"ITIL is a set of best practices meant to ease IT management pain by creating uniform, well-documented processes for tasks such as problem identification and resolution, hardware or network changes, software updates and disaster recovery." (John Cox, "Implementing ITIL," Network World Fusion, 10/4/04)

The IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) began in the UK as part of a government task to improve IT services across different departments. It has now, however, branched out in the United States as a "common set of processes and terminology; the number one driving force is alignment, and a networking principle," states David Pultorak, president of Fox IT. "More and more companies are using it because it helps align things. The promise of it is that when you hire someone, he or she will already have a common set of terminology and knowledge," says Pultorak. "Otherwise there is too much overhead."

According to Pultorak, common definitions are critical to an organization because outsourcing is becoming more widespread. Basic protocols are needed among vendors, new hires and others because "complexity is not going to go away."

As part of an organization's first steps toward implementing ITIL, Pultorak recommends visiting its official Web site, www.ITIL.co.uk, to learn more. His next recommendation is training. There is a "training providers" page at www.ITILexams.com that lists all the companies offering ITIL training. Finally, he suggests a book entitled Planning to Implement Service Management by Vernon Lloyd.

A recent article by Denise Dubie, senior writer for Network World ("Getting Started" 8/30/04) listed a series of steps to consider when beginning to implement ITIL principles:

  1. Start with incident management.
  2. Address pain points: If change management is what you need, don't feel compelled to adopt configuration and other components of the ITIL framework.
  3. Own the process by putting an IT staff member in charge of each ITIL process you plan to adopt.
  4. Revise your mission statement: IT shops will need to redefine their role in their companies to get ITIL working across multiple IT silos.
  5. Standardize tools.
  6. Train staff.
  7. Get management on board early.

Before these steps can be achieved, Pultorak reminds us that to increase efficiency, companies must first answer this question: What are our processes in the first place? There must be an understanding of current processes to be able to standardize them by bridging the gap between the ones already in place and the "goal" processes of your company's future; the key is to build on existing strengths.
ITIL implementation does require additional costs, but these are quickly offset if done correctly, explains Pultorak. "Gartner reports that 60 to 80 percent of costs are not IT, but people and processes," making ITIL a money-saving prospect, which is corroborated in recent case studies.

"To have a more agile infrastructure, you have to be onboard with this because of where the industry is going," Pultorak concludes. "ITIL gets you from point A to point B." 

Editor's note: ITIL is a widely accepted approach to IT service management in the world. ITIL provides a cohesive set of best practices drawn from the public and private sectors internationally. It is supported by a comprehensive qualification scheme, accredited training organizations and implementation and assessment tools. For more information, visit www.itil.co.uk.

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