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Fortifying the ITIL framework for IT and the business

Why one company adopted the IT Infrastructure Library framework when it brought IT back in-house, and the unexpected side benefits for the business.

When global business process outsourcing company StarTek Inc. brought its IT operations back in-house in 2009 after...

years of outsourcing them, it aimed to do so with structure and discipline. The ITIL framework made that possible.

"We wanted to implant some overall standards to align ourselves from an organizational standpoint with what industry standards were," said Dan Carbonnell, director of IT services for the Denver-based BPO provider. "Looking at what's out there, ITIL [IT Infrastructure Library] seemed to be suited for us," he said. ITIL's emphasis on such core IT service management (ITSM) issues as problem, incident, change and request management are all about servicing end users and processes over technology.

It's been great to be able to extend ITSM outside of IT and allow IT to help other divisions in the business solve some of their process problems.

Before StarTek's IT department returned and the ITIL framework was adopted, ITSM had been a problem for the company. "The service desk was outsourced back at that point, so it was more challenging to follow a process framework and make sure we could keep our vendor aligned to it," Carbonnell said. To help align IT service delivery processes, the company looked at using such products as BMC Software Inc.'s Remedy and SunView Software Inc.'s ChangeGear, which had ITIL and ITSM process guidelines built in. ChangeGear was selected based on its manageability, the degree to which it could be customized and its price.

"Adopting the ChangeGear app put a real solid process framework in place from an incident management standpoint; that was one of the big wins for us," Carbonnell said. "Our other big focus when we launched the tool was change management." In the past the company had used SharePoint to manage change request documents in Word, but introduced "an actual workflow process based system with this [new] tool."

Carbonnell said his is not a mature ITIL shop yet, and puts his organization's ITIL maturity level at about a two or three (out of five), adding that just following the ITIL framework has been a positive change, not just for IT but for the business as well. StarTek's business intelligence team has simplified reporting with the ITIL tools, and the project management team has become more efficient at prioritizing report requests, he said. But less expected was the interest coming from its human resources, procurement and facilities departments, which sought help from IT in tweaking the ITIL tool for their own uses.

"It's been great to be able to extend ITSM outside of IT and allow IT to help other divisions in the business solve some of their problems from a process standpoint," Carbonnell said.

A cloudy future for the ITIL framework?

Because StarTek's overall strategy is to keep a small internal IT footprint, Carbonnell is in discussions with SunView about adopting its new ITIL-as-a-Service option for ChangeGear, he said. "We're a lean-resourced organization, so we keep the crew lean, as that focus continues from a [BPO] standpoint to ensure that IT is aligned with the business strategy and keeping the costs down, of course," Carbonnell said. "As an outsourcer, cloud-based solutions are really appealing to us at this point."

The comfort level Carbonnell has derived from adopting other cloud-based products -- StarTek's Voice-over-Internet-Protocol offering, for example -- was another factor in his being willing to consider the ITIL-as-a-Service option as well.

Nothing can minimize the actual work involved in following the ITIL framework, but a cloud-based tool has the potential to ease certain burdens, said Jeff Brooks, an analyst at Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Inc.

"Cloud based services often can provide greater flexibility in the deployment of applications and movement of data," Brooks said. "Providing an ITIL-based system through Software as a Service can often alleviate some of the infrastructure demands and resource requirements of traditional on-premises deployments."

Let us know what you think about the story; email Karen Goulart, Features Writer.

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