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ITIL Service Desk

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  • This is the best simplified article i have ever read on ITIL...preciously to the point....kudos
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  • 1. Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) Jason Mansur 02/23/09 Defined The OGC (Office of Government Commerce) in the UK developed the Information Technology Infrastructure Library in the mid 1980’s. ITIL originally begin as a series of books that outline a comprehensive set of “best practices” for Information Technology (IT) service management. ITIL promotes a qualitative, rather than quantitative approach to achieving IT service management results that are aligned with business. It acts as the enabler to cement business effectiveness in the use of information systems. As organizations shift from understanding IT to fully utilizing the capabilities of it they need to understand how to take a business approach towards this phenomenon. It is quite common for business units to work alongside in a company (i.e. marketing and operations) this needs to be the same with other various business units and the IT department. As IT progresses it gives organizations tools that have never been available before and it opens the doors to new and exciting arenas. ITIL focuses on the service aspect of IT, which allows organizations to improve their credibility, effectiveness, while at the same time reducing costs. ITIL has become the most widely accepted IT best practice, process management framework in the world. ITIL emphasizes the importance of providing IT services to satisfy business needs in a cost effective manner. Many IT organizations are attempting to become more customer oriented to demonstrate their contribution to the business. The library can help IT organizations achieve this. ITIL provides a consistent and comprehensive approach to service management ranging from software products to consultancy, training, and qualifications. The common approach brings with it a common language of ITIL terms, which permits better communication between IT and suppliers. History of ITIL ITIL has had a long history of development, and many IT professionals believe that ITIL grew out of the yellow books, which were best practices and guidelines that were used in IBM during the 1980's, however it wasn't until the middle of the
  • 2. 1990's that ITIL become a formal library of IT best practice frameworks. The newest version of ITIL (version 3) was released in May of 2007. The ITIL v3 has been anticipated by many IT professionals all over the world for the last few years. It contains five core texts, which are packaged in the publication, they include: Service Strategy, Service Design, Service Transition, Service Operation and Continual Service Improvement The original ITIL library included several books that covered specific themes in IT Service Management. However, after the original publication, the books in the library grew to over 30 volumes. Since 30 volumes can be cumbersome, difficult to read and digest and expensive to purchase as a complete set, the second version of ITIL has been consolidated. ITIL v2 was packaged differently; version 2 was sold in sets that related to process guidelines and included several different aspects of IT including application services and IT Management. It should be noted that the most popular sets being sold in ITIL v.2 include the services set, specifically Service Support and Service Delivery. While these two sets are by far the most popular, the ITIL library used as a whole is extremely comprehensive and a good foundation for any business using IT components today. The Structure of ITIL ITIL is divided into three major areas: Service Support, Service Delivery, and Security Management. Within the Service Support category, ITIL includes the following key disciplines: • Service Desk • Incident Management • Problem Management • Change Management • Release Management • Configuration Management While these terms are undoubtedly familiar to many IT personnel, the formalization that ITIL brings to these disciplines is typically far beyond the level of sophistication in the majority of IT organizations. Additionally, the distinctions and separation of tasks within each of the support disciplines are also significantly more defined than most IT organizations have implemented in the past For instance, the majority of IT shops have not traditionally drawn a distinction between Incident Management and Problem Management, or between instances of incidents and problems. ITIL, on the other hand, clearly defines these as separate disciplines with their own unique set of processes. IT support personnel can be quite confused by ITIL's specific use of the terms incident and problem if they have
  • 3. been using these terms interchangeably, or if they think that an incident becomes a problem when it can't be solved by Level 1 support. Unfortunately, educating support personnel on these complex relationships is sometimes glossed over, to the detriment of the support process. A Review of the Disciplines First, a bit of ITIL review about the objectives of Incident and Problem Management. The objective of Incident Management is to restore service as quickly as possible. Therefore, an incident is active until service is verified as restored. The objective of Problem Management is to minimize the economic impact of service disruption by diagnosing the root causes of incidents, gathering information on known errors and by providing work-arounds, temporary fixes, and permanent fixes. Therefore, while an incident is active only until service is restored, a problem continues to be active until appropriate outputs (e.g. work-arounds, permanent fixes) are published and implemented. This means that incidents and problems are not synonymous. Neither do incidents become problems. Rather incidents, problems, and changes each have a many-to-many relationship with the other two. The Service Desk The service desk is the central point of contact between users and IT. More than just a help desk, the service desk has a broad range of responsibilities, including delivering high quality support, identifying and lowering IT costs, supporting process and technology changes, ensuring user satisfaction, identifying business opportunities, receiving and tack calls from users, attempting to resolve issues at initial contact, escalating incidents, notifying users of progress, and maintaining agreed-upon service levels. A capable service desk cohesively assembles all of these requirements, supporting the business and freeing IT to create new ways to respond to market indicators and business strategy. Key aspects to the Service Desk: -Maintain Control with Incident Management- An incident is anything that a user would report to the service desk, including application problems, hardware problems, requests for assistance, request for enhancements, or suggest changes to procedures. ITIL has the ability to distinguish between incidents and problems. Incident management keeps business in control by restoring normal service operations as
