Project Management

See benefits for your organization using "ITIL Lite"


You work for a smaller business and have been hearing a lot about ITIL. Maybe you've heard how it can cut your costs, or you've seen evidence that it can improve service delivery. But then you take a closer look.

At first glance, it looks like ITIL is only for the very large organization. But take heart. ITIL can be implemented in any size organization in any number of ways.

Let's say you have fewer than 100 desktops to support, your Help Desk is located within the organization and you're not going to be able to hire anyone new.

You need "ITIL Lite." Though scaled for your needs, ITIL Lite is still a process. It takes time and effort to complete. The first step? Talk to your Help Desk.

Ask what kinds of tickets come in on an average week? How about an average month?

Now, have them sort them according to two types:

  1. Transitory. These are things that can be managed with a minimum of effort and are not resolvable through additional user training (password resets, for instance).
  2. Root Cause. Those things that can be solved by finding and resolving the root cause. These are things like the inability of users to reach a server that they normally reach without trouble. The causal event isn't the user trying to access but rather something that has occurred with the server— generally a change.

Database management

The second step is to take a pass through your configuration management database (CMDB). You don't need all ten roles to do this. In fact, with a smaller organization, you probably are all ten roles. Or close enough to matter.

So here's what you need:

  • MS Access or other relational database — at least a viewer on every desktop if you expect people to input and use the finished tool.
  • A database guru who (a) understands database structure and (b) knows what "third normal form" is.
  • A high-level view of what the data will look like.

Start with asset tracking — what computers talk to your network? How about peripherals? Move from there to software tracking — what computers have XP?  Do I have those licenses?  hat computers use core office? (Core office is Outlook, Word, Excel, and Powerpoint). Do I have licenses for these?  Who has Visio?  Or Access?  Are they licensed?  What other software is being used?

Now connect your software licenses to the hardware they run on. Now connect the hardware to the user.

You can stop here. Or you can keep going.

At this point, you need to establish a process that requires that this database is updated every time a change occurs. Upgrade the software? Update the database. Replace a user's desktop?  Update the database. (You can even go more granular — Replace a user's hard drive? Update the database.)

Why would you keep that kind of information? If the hard drive crashes once, you may assume normal wear. But what if it crashes every month? This tool will give you visibility to that and be an indicator that there is a larger issue.

Adding to the database

Okay, you have the database constructed. You know what user is at what machine. You decided it would be a good idea to add cube location to the list so you can now walk up to any desk and know the user, the hardware, the software, and possibly, a fix history. You have established a process to keep this information updated. Maybe you even made it accessible on the corporate Intranet. Now we'll start adding to it.

What are your servers, what runs on them, where are the licenses? This is basically what you did with your users. Ask yourself the same questions. Now add in what they connect to. Now add what users connect to them. Don't forget to add a maintenance history.

Congratulations, you now have a bare bones CMDB. You can walk up to any piece of equipment and know how it connects and what it connects to. You know who uses it and you can also now know what a change impact would be.

Now you can decide what else it needs to do for you. I like storing end-of-warranty information. That way, I can more easily tell if I have a warranty obligation or not. If I have a service contract on a piece of equipment, I store that too, along with contact information for that service contract.

If I have it on the Intranet, I want to put an ordering mechanism on it. That way, my end-users can order what they need from a pre-approved list. I may add the functionality to let the user order on-line and have the system automatically route the request to the Manager for that cost center for approval. Then add the ability to have the order routed to me after it has been approved.

One final thought. As you use this tool, you'll think of a hundred different things it can do. And likely a hundred things it can do for you. Resist the temptation to let it grow too fast. Start by linking your users to the hardware/software/network and make sure that your process includes updating and change. Then use it for a while until you know what makes sense for your organization to add on.

Doing this as a small organization will enable you to implement a fuller ITIL as your organization grows.

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