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ITIL framework finds new stakeholders with V3

In his latest column, Brian Johnson reviews the evolution of ITIL and how the focus of the latest version is attracting more nontraditional stakeholders and a stronger need for executive support and group participation.

Since its inception, the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) framework has provided CIOs with guidance for taking a business-driven approach to IT service. The nearly 50 books of the original ITIL framework provided a service lifecycle approach and insight into how to use IT service design as a starting point for ITIL implementation.

The arrival of ITIL Version 2 in 2000 -- while still containing guidance for IT service design – shifted the focus to more immediate improvements to the underlying operational processes that act as the foundation of the IT organization.

Finally, in spring 2007, ITIL Version 3 has emerged, reinforcing the importance of a service lifecycle and discussing a service design approach as an important starting point for improving IT services to the business. With that service lifecycle focus, ITIL V3 emphasizes a business-driven, "top-down" approach. This approach will likely elevate ITIL discussions to the executive level and help ensure executive support of ITIL initiatives.

Understanding the service lifecycle

Organizations that choose to improve IT service using ITIL service design must consider the service lifecycle. Quality, stability and availability of IT services are determined by all lifecycle processes that flow in and out of the service lifecycle. IT assets, for example, have their own lifecycle from the time of requisition through retirement. This asset lifecycle overlaps at various points with the service lifecycle. Other lifecycles affect the service lifecycle, and this creates nontraditional ITIL stakeholders, such as application developers. The emergence of these new stakeholders becomes relevant to IT service management when an organization implements a service design approach.

Traditionally, ITIL mattered most to IT operations and the customers of the IT service. The role of the IT operations team is to ensure the delivery of IT services. The team makes certain that service support processes are in place and are sufficiently mature and efficient to manage their portion of the lifecycle. Customers of the IT service are involved because they are most affected by the service itself. They, therefore, help define requirements, establish service levels, etc.

With a service design approach, application developers also become important ITIL stakeholders because developer involvement in the service design process ensures that adequate information is provided to the service design team around issues such as capacity needs, costs and availability of the service. In the past, developers have not seen themselves as stakeholders in ITIL because the framework has little apparent relevance to their core job responsibilities. However, when developers become aware of and engaged in ITIL service design, they help improve the reliability of IT services.

For effective service design, the collective participation of customers, operations staff and application developers must be coordinated. This coordination -- often labeled as "application lifecycle support" or "service design support" -- can be accomplished by understanding the use of IT applications in the customer environment and by engaging with all relevant systems analysts and developers, database administrators, programmers, testing units and technical support experts -- as well as operations staff and, most importantly, the customer. The closer cooperation -- or at minimum a conscious awareness of the ITIL framework among customers of IT services, project managers and application developers -- will help ensure that the quality of IT services will meet the demands of the business.

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

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