Archives For ITIL

If there’s a distinguishing characteristic of educational reform, and reform efforts in general, it’s the lack of patience in sustaining difficult effort over time. We criticize students who can’t seem to exercise delayed gratification, but don’t seem to notice that educators, government officials, and the general public aren’t any better.

Reference: Taylor, Sharon, and Ivor Macfarlane. ITIL Small-scale Implementation. London: TSO, 2005.

Silver Bullet Lifecycle

We talked a lot about disaster recovery, monitoring system availability, and financial accounting for IT services on day #2.

Does your school district (or other organization) have a disaster recovery plan in place that lists each IT service and how fast you plan to recover back to full operation? Have you had a conversation with other leaders in your district to prioritize your systems and the data they contain? Updating that plan is one of my top priorities for the next few months.

I appreciate Michaels’ comment on my previous ITIL post about the applicability of business principles to educational environments. I’m not put off by business world comparisons for a couple reasons:

  1. Most of the best thinking in IT management has been in the corporate context. ITIL, Six Sigma, TQM, and a host of other quality frameworks have proven records of improving efficiency and effectiveness. We need to take that seriously.
  2. Is IT Service Management really that different in the corporate context than it is in my education world? Isn’t the goal in both cases to help the organization meet its “business objectives”? (The business objectives are obviously quite different.) There wasn’t much in the ITIL processes that I couldn’t connect with something in my world.

I’m going to continue thinking about the financial stuff too. I have no idea at this point what it actually costs to deliver specific IT services in my district. How much do we pay to maintain our GroupWise system (considering software, hardware, and people costs)? I don’t have a very good idea. Would we save money by switching to Exchange? (I doubt it.) How can I decide if I don’t know what I’m paying now? I don’t think it has to be complicated to make some reasonable cost estimates.

This ITIL stuff is good. I should find out if I passed the test in a few weeks.

itil, itsm, it service management, disaster planning, it accounting

Whew! That’s a lot of material. I walked into class this morning and had a thick binder full of detailed ITIL info waiting for me. The terminology is dense and there are a lot of new concepts to absorb. There are only six of us in the class, and I’m the only one from the K–12 world. I asked a lot of questions, most of which seemed fairly intelligent sounding at the time.

I continue to wonder how best to map these IT service management concepts from the corporate culture to the work I do in a school district. There’s so much that is common between all of us who do this work, but there are some key differences. Our instructor works for Northwest Airlines. If their IT systems fail they might lose huge money in lost reservations. (I don’t think he worries much about planes falling out of the sky.) If mine fail I might have hundreds of students and teachers whose activities are ruined for a period of time. Those are both high stakes, but the way to measure them seems quite different to me.

Measuring performance is very important in the ITIL processes. My stack of materials has key performance indicators (KPIs) for each process. Here are a few examples from the Incident Management process (IM in ITIL-speak refers to what most people recognize as a traditional help desk/tech support request):

  • total number of incidents
  • mean cost per incident
  • incidents processed per service desk workstation
  • number and percentage of incidents resolved remotely, without an on-site visit

Does your school district’s IT department measure their performance like that? Mine doesn’t…yet. 😉 My ITIL book stresses the importance of collecting baseline data and measuring performance against it. I don’t have any baseline data. It’s never been collected.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what metrics make sense in a school setting. Something like “number of students and teachers affected per incident” or “instructional time lost per incident” perhaps. I need to find a way to incorporate metrics like that. It will make them more relevant to our “business” and communicate more clearly to teachers and administrators than the geekier alternatives.

What other metrics would make sense for a school IT department? I’d love to hear some suggestions. I’ll keep posting on this, but for now I need to dig in and do some studying. I’ve got the exam on Friday.

itsm, tech support

Back to class

12 Sep 2006

Starting tomorrow morning I’ll be in three days of classes at the U. of MN working toward an ITIL foundation certificate. The foundation course will cover all the basics of ITIL, and I’m hoping it will help me as I continue to rethink how we deliver IT services in my school district. I discovered ITIL in December, 2005 and I’ve been looking forward to implementing some of the key processes ever since.

I’ll do my best to post some reflections and notes about the class here.

itil, itsm, tech support, umn