Five tips for implementing ITIL version 3

The latest version of the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is upon us, with version 3 having been released late last month. The extensive set of best practices hasn’t seen a refresh since 2000, and many a CIO and IT manager are looking forward to examining what advantages it may bring to their processes around technology.

Before making the leap to ITIL’s new version, past users and newcomers alike would be wise to take stock of what it contains, how it differs from version two, and to apply that knowledge to determine if it will prove to be a help or a headache.

To that end, Forrester analyst J.P. Garbany offers the following tips for getting a handle on a tool that, if used properly, can help businesses drive more value out of their computing infrastructures.

1. Understand that version 3 has caught up with IT: Version 2 was becoming somewhat disconnected with the advancements in the technology it was measuring, according to Garbany. Now, the two are evolving in step. He offers the process of incident management as an example.

“That process has a number of steps, from an alert being generated, to trying to identify where it is coming from, (to applying a) known correction to it. That supposes that when you’re starting you have a certain amount of data collection and intelligence extracted from that data to give you an indication. (Today), business service management (BSM) software provides more intelligence than the product we had 10 years ago.” This changes the process around ITIL, Garbany says, because the software’s improved capabilities may allow for steps in the version 2 process to be skipped completely. The new release factors in these advancements, he says.

2. Realize that version 3 encompasses a wider swath of the organization: The new ITIL takes into account what might be happening in other parts of the organization in an attempt to iron out any procedural problems around technology and its use. Before, Garbany says, ITIL was narrowly focused on the IT department.

“It doesn’t take into account that you have to have some level of release management, that you have to have connections with the development group, the quality assurance group, that an application doesn’t just appear within the scope of IT operations. [The app] was born somewhere before, and before that we could have done something to minimize the work of service support and service delivery. Now, ITIL is tending toward a more global concept of IT.”

3. Make sure you have the right technology before adopting version 3: The main benefits to be derived from ITIL can only be realized if the tools it attempts to regulate are in place, says Garbany. “I see many clients that tend to look at process improvement as an end in itself. It’s a means to an end, but they end up considering IT conformity as the end of the game. If you are conforming (to ITIL), everything should be rosy. But what we get is a bunch of people who are very disappointed when they try to implement [ITIL] because all of a sudden, they realize the gap between the tools they have and the process they are trying to implement.”

4. Don’t do things backwards: Outfits that try to play catch-up by purchasing technology they don’t have to follow the ITIL guidelines are apt for a letdown, Garbany says. “Many times, clients will sell the process to the organization, and then they will try to implement it and then realize that they are missing such and such information. They will get into a technology gap and then look for the tech to support the process. They are doing it in reverse.”

5. Learn to synchronize the process: For an ITIL deployment to be a successful one, Garbany says, organizations must do a few things simultaneously, namely: consider the gap between the technology your firm has and what ITIL requires; make sure you understand the process; and take an inventory of the skills you have on hand to carry it out. “(Do these) at the same time, not in sequence. Take stock of what you have and understand the process requirements. And evolve the three at the same time.”

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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