Ever since it was first introduced, ITIL has become one of the leading frameworks for IT service management. With its clearly defined processes and services as well as logical distribution of roles and responsibilities, ITIL has helped organizations streamline their IT process and deliver value to stakeholders.
The framework has helped organizations in their digital transformation by bringing together the stakeholder’s vision and the IT department's implementation. And with the rapid digital transformation trends in the last couple of years expected to continue, the framework is expected to gain more prominence.
Why you should bring your ITSM practices to ITIL standards
As discussed above, ITIL provides a framework for delivering quality IT service management in an organization. This includes everything from planning, designing, building, delivering, measuring, and improving the IT for a business.
From the initial planning stage, ITIL helps an IT service manager communicate clearly with the stakeholders. You can use the framework to clearly define the scope of the services; what is included, how will it be delivered, what the performance metrics will be, and how they will be measured. ITIL plays a huge role in IT and enterprise service design. It will help an organization better align their IT goals with their vision for the business, that the IT services support the activities of the organization.
The ITIL framework will also help keep the organization’s IT flexible to adapt to the changing environment. As the organization evolves and its IT requirements change, ITIL’s change management and change enablement strategies can help the ITSM adapt rapidly and efficiently.
If a new IT strategy is introduced, if a new workplace solution is implemented, or if the organization is implementing hardware multi-factor authentication on its assets, the ITIL framework can help rapidly bring these changes with the least business disruption and high-end user satisfaction.
The ITIL framework will also help the organization come up with a risk management strategy that aligns with the organization’s business. Based on this, the IT department can further prepare an asset management strategy that keeps the assets updated and ensures a continued service delivery as defined in the scope.
Proper IT asset management is also essential for the efficient utilization of the organization’s assets. The ITIL framework helps the IT service manager best manage the resources; anticipating the IT requirements, planning the IT budget, and allocating the resources efficiently. We expanded on asset management best practices here.
By bringing the ITSM to ITIL standards, the organization can also improve the employee and customer experience. The framework will ensure that the IT service requests are cleared on time, and with user satisfaction. The framework can help the IT department develop smooth workflows and user-friendly processes.
Here are 5 steps to ensure your ITSM practices are up to ITIL standards
1. Make sure your processes map to value for stakeholders
The first of the seven guiding principles of ITIL is to focus on value. Every process performed by ITSM, be it implementing a new workflow management solution or adding extra routers to improve network performance, should directly or indirectly add value to the organization and the stakeholders.
For this, you need a clear picture of what the organization is hoping to achieve and what is considered the value from the perspective of the business and its stakeholders. And you need to develop processes that align with this.
For example, if you’re implementing a single-sign-on (SSO) for customer accounts, it would mean you’re improving the user experience. If you’re monitoring and upgrading the IT hardware it means you’re ensuring IT service continuity.
It’s also important that processes deliver value as the organization expands, changes direction or strategy, or focuses on new initiatives. For example, the IT requirements for an organization that’s just building its products would be different from that of an organization that’s trying to acquire new customers, bring brand awareness, or is trying to expand to new geographic locations.
Since delivering value to customers or end-users is important for bringing value to the organization, ITIL places a lot of emphasis on this. The IT team should constantly strive to understand what the customer needs are and what they expect from the organization’s products and services. A great way to do this is by applying the set of tools digital experience monitoring offers.
The value-oriented approach will help you prevent wastage or underutilization of resources. For example, while developing a solution for your HR department or finance department, it’s important to understand what they value or what they need the most. When a system creates value for the users they are more likely to adopt the system and create value for the organization. The HR department may be able to onboard new employees faster, or the finance department may take less time to clear invoices.
By clearly mapping the processes to the value it creates, it’s easy to showcase their importance to the stakeholders or decision-makers. It will help develop metrics and evaluate the process.
2. Work closely with the stakeholders
Always bring stakeholders on board right when you start planning your ITSM strategy. Keep the executives in the loop about ITSM activities, liaise regularly with them, and encourage their participation in initiatives. There are many benefits to bringing in the executives and working closely with them for all ITSM activities.
The executive participation will keep the ITSM practices and processes tightly aligned with the business goals of the company, and is one of the keys to how to improve IT support. As the market and customer demands change, the IT requirements will change and so will the scope of IT services. What’s expected from ITSM will constantly shift with the changing environment, and working closely with the stakeholders will help you course-correct accordingly.
It will also help IT service managers get a clear picture of what’s coming and plan accordingly. For example, if the company is planning a new product, the IT service manager can plan for the required IT resources and infrastructure, set up the customer support services, and prepare for the product launch.
