GSX Blog

ITIL: What does it mean for your Messaging and Collaboration environment? (Part 1: Introduction)

Posted by Carl Drechsel on Tue, Jan 17, 2012


A few weeks back Eileen posted an article that highlights the importance of having metrics regarding the performance and availability of your messaging and collaboration environment. I’d like to expand on her article and discuss first what ITIL means to messaging and collaboration environments, then an overview of what monitoring and reporting can do for your ITIL implementation and finally how GSX Solutions can provide relief in these areas. 

As we know ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) is a set of concepts and practices for managing Information technology services, IT development and IT operations. This framework was developed in order to provide for an efficient and cost effective use of IT resources.   Over the years many companies have undertaken small and large scale implementations of the framework with mixed levels of success.

Problems with ITIL

While some consider the ITIL framework to be an all-encompassing approach to IT management, there are certainly areas that are vital to the success of any IT organization that are not addressed. ITIL focuses on process, leaving out two very important components of an IT group, the organization itself and the technology it manages and delivers.

Another potential pitfall of ITIL is just how thorough the framework is, many companies have found that when implementing ITIL it is easy to get caught up in the fine details of what ITIL intends. This approach often leads to implementations that are just the opposite of ITIL’s purpose. When ITIL is taken to the letter of the law the spirit of the framework can be lost, bureaucracy can actually compromise efficiency and stifle innovation and creativity.  In the same manner a complete ITIL implementation adhering to every tenet also risks costing an organization more than it will save.

In my experience I’ve found that two key components to a successful ITIL implementation are flexibility and the understanding that every organization is different. What works for one may need to be slightly modified to work for another.  ITIL is a resource that is subject to interpretation and this will vary by the interpreter and should vary by the organization wishing to implement the framework.

Benefits of ITIL

Now that I’ve introduced you to some of the potential pitfalls of ITIL, let’s look at the potential benefits.  What can we hope to gain from a successful implementation?  As I first mentioned ITIL was developed in order to provide for an efficient and cost effective use of IT resources.   Therefore the goal of any ITIL project is to simplify the IT organization and its processes resulting in operational cost savings.

How can implementing ITIL accomplish this?

  • By providing a single, definable, repeatable, and scalable documented framework for IT best practices that flow across the IT organization.
  • Defining IT in terms of the services provided rather than simply systems.
  • Improving communication and information flow between IT and the organizations respective business departments.
  • By clearly identifying roles and responsibilities for IT Service Management.
  • By supporting the ability of the IT organization to measure and improve internal performance and service provisioning.
  • Improving the ability of IT to adjust as business opportunities and challenges are presented.
  • Improving the relationship of IT with individual business entities, builds trust.

What benefits can we realize that will improve efficiency and result in cost savings?

  • Maximize productivity
  • Provide competitive solutions in a timely manner
  • Decrease bugs, require less rework
  • Improve upon project deliverables and timelines
  • Improve the availability, reliability and security of mission critical IT services
  • Justify the costs associated with service quality
  • Provide services that meet business, customer and user demands
  • Integrate central processes reducing duplicated efforts
  • Document and communicate roles and responsibilities
  • Maintain a knowledge base learning from previous experiences
  • Provide demonstrable performance indicators to measure delivery

What does this mean for Messaging and Collaboration environments?

Each Volume of ITIL has a touching point within the Messaging and Collaboration world. Your e-mail systems, mobile systems and collaboration systems are not only complex technically but also complex organizationally and also, from an ITIL standpoint, procedurally. Let’s review each of them at a high level (I will cover them more in depth in the coming weeks posts).

Service Strategy

Service Strategy within the IT Infrastructure Library means that as an IT organization we approach deploying new technologies by first assessing market and customer needs.  Strategically the organization reviews the current service offerings and identifies opportunities to implement new services to help the business side of the organization grow.  The transformation here is that IT develops a close working partnership with business entities undertaking projects that have strategic value.

In Messaging and Collaboration environments we have many technologies and features that we can deploy. Whether it’s instant messaging or team sites, unified communications or mobile communications there are hundreds of different nuances that can mean success or failure. Service strategy attempts to bring order to what an IT department offers and will offer, based on its strategic value.

Service Design

The Service Design volume covers all aspects of new services and the changes or improvements of existing services. This includes their architecture, processes, policies and documentation, in order to meet current and future business requirements.  

Obviously in Messaging and Collaboration environments Service Design takes on an enormous importance, in order to provide a new service or improve an existing service many things must be considered and planned for.  The Service Design framework provides a host of processes that assist in defining not only what the service is, but how the important components of service will be managed in the near, medium and long-term.

Service Transition

Service Transition includes the management and coordination of the processes, systems and functions to package, build, test and deploy a new or changed service into production and deliver the service as specified in the stakeholder agreement.

In the Messaging and Collaboration world each process is involved however some of the key touching points are change management and release management. The primary goal here is to ensure minimal or no impact to the quality and performance of the service delivered or modified.

Service Operation

The main objective of Service Operation is to coordinate and carry out the activities and processes required to deliver and manage services at agreed levels to business users and customers. This includes the ongoing management of the underlying technology and infrastructure required to deliver the service.

Once a service is deployed this function takes front stage as it is in place to ensure that ongoing operations meet customer expectations.  In a messaging and collaboration environment some common components of this would include Incident management, problem management and request fulfillment.

Continuous Service Improvement

The basic goal of CSI is to increase the efficiency, effectiveness, and optimize costs associated with individual service offerings continually aligning and realigning IT services with ever changing business needs. This is accomplished by reviewing, analyzing, and making improvements in each phase of the lifecycle.  In our environments CSI is put in place to ensure that once services are deployed they are dynamic, changing and improving with customer requirements, improving our knowledge, thus our delivery, quality and performance.

In Conclusion

Early in the article I mentioned that ITIL was developed in order to provide for an efficient and cost effective use of IT resources.   It can be a daunting task to fully implement, taking a great deal of effort and commitment to do so. However, with that being said, it is possible to benefit immediately from its tenets. The ITIL framework is not just a set of instructions on how to streamline operations, improve efficiency, or reduce costs. It is a mindset, a mindset that if embraced fully as an individual and an organization will pay dividends through its entire implementation.

Please join me in the following weeks as I go into greater detail on each volume of the Information Technology Infrastructure Library as they pertain to messaging and collaboration environments. If you’d like in the meantime please feel free to review some of my technology specific posts, which can be seen here.

Also, please take a moment to learn a little more about our company.

Tags: Collaboration, ITIL, sla, Service Delivery, Lotus Domino Monitoring, mobile messaging, Messaging, Reporting, lotus domino, Framework, Service Reporting