Friday, June 4, 2010

ITIL: H2I - Chapter the Fourth - When Squares Become Circles

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to ITIL – EXAM Preparation Guide

Introducing the Service Lifecycle Model
Probably one of the biggest changes made to the ITIL library when comparing it to previous versions is the introduction of the service life-cycle concept. Where earlier versions seemed to be a bit of a service management hotchpotch – this version, labeled ITIL v3 is clearly more structured and guides the reader from service strategy all the way 'down' to service operation, and clearly emphasizes the importance of continual service improvement.

The five volumes that make up the Service Lifecycle are:

  • Service Strategy

  • Service Design

  • Service Transition

  • Service Operation

  • Continual Service Improvement

As with everything else in our world, things have a beginning and most often also some sort of ending. Where and when ITIL will end (if it ever does) is only known to those with the gift of foresight, but when and where it started is crystal clear. We’ll have to go back to the late 80s, and more precisely we’ll have to go to the United Kingdom to a place called Norfolk.

It all started with the CCTA – the Central Computing and Telecommunications Agency – collecting and publishing “best practices” on how to setup and manage IT environments. The first set of publications was released late 80s and had more than 40 volumes in it. This first set worked pretty well for IT environments as they were used in the late 80s: “mainframes and dumb terminals”. With the rise of the 90s “best practices” in IT started to change and they changed dramatically. PCs, LANs, WANs, distributed computing, the almighty Internet, even mightier e-commerce and outsourcing were new phenomena that just didn’t (to most people) exist in the 80s. In other words, there were many valid reasons to rewrite the ITIL publications as written in the late 80s, and to release a new set of volumes in the late 90s. This new set consisted of 9 loosely connected volumes. With the change from ITIL v1 (late 80s: 40+ volumes) to ITIL v2 (late 90s: 9 volumes) CCTA decided to change their name into OGC: The Office of Government Commerce.

Office of Government Commerce:

By now, ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) had gained a lot of popularity and was known and used by many public and private organizations around the world to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of delivering services to their customers. The ITIL v2 model was basically a big square (rectangle) depicting the nine (9) volumes in various states of overlap and synergy. An interesting fact remains that most ITIL courses were constructed around only 2 of the 9 volumes from the ITIL v2 set, hence its full potential was never fully utilized or understood.

When Squares:

The story continues in much the same way when we’re extending the time line from late 90s to late 00s (2007). Because of changes business models, changing technologies, and changing “best practices” ITIL needed to be rewritten again, hence ITIL v3 was born. This time the set only contains 5 core volumes (the ITIL core set), but the main difference compared to the previous two ITIL versions is that ITIL v3 no longer consists of loosely connected volumes, but of tightly connected volumes. It’s almost impossible to read any of the 5 books in isolation, because it’s really just one book cut in 5 digestible pieces – well at least that’s my opinion. I guess OGC cannot sell ITIL as one volume, otherwise it would hardly be a library anymore!

Become Circles:

It's also interesting to note that when ITIL v2 was rewritten, the new version was labeled ITIL v3 Refresh. Unfortunately there are so many typos and inconsistencies in the ITIL v3 Refresh version, that it's currently been 'rewritten' again. The new version is labeled ITIL v3 Refresh Refresh - I wonder why it's not simply called ITIL v3.1 (like CobiT 4.1). Why make things really simple if you can make them really complex and confusing! I believe that adoption rate of any framework is directly related to its simplicity, but then again, who am I?

The Service Lifecycle
The Service Lifecycle is quite an ingenious model, and makes absolute sense. Before you start to do anything you need strategy, direction, focus and yeah - some money too (Service Strategy). What type of services are we going to provide, and do we have the resources and capability to provide them? How do we transform our IT assets into added value to the business?

If we all agree what type of services we want to deliver, then the next step is to ensure the infrastructure will be capable to deliver against the requirements as identified in the strategy. In other words we need to design (and plan for) (Service Design) our new or changed services. We need to plan for capacity, availability, information security, and service continuity (disaster recovery management).

Once we’ve established how we’re going to deliver the new or changed services, and we’ve ensured all capability can be catered for (people, processes, products, and partners), it’s time to handover to that part of the organization who will manage the transition from the “old” infrastructure to the “new” infrastructure (Service Transition). It’s the service transition processes and functions that will manage the full-blown change related processes (and its associated functions), such as Change Management, Service Asset and Configuration Management, and Release and Deployment Management.

Service transition will also need to plan for the handover from project environment to operational/production/live environment. Once the new or changed service is implemented and live it needs maintenance and ongoing support. The operational processes, like Incident Management, Problem Management, and the function Service Desk provide just this type of support (Service Operation).

Many organizations work with the phrase: “If it ain’t broken don’t fix it!” ITIL uses a different type of phrase: “If it ain’t broken, can we still improve it, without breaking it, and doing so in a cost-effective way?” The second phrase is likely to put you in a more competitive advantage, where you’re continuously improving, and your competitor isn’t. In other words, we need to create a culture and structure that supports continual service improvement (Continual Service Improvement). We need to implement and run a continual service improvement process that keeps us on the tip of our toes at all times! All processes, functions and roles in all ITIL books should be open minded towards improving whatever they’re already doing.

ALICE: Our famous hotel chain “Constellation Hotels” is bombarded with questions from their customers who would like to book their accommodation online. Currently bookings can only be made via telephone, fax, or hotel reception (walk-in-facility). How would you progress through the various stages of the Service Lifecycle to add/upgrade services to the current environment? Who is doing what, and why?

