I.2. An overview of ITIL
The ITIL edition from 2007, which is the third edition is considered an extension of the second version and has replaced it entirely when this was withdrawal in June 2011. The third edition provides another perspective on the life cycles of services and covers the IT organization section entirely; also it covers the supporting components that are necessary to deliver the services to the customer. This is in comparison with the second version, which was centered more on the specific activities which are directly related to the support and the service delivery. The biggest change in the ITIL edition from 2007 was regarding the terminology, these changes were introduced in order to support the expansion.
The fourth edition of ITIL from 2011 is composed of five main publications; these are Service Strategy, Service Design, Service Transition, Service Operation and Continual Service Improvement. This edition was based on a series of changes that were published by the HM Government and it is considered an update to the framework and addresses important additional guidance to define the formal processes which previously were implied but they hadn’t been identified. The fourth edition also has the previous errors and inconsistencies corrected.
The 2011edition of ITIL contains twenty-six processes which are described and detailed in the core publications.
The five volumes are the next:
1. Service Strategy: is based on organizational objectives and the customer’s needs
2. Service Design: transforms the service strategy into a plan in order for the business objectives to be delivered.
3. Service Transition: the capabilities for introducing new services into supported environments are developed and improved
4. Service Operation: manages services in supported environments
5. Continual Service Improvement: achieves services incremental and large-scale improvements
The standard practices are the best approach compared with the proprietary knowledge. These can be applied to any kind of business and have a better overview over different situations and cases. Also the processes and procedures of the standard practices are tested and validated trough different situations and a diverse set of environments, compared with the proprietary knowledge that can be tested to a limited experience of a single organization.
The ITIL framework has a practical approach, that is why is considered a best practice due to the fact that applies what is working. This unites all the areas of IT services in order to deliver value to the business, it is vendor neutral and non-prescriptive. The framework is relevant and useful in all sectors, for service providers, it can be applied to all sizes of enterprises and to any kind of technical environment.
The standard of practices of ITIL delivers sustained success, benefits and also returns on investment by integrating the strategy for services and aligning it the business strategy and also the customer needs. This helps the business to optimize, monitor and measure the IT services within a company and also the service provider performance. Trough ITIL the company can manage the budget and the IT investment also to analyze the risk and compile the knowledge.
Applying the ITIL practices the company can manage the resources and the capabilities necessaries to deliver the services effectively and efficiently and it can lead the change of the organizational culture in order for the achievement of sustained success to be supported. Through the framework the costs are reduced and optimized and this also improves the relationship and interaction with the client.
The ITIL framework is based on a key terms that are used for improvement like outcome which is the intended result by carrying out an activity, service which means to delivering value to customers through utility and warranty, customers (internal and external customers) and users.
The concept of IT service is defined trough the means of delivering value to customers by providing outcomes, without having the ownership of the specific risks and costs. The IT service is provided to one or more customers by an IT service provider and supports the customer’s needs and business’ processes.
The IT services can be:
a. Core services ‘ this type of services deliver basic outcomes desired by the customers
b. Enabling services ‘ this type of services are needed to deliver a core service
c. Enhancing services ‘ are added to the core service in order for them to be more attractive to the customer.
The concept of Service Management is defined by a specialized set of organizational capabilities in order to provide value to the customers through services.
IT Service Management consists in implementing and managing quality IT services, which have to meet the business’ needs. IT services providers, through a mix of people, processes and information technology are the ones that perform the IT Service Management.
Processes are another important part of the ITIL framework. These are defined as a structured set of activities which are designed in order to accomplish a specific objective. The defined inputs are transformed through processed in defined outputs. A process can define if needed responsibilities, roles, management controls, tools, standards, activities, policies, guidelines and work instructions. The processes are considered strategic assets due to the fact that they can create a market differentiation and competitive advantage.
The processes can be measurable, due to the fact that are driven by performance, they can deliver specific results because they are countable and individually identifiable, also through processes the results are delivered to customers or stakeholders and they are they provide a response and are traceable to a specific trigger.
The functions are also an important part, due to the fact that they are defined by a group of people or a team which carries out one or more activities or processes through resources or tools. In small organizations, multiple functions can be performed by one person or group while in a larger organization the function can be divided and performed by different departments, groups or teams, or by a single organizational unit.
The roles and responsibilities, which are required to undertake the activities and processes, must be documented.
Within a company which provides technical support the functions can be defined by the:
a. Service Desk which is a single point of contact for the users.
b. Technical Management which provides an expertise in the matter of the infrastructure.
c. IT Operations Management is the one that performs the daily activities in order to manage the IT services.
d. Application Management provides support and maintains the operational applications.
In order to be able to apply the practices the differences between a Process Manager and a Process Owner and also the ones between a Process Practitioner and a Service Owner, must be very well defined and understood.
The role of the Process Manager can be defined as the role responsible for the operational management part of a process and it is responsible to work with the process owner in order to coordinate and plan all the activities of the process. A Process Manager needs to ensure that all the activities are carried out and needs to work with other process managers and service owners in order to assure the smooth running of the services.
A Process Owner can be defined as the role accountable for ensuring that the process is performed according to the documented and agreed standard and also that the aims of the process definition are met. The role is responsible to sponsor, to design and to manage the change the process and its metrics. The Process Owner needs to define the appropriate standards and policies that need to be employed throughout the process and also to make the necessary improvements to the process.
The role of the Process Practitioner is responsible to carry out one or more activities of the process and it is necessary to understand how their role contributes to the creation of value to the business and to the overall delivery of service. The role needs to work and interact with the stakeholders, to ensure that the interfaces, inputs and outputs are correct and also needs to create and update the record.
