Blue Flower

ITIL is simply a framework for best practice. When you're walking on unknown territory, the best way for not to fall on your steps ,is always better to follow a path that has already been walked many times by other people. ITIL (IT Information Library) principles and baselines lay down for you good advise about how to manage IT services, they are not rules or regulations just best practices (all vendor neutrals) that tell you the things that work. First of all let's start with some definitions:

ITSM ;IT Service Management is a set of specialised organisational capabilities for providing value to the customers, in the form of quality IT services, that meet the needs of their business, this is basically the implementation of services that is a mix of people, process and information technology (computers, etc). Every IT department should be consider an IT service provider, and adopt the principles and practices of service management to deliver IT services.

IT Service Provider ;ITIL envision 3 different types of service providers:

  • Internal Service Provider ;located within the business unit it supports, for example the IT department of an University
  • Shared Service Unit ;located within the business but shared among other business units (still in the same organisation), for example the IT department or a large multi-divisional organisation
  • External Service Provider ;this is an outsourcing partner, who deliver their services outside of the provider organisation

Service ; service is a means of delivering value to customers, by facilitating outcomes that customers want to achieve, without them having to have ownership or to bear specific costs associated such as infrastructures. The services should be delivered at an affordable cost and acceptable level of quality and performance. The service should always be "fit for purpose", and they can be grouped according to the value they provide to the customers. A Service Package comes with three different types of services:

  • Core Services ;deliver the basic outcomes required by the customers
  • Enabling Services ;the ones that ensure the core services can be delivered successfully
  • Enhancing Services ;makes the core services more appealing or attractive to the customer

Service Level Packages are a pick-&-mix of the above packages. Ultimately, all services need to provide value to the customers

Service Value ;hey, value is most of the time in the eyes of the beholder, but we aware that value involves a warranty and an utility (and a reasonable expectation of what the customer expects). The formula to calculate Service Value is: Utility + Warranty = Value

Process; a process is a specific set of activities designed to accomplish a specific objective; a process takes inputs (that could well be the outputs of other processes) and turns them into outputs. Once the output has been confirmed, the process can be declared as effective; if the activities utilised a minimum of resources ,the process can also be declare efficient. All Processes have four common characteristics: 1)Respond to a specific trigger. 2)Measurability, the activities's performance of each process can be measure. 3)Specific outputs, the result of a process must be identifiable and have a measure of value. 4)Customers & Stakeholders, the process should meet the expectations of the recipient

The Process Model is structured as below:

  • Process Control ;process owner, process policy, objectives, documentation and process feedback
  • Process ;the triggers, process metrics, roles, procedures, work instructions and process improvements
  • Process enablers ;process resources and process capabilities

The Process Owner/s is/are accountable for the process being fit for purpose. All processes are and can be measured, and have specific results

 

 

 

Functions ;in ITIL a function is defined as a group of people (and other resources or tools) that are use to carry out a process or process activities. There are well 5 defined functions in ITIL:

  • Service Desk ;single point of contact for users
  • Technical Management ;expertise of the technological infrastructure
  • Applications Management ;expertise of the management applications
  • Facilities Management
  • IT Operations Control 

Functions can be carried out by Group (number of people who perform similar activities), Team (a more formal structure number working together with a common objective), Departments (formal organisation structures within the same organisation) or Division (number of departments grouped together, often within the same organisation)

Metrics ;metrics are use for the following 4 purposes:

  • Validation ;authenticates whether the strategy and vision are supported or not
  • Justification ;ensures whether you have the right targets and metrics
  • Direction ;ensures that people can be guided to change their behaviours based on factual data
  • Intervention ;ensures that corrective actions are applied

Customers ;ITIL differentiates between internal and external customers, this is because you need to be able to differentiate between service that support an internal activity and those the deliver business outcomes. These are the 2 types of customers:

  • Internal ;they work within the same organisation as the service provider
  • External ;not employed by the organisation or employed by a separate legal entity. External customers pay for the services under agreement through a legally binding contract

