more. Learn more about this dynamic duo.
How important are ITIL tools and training to your ITSM success?
It is important to establish an ITIL service management training program to examine the roles people in the organization will play and the skills (from a process and technology perspective) they will need to fulfill the specific responsibilities. This is very similar in concept to the ITIL V3 Responsible, Accountable, Consulted and Informed model for things like change management. Once you set up these matrices, you can deliver very accurate, targeted levels of learning.
There are a few tools and techniques that organizations can use to address the people part of ITIL and enhance the training process.
Get the list of tools in "The range of ITIL training tools and techniques and how they add value." Also:
- Effective ITIL project leadership: Plan-Do-Check-Act
Successful ITIL project leaders are using the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle to ensure their teams stay motivated, follow the same processes and contribute innovative ideas.
- Targeted IT communications key to ITIL implementation success
Many companies are implementing ITIL without considering the importance of an IT communications plan. Get expert advice on ways to target your IT communications for ITIL success.
- ITIL qualifications board to take up issue of V3 certification
Can ITIL certifications turn IT from a "collection of cowboys" into a profession? They'd better, says an ITIL author.
- The range of ITIL training tools and techniques and how they add value
Learn how to incorporate ITIL training tools such as simulation workshops, process modules and use cases into your ITIL service management training.
- ITIL training: The benefits of e-learning
ITIL training via an e-learning model offers benefits including flexible delivery and technical compatibility and performance. Learn more about the benefits of ITIL e-learning.