  • 4. quickly as possible when an incident arises, with minimum disruption to the business. Under ITIL, incidents are tracked and managed each time they recur, making it easy for IT to spot trends, perform root cause analyses, and eliminate previously chronic problems. As a result, no incident is accidentally overlooked, making compliance with service level agreements easier. In addition, everything possible is done to solve incidents at the first point of contact. -Improve Responsiveness with Problem Management- A problem is the unknown underlying cause of one or more incidents. A problem becomes a known error when the root cause is understood and a temporary workaround or permanent alternatives have been identified. When infrastructure errors do arise, problem management minimizes their effect on the business and proactively prevents their occurrence. ITIL’s structure, repeatable, and measurable processes reduce the frequency of such errors and speed their resolution. Specifically, ITIL recommends that problems be carefully monitored, tracked, and clearly related to incidents. Since multiple incidents are often related to the same problem, they should be sorted so that the relationship can be easily and quickly determined, enabling quick identification of the root cause. All affected users should be kept informed of the progress of the incident by the service desk. -Achieve Enterprise-Wide Visibility with Configuration Management- Configuration management provides logical model of IT infrastructure by identifying, controlling, maintaining, and verifying all existing configuration items. The Configuration management database is the foundation of the ITIL framework, listing every configuration item that an organization must manage. One of the hallmarks of a strong ITIL Is advanced enterprise inventory and metadata gathering and storage capabilities, resulting in enterprise wide visibility into development progress and process. Without complete and well-organized inventories, data becomes hard to find, integrate, or change, and business loses agility. An inventory of enterprise-wide applications and documentation provides a structure view of relevant information for all software configuration items, regardless of the technology used to develop or serve the application. In a robust inventory, there is no need to understand the underlying technology, server structure, network, folder, or library information in order to observe or manage software. -Improve Business Processes with Change Management-
  • 5. Throughout application lifecycles, changes occur. Bugs are discovered, enhancements created, and processes modified. All of these changes must be carefully and effectively managed. This is impossible to do without consistent change management processes. ITIL offers a defined method for recording, justifying, approving, and coordinating changes (Requests for Change or RFCs). RFCs are controlled by ensuring the proper people, approvals, quality assurance, and processes are applied to each step of the change. ITIL categories changes as minor, significant or major. This classification dictates the authorization processes applied to each RFC. ITIL encourages the submission off change requests by users throughout the enterprise, keeping organizations dynamic and flexible. Without a process for handling ongoing change, improvements to business process are limited. ITIL also recommends role-based authorizations. Assigning responsibilities to roles and basing process decisions on these various authorities prevents code from being released to production before it is ready. Ideally, these roles and responsibilities are assigned to the system when automated workflow features are initiated, they take into account the roles that are assigned to the system and the responsibilities and authorities defined to each role. This system of checks and balances is easy to update, simple to use, and ensures that defined ITIL processes are strictly adhered to. Application change management resides at the core of a comprehensive ITIL solution. Approval authorization processes combined with sophisticated rules of capabilities and the diagramming of complex workflows are automated, with no programming required. By automatically storing, approving, and verifying RFCS, change management serves as a kind of wrapper around the entire application lifecycle. Careful and effective management of change is essential to building robust, bug-free software in all of its iterations. -Integrate Business and IT through Service Level Management- ITIL guidelines offer a process for managing and improving service levels to ensure that the provider, who may be an internal department, an external outsourcing company, or a third party supplier, meets the commitments to the user. Where service levels are not being met, corrective action can be taken. ITIL recommends that details of all Service Level Agreements (SLAs) be maintained in a service catalogue containing the features of all services offered.
  • 6. ITIL solutions greatly enhance service levels by offering a single point of control from which to monitor SLAs. All process-related information stored and reports are generated to analyze response and resolution times. Workflows automate service processes, and dashboards provide real-time information on service levels before levels decline unacceptable. ITIL also automatically create and deploy service level statistics, providing an invaluable tool to management. Business is empowered to improve service levels for software delivery, facilitating overall business operations. Benefits The largest benefit of an ITIL service desk as it enables an organization to improve processes which allows it to; -Improve resource utilization -Be more competitive -Decrease rework -Eliminate redundant work -Improve upon project deliverables -Improve availability, reliability -Justify the cost of service quality -Integrate central processes -Communicate roles/responsibilities -Develop performance indicator Drawbacks While the advantages usually far outweigh the disadvantages, there are a couple of criticisms that are worth noting including the idea that most IT professionals consider ITIL a holistic approach to IT management. While ITIL is comprehensive, even the publication itself does not consider itself a holistic approach to IT management. In addition, there are also accusations by some IT professionals that following only the ITIL due to its acceptance by many IT managers as the authoritative source has actually led to many businesses to skip pragmatic solutions for their specific business needs. Finally, another criticism of ITIL is that while some topics are covered extensively and are of high value, other topics may not receive enough emphasis with quality being uneven in certain publications. Because implementing ITIL means also that you have to change the mind setting of your employees, it is a very difficult process. It means getting the technicians to be more aware of service and business. There are a lot of emotions involved so the implementation leader must be not only a project leader but also a people manager.
  • 7. Just like other large implementation projects it's a process that takes a lot of time and usually the period of time is underestimated. Much too often companies with external help want to implement ITIL to fast, which causes a lot of problems. The best way to implement ITIL is doing it in several stages making sure that every stage is done properly and you gave the project the proper place in your organization. There is no such way as a standard procedure to implement ITIL, because it is a set of best practices, you can take from the set what you like for your organization and fit it in. Organizations, especially large ones need to understand the specific aspects they want to get out of ITIL. Without understanding the specific parts they want, it will create a larger mess which will ultimately put employees in hard situations. Change itself is a very difficult idea for employees to accept, especially when it affects day to day life. Before an organization (large or small) decides to move forward with a project such as this it is vital that all employees understand what is happening and the necessary step for the project to be completed. Consideration Before using the ITIL best practice approach to IT service management, your organization needs to evaluate some questions. This is an assessment from a strategic plan to implementation, and beyond. -Important Questions- 1. Where is the organization now? 2. Where do we want to be? 3. How do we get where we want to be? (Is ITIL the best approach?) 4. How do know when we’ve arrived? These questions give you measurements and analysis needed to define your current IT department. This allows the organization to discover areas in which they are currently successful and how to leverage those opportunities to less successful areas of the IT business.

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