This content is part of the Essential Guide: ITIL and ITSM best practices for process improvement

Plan for a successful ITIL implementation

Corporate buy-in and training are essential for organizations that decide to adopt the ITIL framework. Admins should also help decide if the library is the right service option.

The Information Technology Infrastructure Library is a widely accepted framework for delivering IT service management. It provides a comprehensive set of best practices that offer practical and proven guidance for how individuals and organizations can use IT as a business tool to support digital transformation, service facilitation and overall growth.

To effectively implement this framework, organizations must have corporate buy-in, project leads and certification funds.

An ITIL implementation aligns IT services with business strategies and core processes so organizations can derive maximum value from IT and better address user and customer needs. The framework's best practices are drawn from the private and public sectors and provide a common glossary for IT services and operations.

Starting with ITIL publications

Axelos, a joint venture spearheaded by the United Kingdom and Capita PLC, maintains ITIL. Due to its widespread acceptance, ITIL is now mapped in ISO 20000- 11:2015, the first such mapping allowed by the International Organization for Standardization.

Axelos is transitioning from ITIL version 3 to version 4. Version 3 is made up of five core publications: ITIL Service Strategy, ITIL Service Design, ITIL Service Transition, ITIL Service Operation and ITIL Continual Service Improvement.

The publications map the entire ITIL service lifecycle, providing a cohesive set of best practices that address topics such as incident response, service fulfillment, operations control, financial frameworks and change management.

In 2019, Axelos released the first version 4 publication, ITIL Foundation, and will publish subsequent guides through 2020. ITIL v4 provides an IT operations model for delivering products and services, while playing a role in the wider business strategy. Version 4 expands on previous ITIL publications and focuses on value co-creation via a service value system, which helps different departments work together to provide IT products and support.

Adopting ITIL

Embracing the ITIL framework can improve productivity, service delivery and customer satisfaction, while reducing costs and the number of help desk calls. Though a framework does not require 100% compliance, an organization can adopt ITIL's best practices in a way that best suits its needs.

IT teams should identify what problems they're trying to solve and their ITIL adoption goals, and be mindful of the organization's overall priorities and business strategies. From this information, admins can identify the steps and resources necessary to reach their goals, adopting those practices that make the most sense for their organization and its circumstances.

IT managers must determine the required level of admin expertise for an effective ITIL implementation. Management then decides whether to train staff, hire staff or bring in outside consultants. The organization should confirm that it has qualified people on hand to guide the effort, which inevitably leads to a discussion about ITIL training and certification.

Certifying IT staff for ITIL

Axelos maintains an extensive ITIL certification program made up of a series of qualifications that cover different aspects of the ITIL framework. The ITIL v3 program supports five certification levels: Foundation, Practitioner, Intermediate, Expert and Master.

The ITIL v4 program will have four certification levels: Foundation (now available), ITIL 4 Managing Professional, ITIL 4 Strategic Leader and Master.

Each certification has specific requirements that include passing an exam, completing approved training, working in the field for a minimum number of years or any combination of these. Admins preparing for ITIL exams can take courses from accredited training facilities.

For accredited courses, the teaching facility must be part of the Strategic Accredited Training Organizations group, which includes certified Axelos partners that offer training and consulting services. That said, two of the certification levels -- Foundation and Practitioner -- do not require candidates to attend an accredited class, although Axelos highly recommends doing so.

Preparing for organizational changes

ITIL implementation requires in-house training and education to properly prepare IT staff for the upcoming process changes.

ITIL implementation requires in-house training and education to properly prepare IT staff for the upcoming process changes. Open communication and a push for collaboration are essential to this process. Buy-in from upper management and key players is also necessary to ensure that everyone is invested in the transition. IT teams must be ready to adopt a new way of working, especially if the desired ITIL framework includes DevOps or Agile methods.

IT teams should evaluate their current service and automation tools and determine what other software they might need. The focus of ITIL-friendly tools is to automate routine tasks and repetitive processes to help streamline operations and reduce the risk of human error. For example, ManageEngine's ServiceDesk Plus provides a help desk and asset management offering that incorporates ITIL best practices.

As IT teams move forward with ITIL, they should be aware that the framework is not a proscriptive authority on how to implement best practices.

Because each organization is different, there may be specific ITIL implementation needs related to cost, personnel or software concerns. IT teams must figure out what works for their particular circumstances, take guidance where appropriate and understand that their journey to ITIL has individual components -- but could well be worth the effort.

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