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IT Service Management (ITSM): Q3, 2007 <<previous|next>>

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ITIL V3: Stakeholder coordination is key to success

By  Brian Johnson

29 Aug 2007 | SearchCIO.com

IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) V3 guidance emphasizes the service lifecycle for designing IT services. To implement these IT services, all interested parties -- including software developers, operations managers and IT customers -- must work together to understand the requirements of the business as well as the constraints that IT faces.

This coordinated approach to IT service design, often called service design support or application lifecycle support, helps IT deliver services that have been designed to meet business requirements. By coordinating input from the various areas that affect the service lifecycle, an IT organization can better meet service-level requirements and consider new technologies that could re-engineer business processes, making them more effective and efficient. A coordinated approach also makes it possible to deliver and maintain services that easily accommodate changing business objectives, thanks to input from the service customer. Finally, a coordinated approach delivers data and requirements up front during the service design phase, allowing organizations to reinforce security, maintainability, compliance and quality requirements at an early stage.

Organizations seeking to implement a coordinated approach to IT service design using ITIL V3 guidance, however, are likely to encounter cultural barriers. For example, as discussed in "ITIL framework finds new stakeholders with ITIL V3," software developers do not generally perceive themselves as stakeholders in ITIL because they don't see how the ITIL framework is relevant to their work. Therefore, the IT organization must plan for and address these cultural barriers among development, maintenance and operational management teams -- gaps that often stall ITIL process improvement projects and programs.

Here are some simple things an IT organization can do to foster cooperation and coordination among the stakeholders in ITIL V3 and the IT service design process:

  1. Broaden the ITIL assessment to include groups outside operations, such as software developers, the customer of the IT service and anyone else who touches the service lifecycle.
  2. Cultivate an ITIL champion (or champions) within each group.
  3. Equip the champion with clear insight into the benefits of a coordinated approach to IT service design so he or she can win over software developers, operational managers and customers of IT.
  4. Convey to developers that the application they are developing actually becomes the service to the end user. Therefore, it is important that developers work with operations and customers to ensure that the service -- or application -- provides the functionality the customer needs and that operations can ensure the availability of the service when the customer needs it.
  5. Create a team that includes stakeholders from all areas who will be responsible for the service lifecycle.

What matters most to the IT service customer and the CIO is the value of an IT service. That value is often determined by the perceived quality of the service as it relates to the cost of delivering it. Customers characterize the quality of a service by how well the service is provided, how well it performs, if it meets service-level agreements and so on.

When a coordinated approach to IT service design is used, it considers operational requirements, software development needs and customer expectations. Because you know those things early in the design phase, the resulting services are designed from the start to be more reliable and easier to deliver and maintain. There are fewer chances of problems or incidents with the service, and that reduces the required labor hours to maintain the service. It also helps increase customer satisfaction, ultimately reducing the overall cost of providing IT services over their lifecycle.

The shared knowledge, requirements and information that come from a coordinated approach to IT service design can affect financial aspects of IT service design and provisioning in the following ways:

  • Improved communication among IT groups that have worked traditionally in financial "silos." Better communication among those groups can offer greater financial transparency.
  • Reduced development costs.
  • Reduced maintenance costs, which are often the largest cost over the course of the service lifecycle. Maintenance costs are high because of the requirements to fix incidents and problems that surface while running an application. These problems could potentially be avoided in the design phase when software developers understand at an early stage the implications their products have on the IT infrastructure.
  • Reduced costs in the launch of new services into the production environment as a result of improvements in IT procedures.
  • Improved economic appraisal of services and improved estimation of the total service costs to the customer.
  • Communication of key performance indicators to help determine the value of the IT service.

In the end, if you want to achieve successful IT service, you must translate the business requirements of the service customer into functional requirements. This ensures that the software developer and operations manager can deliver the tools and services that support the business. And, ultimately, that can only be achieved when the various stakeholders in the IT service lifecycle work together during the service design phase.

Brian Johnson is one of the original authors of the first ITIL books and an ITIL worldwide practice manager at CA Inc. He has authored more than 15 books on ITIL or related topics and is the founder of The IT Service Management Forum, a professional organization focused on IT service management and ITIL.