Leveraging best practices
must have a framework to adopt best practices. It gives them a competitive edge
and helps them to retain customers, says Prakash Sharma
Organisations in the software services domain in India have
demonstrated leadership in software process maturity. This has resulted in the
creation of the maximum number of CMMI level 5 companies in India. Process capability
has helped Indian companies maintain competitive advantage. We are at a point
where it is imperative for Indian IT infrastructure services and BPO firms to
replicate this success story.
ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) adoption has taken off
in the country in the last two years, thanks to IT and BPO organisations. Adherence
to best practices and BS15000 certification is increasingly becoming a competitive
advantage among offshore vendors, and has started reflecting in global outsourcing
Critical reliance on human capital and IT infrastructure for delivering value
to the end-customer is common to BPO and IT organisations, and this makes ITIL
an indispensable framework for them. While there are innumerable benefits in
general, listed below are specific benefits for Indian IT and BPO organisations:
- IT infrastructure availability, even at the desktop
level, is critical in meeting end-customer SLAs.
- Best practice adoption helps to comply with international
regulations such as SOX (Sarbanes Oxley Act) and achieve certifications such
as SAS 70 (Statement on Auditing Standards 70).
- Efficient IT service and higher uptimes improve
employee productivitythe finished product of any services business.
- A professional IT service desk goes a long way in
improving employee morale.
Mid- and large-sized service organisations having more than 1,000 employees
cannot do without the lifeline of an effective IT service desk where the ITIL
framework provides the guiding principles.
Where To Start
Typically, someone within the IT organisation has to first sell the ITIL philosophy
to the management, and hence you must start with identifying for yourself the
need for ITIL.
Most often, one of two scenarios will indicate the need for ITIL. The first
is when a company repeatedly experiences IT issues in a certain area, whether
its frequent outages or just a high level of end-user dissatisfaction.
The second scenario is a company that is rapidly growing and needs to expand
the services it offers, while perhaps consolidating at the same time through
mergers and acquisitions.
The need for ITIL also arises when companies are forced
to maintain or improve service levels with a flat or declining budget.
In order to deliver a high quality of service at the right cost to the
business, you need repeatable, well-defined processes
The need for ITIL also arises when companies are forced to
maintain or improve service levels with a flat or declining budget. In order
to deliver a high quality of service at the right cost to the business, you
need repeatable,well-defined processes.
In either case, the process models described in ITIL, a set of documentation
that describes best practices for IT service management, can help the company
gain control of the situation.
IT organisations constantly struggle to ensure that their IT services are value-added
and meet the needs of the business in a cost-effective manner. One of the best
opportunities for an IT organisation to evaluate whether it is meeting business
goals and requirements is by getting an objective and third-party perspective
regarding IT service management. Organisations also need to invest in ITIL training
for its IT service resources; the training is available at three levels.
The first level is the foundation course, which should be attended by most of
the service delivery staff. Higher levels at practitioner and service manager
level are for staff specialising in specific areas such as service desk or wishing
to achieve the highest certification in IT services management. Investing in
service management tools also makes sense as it automates workflows and minimises
the chances of error.
Another handy tip is to discuss ITIL best practices with your peers in the public
and private sector, or join a forum that provides access to a network of experts,
information sources and events.
Having laid the foundation with ITIL-based processes,
emphasis must be laid on continuous improvement.
Six Sigma is a useful tool that can be employed at this stage for improving the processes and matrices by reducing the defects rate
Having gone through the grind of laying the foundation, new
challenges emerge after the implementation project. The organisation faces the
challenge of sustaining the momentum after the initial euphoria vanishes and
the people who were drawn for the initiative are no longer available.
Organisations must focus on putting metrics in place and reviewing
them on a regular basis. Success must be widely announced to maintain the feel-good
factor and motivation levels. Having laid down the foundation with ITIL-based
processes, emphasis must then be laid on continuous improvement. Six Sigma is
a useful tool that can be employed at this stage for improving the processes
and matrices by reducing the defect rate. Six Sigma helps in systematically
enhancing the capability of service delivery processes to better meet and exceed
customer specifications, resulting in tangible business gain. Once the benefits
are there for everyone to see in tangible form, it becomes easier to sustain
the organisational momentum.
The Road Ahead
ITIL has a growing user community in the IT and BPO industry. While ITIL is
a best-practice framework which any organisation can claim adherence to, BS15000
is an audit standard based on the same best practices which is awarded after
a third-party compliance audit. This brings an obvious credibility and confidence
from the customer for demonstrated IT service delivery excellence.
After BFSI (Banking, Financial Services and Insurance), BPO
has the greatest exposure to regulations, and the road to some of those regulations
passes through ITIL and BS15000. While the IT industry is leading from the front
in getting the best practice adoption endorsed by BS15000 certification, the
BPO industry needs to catch up on that count.
The author is Senior Consultant,
IT Service Management,