The proof of IT is in the measuring. Senior management expects information technology to return business value, increase efficiency and lift productivity. But because it is constantly striving for growth and managing change, IT is often unable to show how it meets business expectations. Such was the situation of the IT department at the University of Canterbury, which has around 100 staff.
Despite its projects that support and enhance the activities of the rest of the university, the IT department felt undervalued.
Three years ago, the IT department decided to adopt ITIL methods to not only improve their tracking and delivery of services, but also raise visibility of their efforts.
Hamish Duff, IT quality assurance Manager, says adopting ITIL methodology has helped change the users' view of IT as a necessary evil. "We've had a rather poor reputation on campus some years ago, and I think we've gone a long way towards improving that image."
ITIL (Information Technology Information Library) is an integrated set of guidelines and common terminology for IT service management best practices. Adhering to its standards gives IT organisations a structure to control their environment, increase efficiency and cut IT costs.
The university opted for BMC's Magic Suite for its ITIL implementation.
The initial product, called Support Magic, was installed in 1998. It was previously developed by Magic Solutions, which was then taken over by Network Associates and finally BMC.
Support Magic simply tracked jobs completed by the IT team.
In 2002, the university upgraded to Network Associates' Magic Service Desk Suite, and then began investigating ITIL.
Duff says Support Magic was installed prior to his move to the university, but because it had performed well, the university decided to move on to the new products provided by BMC. The university is already beta-testing version 9 of Magic Service Desk Suite for a planned installation this summer.
The shift to the new system meant staff are extensively retrained to log all incidents so they could successfully implement the operational processes of the ITL Framework, namely the service desk, incident, problem, change, configuration and service level management framework.
An evolution towards ITIL best practices
Since the university's move towards ITIL adoption, Duff estimates he spent 30 per cent of his time on planning and development, 20 per cent strategy, 10 per cent troubleshooting, 30 per cent getting buy-in and demonstrating benefits to colleagues and 10 per cent on ongoing adjustments.
Duff considers the system an evolution towards ITIL best practices, with the ability to customise the software application to suit university processes as crucial behind its success.
Implementation was phased because it takes time for staff to adapt to new ways of doing things, and comprehensive training was essential for them to get used to using the ITIL framework, he explains.
Full deployment of the service desk suite has freed up staff time, reducing reactive firefighting and allowing them to concentrate on pro-active service improvements. This has helped his department argue for better resourcing.
Duff claims a 25 per cent increase in customer satisfaction following the deployment of the system.
"I don't think the full reliance of the university on IT has been fully appreciated yet," states Duff. "In the past, we provided mainly anecdotal or technically-based evidence for business cases. Now, we're providing metrics and measuring KPIs on our services. It's much better information and it's key to communicating with the business in a language they understand."
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