What Is ITIL and How Can Your Small Business Use It?
Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is a comprehensive approach for IT Service Management (ITSM) that can greatly improve business performance. It provides a framework for businesses to identify, plan, deliver, and support IT services, and its set of standards is designed to ensure IT services meet the needs of a business.
This practice is used worldwide by large corporations, but is valuable for small and mid-sized businesses as well, providing a practical approach to ITSM. When implemented properly, ITIL will enable your business to effectively deliver services to customers and meet business goals.
Here are the basics of ITIL, its biggest benefits, and how to implement its practices into your company.
The Five Basic Components of ITIL
To understand what ITIL is, we must begin with the service lifecycle. ITIL is a cohesive end-to-end solution for IT services, so it addresses service issues from inception to completion and every step in between. The lifecycle consists of five individual modules or qualifications built upon the core ITIL titles: service strategy, service design, service transition, service operation, and continual service improvement.
- Strategy: This consists of knowing and understanding your IT customers, the services required to meet their needs, what your IT services are capable of providing to them, and requirements for successful execution.
- Design: This step makes sure any new, added, or altered services are designed in order to meet the customer's expectations in a cost-effective way. It ensures the most effective service design, technology, efficiency of processes, and service management systems are all taken into consideration.
- Transition: In this lifecycle phase, the service is built, tested, and then put forth into production for the business customer. Administrators can make any needed changes here, control assets, validate service, and prepare the necessary personnel for production.
- Operation: This stage delivers the service on a regular basis and monitors its successes and failures. Maintaining the service's health includes restoration of systems after issues, assessing trends with repeated problems and finding their causes, and handling any routine requests from the end user.
- Continual Service Improvement (CSI): CSI provides a way for the IT staff to continually measure and improve the quality of their services, making sure technology is up to date and services are being managed properly overall.
The Benefits of ITIL
In addition to an overall improvement and increased efficiency of your business's IT services through consistency, the benefits of using ITIL include: reduced costs, increased customer satisfaction, improved productivity, better delivery of third-party services in service procurement, and maximized skills and experience of your IT staff. Because ITIL provides predictable processes and a set framework, it is easier to meet customer expectations, as well as monitor and measure incidents. It may also enable a better relationship with your IT service provider because it provides a basis from which to negotiate realistic service levels.
Implementation of ITIL Into Your Processes
If you're considering implementing ITIL into your business, first assess what processes will benefit from this tool so you and your employees can predict how it will affect your business. Document how existing practices work, set goals and objectives, and then narrow down your options for services that need improvement.
Identify any gaps between your existing services and your goals for improvement so your team will be able to identify proper strategies. Finally, make a decision about your methods for project management, using timelines, charts, and any other project management tools. Once ITIL has been implemented, be sure to monitor the service strategies and improvements to see if you need to make any changes.
When you understand ITIL, its lifecycle, benefits, and the preliminary steps needed for implementation, you can decide if using it is right for your business. Having this structure in place for ITSM can help your IT staff fix problems quicker, helping you focus on achieving your business goals.