As far as British imports go, the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) may not be as big as the Beatles. But the methodology is gaining adherents among CIOs who want to better manage the quality of the services they deliver.
ITIL, which was developed by the British government and is now under the aegis of its Office of Government Commerce (www.ogc.gov.uk), comprises a set of best practices for IT service management, addressing such areas as service delivery, service support, service-management implementation, infrastructure management, applications management and business perspective.
In the U.S., interest in the library has grown steadily. Corporate and individual membership in the IT Service Management Forum (www.itsmf.net), for example, has increased from 50 members in 1998 to about 15,000 individual members, and attendance at the group’s conferences is increasing by 25 per cent each year, says spokeswoman Cynthia Hamm. (The forum meets next in Long Beach, Calif., from Sept. 22 through Oct. 2, 2004.)
The British IT Infrastructure Library is gaining fans among American CIOs who are using it as a benchmarking resource.
One of ITIL’s most popular features among CIOs is its use of service-level agreements (SLAs) to ensure that IT and its clients have a mutually agreed-upon way to deliver and monitor the quality of service. Steve Bittinger, a Gartner Inc. research director, says IT groups that were pressed to cut costs and sign SLAs find the library useful. “ITIL provides a starting point for process definition for those organizations whose internal processes may need improvement.”
Paper-products giant MeadWestvaco is about six months into an ITIL initiative that James McGrane, CIO and vice-president of enterprise information solutions, hopes will help information technology personnel understand the role they play in a process-based organization.”We’re working out service-level agreements with our business partners,” he reports. “They can use these clear metrics to judge our performance.”
For his part, McGrane is a big proponent of focusing on processes — rather than raw technology — to gain efficiency. “I believe in process work. In effect, you’re managing outcomes — not tasks. Disciplined processes allow us to introduce change into the organization and become more agile.”