Each customer is unique, and they value different things, one might value quality of services, other the prompt delivery, the cleanses, the spirit of empathy it goes with it, etc

Stakeholders ;are individual or groups that have an interest in the organisation, service or project, and that are engaged in activities, resources, target or deliverable from service management. Types of stakeholders:

  • Customers ;buy goods or services
  • Users ;use the service that is bough by the customer
  • Suppliers ;are responsible for the supply of good or service that are required to deliver IT services

Roles ;a set of responsibilities, activities and authorities that are granted to a person or a team (remember that a 'team' in ITIL is refereed as a 'function'). There are different roles to consider:

  • Service Owner
  • Process Owner, this could include the Process Manager and Process Practitioner, the one actually doing the work. The process owner is responsible for the Metrics & Measuring, ensuring that the process they're responsible for are managed and reported correctly. They are also responsible for Improvement opportunities and strategy of the related process

 

RACI Model ;Responsible (the people doing the work, the process practitioners), Accountable (ownership of the process), Consulted and Inform. If you're an IT Manager, do apply the RACI Model to your team: https://www.projectsmart.co.uk/raci-matrix.php 

ROI ;Return of Investment, the formula is increased profit from service / cost

Service Automation ; this can be applied in all areas (knowledge, information, processes, etc) to enhance performance, capacity management and optimisation. To ensure that automation fulfil its promises of benefits, it is necessary to do prior preparation and clarify the exact steps that need to be carry. Automation should always be tested, and the only tasks or processes subject to automation are those that have a recognisable recurring pattern

 

 

The ITIL principles are framed into 5 categories, also called 101 and/or the Circle of Life for services:

Service Strategy

This is the core stage of the life-cycle, as it includes the business perspective, position, future plans and activities that will reach it to deliver the services the business wants to deliver. The objectives of the Service Strategy are the following:

  • Providing an understanding of what the strategy is
  • Identifying the services and the customers who will use them, as well as opportunities for services and how to make the best of them
  • Understanding how to define value creation, the organisational capabilities to deliver the services, the level of demands and how to establish a relationship between the provider and the customer
  • Defining the processes and services that will deliver the strategic plans, and the level of investment that will be required
  • Coordinating and documenting the use of service assets, how they can be use and how to optimise their performance

 

The Service Strategy manages 3 processes: Demand Management, Financial Management and Service Portfolio

Customers are the key, identify well what the customers want and in that way you'll differentiate yourself from the competition. You can identify PBA (Pattern of Business Activity) in your own company by discovering what customers want; for example if your customers like coffee and you happens to have a coffee shop, your morning will be busy! Another PBA is Valentine's day for flower shops

Service Portfolio ;this is a document or graph that should include past (or retired) services that can function as an archived, showing documentation of why services were discontinued. The portfolio should also include current services, a menu or catalogue of the services in use. Finally, a service pipeline, route-map or strategy for the future should be included too in the portfolio, so we all know where the company is heading to. The service portfolio should also include the business case that was used to create the related service, this is so that (at the time of cutting the budget) people will know what this particular service came from and why it is necessary

Finance Management ;money is the common language between all business, no matter the nature of the business all of them will understand a 10% sale increased. There are 3 main processes to consider in finance:

  1. Budgeting, all about control in both ways of the flow, money coming in and out
  2. Accounting, account for the way it spends money, this includes the term Return of Investment (ROI), as
  3. Charging,process of billing our customers to get income for the services we provide. You might want to setup a Cost Center that will take care of the charging and also a Profit Center

Business Case ;there are 5 categories that need to be included in a business case when applying for money for a service

  1. Intro ;must have a killer introduction
  2. Methods and assumptions, make it real and cover your back ensure that will happens if ingredients change
  3. Business impacts
  4. Risks and contingencies, tell what you'd do if things don't go as expected
  5. Recommendations 

