Complementing your ITIL framework with other process methodologies

ITIL can be more effective when used with other process methodologies, like Six Sigma, PPM and ISO 20000. Learn how to leverage mixed process methodologies.

Many IT shops are reaping the benefits of using a variety of ITSM process methodologies in conjunction with the

IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL). By using the ITIL framework with other methods, such as Six Sigma, project and portfolio management (PPM) and ISO 20000, companies are reaping additional benefits including improved customer satisfaction, increased productivity and the ability to provide more value to the business, in a shorter period of time.

Here is a closer look at how each of these other process methodologies can complement the ITIL framework in an organization:

Six Sigma

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.

"Six Sigma is all about the outcomes," said Gary Gack, owner and principal consultant of Process-Fusion.net, a consulting and training company. "The tendency of ITIL is to say, 'Build it and they will come and things will get better.' Six [Sigma] focuses on the outcome and can show measurable benefits sooner."

Wachovia, a Wells Fargo company, is using Six Sigma with the ITIL framework. The production management technology group recently completed a project around production releases, working with an internal Six Sigma green belt. The issue the group set out to solve was IT was unable to tell its customers how long their requests would take; instead, the IT shop was averaging response times and offering a blanket statement of three weeks to complete all projects. This solution was not efficient, productive or accurate.

"We needed a better production release arm to our organization to review all service requests in the queue," said Paul Ruppel, lead production systems consultant at Wachovia. "We had to get managers in place and review processes, resources and times and communicate to our customers that have a request in flight -- a date for production of their request."

Ruppel and his IT team leveraged the ITIL and Six Sigma methodologies to create better timelines for project requests, standardize duplicate process requests and better communicate project timelines to their customers.

ISO 20000

ISO 20000 is a global standard that was created in 2005 to define the more technical aspects of an IT Service Management system. It was created to support the ITIL framework and the Microsoft Operations Framework. ISO 20000 actually incorporates all of the ITIL Service Support and Service Delivery processes in its standards for accreditation. In addition, ISO it utilizes three other management system processes of its own -- business relationship management, supplier management and information security management.

The ISO 20000 standard recently has seen increased interest, according to experts and IT professionals. It's a shorter set of standards -- 34 pages, vs. ITIL's five books containing thousands of pages of guidelines -- and written in technical terms that many IT organizations can easily comprehend.

"ISO 20000 helps you narrow the field to just must-do's," said Heather Strickland, a strategist in the office of the chief technology officer at Spectrum Health, an integrated health system in Western Michigan. "ISO 20000 helps you focus."

IT at Spectrum Health already uses the IT Infrastructure Library and is shooting to adopt ISO 20000 in the near future. "ITIL and ISO 20000 are complementary toward each other," said Strickland. "In addition, our hospital understands the certification audit world -- making ISO 20000 an easier sell."

At the Maricopa County Attorney's Office in Arizona, IT Division Chief Al Lucas manages the ITIL initiatives in his IT shop and is also personally certified in ISO 20000. "I got certified so that I would know more about what the auditors would be looking for," said Lucas. "It also helps us focus on what we should be doing and how we as an IT organization can help the business."

Project and portfolio management

Most companies of a certain size already have PPM processes in place to govern the way they prioritize their project workloads. Many of these same companies are also using the ITIL framework to streamline processes and create better standards for delivering services to the business.

Just remember that [these process methodologies] are not in conflict, but should instead be complementary.

Gary Gack, owner and principal consultant, Process-Fusion.net

As companies become more mature in their ITIL processes, they are seeing the benefits of using formal PPM practices to manage their service offerings. For instance, mature ITIL shops that use service portfolio management (SPM) and have service catalogs can leverage their PPM processes to formally manage service rollouts, vs. just projects.

"IT organizations are now saying, 'I understand services and now need a disciplined way to make decisions,'" said Jack Probst, an executive consultant at Pink Elephant, an ITSM consulting company. "And these companies are re-spinning PPM to make decisions relative to services now, not just projects."

Many experts consider PPM the execution arm of SPM. The two working together allow companies to now focus on the entire lifecycle of the service.

No matter what process methodology you choose to use with your ITIL framework, remember that they're all geared to the same goal of improving service delivery to the customer. One challenge to be aware of is the tendency for companies to create armed camps.

"Each camp [Six Sigma, ISO 20000, ITIL] has their own flag, their own team and are trying to get people on the same page," said Gack. "Just remember that [these process methodologies] are not in conflict, but should instead be complementary."

Let us know what you think about the story; email editor@searchcio.com.

This was first published in September 2009

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