Service Lifecycle Structure
The structure of the core five volumes is in the form of a (service) lifecycle. It is iterative and multidimensional (well, that’s what it says in the book). Sounds pretty groovy: multidimensional! The core provides structure, stability and strength to Service Management capabilities with durable principles, methods and tools. The guidance can be adapted and adopted by all organizations, small and large, public and private, commercial and not-for-profit.

The ITIL core consists of the following five publications:

  • Service Strategy (most left picture below),

  • Service Design,

  • Service Transition,

  • Service Operation, and

  • Continual Service Improvement (most right picture below).

Service Lifecycle Components
The ITIL Library consists of the following components:

  1. The ITIL core – best practice guidance applicable to all types of organisations who provide services to a business.

  2. The ITIL complementary guidance – a complementary set of publications with guidance specific to industry sectors, organisation types, operating models and technology architectures.

  3. The online web resources.

ITIL's key online web resources can be found here:

Service Strategy

Service Strategy Goals:

  • To support the organisation in transforming service management into a strategic asset.

  • To provide a clear insight into the relationships between various services, systems, processes, business models, strategies, and objectives.

Service Strategy Objectives:

  • What services should we offer, why and to whom?

  • Surely we don't want to look like our competitors, so how are we going to differentiate ourselves?

  • At when moment in time will the customers perceive our services as to be valuable to their business?

  • How do we capture and grow this value?

  • What type of business case do we need to prepare for this specific investment?

  • How can finance support us to have insight into the costs of delivering services?

  • How are we going to define quality? How do we measure it?

  • Which of the alternatives is the very best given our specific situation?

  • How do resource the services (buy, make, rent, outsource, etc.)

  • How do we keep everyone happy (resolve conflicting demands for resources)?

Service Strategy Business Value:

  • We actually know what we're going to do

  • We know the best order in which to do these things

  • We understand the costs and risks of what we're going to do

  • We'll make sure we're ready to deliver when push comes to shove

  • We'll be different and unique in the things we're doing

  • We make sure that the business noses and IT noses point in the same direction (business and IT alignment)

Service Design

Service Design Goals:

  • To design new or changed services for introduction into the live environment. Taking into consideration the impact on the overall service, management systems and tools, architectures, technology, service Management processes, measurements and metrics.

Service Design Objectives:

  • To ensure that new or changed service is consistent with all other services.

  • To ensure that technology architectures and management systems are consistent with the new or changed service.

  • To ensure that processes, roles, responsibilities and skills have the capability to operate, support and maintain the new or changed service.

  • To ensure that existing measurement methods can provide the required metrics on the new or changed service.

Service Design Business Value:

  • Reduced Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

  • Improved quality of service

  • Improved consistency of service

  • Easier implementation of new or changed services

  • Improved service alignment

  • More effective service performance

  • Improved IT governance

  • More effective Service Management and IT processes

  • Improved information and decision-making

Service Transition

Service Transition Goals:

  • To assist organisations seeking to plan and manage service changes and to deploy service releases into the production environment successfully.

Service Transition Objectives:

  • To plan and manage change related resources

  • To minimise unpredicted impact

  • To increase satisfaction amongst all staff

  • To increase proper use of the services

  • To provide plans that align customer and business change projects with the Service Transition plans

Service Transition Business Value:

  • Improved cost, timing, resource and risk estimation

  • More successful change

  • Change easier to adopt and follow

  • Reuse of assets across projects and services

  • Reduced delays from unexpected clashes/dependencies

  • Reduced effort spent managing test/pilot environments

  • Improved expectation setting

  • Increased confidence

  • Maintainable and cost-effective services

Service Operation

Service Operation Goals:

  • To coordinate and carry out the activities and processes required to deliver and manage services at agreed levels to business users and customers.

  • Service Operation is also responsible for the ongoing management of the technology that is used to deliver and support services.

Service Operation Objectives:

  • Day-to-day operation of processes:

    • Conduct

    • Control

    • Manage

  • Systemically:

    • Monitor performance

    • Assess metrics

    • Gather data

Service Operation Business Value:
Each stage in the ITIL Service Lifecycle provides value to business.

  • Service value is modeled in Service Strategy.

  • Cost of the service is designed, predicted and validated in Service Design and Service Transition.

  • Measures for optimization are identified in Continual Service Improvement.

  • Service Operation is where these plans, designs and optimizations are executed and measured.

  • From a customer viewpoint, Service Operation is where actual value is seen.

Continual Service Improvement

Continual Service Improvement Goals:

  • To continually align and realign IT services to the changing business needs by identifying and implementing improvements to IT services that support business processes.

  • To continually look for ways to improve process effectiveness, efficiency as well as cost effectiveness.

Continual Service Improvement Objectives:

  • Review, analyze and make recommendations on improvement opportunities

  • Review, analyze and make recommendations on Service Level Achievement results

  • Identify and implement individual activities to improve

  • Improve cost effectiveness of delivering services without sacrificing customer satisfaction

  • Ensure applicable quality management methods are used

Continual Service Improvement Business Value:

  • Tangible:

    • Improvements

    • Benefits

    • ROI (Return on Investment)

    • VOI (Value on Investment)

    • Intangible:

  • Increased organizational competency

    • Integration between people and processes

    • Reduction of redundancy increases business throughput

    • Minimized lost opportunities

    • Assured regulatory compliance that will minimize costs and reduce risk

    • Ability to react to change rapidly

Live long and prosper

Nanoo... Nanoo...


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