ITIL processes ranked

Implementing best practices is all about customer satisfaction -- at least, according to a recent Forrester Research survey of a score of billion-dollar companies that have adopted IT Infrastructure Library processes.

ITIL is a set of best practices ranging from incident management to capacity management. It promises to help IT shops get their processes in order to make more efficient use of their in-house staff and technology resources. The British-born framework is gaining popularity and Forrester found specific sets of best practices ranked higher among ITIL adopters.

On a scale from one to 10, the respondents placed incident management, which Forrester says "deals with solving immediate issues that affect the overall health", of IT services, close to nine in importance. Service-level management followed at close to eight. Service-level management involves another set of processes that deals directly with customer service, Forrester says. Ranked third was configuration management, an area that is getting a lot of vendor attention for network devices, operating systems and server software.

"What's most important is being able to describe a service in meaningful terms to the user, discover all elements needed to deliver the service, measure service quality and deal with exceptions and breakdowns," Thomas Mendel, principal analyst at Forrester, wrote in a research paper.

"Companies that have gone through the ITIL implementation process see the most value in those processes that deal directly with their customers' concerns or provide the necessary foundation for this."

Availability management and change management rounded out the ITIL adopters' top five sets of practices. Mendel states in the report that change management should be considered hand-in-hand with configuration management, and IT shops need to also consider a configuration management database to achieve "a well-tuned service-level and incident management process".

Based on the survey, Forrester advises IT shops begin an ITIL implementation with incident management, then service-level management, coupled with configuration management, availability management and change management because of the strong interactions amongst them.

Continuity management, or disaster recovery, ranked sixth among respondents, while ITIL processes for release management, problem management, financial management and capacity management ranked significantly lower among ITIL adopters.

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