Economic crisis can breathe life into ITIL

The economic crisis is breathing life into the business value of ITIL, even though standalone ITIL projects may no longer top the corporate IT agenda.


Economic Storm Breathes Life into ITIL

The IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) was once seen as the ‘Shangri-La’ of the IT department. But as companies hit the first gale force winds of the economic storm, IT priorities changed and standalone ITIL projects were sidelined. Short term cost cutting became king.

While ITIL adoption as a standalone project became difficult to justify, the cost-savings and return on investment provided by ITIL best practice make it more relevant than ever. Simply cutting overheads isn’t the answer – creating business value and ultimately doing more with less ITIL-style is where it’s at.

A recession forces IT to take a long, hard look at itself and eradicate inefficiencies. Smart companies strive to combine the eradication of inefficiencies with a drive to increase business value. The first step in this great IT clean-up is gaining visibility into both the IT infrastructure and how IT services the business. Managing IT as a set of business-oriented services – a process known as Business Service Management (BSM) – is invaluable to achieve this crisp, clean view and one that is now incorporated within ITIL.

As ITIL demonstrates, BSM makes it easier to find and cut the fat while identifying where strategic investment can be made to deliver tangible, predictable ROI.

Recent BMC research has shown that smart companies, or “thrivers”, identify strategic areas of IT investment to ensure efficiency gains that deliver tangible cost savings – savings that can be re-invested to support business growth. The research showed that these companies were best placed to springboard out of the recession and gain competitive advantage.

Making BSM investments in-line with ITIL to deliver rapid returns doesn’t have to cost a fortune or be a complex, time-consuming process. Four easily-justifiable and easily-implemented steps include:

1. Optimisation through proactivity

Most organisations are still reactive when it comes to fire-fighting problems, and often the processes for doing so are inefficient. By optimising your service desk with a proactive incident and issue management system you will be able to consolidate the resolution process, proactively address errors prioritise tickets based on their impact to the business.
2. Automating changes

Optimising your change and release processes is a critical step outlined by ITIL and one that makes great business sense in a recession. These are typically time-consuming jobs that can easily be automated, freeing up IT staff to focus on other business-critical tasks. You can also put appropriate tracking tools in place, to audit and manage changes and ensure that they do not impact service delivery.
3. Managing the lifecycle

It is important that assets are managed end-to-end through their entire lifecycle, to paint a clearer picture of TCO and show up inefficiencies throughout the entire lifecycle. This is particularly applicable to virtualised environments where virtual servers are booting up and being retired constantly and often automatically.

4. Self-service simplifies support

Typically over 40% of incidents are minor reoccurring errors that users could resolve themselves. This is why ITIL endorses self-service systems on the support desk to free up IT staff from dealing with these basic yet time-consuming issues. For more complex queries look to automated requests, problem tracking and root cause analysis to help make the resolution process simpler.

These are areas where “thrivers” continue to invest, showing that while the buzz around standalone ITIL projects may have dissipated over the past 18 months, it is still a critical guide for businesses seeking IT efficiencies through BSM in the recession. ITIL compliancy may not be a standalone project for the IT department in the way it was, but the recession has reinforced its position as essential to best practice IT management for the foreseeable future.

Chris Williams works for BMC Software and Ken Turbitt, works with the Service Management Consultancy.

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