Haydn Pinnell, MD of Gallium (an EOH company) says that IT is that critical to business today that it is impossible for most companies to function, let alone succeed, without it. Demands that business-critical systems run at peak performance, enable strategic changes, and drive revenue growth are escalating.

At the same time, CEOs are challenged with controlling costs while increasing IT's value to the business. To meet this need, IT organisations must evolve into trusted service providers that adapt quickly and offer cost-effective, reliable and flexible services.
This evolution is not easy, Pinnell says. It requires the adoption of an IT Service Management (ITSM) framework, investment in the right types of technology, development and implementation of the correct IT processes, and training people to apply these technologies and processes properly.
He adds that the degree to which an IT department can function as a full business partner is dependent on the CIO's ability to focus IT resources on the priorities driving the business and to manage the IT/business relationship so that it's clear to management that IT is an integral ingredient of the business's success. It is also crucial that IT and the infrastructure is able to adapt to changing business needs without sacrificing service quality.
IT organisations that enable innovation consistently manage and deliver high-quality, reliable, end-to-end IT services that can be adapted to address new business conditions. This level of quality and flexibility requires a service management approach that continually re-establishes the benchmarks for success and implements action plans to meet benchmark goals.
"The ideal approach to significant and lasting improvements in service management outcomes is not just focused on discrete improvement projects, but also on establishing and running formal continual improvement programmes as well as executing everyday operational ITSM tasks," Pinnell says.
To achieve these important and long-term improvements, a quality approach to IT services is essential. Just as manufacturing companies use a quality management system to ensure both product consistency and ongoing improvements to the manufacturing process, IT organisations need a service management system that:
* Provides a continual focus on IT service management quality.
* Makes sure that ITSM best practices are institutionalised as a way of life.
* Works at the operational level.
* Ensures that service management evolves over time to meet changing business needs.
Pinnell says that the newest version of the ITSM standard, ITIL v3, emphasises this continual service improvement. "Operational ITSM is really all about the day-to-day service activities within your business and IT environment. These activities include aspects like service and KPI reporting, internal and external audit requirements, risk management and regulatory compliance."
While there is no "one size fits all" approach to fine tuning service management practices, Pinnell says that most IT departments are now applying ITSM best practices and standards to make lasting enhancements to their operations. "Once of interest to a minority of businesses, implementation of ITSM best practices is now mainstream. One thing is clear – businesses that are not in the process of implementing these or using them to improve current operations, will be at an inherent disadvantage compared to their competitors."