Addressing challenges with ITIL’s guiding principles
Blog posted by: Kirandeep Singh – Continual Service Improvement (CSI) Lead, 27 May 2021.
To say it’s challenging to prepare new process documentation to replace more than 2,000 pages dating back 10 years is an understatement.
However, this was an essential activity as part of a contract renewal with a major client – and had to be done within a tight timescale.
This is where ITIL® 4’s guiding principles provided a structured approach to help simplify this task.
A mountain of processes and pages
When the processes and associated documentation were first created in the client organization, they comprised 43 processes – each with complex documents of 50-60 pages.
For example, for incident management it covered different levels such as detection, categorization, classification and more. This continued to sub-levels such as logging and reviewing incidents and checking if self-service options were available. Together with process diagrams for each process, the documentation was so long and complex it was rarely used by the process owners.
Over the past decade, many process owners had changed, and the new ones didn’t have the capacity to update the documentation. So, it became our challenge to deliver against the contract and get new documentation signed off within the six months’ time limit.
Applying ITIL 4 guiding principles
Our approach to this project involved reviewing the process documents with certain ITIL 4 guiding principles in mind:
- Focus on value
We pruned the number of processes to 31, ensuring they were of value and used daily in operations.
Then, to reduce complexity, we opted for one level of detail in every document with links to other data or additional instructions. This kept the process information to a high level, such as the RACI matrix, roles and responsibilities, process diagrams and service level agreements, plus key performance indicators. And it reduced the previous documents from 60 pages to 10-15 pages – therefore keeping it simple and practical.
- Start where you are
By starting with the previous documents, we didn’t need a team of business analysts to create new ones. Instead, we updated the documents for 31 processes and reviewed with process owners over two to three iterations to check relevance.
- Progress iteratively with feedback
Taking feedback from the process owners and customers, we were able to amend the documents until meeting the criteria for sign-off. Feedback was done via marked-up documents and scheduled calls with process owners.
- Collaborate and promote visibility
Some processes have interdependencies – for example event management and incident and problem management – which needed collaboration across different teams. Also, there were weekly calls to discuss process documentation updates, so the entire management team had visibility of the project.
Delivering value and saving cost
Using the ITIL 4 guiding principles, we were able to complete the project in five months – a month earlier than planned.
But what were the benefits to the business?
Ultimately, this delivered value and saved the cost and time of employing business analysts to review the processes and recreate the documentation.
We also know that, unlike the previous iterations, these process documents are actively used – and that includes being showcased as part of an audit.
As “base documentation” it is useful when, for example, a new technology platform or change to the existing platform is introduced. Documents are shared across the team to explain the incident management flow, supplemented by a deeper level of instructions that they can create and use locally without affecting the base documentation.
Overall, the value in using ITIL 4’s guiding principles is how they incorporate knowledge from different frameworks and methodologies – such as Agile, DevOps and Lean – and combine them into one set of helpful principles.
By explicitly using the guiding principles among our internal team, and implicitly with the process owners, we were able to achieve the outcome we needed.
For more information visit the ITIL – IT service management page.
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