Have you ever noticed how some Managed Service providers just seem to have a better reputation for adding value, exceeding expectations and truly providing a stable environment that enables you to focus on your business and not your IT problems? These providers are not doing this by accident. If you take a closer look into that provider and you will likely find ITIL is at the root of what they do.
What is ITIL?
Well, it stands for Information Technology Infrastructure Library. It is a vendor independent framework for identifying, planning, delivering and supporting IT services to the business. It is essentially industry best-practices at work; aligning IT with business needs and setting a solid foundation to support core business processes. These processes are not static. ITIL becomes continuous improvement as a way of life, this is one of our core values.
90% of our Managed Services division is ITIL certified and we are constantly working to be 100% certified. Softlanding Managed Services lives and breathes ITIL. Our years of experience goes into everything we do and ITIL enhances this experience through our process development and execution.
Why is ITIL important?
Because it governs how "IT people" react, change and proactively enhance your IT environment. For example, the single biggest interruption to your IT service results from change. This can be something as simple as applying a patch, or a significantly more involved change like server reconfiguration or adding new functionality to your environment. Softlanding takes all changes, no matter how small they may seem, seriously. For example, our Change Management process at a high level looks like this:
- A number of users report a functional issue with e-mail, it still works but a non-critical feature for some users is not working.
- Research and experience determines a configuration change is required.
- The consultant will determine the best course of action, and document the process in a Request for Change. Part of this document will outline any roll back plan should the change cause unintended consequences, resulting in further service disruption.
- The plan will be reviewed by peers and a senior resource, to verify the validity of the plan, point out missing steps or caveats and ensure this is the best course of action, this is the technical review. This reduces the risk in implementing the wrong solution.
- Next the client is contacted and they are given the relevant information such as affected services (what will be unavailable), the duration of the outage, the risk involved (What can go wrong) and why the work is being done and the value the client will get.
- Once the process has been technically approved and the client has signed off on the work, only then can the change be executed. Of course this is always done at a mutually agreeable time to minimize impact.
Why are all these steps necessary?
This appears to be a lot of steps and road blocks in the way of simply resolving a support issue. From the surface it does appear that way, but consider the alternative, look at the same situation without ITIL:
- Your IT provider researches and finds this problem could be resolved by making a small configuration change.
- Without a technical review or client sign off, the engineer executes their ‘solution'
- This 'solution' now results in e-mail being down completely. There isn't a roll back plan, or any plan for that matter. You have lost half a day of full productivity because the change was not scheduled for off hours to minimize impact.
- This unintended consequence is now negatively affecting your brand and the only explanation you get is "Well, this shouldn't have happened."
ITIL of course doesn't just govern change. It governs all IT processes and ties them together to streamline IT service delivery. ITIL when implemented will govern all aspects of interaction with your service provider and internally at your provider. Here are a few additional examples of how ITIL is implemented at Softlanding:
- On-boarding – a check list and verification of the information that is collected when you are on-boarded as a new client, ensuring your site is documented for proper support and IT strategy
- How support tickets are handled and if needed escalated, by streamlining this process resolution times are vastly improved meaning less interruption to your users
- How a new PC is built for your environment, making sure it's done right the first time and reducing your frustration
- Configuration of Softlanding services such as anti-virus and anti-spam, this ensures that the services we provide for your use operate correctly so you will never hear "Oh that was setup wrong, that's why it's not working."
This hopefully explains why ITIL is important to your business. Without it, change will create havoc in your IT environment. When you are researching which IT service providers to work with, make sure they can deliver true value for your money, and make sure ITIL is in their vocabulary.