Another aspect is that executive championship is essential for efficient change enablement. As you may be aware, with ITIL 4, change management became change enablement. The focus became more on creating an environment that encouraged and empowered employees to change and adapt to the changes instead of assigning roles and responsibilities to drive or manage change. And a key part of encouraging change is executive championship.
The stakeholders must be involved in the change right from planning, and should be seen making the change while promoting it. This plays a crucial role in ensuring a high adoption rate for new initiatives and a successful shift to new systems. It drives down the importance of the change among employees and encourages them to make the change themselves.
3. Use tools designed to work with the ITIL framework
No matter what tool you’re getting, you’ll need to customize it a bit to work for you. And it's important to get solutions that you can tailor to your specific needs. But it's equally important to get software that fits smoothly into your workflow because there will always be limitations on how much you can customize. And when you’ve built your systems around ITIL, it’s best to get software and solutions that are designed around ITIL processes.
For example, an ITSM service desk solution designed for the ITIL framework will have tools to measure performance according to your scope and let you prioritize tickets according to your SLA. Solutions designed around ITIL will also focus on the core principles of ITIL, giving you clear visibility into the processes, maximum efficiency, high degree of automation, and letting you collect feedback.
These tools will help you adhere to the ITIL framework and encourage your team to follow the principles. They will help you build an ITIL culture within your organization and encourage the framework in departments outside of IT as well, improving better inter-departmental communication and workflow.
An ITIL-centered service desk will also have modules designed around ITIL processes like problem management, incident management, change management, ITIL service transition, and more. These tools will help you carry out your ITSM processes efficiently and keep them centered around the ITIL framework.
After thorough testing of the tool’s ITIL compatibility, an accredited Pink Elephant IT Management Consultant granted InvGate Service Desk 7 the ITIL 4 certification across these 7 core ITIL 4 practices:
- Incident Management
- Problem Management
- Change Enablement
- Knowledge Management
- Infrastructure and Platform Management
- Service Request Management
- Service Desk.
This certification will also ensure a certain degree of interoperability between your tools. You can be sure that they’ll work better with your workflows better than other solutions.
4. Ensure the processes are transparent and visible
Visibility is one of the core principles of the ITIL framework. Ensure that your team understands the processes and what the expected results are. Transparency is key to identifying bottlenecks and delays as well as room for improvement. Clear and transparent processes ensure a continuous audit by everyone in the team; if they can see what is happening, they can figure out how to improve them.
Transparency is also important to ensure smooth collaboration between different parties; between the different team members, between teams, between teams and stakeholders, and between customers and the organization. Transparent processes and a clear understanding of what’s expected from each other will ensure clear communication and efficient service delivery.
With better transparency, you can also make the organizational data more visible. Organizations often face a data crisis; different departments and teams have their way of collecting and storing data about their processes and this leads to the creation of data siloes. Departments or teams are unable to access data from other departments and nobody has a clear picture. Data siloes also make it hard to bring together data from disparate sources for analysis and important insights can be lost.
By eliminating data siloes, teams will have a clear picture of their role, what they need to work on, and obtain insights to improve their performance. The organization’s stakeholders will also get access to better data for planning the organization’s future.
Transparent processes also drive better decision-making. Team members that have a clear picture of the ITSM practices, have access to relevant data and understand the importance of the processes are empowered to make better decisions.
To better adhere to ITIL guidelines, make the organization's data and process transparent to employees. Make sure that the relevant parties have the information to make their decisions or carry out their tasks, be it the customer or the company executive.
5. Improve continuously
Continuous improvement is necessary to keep your ITSM practices from going stagnant. ITIL presents a continuous improvement model to improve the odds that your IT initiatives become successful. It encourages practitioners to ask these simple questions: where they are, where they want to be, and how to reach there.
Even as you plan the ITSM, you have to carefully define the metrics in the SLA for measuring the performance, to understand how close you are to achieving the goals specified. And the processes have to be designed with continuous improvement in mind; metrics should be defined and measured at every stage.
Develop a continuous improvement plan from the start. Often improvement strategies overlook key sources of data and insight, or miss them out in the improvement plan. Keep in mind that insights can come from anyone who observes.
Involve stakeholders, employees, and other parties as you look for avenues to improve the efficiency and quality of service delivery. Collect feedback from customers and end-users and iterate your services accordingly.
Improvement shouldn’t be focused on just putting out fires or fixing issues. You should constantly be on the lookout for new technologies or strategies that can reduce the workload or speed up the processes. This is especially true when implementing automation in your ITSM practices; automation can certainly help you fix problems like lack of documentation or human errors, but it can also help you reduce the workload and the time taken for an activity.