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Words to go: ITSM methodologies for enterprises

ITSM frameworks come in all shapes and sizes. So, select one or more that work for your IT organization, and build process controls and responsiveness right away.

ITSM methodologies range from long-established to lightweight, but each one is designed to improve IT's ability to serve the business.

When selecting from IT service management options, take into account the IT organization's size, maturity and roadmap, as well as business concerns. A disorganized and heavily regulated centralized IT group would benefit from IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL), for example, while a team tasked with rapid response to customer demands could make strides by incorporating Kaizen principles.

While each of the following ITSM methodologies is appropriate as the sole service management control in an organization, many IT shops mix and match tenets from a diverse set to tailor the best ITSM platform to their needs.

Agile and DevOps: Agile is a collaborative process to accelerate software development and delivery. DevOps relies on automation and fosters close collaboration among developers, testers and IT operations staff. Results of Agile and DevOps used in combination include increased software deployment frequency, faster go to market, reduced failures and bugs, and better recovery or rollback from serious issues.

Business Process Framework: This operational framework describes the business processes for telecom service providers and the interaction of important elements. Its Enhanced Telecom Operations Map explains business processes and interactions in three principal areas: strategy, infrastructure and product; operations; and enterprise management.

Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI): This process-level assessment and improvement program helps IT organizations develop, acquire and manage products and services. CMMI defines five major process maturity levels: initial, managed, defined, quantitatively managed and optimizing. An organization uses the CMMI framework to gauge its process maturity and drive continuous process improvement.

Control Objectives for Information and Related Technologies (COBIT): The COBIT management and governance framework is one of several ITSM methodologies that organizes and establishes controls around IT processes and resources. COBIT divides IT duties into four areas: plan and organize; acquire and implement; deliver and support; and monitor and evaluate. Each area includes processes to better plan, build, operate and monitor IT.

FitSM: A lightweight group of standards, FitSM is a free platform to improve the maturity and efficiency of ITSM methodologies through good practices. The community-supported standard is divided into seven parts (FitSM-0 through FitSM-6) that include vocabulary, requirements, objectives, models, templates, guides and assessments. The basic process framework is largely aligned with ISO 20000.

ISO 20000: This international standard offers best practice guidance around service management using the ITIL framework, described below in this list. ISO 20000's eight parts include service management system requirements; guidance on applying service management systems; service providers; a process assessment model; an implementation plan for ISO 20000-1; guidance for applying ISO 20000-1 to cloud services; concepts and terminology; and guidance on the relationship between ISO 20000-1:2011 and a service management framework.

ISO 27001: Another international standard, 27001 is an information security management system (ISMS) framework. Its 10 sections cover scope, document usage, terms and definitions, organizational considerations, security leadership, planning an ISMS, supporting an ISMS, operating an ISMS, performance reviews and corrective action. A comprehensive annex shares controls and objectives.

ISO 38500: This international standard provides a framework for corporate governance of IT, including legal, regulatory and ethical obligations. IT organizations find definitions, principles and models for good corporate governance, which includes responsibilities, strategies, acquisitions, performance, conformance and human behavior, as well as guidance for corporate leaders and staff.

ISO 9001: The last of ISO's standards on this list is not specific to IT. ISO 9001, part of the 9000 series, specifies the requirements for a quality management system. Organizations demonstrate a capability to provide products and services that consistently meet customer and regulatory requirements to qualify for ISO 9001. The standard covers scope, references, terms and definitions, context of the organization, leadership, planning, support, operation, performance evaluation and improvement.

IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL): A detailed set of practices to align IT services with business needs, ITIL addresses ITSM holistically by dividing the concepts into five categories: ITIL Service Strategy details organizational objectives and customer needs; ITIL Service Design translates a service strategy into a delivery plan; ITIL Service Transition shows how to develop and improve new services introduction; ITIL Service Operation explains how to manage services; and ITIL Continual Service Improvement shows how to enhance services.

Kaizen: Kaizen is a philosophy rather than a platform, designed to continuously improve every aspect of an organization's operations and personnel. Kaizen is not an ITSM framework in itself but is often included with other formalized approaches to IT management, such as Six Sigma, which is also described in this list. Kaizen principles enable a person or team to identify an opportunity, analyze the process, develop then implement a solution, study the results, standardize the solution and plan for the future.

Knowledge-Centered Service (KCS, formerly Knowledge-Centered Support): This service delivery methodology focuses on knowledge as a key asset of the enterprise delivering the service. The KCS approach creates content as a result of solving problems, develops and refines content based on demand and use, establishes a knowledge base of the business's collective experience and then drives learning through collaboration and knowledge sharing.

Lean: Lean principles are a general approach to minimize waste within a manufacturing system without reducing productivity. They generally originated in the Japanese manufacturing industry and offer guidelines to identify and eliminate waste. Results are improved quality, reduced production time and monetary savings.

Microsoft Operations Framework (MOF): MOF is a series of guidelines for IT professionals to establish and implement reliable, cost-effective services for the business. MOF provides guidance across the IT lifecycle, with consideration of processes, governance, risk, compliance, management reviews and Microsoft Solutions Framework best practices.

Six Sigma (6σ): 6σ is a statistical approach to identify and remove defects and minimize variations in manufacturing and business processes. The approach guides process improvement through quality management methods and a team of admins who use well-defined steps and work toward an understood outcome. Results cover reduced process time, costs or waste; fewer help desk tickets; or accomplished profit goals.

Next Steps

How's your DevOps approach going? Use this assessment guide to determine your current status, then follow these nine DevOps metrics to ensure you're improving. And be cautious of all-too-common pitfalls.

This was last published in November 2017

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