Q&A: Jean Ritala of Mystic Lake Casino Hotel on ITIL

By Anna Maria Virzi Print this article Print

Jean Ritala, I.T. support services manager at Mystic Lake Casino Hotel in Prior Lake, Minn., offers suggestions on adopting the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL).

Jean Ritala is I.T. support services manager at Mystic Lake Casino Hotel in Prior Lake, Minn., and president of the I.T. Service Management Forum USA (itSMF), a not-for-profit membership organization. Ritala has been an active member of itSMF's Minneapolis local interest group, one of 37 such chapters in the United States, and is an advocate of the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL).

Here are her suggestions, offered in an e-mail interview with executive editor Anna Maria Virzi, for adopting ITIL:

Q: What are your top tips for an organization implementing the Information Technology Infrastructure Library?

A: You need a change agent to spearhead and drive an ITIL implementation. Someone who sees change as a process and not an event and recognizes how change will affect the bottom line in an organization. A person who is an active enthusiast for change who inspires others. A role model for new vision skills and behaviors.

You need a burning platform, or what some people call "pain points" or a mandate in an organization. Like from a recent internal or external audit or where it's too painful too stay the same.

  • Do a good baseline assessment on the maturity of your company processes first. You can't measure how you've grown and improved unless you know where you've been and what things were like before.
  • Realize it's a multi-year journey, not a one-time silver bullet approach to change.
  • Take small steps. Get strategic—and quick—wins.
  • Tie ITIL to performance reviews and monthly guest service scorecards, such as the results of guest service surveys.

    Q: What benefits can a company realize from ITIL?


  • Streamlined, centralized ways of doing things that bring process efficiency. There's less chaos when everyone's on the same page doing things.
  • Cost savings with process improvement, particularly when you start by showing improvement in the areas of "pain" in an organization.
  • Increased knowledge of "end-to-end" processes in an organization and the how and why of these process ties.
  • Obtain the ability to answer an executive's questions real time about what the heck is going on—once you have enough of the ITIL processes in place.
  • Ensure more effective use of subject matter experts in I.T. and an organization by utilizing the "right people for the right job" and not using, say, a programmer to answer baseline questions coming into an I.T. service desk.

    Q: What are the limitations of ITIL?


  • It takes time. Again, there is no silver bullet. Or a 12- to 18-month month way to slam in a paradigm shift in an organization's processes. It's an ongoing evolution of changing how people think and do things.
  • ITIL needs dedicated change agents who have a relentless pursuit of service management excellence
  • You need dedicated technical writers as well so you help make it easier for everyone to do better and more document, and ongoing, updates.
  • Remember: It's not the tool(s), it's changing mindsets so you can change and implement new processes.
  • Realize that executives or less experienced change agents may think or tell you it will be done quickly and that all depends on dedicated resources and commitment to changing how a business does things.
  • The line of business and executives don't care what you call it. Just tell them you are working on service improvements so you can align to the business better.

    Q: What is the most popular library or framework and why?

    A: ITIL processes and terminology may be new, but many highly regulated companies such as defense/government contracting, medical, etc. have been using process frameworks that are or have been similar. When I worked for Honeywell and the defense side of Honeywell in the 1980s, we used formal change, configuration and release management processes. Also, some companies may choose to use a combination of frameworks. I know several companies that combine using Six Sigma and ITIL.

    Q: Any reasons why some companies avoid ITIL?

    A: None that I see. Any company that's in business to provide service and products and wants to grow needs to learn how to do continual process improvement by setting standards and doing good documentation.

    Even the smallest companies with few staff can implement process improvement. In many organizations several ITIL functions are done as part of a person's job. An example is a service desk manager may and often will do incident management and service level management.

    NEXT: How to Get Support for an ITIL Project

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    This article was originally published on 2006-07-31
    Executive Editor
    Anna Maria was assistant managing editor Forbes.com. She held the posts of news editor and executive editor at Internet World magazine and was city editor and Washington correspondent for the Connecticut Post, a daily newspaper in Bridgeport. Anna Maria has a B.A. from the University of Rhode Island.
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