Business Relationship Management (BRM) ;as part of your Business Strategy you need to contact your customers and ensure you know what they need. Create a strong communication channel between you and the customer, knowing the purposes and objectives of the services. "Measure twice", cut once is the motto you should use when delivering services to your customers. Create a Business Relationship Manager (BRM) to ensure the customer's expectation are met, go on regular meeting with the customer, get feedback on our services, etc. When you provide services, you need to know 'exactly' how your customers are doing and feeling. BRM should ensure the service is 'fit for purposes', the utility functionality and the warranty capacity. The customer should see our services as a value

 

 

 

 

 

Service Design

For Service Design you have Perspective, Positions (your place in the market), Plans (where you want to be) and Patters (conditions and activities to achieve your goals)

You should create a Service Design Package (SDP), that can be divided in three sections:

  • Input ;contains that requirements of the customers
  • Stuff ;contains that design of the service, documenting all the details and aspects of the IT services
  • Output ;this is the document, the actual SDP

QoS is what you get (Quality of Service) when you spend the proper time designing a service  that aligns well with the customer and business need. The TCO (Time Cost Ownership) should go down when the right time is spent designing the service. There are 5 aspects that should be included in the SDP: 

  1. Service ;the services should be listed
  2. Tools ;the management information tools to manage the service
  3. Technology ;should describe the architecture that the service will use (if it is a virtual design would it be VMware, Azzure, etc)
  4. Processes ;a collection of activities describing who is responsible of what. Processes can be automated once they have been thoroughly tested ensuring that they are reliable and working
  5. Measuring ;design the metrics and the way by which the service will be measured in the Service Operation mode

If the Design fail, it could possible be due to some of the 4 Ps: people, partners (suppliers, etc), processes and products (tools)

Service Acceptance Criteria (SAC) ;ensures services meet both expected functionality and quality, and that the service provider is ready to deliver the service

Catalogue Management ;should have a portfolio that, as we know, is divided in 3 sections: pipeline, catalogue and retired services. The Catalogue is the customer facing document of the company, and it should contain the following items: 

  1. Provide a single source of the services that we provide, consistent information showing what is available
  2. Make it available to those approved to access it

The Catalogue could have a View for the Customers (a view for customers group A, a view for customers group B, etc), another view for Technical Support and another view for third party provider. This different views of the catalogue is called Hierarchy of Services

Service Level Agreement (SLA) is an agreement between the Service Provider (SP) and the Customer. SLA should be specific, clear and unambiguous expectation, and include SLR (Service Level Requirement) and metrics that indicates whether the SP is meeting its targets. You must have measurable targets to proves the services that you provide. Reliability of services can be measured with:

  • MTBF ;Meantime between failures
  • MTBSI ;Meantime between Services incidents
  • MTRS ;Meantime to Restore Service, how long will it take to come back online after a failure

Operational Level Agreement (OLA) are agreement between the different departments with the same company, and when these agreements have to be made between 3rd party providers are called UC (Underpinning Contract). Ensure you provide to the customers on regular basis Service Reports, with the number of calls being close, time responses and other metrics; you can submit these reports using SLAM Chart (Service Level Agreement Monitoring) with tables, colours, visual representations, etc

Service Improvement Plan ;is a plan to improve the service that you're delivering

Availability Management ;design well from the beginning to avoid fiasco later. VBF (Vital Business Function) are to be considered. The availability management touches all the life cycle sections, and can be devices in: 

  1. Proactive Activity type ;planning & designing, new or changed services, risk assessment and countermeasures implementations (redundancy, firewall, intrusion detection systems, etc); testing
  2. Reactive Activity Type ;monitoring and investigations

Capacity Management ;the service might still work (so availability is there) but the performance could be appalling if capacity manager is not taken into consideration, it should be thought about it earlier on in the Service Life Cycle process

  1. Capacity Plan ; should include scenarios for different predictions, including the business changes
  2. Guidance ;record anything that could affect performance
  3. SLAs should be included, 
  4. Diagnosis and Impact of the new services to be implemented should also be considered

Regarding utilisation you can see trends, like the lovely PRTG or Splunk. Regarding processes, there are 3 important Capacity Management sub-Processes to consider:

  • Business Capacity Management ;(strategy)what they need now and in the future
  • Service Capacity Manager ;(tactical) control, prediction and ensure the performance meets the expectation, monitoring, reporting, etc
  • Component Capacity Management ;(operational) focus on individual items of the services, ensuring all of them performs well; be proactive and identify a trend on specific components before a retention occurs

IT Service Continuity Management (ITSCM) ; what would happens when the third party chip you use to make your motherboards become discontinued, or out of stock? You need to plan for that by doing the following:

Business Impact Analysis (BIA) ; identify RTO (Recovery Time Objective) and have a plan for Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP)

Vital Business Function (VBF) ; ensure there is a plan for Business Continuity Management (BCM)

Contingency Plans ; test fail-over procedures by doing Business Impact Analysis Exercises, when in doubt test it out. This section should include negotiation with third-party suppliers too

Risk Management ;You have threats, assets and vulnerabilities, an where they met this is where you have a risk 

Information Security Management (ISM) ;include security earlier on in the Service Design process, do this rather than later on trying to add it as an 'add-on'. The principles of ISM are:

  1. Confidentiality ;data in transit should always be protected, this can be achieve using encryption, access control mechanism (AD, smartcards,etc)
  2. Integrity ;the information should be completed and not have been tampered, we can use hash to verify integrity
  3. Availability ;the info should be available and useful when needed, for example use RAIDs, fault tolerance routing, High Availability, etc

 During the Operations Cycle the Access Management takes care of the above CIA points, creating an Access Control Policy

Service Design Supplier Management; ensures that partners and provide can continue to support our IT services. Supplier Management is on the design but it touches every area of the life cycle. Service Level Requirements (SLR), Service Level Agreements (SLA) and Service Level Management (SM) are values that are looked up when a business work with a supplier. To keep track of your supplier you use SCMIS (Supplier & Contract Management Information System) that could as well be an excel document with the supplier details. 

 

Service Transition

So, during the Service Design stage you would have created the SDP (Service Design Package) which is now passed to the Service Transition team, to implement now the services required in the SDP, thus reducing risks, managing changes effectively, better expectations of all parties and a increased success deployment thanks to the fact there is a SDP to follow

Service Transition is a bridge between the Design and the Operations; during the transition process we build, test, change, install, implement, configure, deploy and release the service and/or application needed. Some of the processes of the Service Transition are:

  • Change Management
  • Configuration Management
  • Knowledge Management
  • Transition planning and support
  • Release and Deploy Management

Another hidden process is the "re-use", some apps or services that can be included in new releases, as well as "test environments" that you need to have to test the new services or releases

Service Access and Configuration Management (SACM) ; this relates to an inventory of all your assets as well as the relationships between them. Configuration Items (CI) are stuff that you want to track on the inventory like Operating System, memory, hard drive, etc. The SACM should be able to provide you Status of the item (deployed, in maintenance, broken, etc) as well as Reports, Verification (data should be accurate) and Auditing. Whenever we do changes to certain components, having this information up to date is critical

Configuration Management System (CMS) is another name for an inventory, and obviously it needs to contain a Configuration Management Database (CMDB)

Software Assess Management (SAM) ;a platform to record all the licenses, software, where to install, etc for the company. SAM is defined by a Definitive Media Library (DML) that keeps records of the different versions we have (1.0, 1.2, etc) all the ones that are more current, this can be understood like a folder with the latest versions of all software installed in the company

Change Management ;always ensure that Business Continuity is not affected when making changes into the system. Change Management keeps controls of the changes and ensure they are beneficial, all changes must be authorised either implied or explicit. The way it works is that you first of all present your change -Request for Change or RFC- to the CAB (Change Advisory Board) who asses and analyses the implications of the change. CAB could have some pre-requites before even accepting a change, like for example if it needed, is there a risk, can be rollback, do we have resources to implemented, as the change being tested? CAB can prioritise the changes based on these metrics.  All changes should be:

