Q&A: CA's Robert Stroud on ITIL

 
 
By Anna Maria Virzi  |  Posted 2006-07-31
 
 
 

Robert Stroud, named to I.T. Service Management Forum USA's board in June, is a 25-year information technology executive. He is director of brand strategy for CA's business service optimization unit and has contributed to titles on the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL). In an e-mail interview with executive editor Anna Maria Virzi, he provided tips for companies looking to adopt ITIL.

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

A:

  • Understand ITIL is a journey, not a destination
  • Establish where you are and where you want to go
  • Identify the route or path you will travel
  • Investigate the roadblocks and establish goals along the way
  • Achieve small successes quickly to demonstrate value for the implementation project

    Q: What benefits can a company realize from ITIL?

    A:

  • Automation of manual processes enables organizations to free up resources to focus those resources on projects, which deliver more strategic value and increase competitive advantage.
  • Quality, automation of repetitive tasks will ensure that service is delivered in a repeatable and consistent manner, thereby delivering significantly greater cost and time savings.

    Q: What are the limitations of ITIL?

    A: ITIL describes what needs to be done to improve service to the business—not how to do it. Many ITIL and service management consultants and service providers who help companies build their ITIL plans often focus entirely on process improvement and organizational issues. Achieving tangible efficiency gains and ROI [return on investment], however, requires the automation of appropriate components of the ITIL processes—usually repetitive procedures and workflows—through technology.

    To increase the chances for success, look for consultants who are skilled across the essential elements of ITIL—people, process and technology—and who have a pragmatic, outcome-based approach to an ITIL project.

    Many companies choose to concentrate on a single ITIL process, such as incident management. But ITIL processes are by nature inter-related and inter-dependent. So if you want to drive down the number of incidents, you need to quickly find the root-cause of persistent problems. To reduce the number of problems, you'll need to consider change management.

    Organizations that get too far down the path with one process before considering related processes may spend significant time and money in constantly revisiting and refining the initial process as they implement others. The best way to improve service is to simultaneously work on enhancing two or three process areas.

    NEXT: How ITIL Works With Other Frameworks

    ITIL and Other Frameworks

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

    A: ITIL is currently the most popular framework in the industry. There are multiple reasons for this, including the maturity of I.T. I.T. serves as an interface with the business and I.T. services require automation for problem identification and resolution. Additionally, as I.T. becomes more increasingly complex, ITIL enables organizations to establish best practice processes to understand, prioritize, document and deliver I.T. value in accordance with business requirements.

    Although ITIL is the leading framework today, it utilizes and interacts with other industry best practice frameworks and standards, including:

  • COBIT (Control OBjectives for Information and related Technology): an I.T. governance framework that is used as a component within many organizations to achieve Sarbanes-Oxley compliance initiatives.
  • ISO/IEC 20000 I.T. Service Management Best Practice: an organizational certification from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) that developed from ITIL. Approved in 2005, it is the next step in the maturity of service management. Unlike ITIL, which provides individual certifications, ISO/IEC 20000 provides organizational, auditable certification. As ISO 9000 becomes more widely accepted, this may become a "cost of doing business" over the next few years.
  • ISO 17799: a generally accepted ISO standard for security that is utilized by large and small organizations to ensure an industry accepted level of organizational security of data, access and identification.

    Q: Should some companies avoid ITIL? If so, please characterize.

    A: No. ITIL is clearly becoming the de facto standard in service management and the lens through which the delivery of I.T. services will be measured. The goal is to improve service and not just implement a best practice framework. By implementing ITIL industry best practices, organizations of any size can achieve greater scales of efficiencies and deliver enhanced value.

    Q: How can a technology manager win business support for ITIL?

    A: Buy-in starts at the top. I.T. managers and senior executives need to ensure a recognized project management method is being used, and risk planning is well understood. Teams must engage in joint planning to establish project goals, communications initiatives, a measurement framework, and roles and responsibilities to drive business success and a speedy ROI.

    Q: What are some metrics that companies collect and analyze once they've adopted ITIL, which they may not have collected before?

    A: Although organizations have different requirements, risk factors, risk avoidance, mitigation and impact scenarios are important, and cost monitoring metrics and regular communications are key. Service level impacts—particularly the cost of downtime and outages in lost revenue—are especially meaningful to the business.

    Q: What size investment does a company typically have to make to adopt ITIL?

    A: ITIL investments vary primarily depending on the size and level of maturity of the I.T. organization, and the desired goal or end state the organization wished to achieve by automating systems and improving service levels.

    ITIL focuses on unifying people, process and technology through a comprehensive, consistent and coherent set of best practice approaches for I.T. service management processes. Since the ultimate goal is to optimize the bottom-line performance of the business, not just to implement a best practice framework, the benefits are sufficient to justify ITIL investments in organizations of any size.