Most people wouldn’t go on a long trip without making plans. They’d get their plane tickets, reserve a rental car and hotels, and select various sites to explore.

They’d probably look at maps before they leave, and they may even hire a guide, depending on where they planned to visit. If they didn’t make these plans, their much-anticipated vacation could turn into a stressful experience.

The hotels they wanted might not be available, plane flights might not be possible at convenient times, they might miss the opportunity to visit some great sites, and the cost of the trip would probably increase. In essence, the journey would be painful and the results wouldn’t be what they anticipated. They might as well have stayed at home!

In some ways, planning a trip is like the journey IT organisations take to get the most value out of the IT Infrastructure Library® (ITIL®). IT leaders and their teams are pressured to deliver greater value to their end users. The pressure is compounded by the need to roll out more services, improve service levels, and reduce costs.

Driven by these demands, IT organisations often struggle to achieve higher IT service management maturity levels. Their ultimate destination is to have an organisation in which IT and business services work together. Many IT organisations have opted to achieve this transformation by implementing best-practice processes based on ITIL.

Think of successful ITIL adoption as a journey. A Business Service Management (BSM) approach can help IT organisations arrive at their destination. This approach is based on managing IT according to business priorities. BSM combines best-practice IT processes, automated technology management, and a shared view of how IT resources directly support the business.

Solutions can implement ITIL processes and enforce their use, but there is still work to be done. As with any adventurous journey, a skilled and knowledgeable guide can help make the experience a rewarding and enriching one.

Together, ITIL and BSM provide the IT traveler with a comprehensive map. In essence, BSM provides a fast lane for your journey to ITIL, and consulting services can be your guide in that fast lane.

Seven-step itinerary

An effective way to approach ITIL is by following a sequence of seven incremental steps.
Each step paves the way for the next:

  • Know where you’re going.
  • Assess your current position.
  • Know what you need.
  • Create an IT transformation road map.
  • Be sure your gear includes BSM solutions.
  • Don’t stop now. There’s more up ahead.
  • Get the best guide available

Step 1: Know where you’re going. Before you start, you’ll need to define the goals and mission of your IT organisation: Where do you want to go? What is at stake if you do not reach your goals? You may have several intended outcomes: Standardisation, consolidation, cost containment, regulatory compliance, and agility in accommodating changes. A good guide, such as consulting services, will ensure that you get what you want from your ITIL journey by providing resources to augment your in-house resources — experts who have been through many BSM implementations based on ITIL best practices.

Step 2: Assess your current position. You can’t figure out where to go unless you know where you are now. Assess the technology, processes, and people you have in place today that will support your goals. Zero in on deficiencies and shortcomings. Perform a gap analysis to delineate needed improvements in technology, processes, and the roles of employees. Establish metrics and incentives to keep everyone moving ahead.

Step 3: Know what you need. Starting a trip unprepared leads to setbacks and pitfalls. To make this journey successful, first select from the ITIL guidelines the processes you need to implement. But be realistic; limit your choices according to their practicality and the cost and time to implement. Consider your IT and technology structure and your business practices.

ITIL is process driven, and processes are data driven, so determine the foundation data you need for the processes you’ve selected. Do you need infrastructure configuration data? Performance and availability data? What about user data?

Determine whether to train some employees to be ITIL certified, so they can eventually help guide the organisation, too.

Step 4: Create an IT transformation road map. A major step in this journey is to outline the best plan for moving ahead to ITIL and deploying BSM solutions. This plan is your IT transformation road map.

Where will you begin? With incident and problem management? Or with change management or access management?

How will you proceed? Each area in your incremental approach will be translated into technology. Identify the BSM solutions you need to support your processes based on ITIL. A configuration management database (CMDB) will be an essential component.

The CMDB provides a single source of accurate information about your infrastructure. It is a repository of information that relates to all the configuration items — which can be hardware, software, people, or a process — across the IT environment. The CMDB is part of the configuration management system (CMS), which ITIL V3 defines as the set of tools and databases you use to manage your configuration data.

Your transformation road map will also include metrics to record the services delivered, from the end-user perspective. And you’ll need to build into your transformation map a training program on BSM solutions.

Step 5: Be sure your gear includes BSM solutions. By the time you arrive here at Step 5, you’ve already covered a lot of ground. You’ve defined the BSM solutions sequence. You’ve created the IT transformation road map. Now, you’ve come to the point of your journey where you can deploy those BSM solutions.

Out-of-the-box BSM solutions translate the ITIL process guidelines into detailed best-practice processes. This gives you a significant head start. But you’ll still need to install the solutions and deploy the CMDB. And don’t forget to put technical support in place to help your end users in their use of BSM solutions.

Step 6: Don’t stop now. There’s more up ahead. Just when you think you’ve reached the summit, you see another peak ahead. You can use the metrics you developed in Step 4 to make changes that will move you along on your journey and improve your results. Continue to measure and improve the results in an iterative fashion. The horizon is always out there ahead of you.

Step 7: Get the best guide available. You can’t go on this trip alone. From planning and preparation, to starting out right and staying on course, you’ll need a qualified guide. This expert guide offers substantial experience in ITIL practices and BSM solutions to move you through the steps toward your destination without wasting time, money, or resources along the way.

Know what you can expect from your guide, so you’re not just following his or her lead blindly. A qualified guide should help you through all the stages of your journey: putting theory to practice, estimating resource requirements, choosing the right starting point, and avoiding pitfalls along the way.

To find the best guide, make sure that the consulting service you choose provides all of the following elements: comprehensive service offerings, in-depth experience in ITIL V3, expertise in BSM strategy and BSM solutions, and proven service delivery.

A guide for the planning stages

The journey to ITIL adoption requires disciplined planning and preparation. Here, your consultant is indispensable. An experienced BSM consultant will help you define and document the scope of your processes and break them down into smaller increments.

The consultant will then help you manage the people involved in those processes and define their roles and responsibilities. You can also expect the consultant’s assistance as you develop a process management approach, setting up ongoing metrics to accurately monitor your progress.

To avoid waste, you’ll need to closely estimate resource requirements. BSM providers are experienced in creating and validating realistic and detailed project plans. They know how to use those plans to accurately identify the resources required for each activity. Their knowledge at this stage will save you time, money, and energy, and prevent potential mistakes.

A guide for the road

The current state and maturity level of your processes will determine the approach you take in implementing new processes. Consultants use proven methodologies and metrics to accurately assess your current situation and get you started out right.

It may be necessary to implement several processes in parallel, such as interdependent processes. Leveraging their experience, consultants can ensure proper integration among processes, while also checking that the BSM solutions you implement support that integration.

Having been down this road before, an experienced ITIL/BSM guide has learned from the mistakes of others and can save you from making those same mistakes. Likewise, he or she can help you benefit from the successes of others.

When you arrive at your destination, you will find enhanced service quality, lower costs of service delivery, and greater ability to meet regulatory requirements. With the benefit of expert guidance, the rewards of your journey will be well worth its rigorous planning and execution. Let the journey begin.

Stephen Davito, is director of Consulting Services at BMC Software and is responsible for worldwide practice management in IT transformation consulting, IT service management, service automation, and identity management.