In these times of uncertainty we are all now familiar with a single word: “austerity”. In the boom times before the global economies went into meltdown I suspect many people had never even heard the word, let alone had to live that way, but now we are all being asked to tighten our belts – and this applies to companies as well. Now more than ever, investing in IT Service Management makes sense, but not in the same way as a few years ago, when the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) became a real trend. Many companies’ objectives were to adopt all processes, regardless of whether they were appropriate or useful for them. Now the focus has changed. Organisations are now less interested in “badges” and more in how some aspects of the ITIL framework and other best practice methodologies can help them become more efficient and introduce their own austerity measures.
There is currently a strong need for practical examples and demonstrable results rather than mere theory. Processes are now being hand-picked and tailored to each individual organisation, which can bring fast results – this can really allow businesses to work more efficiently, reduce losses and downtime and, possibly, leverage more from the tools and resources they already have.
But although each individual organisation needs a different set of best practice processes, tailored to their environment, there some essential must-haves that no company should do without:
1 – Change Management
This is the ‘number one’ essential process to improve your IT service availability. It means changes have to be planned, thought through and the consequence understood before any change, large or small, to the IT Service can take place. This does not mean it has to slow changes down as the process can be tailored to each company’s needs, but it does mean that, in some form, each change is considered before it takes place. This alone means that less mistakes are made, which improves your service availability.
2 – Incident Management
Things break and IT services are no different. What is important is how quickly you can get things back working again when this happens. Incident management allows you to create a process that everyone understands to handle these eventualities and restore your services as quickly as possible. Having people unable to work or access the services they require costs an organisation money, so this is more important than ever now. Having a robust incident management process means that the right resources can quickly be assigned to sort out the issue and make sure that your staff can get back to what you employ them for.
3 – Request Fulfilment
In this world of “just in time” ordering where everyone expects to receive everything they want faster and more cheaply than before, for IT this can present a challenge. Software licenses and hardware components need to be delivered quickly to enable a customer to do their role or become productive quickly after joining an organisation, but conversely, companies need to control costs and make sure they only order what is required and that they do not have licenses or hardware sitting on the shelf depreciating. Having a good request fulfilment process can ensure this does not happen and also ensures the effective tracking of assets. In combination with a “catalogue” of approved components the user is able to select what they require for their job in the knowledge that IT have already confirmed that it will work with everything else. IT are happy as they know that new device you just connected to the network is not going to slow everyone down or worse!
4 – Supplier Management
It is important for organisations to keep track of their suppliers: are they doing well? Will they still be around next year ? Are they delivering the service and value my organisation requires? Are we paying for services we no longer need? A good Supplier Management process means that you can answer these questions and more. It also allows you to provide your supplier with a roadmap of what your business is doing and so allows them to better support your needs going forward. Managing the relationship proactively means that you should rarely have to resort to any SLA penalties – it’s much better to make sure the situation that could cause the penalty is avoided rather than having to experience the impact that caused it in the first place.
5 – Service Level Management
It is important to know what the business requires from its IT services. Not knowing can either mean that the service delivered is not correctly supporting the business or that the IT service being delivered is actually exceeding what the business requires; both of these can cost an organisation money.
Service level management means that the correct Service Level agreements can be put in place to ensure the IT service meets the business need, but also to ensure that the IT service is not “over engineered” and effectively costing more than required. If you’re paying for a Mini but only receiving a push bike then you will be unhappy, equally why pay for a Ferrari when the Mini is all you need.
In these austere times it might just be the right moment to trade in that Ferrari for a Mini!
David Tuck, Principal Consultant