Keeping current with ITIL best practices

* IT must stay on top of the latest ITIL process-related updates

IT managers working with ITIL understand that they have set in motion an evolving project and to fully realize the benefits of the best practice framework, IT must stay on top of the latest process-related updates.

Like with many things in high tech, adopting best practices such as those laid out in ITIL demands IT manager assess, re-assess and measure how well the processes they've put in place are performing three, six, 12 or 18 months later. Last year's update from ITIL Version 2 to ITILv3 exacerbated that need for many IT managers. The framework upgrade incorporated more how-to guide in the books and introduced the concept of Continual Service Improvement -- which directly addresses the need to track process drift over time.

That update is just one of several that IT managers working on ITIL need to learn, which considering the time and labor restraints in most IT shops could represent a bit of a challenge. That's why Network World Network World recently hosted an online chat focused on ITIL in which Lou Hunnebeck, vice president for the ITIL training and consulting firm, Third Sky, answered questions about the IT best practice framework.

Hunnebeck fielded too many questions to include here, but helped participants better understand what ITIL could mean to their IT shops and how those already working with ITIL could start expanding their process plans. For instance, ITIL might not be for everyone, but she stated: "Any enterprise that is struggling with repeating the same unsuccessful behaviors, spending too much time and too much money on service provisioning should look at ITIL for some assistance."

Yet those companies experiencing issues due to poorly structured processes don’t necessarily need to turn to ITIL, Hunnebeck wrote, adding "I would rather say that ITIL itself should not be the priority in any case. Improving your way of working is the priority. ITIL just happens to be the most trusted and best recognized framework for how to improve IT service management."

It was also pointed out on the chat (by me) that often IT managers report the hard benefits of ITIL are difficult to prove to the business. Given that, I asked the ITIL expert: how can an IT shop prove their work around ITIL is paying off? Here is her response: "The critical factor has to do with knowing what you want and where you're starting from. If you don't have good measurement about that, then how can you show progress? And we are frequently very weak at measuring anything but the behavior of infrastructure components. Measuring process performance is an art that we need to develop skills in. ITIL gives a great deal of guidance on this in the Continual Service Improvement book of the v3 library."

What ITIL or best practice framework related questions do you have? Read the chat transcript here and let me know which areas of interest were not addressed and what questions around ITIL remain unanswered for you. Drop a comment in our community section or e-mail me

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