Improve the Big Picture
A CIO also can integrate ITIL approaches as part of a cohesive services effort, Fry notes. For example, the Control Objectives for Information and related Technology (Cobit) standard provides a complementary framework for developing policies around service requirements and controls, Six Sigma focuses on repeatable processes, and Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) focuses on improving technical and managerial maturity. Using all of these could help the IT organization succeed as a business enabler across the board. Using ITIL in a vacuum, IT might improve operations but let poor controls continue and miss chances to generate new business, consultants say.
Conversely, says Fry, an organization pursuing these other approaches but not ITIL risks having an operational foundation that can't support the maturity achieved elsewhere. You don't have to use all these methodologies to succeed, but an organization tackling improvement holistically should do better than one that treats these as one-off efforts, he says.
An understanding of ITIL will also help a CIO deal with a request from IT operations managers for a configuration management database (CMDB), meant to track both the components and the relationships among them for the software, hardware and other aspects of IT systems. The goal of a CMDB: help IT identify up front the implications of proposed changes — from new hardware to a software patch — on the entire system, then resolve the issues before implementing the changes.
The CMDB concept is coming into vogue both because vendors are offering CMDB tools and because it's a natural next step in the ITIL process after an organization has resolved incident and support management problems. However, a CMDB is a big investment that involves significant process change, technically and politically. Understanding how a CMDB fits into the operational improvement that ITIL promotes will let the CIO assess whether the organization is actually ready to implement a CMDB, or whether work is needed to provide the right process and cultural foundations.
That's a calculation that Guardian's Taliani is now making. Guardian split its ITIL efforts into two phases, the second of which will require a CMDB — but before committing, Taliani wants to ensure it will be used effectively. So he'll make sure ITIL adoption is deep before deciding. (With shallow adoption, IT people could revert to old practices as demands increase, he points out.) If the ITIL adoption takes root at Guardian, he expects to commit to at least a basic CMDB effort.
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