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ITIL implementation for the rest of us: Using ITIL best practices

ITIL implementation is the dream for most organizations -- not the reality. No sweat! We have an overview of best practices for gentle ITIL adoption starting today.

The IT Information Library (ITIL) -- a series of structured IT management guidelines originally produced by the Office of Government Commerce in the U.K. -- is a framework that has gained popularity, especially since the release of ITIL Version 3 in 2007. It found its success by answering management needs to improve IT and service quality.

Even though there is more public documentation and IT personnel are becoming more knowledgeable on the framework, ITIL technology is still misunderstood. ITIL implementation in organizations of all sizes can be quite a challenge. I am lucky enough to work for a company that has already integrated ITIL in its business process, but the ITIL framework assimilation is still in its infancy and improving it is a daily struggle.

When I started as a change management coordinator for a major organization, I struggled with how this huge framework could be beneficial and livable on a daily basis. It made more sense to look at the big picture and not focus on the details of each ITIL book.

The following are tips to help you view ITIL technology in a friendlier light:

1. Present ITIL in real-world situations. ITIL is certainly an extended framework that can be overwhelming. Don't worry about integrating ITIL into every aspect of your company -- use it as a tool that will answer specific needs. Not all ITIL processes are beneficial in real-world situations. The general perception of the ITIL framework is something akin to "more documentation, more processes and, therefore, more work." Instead, organize an IT lunch workshop as an ITIL overview, showing how ITIL can be beneficial in day-to-day work using the ITIL V3 Service Transition and ITIL V3 Service Operation books. You can start by demonstrating that integrating ITIL will address sustainment issues: When project staff members leave the organization, the new team members struggle with application support with no documentation and the absence of a support-level agreement. ITIL supports a warranty period for new services or applications and an emphasis on knowledge transfer.

2. Take the ITIL V3 Introduction certification program. More and more companies have registered their service desk and other IT groups for the ITIL V3 Foundation certification training courses. This ITIL training course gives everyone in your organization the chance to share the same knowledge and create a standard glossary when referring to ITIL terms. Be careful of the course type -- the condensed ITIL training course can be challenging due to the significant amount of information covered in a short period of time.

3. ITIL is not just for IT! Let's face it: IT is now everyone’s business. Seek the participation of other departments -- finance, for example -- when you integrate ITIL. Most users will benefit from a solidified incident management process and a very basic ITIL overview.

4. Keep it simple, students. If your company doesn't follow a formal ITIL process, aim for a successful ITIL implementation by keeping it simple and building strong best practices. A good place to start is with your help desk -- your Service Catalogue will consist of every application and service your help desk touches. Then start thinking of ITIL Incident Management in your help desk processes. For example, create an Incident Escalation policy matrix by prioritizing types of incidents, then use that matrix to assign a service-level agreement or an organizational-level agreement to each priority. This will improve your incident response and will manage customer expectations. A significant win in the implementation of ITIL best practices in my company has been in the area of change management: All changes to production are traceable, making sure they are communicated to customers beforehand and ensuring that changes are reduced during peak business periods. The result is that we now know exactly what is happening in our infrastructure. This also allows us to limit conflict: For example, when the server team deploys Windows patches, we are able to ensure that the network team is not rebooting core network devices at the same time.

There are several ways to promote ITIL in your organization without getting completely overwhelmed and lost. It is crucial that you allow plenty of time since this isn't a small project that can be done on the side of a coffee table. The key to ITIL best practices and success is to make sure that you understand where you are going and that you have a robust inventory before implementing any new process.

But be warned: ITIL is addictive. Once you implement a single ITIL process, you will definitely want more.

Marie-Andree Furlong is change management coordinator, technical writer and business analyst at BC Ferries, the world’s largest ferry fleet. Contact her at

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