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An Initial Look at ITIL Version 3 – Part Three

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Rich Schiesser concludes his three-part series on ITIL version 3 with a brief look at the "Service Operation" and "Continual Service Improvement" books, and discusses their relationship to the overall objectives of the service management lifecycle.

See Part One and Part Two of this series.

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This is the final installment of a three-part series offering a brief look at the new version 3 of ITIL. Part One presented the concept of a service management lifecycle and examined the first book of the five-book library that comprises version 3, the book of "Service Strategy." Part Two provided an overview of the next two books of the library, "Service Design" and "Service Transition." In this final segment, we’ll take a look at the remaining two books, "Service Operation" and "Continual Service Improvement."

Service Operation

The chief goal of service operation is to coordinate and execute the day-to-day activities and processes of computer operations. These actions are needed to deliver and manage services at agreed-upon levels of service for customers, business users, support groups, and suppliers. Service operation is the only phase of the service management lifecycle that includes functions as well as processes. A function differs from a process in several ways:

  • A function is an organizational entity that maintains a self-contained body of knowledge, employs appropriately trained and skilled staff, uses personnel management techniques to deliver expected results, and utilizes service metrics.
  • A process crosses over organizational boundaries and functions, uses a consistent set and sequences of activities to accomplish an objective, and utilizes process metrics.

Five processes are associated with service operation:

  • Service desk function. Similar to its role in version 2, the service desk function in version 3 is intended to be the single point of contact for users and customers in dealing with first-level IT issues. These issues may include requests for services or for information, or reporting a disruption or degradation of service.
  • Incident management. This process is responsible for restoring service as quickly as possible, minimizing adverse impacts of service interruptions, and handling failures of configuration items that have not yet affected service operations.
  • Problem management. Problem management has several objectives, all of which are similar to those in version 2:
    • Preventing problems to IT services, along with the resulting incidents.
    • Eliminating recurring incidents.
    • Identifying the root cause of service interruptions and proposing permanent fixes to eliminate this cause.
    • Submitting a request for change that will implement the fix.
    • Offering a temporary workaround for the problem.
  • Access management. This is the first of three new processes of service operation introduced in version 3. The purpose of this process is to grant authorized individuals the right to use a particular IT service while preventing access by unauthorized users. Access management executes the policies defined by information security management and availability management. This process is sometimes referred to as rights management or identity management.
  • Event management. This is a new process in version 3. In ITIL terms, an event is any detectable or discernable occurrence that has significance for the management of the IT infrastructure or the delivery of an IT service. Event management is the process responsible for detecting, managing, and determining the appropriate control actions for these events throughout their lifecycle.
  • Request fulfillment. In version 2, service requests were normally handled by either the service desk function or the incident or change management processes. In version 3, request fulfillment is a separate process for dealing with service requests from users, because many of these requests involve small changes, low risks, or simple requests for information.

Four functions are associated with service operation:

  • Technical management function. This is the first of three new functions in ITIL version 3. The role of the technical management function is to provide technical expertise and overall management of the IT infrastructure. The objectives of this function are to plan, implement, and maintain a stable technical infrastructure to support the business processes of the enterprise. This includes training and deploying appropriate personnel to build and operate the technology required to deliver and support IT services.
  • Application management function. This new function supports and maintains operational applications that support an organization’s business processes. It also helps in identifying the functionality and manageability requirements for software in the application portfolio, and then assists in the deployment, support, and improvement of those applications.
  • IT operations management function. The focus of this function, which is also new for version 3, is on the day-to-day, short-term activities required to operate and support IT services. These operational actions are performed over relatively long periods of time and emphasize executing repeatable, standardized procedures. In some instances, personnel from the technical management and application management functions may assist in staffing the operations management function.
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