  • Approved
  • Recorded, so we know what we are changing and can rollback if needed
  • Update ,reflect the new change in the CMS (Configuration Management System) of the company, updating documentation, etc

Change control is the key of this all process, you don't want to change stuff as they pleased, no, no. There are different types of changes:

  1. Normal change ;this goes through the CAB as explained above, and can of course be denied if, for example, the rollback procedure is not feasible. You need to have a well-thought out practice procedure before you put forward a change request
  2. Standard change ;this is a change that has been pre-authorised by the CAB, it could be a low risk, low impact or straight forward change
  3. Emergency change ;this is a change that must be implemented asap, still it needs to be approved by the E-CAB (Emergency CAB) who will need to provide authorisation as normally these emergency changes have not been tested or have proper rollback procedure. Emergency changes should obviously be few and far in between

Remember that technician just maintain, they're not allow to make any configuration changes without authorisation

Release and Deployment Management ;plan, schedule and control  the deployment of software releases is the main purpose of Release and Deployment Management. Building, Testing and Deployment should be part of the SDP and should cause no harm and be compatible between versions. Knowledge and Transfer shall be present on the new deployments, so people know what the new features are and how to use them

Change Management authorised the changes before they are deploy in new releases 

Knowledge Management ;share experience and information and ensure they are available for the appropriate users; this info will allow us to make better decisions makings for the future saving money and time. Service Knowledge Management System (SKMS) is a platform that controls the access to the right individuals, inside the SKMS you can find the CMS (Configuration Management System), DLM, SLAs, as well as the Portfolio Catalogue. Please do not keep re-inventing the wheels, so we have the DIKW structure:

  • Data ;should be in the SKMS, for example an incident that has been logged of slow performance 
  • Information ;that's what data transfer to, it gives context to the data, for example the incident logged occurred for 3 hours
  • Knowledge ;is what we get from the information, for example those 3 hours happens to be during the backup process
  • Wisdom ;strong common sense is acquired by knowledge, for example, be 'become' wise and schedule the backup for off-operations hours

Transition Planning and Support ;this process provides overall planning and coordination of all changes, ensuring change A does not damage change B and vice verse, and that certain policies have to be followed, use this or that software for the update, etc; if there is a conflict between changes this is where it gets resolve, in the transition and planning support

  

Service Operation

Delivering the service efficiently and at an acceptable cost, and within the SLA previously designed. Part of the service operation processes are:

Event Management process ;failures do occur and you need to have systems in place that notify you when changes of status are occurring; PRTG is a great example of this. Event management can also include fire detectors, software licensing expiration detectors, intrusion detection on the network or on the building, etc. Event management process can be further divided in:

  1. Active Monitoring 
  2. Passive Monitoring 

We can have different types of events like Informational (a users has login, and e-mail has been sent, etc), Warning (cpu goes to 90%, still can operate but is worrying, storage used up to 90%, etc) and finally Exceptions (critical errors that need your immediate action, for example an attack being detected, a VM that has failed, etc)

Incident Management process ;restoring the access asap and getting tickets resolved, this sections tells you how to restore normal access and solve problems (normal as specified in the SLA). The Service Desk could use an Incident Model, a predefined document with the ordered steps they need to follow to narrow down what's happening and how to solve the issue

Major incidents and hierarchical escalation needed are part of Incident Management; if the same incidents are recurring we need to investigate the root cause of the issues, this root-cause analysis is part of the Problem Management

Problem Management process ;looks at the root-cause analysis of the previously reported incidents, this is normally not as urgent to resolve as any Incident Management issue, and therefore it takes a slow approach to problem-solving. Generally, one or two similar incidents of the same nature lead to a Problem Management analysis. Know-error database is a place to look for previous errors

Access Management process ;controls the access to data, requesting access to a service, and ensures only those authorised have got access to the data; it follows the CIA (Confidentiality, Integrity and Accessibility) principles to the data. The users needs to identify themselves correctly before access to the data is granted. This sections also defines the creation of roles where permissions are set (role-based access control)

