In a nutshell, what is new with ITIL v3 Service Strategy?
Essentially, this first book provides guidance on service strategy and service economics. It helps answer the question of why the business customer would buy IT services, and the corollary question of what services the IT organization should develop to help give the business its key competitive advantage. Service economics covers financial management, ROI, service portfolio management and demand management, and helps address the question of how much should be charged for IT services.
What are some of the key concepts introduced in ITIL v3 with respect to Service Strategy?
Another important concept is that of utility and warranty as two aspects of service quality that have to be delivered to users. Utility is about fitness of purpose, while warranty is about fitness of use. One without the other is not only insufficient, but also might actually be detrimental to the business in the long run.
Could you think of any situation where we should not upgrade from ITIL v2 to v3?
No. ITIL v3 is an expansion of coverage, and fills a hole in v2 with respect to having a tight alignment with the business strategy -- not adopting this mentality will prove to be harmful to the IT organization in the medium and long term. Upgrading to v3 does not have to be done in one giant step. Many of the v2 processes will not require a big overhaul -- more like tweaking them in order to participate in this new service lifecycle, getting them to be more business aware and supportive of continual service improvement. Having said that, if all your IT services are doing great under v2 guidance, and satisfaction with services is very high, the urgency to move to v3 is not there, but you should already start thinking of v3 and planning for its gradual adoption.
Where does one start if an organization has never implemented any of the ITIL activities covered?
For an organization just starting on ITIL, it is recommended that you first take stock of what services there are to manage, and get a good grasp of what the business requirements are with respect to each of them.
This can be done by establishing the Service Catalog and eventually the more comprehensive Service Portfolio of current, under-development and planned services already committed to the business. Once this is done, a service-level agreement (SLA) should be in place for each of those services, beginning with the most critical ones for the business. After establishing the SLAs, take a look at the current service levels achieved by the services and address those that aren't being met. The key is to first try to stabilize the IT infrastructure and resolve those nagging problems that are causing a lot of service-level targets to be unachievable. In the process of resolving those nagging problems, you can then slowly implement proper problem, change and incident management, and establish a basic service desk function.
David Pultorak is CEO of Pultorak & Associates Ltd. in Seattle and a veteran ITIL consultant and contributor to various service management publications.