With the introduction of the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) Version 3, a wider set of best practices is available to govern the provision and management of technology services to support the creation of customer business value.
Key focus of the new version of the widely used standard is the service lifecycle, from the strategic understanding of the business requirement, to the design of services with the correctly planned and structured implementation of these services.
Once deployed, these services have to be professionally delivered by the operational processes. All of these responsibility areas is underpinned by the continuous improvement process as an assessment tool to monitor and improve service performance.
According to Ingo Tuschardt, Director of Quintica, the addition of the pillars of Service Strategy and Continual Service Improvement to the existing ITIL standards (of Service Design, Service Transition and Service Operation) emphasizes the focus on really understanding and delivering what the customer requires. It adds substantial value to the outsourcing environment in that it takes into account real-world scenarios. "The reality is that in most businesses, there is a combination of sourcing models which interoperate to meet the service requirements of the customer, and these have to be structured and managed" he says.
Co-sourcing, in-sourcing and outsourcing are generally leveraged to give the best combination of costs, efficiencies and service levels required. Tuschardt says ITIL V3 takes this reality into account to provide a set of best practice guidelines which span service management across these sourcing models.
Tuschardt is confident that the new standards introduced in ITIL V3 are a significant enhancement, or maturation and now clearly caters for those companies which make use of outsourced services. "Using the new standards really helps to focus on the delivery of value. When one considers that the outcome of all efforts is summed up in one deliverable – that is that the ONLY value that matters is the service value the customer PERCEIVES. It is necessary to have control over any services upon which the business is dependent right down to the components that support the service. ITIL 3 provides the structure to address all the considerations, it introduces checks and balances and considers the issues of risk and security which ITIL 2 to a large extent ignored," he says.
However, Tuschardt also stresses that like any good practice, ITIL 3 should be used as a guideline and not the last word on service management. "With any good practice there is never any excuse to ignore common sense. Good practices serve as the most appropriate guideline that must be applied within the context of the individual," he says.
"With ITIL 3, companies have a wider range of good practice guidelines which help ensure that their service offerings are creating optimal value for their business."
Tuschardt adds that the expanded set of guidelines directly addresses business and technology alignment from both a strategic and tactical perspective. However, as the concept of outsourcing is increasingly accepted by business – and with ITIL providing for service management across sourcing models – there is a caution.
"Outsourcing delivers valid value to business, but there are a few things pertaining to the concept about which must be taken into consideration. Simply put, you cannot outsource strategic elements of your business without risking the loss of control of the environment and potentially risking strategic company value," says Tuschardt.
Rather, he says compilation of a portfolio of services which aligns to and supports strategy can only be achieved with the substantial assistance and input of the business and service provider.
"Then this becomes an issue of examining processes to ensure that all business issues are considered, such as risk, governance and key performance indicators. Certainly, although this can be worked on with a partner, ownership of this needs to remain with the business," he concludes.