Yale University’s IT Service Management (ITSM) journey began in 2011, just before my arrival in 2012. At the time, the University had about 450 central IT staff and a newly appointed CIO who had arrived with a mission to create a world-class ITSM organization. ITIL® process and service management were the discipline of choice.
To achieve this, some of the first steps were to train all IT staff in ITIL® Foundation and select an ITIL compliant platform for service management.
The IT department undertook a very ambitious deployment of Incident, Request, Problem, Change, and Knowledge all at once. While the transition was generally successful, in that operations were able to continue as they had been after the deployment of the platform, Yale IT did not benefit from the full value of adopting ITIL, which is actual process improvement. It turns out that for the most part, the platform was distorted to match the organizational structure and operational methods in existence and ended up being used in different ways by different technical silos. A better approach would have been to mindfully define processes that could be successfully and consistently employed across the organization. Another issue was service design. The catalogue of services made available through the platform was more representative of organizational structure rather than actual services from a customer standpoint and according to ITIL definition.
Some of the customizations to the ticketing platform also made it impossible to upgrade to new releases, which eventually led to an impasse with the vendor and, it turns out, an opportunity. The decision was made to redeploy entirely in order to upgrade the platform. This provided the opportunity to take another pass at process and service catalogue definition.
This time, we chose to fully define the service taxonomy and portfolio first from a customer perspective and clearly define the roles and responsibilities of service ownership. We identified a single, consistent format and location for service data.
Since redeployment, things are running much more smoothly. The roles of service ownership and a common language around service management are taking hold, and we’re now supporting all 250 service offerings with an ITIL-based platform with more consistent use of the processes, which we continue to improve. Consistent use of the platform allows us to gather metrics on service performance, which in turn enables more improvement. And we have just completed another platform upgrade in April that went off with no disruption to customers or service providers because of our adherence to out of box configuration only on the platform rather than customization.
Continuing the journey
With the redeployment and a subsequent upgrade successfully behind us, we are well aware that our ITSM journey is still just beginning. Process and service maturity still have a long way to go and an important next step will be for key stakeholders to complete ITIL® Practitioner and Intermediate training and certification.
Although I have yet to complete ITIL Practitioner, I can already see how the guidance will enhance our ITSM efforts and ensure the work done during deployment sticks. In fact, if ITIL Practitioner had been around the first time we deployed, I’m sure we would have made fewer mistakes.
What I’m looking forward to most with ITIL Practitioner – and the area I feel will make the biggest difference – is its guiding principles and practical tools that can be applied to everyday work: translating theory to practice.
In an environment of tough financial times and never enough resources, it’s often difficult to get beyond keeping your head above water and work on intentional service improvement, rather than just putting out fires. That’s the challenge for the next phase of our maturity. And useful metrics are the starting point. We are just now getting to the point of having presentable metrics that will be of use at the service offering level in addition to the overall process level. We expect that ITIL Practitioner training will help us with this key performance indicatot (KPI) refinement.
With robust processes in place, a defined portfolio and a healthy ITSM platform, we can focus on Continual Service Improvement and become the world-class IT Service Management organization that we originally set out to be.
See our ITIL Practitioner section for more information.