With maturity comes growing pains.
That appears to be the case with the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL), a framework for best practices in IT service delivery that was updated in a new version released last summer. The new version created "a lot of commotion," says Brenda Iniguez, a certified Service Master and director of Americas ITSM Consulting for FrontRange Solutions.
In my interview with Iniguez, she told me that many of her company's clients questioned whether they should stick with ITIL v. 2, adopt v. 3 or use both for a time. But that uncertainty appears to be fading, she says:
Because v. 3 encompasses all of the major processes of v. 2, we're finding that the initial furor is settling down. So those who are midstream in an implementation, there is no big gap. You can easily modify and pick up the new pieces. In some ways it was a good thing that there was so much fervor over v. 2 and v. 3. It created a lot of energy. The worst thing would have been for it to come out and nobody to have paid attention.
According to Iniguez, there are three options for ITIL education: a two-day class for the v. 2 foundation, a three-day class for the v. 3 foundation, and a one-day bridge class offered for those that already have completed v. 2 and want to move to v. 3. Iniguez advises those who have completed much of the work for v. 2 to finish that course and then take the bridge. For others, v. 3 is the best bet as it encompasses all of the information included in v. 2.
The new version offers more specific details on how to actually implement ITIL. The good news, says Iniguez, is that most companies will find that v. 3 articulates many of the processes they were likely already using with v. 2. She says:
Incident management, for example, is typically one of the first processes that organizations would start with. ... In v. 3, it's broken out and articulated into separate processes: incident management, event management, service request fulfillment management. So what was kind of lumped into one in v. 2 has now been articulated into graceful parts in v. 3. Truthfully, that's how organizations were implementing in the real world anyway. They would delineate between what's an incident, and what's an event, and what's a service request. So v. 3 reflects how business is really done.
One of the biggest improvements in v. 3, says Iniguez, is the common tone and structure of the five guidebooks (strategy, design, transition -- which covers implementation and change -- operations and continual improvement). The updated ITIL also more strongly endorses the concept of the service management lifecycle.
One of the things the authors are encouraging us to do is not to take things out of context. Look at it as one big book, and these are the five different chapters.
ITIL will become more important moving forward, believes Iniguez, as companies struggle to replace their retiring workers. ITIL will allow them to get new employees up to speed far more quickly. She says:
There's a big exit [of workrs] expected between 2012 and 2014. So knowing we are going to have that much turnover in the workforce, including in IT, having a common language and a fundamental process framework is going to be huge. That's a whole breadth of training companies won't have to do. It's a universal language, and it's global.
Shortly after I interviewed Iniguez, I encountered this Computerworld article about ITIL v. 3. It includes the helpful real-world experiences of folks from companies including HP and AutoNation, many of whom share hints and other thoughts.
One idea that I found particularly intriguing, mentioned by the CIO of Sarasota County (Fla.) Government and Schools, is that ITIL could be applicable to any team of persons providing services, not just IT. He says:
We've all talked about the loss of service in the U.S.," he says. "I think this is a way to structurally put it back in place.