Project Management

ITIL V3 comes to life on May 30: What can it do for you now?

I just attended a Webinar given by Sharon Taylor, Chief Architect of ITIL V3 and thought I would share some of the highlights of the Webinar with you. Let's start with what ITIL is. ITIL stands for IT Infrastructure Library and is a comprehensive set of documentation of best practices for IT service management. I won’t go into great detail on the library in this post but rather refer you back to an earlier article I wrote on ITIL: "ITIL in a nutshell." (http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/tech-manager/?p=33)

ITIL V3 is a major enhancement/refresh of the ITIL concept that has moved ITIL from a methodology and a library to ITIL as a service. This movement to a service is a major step forward for ITIL and is a significant change for the framework. The first step in this process is the redesign and release of a new set of books for the library. Known as the new publication structure, ITIL will consist of "The Core Library" which includes:

  • Service Strategy
  • Service Design
  • Service Transition
  • Service Operation
  • Continual Service Improvement
  • The Official Introduction to the ITIL Service Lifecycle.

Along with these Core Library books will come a series of complementary publications. These complementary publications should address application of the generic core guidance in particular market or technological contexts such as in a business or industry vertical or small to medium size businesses.

Additionally, there will be a tier of content available only via the Web.

Besides content changes, there is a whole new approach to ITIL that goes beyond targeting the service provider. ITIL now takes into consideration vendors and how they can use the framework in providing their goods and services, outsourcing and shared services environments. The new ITIL targets a higher level user — the CIO and CEO — and how they can use ITIL as part of their overall IT strategy, as well as specifically being able to tie ROI back to ITIL practices.

ITIL has always been good about co-existing with COBIT and ISO, but the effort has been made to ensure that there is a tight connection between these methodologies and that there are no disconnects or anomalies caused in one by adopting the other.

Overall, I got the feeling from Sharon’s comments that ITIL has "grown up" into a full fledged practice rather than a just a body of knowledge. This growing up comes in the form of a more sophisticated certification process, outsourcing of training and other areas (such as the creation of complementary materials and Web materials) to parties such as ITSMF, ITSMFUSA, and to the ITIL community in general. It is apparent that OGC (the Office of Government Commerce), which created and owns ITIL, felt that in order for ITIL to grow, it had to incorporate partners where it made sense and to keep its own hand on the core competencies of the framework.

So what does this mean for practitioners of ITIL? For starters, if you are certified, your certification is still valid. However, there is a caveat in that your cert is for V2 and you will need to upgrade your certification (via testing) to V3. For those who have adopted ITIL as a practice, this refresh does nothing but good for you. It will help you more easily view the practice in the context of your overall IT strategy; it will help you more easily describe the framework/practice to decision makers; and perhaps more importantly, it will help tie adoption of the practice to ROI.

As I said in my original article, the adoption of any framework/methodology involves — at a minimum — an investment in time and often an investment of dollars as you bring in specialists to help kick start your implementation. OGC has recognized that ITIL needs the justification and V3 goes out of its way to make sure you can tie it back to governance, standards, compliance, and best practices. If you ever felt you might be going out on a limb by adopting ITIL, V3 does its absolute best to make sure you are more than able to justify your decision.

After listening to the Webinar, I have not changed my stance that adoption of a practice/framework is a good thing. Given that there are many out there, ITIL has gussied itself up to stand alongside the others (and to be able to go toe-to-toe or arm in arm with them, depending on how you need them to work in your organization). I like ITIL's flexibility that seems to be lacking in many of the other frameworks, and I am looking forward to the release of the new series of core books. I am particularly interested in "The Official Introduction to the ITIL Service Lifecycle" and how it eases the newcomer into a practice that is now over 20 years old, but still new to many in the U.S.

I find it interesting that in the world of IT, our view is very "America-centric," and although ITIL is probably the most widely used IT service management best practice approach in the world, it hasn't caught on here because it didn’t happen to be invented here; we often forget that there are a lot of IT organizations outside of the U.S.

With the globalization of everything under the sun, it probably is not a bad idea to standardize on a set of best practices that is recognized internationally. You never know when you might be looking to sell your organization’s services or your own across borders — and an ITIL certification can go a long way in giving you a competitive advantage. So once again, I urge you to take a serious look at adopting some sort of methodology; I'll go a step further this time and say that the timing couldn’t be better for a peek at what the adoption of ITIL can do for you.

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