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Making ITIL Practical: The Impact of IT Process Automation

Micro Focus Expert
Micro Focus Expert
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The word "process" in IT circles has gone through the hype cycle, convulsing from the "secret to success" to "overused" to "despised" (depending on who you ask, of course). This is closely aligned with the rise and fall of the popularity of ITIL in its various forms, since ITIL at least initially, largely revolved around "best-practice" processes (although ITIL v3 tries to diversify from that legacy somewhat).

One of the biggest challenges of putting ITIL into practice is the cultural change that is required. The best-designed processes can sit on shelves while the organization refuses to do things differently. Indeed, process can become bureaucratic, adding steps for additional approvals and documentation that the "old way" did not require. It's easy to see why resistance to change is a common reason for stalled or abandoned ITIL efforts.

Since it is referred to as IT Process Automation (ITPA), the logical question often arises, "what is the relationship between ITPA and ITIL?" The best response is that ITPA bridges the gap between process design and implementation by leveraging tools already in use and automating the repetitive and bureaucratic portions of ITIL, to promote practical application, measurement of results and reduce resistance to change. Or, more simply, ITPA reduces the overhead of ITIL and provides a basis for continuous improvement that can result in lower risk of failure.

The key thing to note here is that you don't have to automate the entire process end-to-end in order to achieve value. In fact, almost all processes are likely to have a "man-in-the-loop" for approvals or decision making, just to make sure that automation is not running amuck. Some processes may have only a small percentage of steps which are automated, but those steps may be the most time consuming and repetitive, resulting in significant time savings.

Consider as well, that if you don't already have processes in place, ITPA technology provides a convenient way to document and share processes throughout the organization, including manual steps where input is needed. A hierarchy of processes can also be used, linking broader process design (such as those promoted by ITIL) with more discrete and targeted processes (such as provisioning a virtual machine, that might be one part of a release management process).

If you're interested in learning more, check out my presentation at the ITIL v3 Online Summit, hosted by BrightTALK on June 11th at 4pm Pacific Daylight Time. It will be recorded, and you can access the recording at this same link after the date as well.
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Absent Member.
Absent Member.
I recently had the pleasure of presenting at the ITIL v3 Online Summit , hosted by BrightTALK, around
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