Published on October 28th, 20109
Why ITIL is still the heartbeat of IT services
Its perspective at the sharp end of ITIL projects means APM Group is well placed to see the benefits of implementing ITIL. Jessica Barry, APMG’s accreditor co-ordinator, explains why ITIL is still an extremely useful business tool and Version 3 is exactly what the industry needs to continue improving.
The issues surrounding ITIL and service management generate some heated debates. On this website alone there are lots of examples of people who are pro-ITIL and evangelise on its benefits, but there are just as many who think it is removed from the working realities faced by service providers.
The APM Group has the role of accreditor for the ITIL scheme. We accredit the examination institutes who work with training companies who in turn help end users adopt and embed ITIL. We also manage the examination scheme, so we are well placed to understand the debate about ITIL, and answer some of the more burning questions that people are discussing.
Our view, naturally, is that ITIL is an extremely useful method, especially with the added dimensions offered by Version 3. Our latest figures show that about 500,000 V3 certificates have been issued to candidates and every month there are more candidates taking the qualifications than the previous month. The international appeal of ITIL V3 is also extending, and we have translated papers into 20 languages. Translations are triggered when there is demand – usually measured by a significant number of Foundation examinations in a particular country. itSMF’s international chapters push for translations when they’ve got candidates asking for them – this in itself is a testament to ITIL’s value.
Demand for ITIL Masters
We are currently formulating the ITIL Master level of the certification scheme. The ITIL Master is a high level qualification where candidates demonstrate practical application of their ITIL knowledge. At Expert level you need to prove you know the guidance and the processes, but Masters goes further. The IT service management industry told us they needed and wanted the Masters qualification because this level of maturity was missing in previous schemes.
We’ve got several ITIL experts devising the certification including: Sharon Taylor, Dave Cannon, Kevin Holland, Carol Hulm, Dave Wheeldon, and Vernon Lloyd. They all have a wealth of experience in assessing individuals and defining what constitutes a robust and skilled ITIL knowledge and experience base. We expect Masters to be widely available from mid 2011.
First hand ITIL experience
One of the candidates taking part in the Masters Pilots is Mathieu Mathieu Notéris, senior ITSM consultant at Sogeti Belux, a provider of IT services in Belgium and Luxembourg. Sogeti helps clients develop, implement and manage practical IT solutions and Mathieu believes ITIL certifications are the evidence that you are able ‘to do IT’. He got involved in the pilots because he wanted ‘to stay on top of the wave’ and believes the qualifications give service managers credibility. Mathieu particularly likes the fact that the ITIL Masters level is based on the candidate’s real-life experience of service management.
“If you are a manager or high-level senior consultant this is a way to establish your own value based on real-life, proven experience and not just on an artificial business cases as was the case with the Service Manager certification from Version 2. Results and evidence are there. Lessons learned are real. To argue, convince and therefore manage, you definitely need to be convinced yourself,” Mathieu says.
But he doesn’t think ITIL is just about the process and says we shouldn’t forget that behind the machines, the programmes, the business and the processes, there are human beings. He says service management is as much about the discussions, factoring in different opinions, confronting issues, persuading and being persuaded, as it is about process.
He advises service managers to take all the opportunities open to them to enhance their learning and try to remember all lessons: both positive as well as negative. “One remembered bad situation is a situation you’ll be able to detect, recognise and hopefully avoid in the future,” he says.
There are many testimonials of organizations which have benefited from ITIL. Recently on ServiceDesk360, Muller Dairy’s head of IT, Stephen Kane, talked about how ITIL helped turn the IT department into a first class internal service provider, exceeding each one of its KPIs and inspiring the rest of the business with its drive for continuous improvement practices.
In this paper, Maggie Kneller discusses how:
• A nationwide retail organization made savings in excess of £600,000 per annum by adopting service strategy practices for its financial management.
• An organisation identified that most of the cost of delivering IT support came from resolving customer issues. By adopting ITIL approaches to knowledge-based information and self-help, it was able to reduce costs of support by over 75 per cent while at the same time increasing user satisfaction with the service, and improving user productivity.
• A medium-sized IT service organisation invested €2.6m in a two-year programme to improve its IT service management. It recouped the investment within the first year, and achieved annual savings of €3.5m mainly through rationalizing unused and under-used resources (people, software licences, IT hardware etc). It also reduced IT incident resolution times and improved customer satisfaction by over 11 per cent.
• A large multinational company made annual savings of £5m by introducing ITIL service design practices to its IT supplier management.
There are countless examples of ITIL helping organisations, and we have been working recently with some well-known international organisations to share their experiences of using ITIL. We’ll be publishing those in time for itSMF’s UK conference on 8-9th November. We agree that ITIL is not a means to an end; it is just one of the many tools that can be used to improve IT service management. And while candidate numbers don’t show how ITIL is being used in the workplace, nor how effective it is, the fact that candidates want to take the qualifications, and go through the scheme as they progress through their careers, is surely telling us that ITIL is valid and useful.
Jessica Barry joined APM Group in 2006, two years after completing a degree in business management. I report directly to the CEO and am responsible for dealing with the day-to-day issues as the Accreditor and coordinating the scheme development, including examinations and accreditation.