On the other part, the role of the Service Owner is responsible and accountable to deliver a specific IT service and needs to ensure that the ongoing service delivery and support are at the agreed level of the customer’s requirements. The role works with the business relationship management in order to understand and translate the customer’s requirements and needs to identify the opportunities for service improvements and represents the service across the organization.
Automation applies to all the five phases of the lifecycle and when it is applied properly, the automation of the service processes can improve the quality of the service and can reduce the risks and the costs by minimizing the complexity and the uncertainty. It can be used to measure the service processes and the quality of the service in order to enable the CSI or to optimize the complex problems like scheduling, routing and allocation of the resources.
The benefits of the automation of the service management can be especially observed in areas like data mining and workflow or release and deployment. Before the implementation of the automation it needs to be analyzed if the tool used supports the processes and not the other way around. If the automation is applied in an indiscriminately way it can create more problems or it can aggravate the existing ones. In this case some guidelines must be followed and applied before like simplifying the processes before automating them.
In the evaluation of the automation the consideration must be analyzed past the technology’s ability to perform, as in the utility of it and also the warranty must be considered. When the implementation is analyzed the following factors must be considered:
a. Is it in conformation with the international or the industrial standards?
b. Does it adapt to the business as it passes through changes?
c. Does it use the resources efficiently?
d. Is it at the same scale while the business’ grows?
e. Does it maintain the data integrity?
f. Can recover from failure?
g. Is it supported by the supplier?
I.3. Service Strategy
Strategic thinking aims to define a plan that, using a clear set of principles, will provide a solution to a business problem in a particular situation. It is focused on the value to the customer and identifies strategic assets that will be used for competitive advantage.
Achieving an understanding of customer needs, in terms of what these needs are, and when and why they occur, also requires a clear understanding of exactly who is an existing or potential customer of that service provider. Value is defined by the customer and the value of a service is determined by what it enables the customer to do. Creating value also depends on customer perceptions and preferences.
A service strategy cannot be created or exist in isolation of the overarching strategy and culture of the service provider’s own organization. The service provider may exist within an organization solely to deliver service to one specific business unit, or to service multiple business units, or may operate as an external service provider serving multiple external businesses. The strategy adopted must fulfil the service provider’s strategic purpose.
Irrespective of the context in which the service provider operates, its service strategy must also be based upon a clear recognition of the existence of competition, awareness that each side has choices, and a view of how that service provider will differentiate itself from the competition. All service providers need a service strategy.
ITIL Service Strategy sits at the core of the ITIL lifecycle. It sets out guidance to all IT service providers and their customers, to help them operate and thrive in the long term by building a clear service strategy, with a precise understanding of:
What services should be offered
To whom the services should be offered
How the internal and external marketplaces for their services should be developed
The existing and potential competition in these marketplaces and the objectives that will differentiate the value of what the service provider does or how it is provided
How the customer(s) and stakeholders will perceive and measure value, and how this value will be created
How service sourcing decisions can be made with respect to use of different types of service providers
How visibility and control over value creation will be achieved through financial management
How robust business cases will be created to secure strategic investment in service assets and service management capabilities
How the allocation of available resources will be tuned to optimal effect across the portfolio of services
How service performance will be measured.
The Service Strategy links the activities performed by the service provider to outcomes that are critical to customers and enables the service provider to have a clear understanding of the levels and of the types of service that will make the customers successful. In order to add value to the business the service strategy needs to enable the service provider to have a quick and effective response to the changes within the business. Through it, a bridge for communication must be created between the customer and the service provider and it also needs to provide the means in order for the service provider to be able to organize.
The basic concepts for the Service Strategy are the following:
a. Service assets ‘ any capability or resource used by a service provider to deliver services to a customer
b. Service providers ‘ can be considered any organization which is supplying services to one or more internal or external customers. There are three types of service providers: internal, external and shared services unit. The customers, the competition, the contracts can have a different meaning depending on the type. The majority of the organizations use a combination of the three types of service providers.
c. Value creation
The value is an affordable mix of features, defined by the achievement of the objectives, defined by the customers and by the changes achieved over time and circumstances. In the cases where the cost of the service is smaller than the value of a service, than this can be considered that the service has value.
d. Utility and warranty
e. Pattern of business activity ‘ the demand for services is generated each time when a business’ activity is performed. The business activities are performed by the customer’s assets in patterns as a tendency. The patterns of business activity include the interactions with the stakeholders and represent the dynamics of the business.
f. Business case ‘ it represents a critical decision support and planning tool, which defines the projects as a consequence of the business tool and includes a financial analysis.
g. Risk management ‘ can be defined as a formal procedure which is used for a better understanding and can be used to manage the uncertainty of the outcome, whether there is a positive opportunity or if a negative threat exists.
h. Service governance ‘ is the one which needs to ensure that all the policies and the strategy are implemented, that all the required processes are being correctly followed. It includes defining roles and responsibilities; it is responsible to measure and report and needs to ensure that the actions are taken in order to resolve all the identified issues.
The Service Strategy can be divided in:
– Strategy Management for IT Services
– Demand Management
– Service Portfolio Management
– Financial Management for IT Services
– Business Relationship Management
Service Portfolio Management ‘ needs to ensure that the service provider has the right mix of services in order to balance the investment in IT so that the business outcomes to be met. It enables the investigation and decision of an organization on which services need to be provided and has to maintain a definitive portfolio of services. The Service Portfolio Management controls the services which are offered, under what conditions and also at what level of investment, needs to track the investment in services and to analyze which are the services that should be retired.
It must monitor all the services that a service provider plans to deliver, the ones that are currently delivered and the ones that have been withdrawn from the service. Its scope is to track the investments in services and to compare them to the desired business outcomes.
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