Choose Your Own Adventure: IT Operations Frameworks

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Imagine that you are in the “Wild West” of IT Operations at a medium-sized organization. End users are lined up at the Help Desk, waiting to have passwords reset, questions answered, and printer toner installed. Meanwhile, Desktop Support is scrambling from cubicle to office to cubicle, trying to clean up from a failed software deployment. Several employees are complaining about “Yet another IT fire drill,” although the IT staff is too busy fixing issues to even hear the feedback. Sound familiar? How did we get here, and can we ever escape?

The good news is that yes, you can escape the “Wild West” by implementing the right IT Operations Framework for your organization. However, you will have lots of options to choose from, and not all frameworks will work well together. Here’s where the “Choose Your Own Adventure” aspect comes into play.

Looking at the landscape, there are five key methodologies available. Moving from left to right in the image below, they are:

  1. FITS (the Framework for ICT Technical Support) was developed for British schools, which have very small IT shops, so it works well in smaller organizations.
  2. MOF (Microsoft Operations Framework) combines processes, governance risk and compliance, and Microsoft Solutions Framework best practices.
  3. ISO/IEC 20000 is the international standard for IT service management and serves as an auditable norm for IT service management.
  4. ITIL (formerly stood for Information Technology Infrastructure Library) focuses on aligning IT services with business needs using a series of IT processes and functions.
  5. COBIT (Control Objectives for Information and Related Technologies) describes controls on information technology that are aligned around IT processes and enablers.

Picture1

As you can see, different frameworks might appeal to different organizations due to their size, regulatory needs, customization requirements, or amount of guidance needed. Additionally, some frameworks require that you implement all processes, while others allow you to implement what is needed and mature your organization as you go by creating new processes and improving existing ones.

Adding to the complexity of your journey is the way some frameworks can play together to provide guidance on what to install, how to install it, and offering a certification to prove that your organization has successfully implemented the framework. A small, privately held organization might find that ITIL alone suites its needs, while a Fortune 500 organization might reference COBIT to define what needs to be implemented, study MOF to understand how to implement and monitor the processes, and then turn to ISO/IEC 20000 to certify that they have successfully implemented an IT service management framework.

Picture2

While selecting your framework(s), I would recommend taking the time to fully define what your organization is attempting to achieve. With these goals in mind, reach out to your peers in the industry and process experts to understand how different methodologies might meet your IT organization’s needs. It’s also likely that members of your organization have been exposed to at least one of the frameworks and can provide some input into the decision.

Once you’ve decided on your destination (i.e. your framework of choice), the real journey begins. You’ll need to find champions to support your project, define an implementation plan, gather baseline metrics, and do the hard work of implementing and continually improving your processes. However, for now, all you have in front of you is an open road and an IT Service Management adventure on which to embark!

 

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