An approach to ITIL that anyone can emulate

ITIL implementation is usually considered a major undertaking, but Peter Farquharson doesn’t sound all that fazed.

I was talking with the technology integration service manager for the City of Saskatoon yesterday about his organization’s progress with adopting the IT Infrastructure Library set of best practices and processes. He raised a really interesting idea that I’m surprised hasn’t generated more discussion – the idea that ITIL expands outside of IT.

“Should ITIL even be part of the external organization? Should they even know about it? There’s ITIL you can apply to any service delivery (requirements),” he says. “I would assume that the people running our water treatment plant have similar processes in place. We’ve just never talked to them about it.”

Farquharson says the city isn’t doing a lot formally to promote ITIL, in terms of sending people out for training or bringing in expensive consultants. Instead, he says his group is harkening back to the roots of effective technology management principles.

“The ITIL concepts are really so similar to the IBM System management concepts of the 70s and 80s that it’s not a big stretch for a lot of our people,” he says. “Certainly ITIL stuff is a much better implementation, but IBM did kick this thing off.”

So what’s hard? Well, from a service desk or help desk perspective, it’s getting staff to speak the right language.

“We’ve done some loose in-house education. A call is not just a call – it’s an incident, a request or someone wants something changed. The terminology is the biggest thing to get past,” he says.

“We picked a select group of servers and processes, things where we want visibility and impact. The firewall, for example. That has to be PCI-certified. Some of our critical servers needed proper change management. If you take them down half a day by mistake, there are major problems,” he adds. “We’ve had change management systems in place of various systems for well over a year. We just keep pushing the scope out.”

For Farquharson, that scope could include a citywide management system with a Web-based front end that would allow citizens, for instance, to ask for a pot hole fix and have it happen as seamlessly as the city can now respond to technology change requests or incidents. “I think people confuse service delivery with IT service delivery,” he says.

Too true.

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