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Taking a practical approach to ITIL

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At the Service Desk and IT Support Show this week, the first show attended as part of Dell, one of the most common questions from people was about getting the most out of your IT service desk. My response to this depends on how far developed the customer is around their IT.

For some companies, ITIL seems like a formidable undertaking and one where they struggle to see the value. This is where “practical ITIL” comes in. Practical ITIL involves knowing where the biggest benefits from ITIL can be derived, and where the ‘quickest wins’ are. The aim for this is to move from a reactive help-desk over to being more proactive, delivering services that follow best practice as well as speeding up problem management and incident resolution.

This practical ITIL approach is based on five key points:

  • Implementing a configuration management database (CMDB) – this is at the heart of any ITIL programme. Getting this right is important, as everything else flows from this central point; it also makes incident response faster, as agents have all the data they need at their fingertips.
  • Keeping records up to date automatically – Following on from the CMDB, activities such as configuration management and change management can be made simpler – proactively keeping up with any alterations to the IT infrastructure is essential.
  • Moving from a help-desk to a service desk – the distinction here is important, because this is all about offering more value back to the business. The investment in a service desk approach ultimately offers more value back to the organisation than the equivalent spent on a “help-desk only” approach.
  • Supporting future business IT initiatives – larger projects such as rolling out patches, new application versions or new OSes require a thorough overview of what exists on the network, and what condition it is in. With a CMDB, these infrastructure projects can be tracked automatically and issues resolved before they become real problems to the organisation.
  • Managing workflows around user problems – this involves standardising how the service desk deals with problems in the first place. For some companies, this is just a process of setting down the processes that exist in stone, while for others it means setting these up from scratch.

The practical ITIL approach covers some critical areas of IT, but also makes it easier to translate these IT-focused ideas into real business results.

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