Sunday, February 05, 2012

Continued Strides Toward the ITSM Lite

Although we had dabbled with the idea previously we really began work towards ITSM process improvement as a component of our community EHR initiative.  As an organization we are responsible for the Service Delivery of an EHR Service to both our own clinic and many independent providers throughout Western Montana.  We knew we needed to get better as a team at Customer Service and reliable Service Delivery.  We also knew that we were a relatively small organization and that although many frameworks exist for ITSM we needed to be conscious of selecting the components and processes that were right.  Part of this is minimizing the processes that would only serve to bog us down.  You need to find a balance and there is certainly one to be found.  I hope to ultimately be able to share some of our work with other small/midsize organizations looking to find the middle-ground between the Wild West and fully implemented ITIL processes.  Some folks call this ITIL Lite.  Others might look at something like MOF as an alternative.  All we knew is that we needed to get better.  With technology changing quickly, organizational demands skyrocketing, and availability becoming an expectation there is no other option.
Stock up.  This stuff takes time and endurance.
We began, like many organizations do, with the low hanging fruit of ITIL.  We have added some additional pieces and there are immediate goals to implement some additional improvements.  I think at this point we can safely run through the 5 ITIL publications and what we have accomplished.  Moving forward I would like to provide updates to this and may look to make it some sort of live document.

#1 ITIL Service Strategy

We have done very little here.  All organizations touch upon these items in some form or another, however, or efforts to standardize these processes have been minimal.

#2 ITIL Service Design

We have established a Service Catalog.  This is primarily Business and IT facing.  This is currently in a spreadsheet and captures all key IT Services and IT Enabling Services.  We have formally documented owners, stakeholders, availability expectations, and basic communication requirements as dictated by the business for IT Service Outages.

We have informally addressed portions of Availability and Capacity Management through the draft of IT Operations Infrastructure Guidelines.  This document contains guidelines for the best practice implementation, documentation, and monitoring of all production systems.  We continue to improve this component.  My personal goal is to one day have a single ITSM Policy and Procedure implemented but right now it is siloed between formal Policy/Procedure and working documents.

#3 ITIL Service Transition

A formal Change Management process in place.  We handle CAB with a hybrid approach on a weekly basis.  All meetings are conducted via WebEx.  There is a core ITSM group that is expected to attend these meetings but additional attendance is asked for only in the event that the respective team members has questions or concerns.  All agenda items are clearly communicated before the meeting so assessments can be made and IT team members can evaluate their attendance expectations.  These meetings are fast paced and productive.  We want to strip away the perception that Change Management needs to be a long and bureaucratic process and encourage participation.  Our tool is BMC SDE, however, as with anything I would recommend establishing process before a toolset.  We could do Change Management on note cards if we needed to.  Emergency Change is handled via email exchanges.

Asset and Configuration Manage is a work in process.  I believe the value here is limited to key areas and as such have made it clear that there is no immediate expectation to begin Configuration Management on all IT assets.  I do see value in an asset list that can be pinned to Incidents, Problems, and Changes if it is limited to key components.  My idea of key components are Servers, Network Infrastructure, UPS Units, Network Attached BioMed Devices, etc.  Extending the granularity of this down to the Desktop does not have our immediate attention.  These asset documentation requirements are part of the above mentioned IT Operations Infrastructure Guidelines.  We have documented all of these assets and are currently working to move these records into the BMC tool.

Release Management has been touched upon through the utilization of a basic Release Management Checklist.  However, at this point this checklist is very Operations focused.  Ideally we will work to be less selfish and establish a common Release Management process document that also ensures the needs of other IT and Business areas are properly accounted for.  At this point it is a CYA mechanism to ensure we are going live with proper backups, service documentation, and security standards.

Advances are continually made in the area of Knowledge Management.  Through the participation of team members documentation on many items are being created and updates for the first time.  This goes a long way in regard to enabling our Service Desk to be as efficient as possible.  A standardized location and searching mechanism has been made available.

#4 ITIL Service Operations

Like many organizations we hit Incident Management and Problem Management first.  These have been successfully rolled out and all team members are formally trained.  We would like to see Problem be utilized more effectively and are looking to formally designate a Problem Manager role - not as an FTE but as a responsibility.

Event Management is something we are currently working on.  We have a well established IT Operational Monitoring system - we use Zenoss - and are working to interface this with our BMC product for automated Event-to-Incident workflow.  Right now our Events are received via Email and Incidents are created to reflect them as necessary.

Access Management is handled through an online form.  We have successfully moved from a paper based process.  As above, we are looking to interface this with our BMC product so that Access Requests are seamlessly translated and assigned as Service Requests.

#5 ITIL Continual Service Improvement

Plan.  Do.  Check.  Act.  Nothing formal here but it seems this post itself as an example of our continued efforts to reflect upon and improve our process.

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