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Automating your ITIL processes

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Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) best practices for IT Service Management (ITSM) have become the accepted basis of improved service delivery, serving as a framework for the closer alignment of IT with business.
Having the proper processes in place helps to minimise the possibility of errors and failure and, with the strides made in technology, automating these processes further enhances the intended outcomes, writes Edward Carbutt, executive director at Marval Africa.
Customer centricity is a key term in today’s business dictionary, and continually enhancing service delivery is an important consideration for any organisation. Automation of key ITIL processes streamlines service delivery, creating better efficiency, cost saving and quality control.

Automation for better service delivery
Given that people tend to adapt manual processes over time to suit their own needs, automation has a critical role to play in the elimination of inefficiencies and issues commonly associated with the integration and use of processes. The power of service management lies in the integration of these processes, and automation maximises that power.
Automating certain business functions, such as the service desk, results in a significantly smoother and efficient process. It helps to enable the establishment of consistent and repetitive rules for the management of incidents, problems and known errors (IPK), and goes on to enforce them. In turn, customer service is enhanced due to quicker responses to calls and a reduction in the delay of finding and resolving the faults. Providing faster service results in more than financial savings such as overall customer satisfaction, resulting in enhanced brand reputation and customer retention.
In addition, the automation of onboarding and offboarding of staff should ensures that the defined business process is always followed, creating a ‘win-win’ situation for both employers and employees. For example, employers can benefit from a smoother, faster onboarding process. The faster new employees begin working effectively, the quicker they drive revenue and the happier customers will be with efficient and knowledgeable service.
This is just the tip of the iceberg of the power of automation. Technology can be used in a multitude of ways to automate. For example, automatic alerts can be set up to create a proactive environment by being aware of critical or hot issues before their impact severely affects the business. Creating workflows that assign work automatically helps drive production efficiencies, eliminating the need for detailed management of service requests.
Critically, for many organisations, automation also holds the key to cost-effective regulatory compliance, because it can easily enforce required best practices and generate the audit evidence that prove compliance. As ITIL forms the foundation of ISO 20000 certification, it does become a necessity for any organisation.

How to begin automating ITIL
Identifying which processes and functions to automate is a fairly simple undertaking: any process that is pre-defined and repetitive, or has a predetermined outcome, can be automated.
One of the most important processes to automate is service level management, yet there are any number of areas where automation can be implemented to the benefit of the organisation. Wherever a process results in continuous delays, or things are not happening on time and in the proper manner, automation can step in and help escalate. Monitoring tools assist to manage automation, particularly where high volumes of alerts or events take place. These monitoring systems are also automated.
Automation helps an organisation to gather consistent data for analysis, which brings us back to service improvement. The ability to gather quality metrics and measurements analysis to be used for continual service improvement is essential for superior service delivery.

The rewards of automating ITIL processes
Automation ensures processes are more efficient and consistent, which translates into less risk – caused by downtime, delayed responses, errors and inefficiencies – for the business. Efficient processes and less risk mean costs are reduced, productivity is increased and bottom line revenue begins to climb.
Ultimately, organisations want to make money. To make money, they need to be ahead of their competition, which they can achieve through delivering services better, faster and cheaper than their competitors.