The decision of how to control the access (either AD, LDAP, multi-factor, fingerprint, etc) should have been made in the earlier process, and should be with the SDPP

Request Fulfilment process ;this process is the 1st step users find when contacting Service Desk, it identifies whether they have an incident (printer not working) or a service request (password needs reset); this process handles the request for calls other than incidents. "Service Request" is a term generally use for many things, low risks and  that don't affect the performance or delivery of the system. The benefits of having service request are:

  • Happy users as well as general complains and enquiries, all of these are deal with the Service Request team
  • Standard channel of contact
  • Provide information regarding procedures and availability of services

   

In the ITIL universe "functions" are just a team of people; the Service Operations functions are:

  • Service Desk ;users need to know where or whom to go for help
  • Technical Management ;the team that supports the service
  • IT Operations Management ;execution of the daily activities to ensure the services are always available, IT Ops can be further divided in:
    1. IT Ops control ;do routine tasks, monitoring, etc
    2. Facilities Management ;the maintenance of the space where the IT services are, data center, server room, etc
  • Application Management ;managing applications, software patches, etc

Communications ;this is a key function of the business, teams need to be able to communicate issues to one another effectively and quickly; setup an intranet or another meaning where users can check the status of the services. Communicate projects, changes, exceptions, emergencies, performance monitoring, etc

Service Desk ; this is the Help Desk, it should be the single point of contact for Customers, the one-stop shop for all the customers needs. The different structures could be:

  • Locally Service Desk ;there is a clear presence of the technical team
  • Centralised Service Desk ;it has central and branch office reporting to the same technical support site
  • Visualised Service Desk ;use remote access or other technology to provide support
  • Follow-the-Sun Service Desk ;allows usually international organisation to provide 24/7 support services depending of who is awake on a given time zone; for this to work the company needs to have common tools, processes and knowledge as well as language skills 

Advertising ;make it easy for users to report to the Service Desk, a single phone, single point of contact, etc  

   

Continual Service Improvement

Identify opportunities for improvements. In the life cycle diagram Continual Service Improvement (CSI) circle all the other sections as it intends to look for improvements in all the areas. The purpose of CSI are:

  1. Increase efficiency
  2. Maximise effectiveness
  3. Optimising the cost expenditures

CSI needs to understand the high level vision of the business and what it is trying to accomplish, once it has identify where the company wants to know, it questions where are we know, and it sets a baseline. Where do we want to be? if the final goal of the company by means that can be measure (measurable targets are needed to know whether we are getting close or not to the destination). It could take a long time -a decade, etc- to achieve the final goal of the company, but annual goals can be set and regular appraisals

Service Reporting are great to know is we are improvement or not, and to pin point where the improvements need to be made. Have an anonymous box where user can report what needs to be improved.

CSI Register ;a document where you save all the ideas for improve, this document is normally kept inside the SKMS 

Deming Cycle (PDCA) ; Edward Deming quote "Without data you're just another person with an opinion" summaries the principle he created.  There are four basis steps for quality improvement in this continuous process cycle: Plan > Do > Check > Act!

Critical Success Factor (CSF) are measure using KPI, key performance indicator

The ITIL Service Improvement involves 7 well identifies steps, based on baselines that validates, set direction of activities, justify and intervene at the right place to strength the weakest link in the change; these 7 steps are:

References

Continual Service Improvement is NOT a Service Lifecycle Stage ;https://www.thinkhdi.com/library/supportworld/2017/continual-service-improvement-not-service-lifecycle-stage.aspx  

http://www.cmnogueira.pt/2013/05/10/an-introduction-to-itil-part-55-continual-service-improvement/

 https://www.invensislearning.com/resources/itil/overview-of-itil-csi-and-the-7-step-improvement-process

 

 

References

https://www.thinkhdi.com/library/supportworld/2017/continual-service-improvement-not-service-lifecycle-stage.aspx 

https://www.balancedscorecard.org/BSC-Basics/Articles-Videos/The-Deming-Cycle

 

 

 

 

 

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