Why ITIL should be spelled with an A

By Rob Rosenthal

ITIL is on everyone’s mind these days. Just look at LinkedIn – every day there are postings referencing ITIL, from Software Companies pushing their solutions, Training Vendors offering classes to get certified, why the posts go on and on. If you do a search of Jobs referencing ITIL across the US alone you get 13,270 hits. If you want to break it down further – Change Management – 100K, Problem Management – 95K, and Service Management comes in as king at 379K jobs.

So – what’s the problem you ask yourself. Well put down that ITAM mug and let’s take a look at the numbers for our particular functions!

Do the same LinkedIn search for IT Asset Management, and you go down to 2,974. And the trend continues. Search on Software License Management and you go down to 1,374, and CMDB rounds out the list at the bottom with a measly 1,145!

Now I am not trying to imply that jobs referencing our umbrella of skills should be at the same frequency as Service Management, although that would be great for our career opportunities. But what I am saying is that the fact that job’s referencing knowledge of IT Asset Management, etc. are less than 1% compared to Service Management is a problem.

Now some people might feel that isn’t an issue, but I think it shows a lack of understanding on how important IT Asset Management is to ITIL. More importantly, it shows that we as IT Asset Management experts are not doing an important aspect of our jobs – communication! We are allowing ourselves to become the 4th Marx Brothers, the 5th Beatle, the 4th Stooge (In case you are wondering, these are all real people but you will have to read till the end of the article to find out their names.)

I put it to everyone that a centralized IT Asset Management/CMDB is the key ITIL function that can take all the other functions and connect them in a coherent integrated service. That all of the other aspects for ITIL should require a knowledge of IT Asset Management to reach their full potential for providing world class service. So, if you are shaking your head that you agree then you need to ask yourself – if you went to Senior Management in your organization and made that statement – would they shake their heads yes as well? Would your peers? Would the owners of the other ITIL functions?

If you say Heck Yes to all of that – than congratulations! You have led the way to getting your company fired up to build an integrated solution that will utilize a well-funded, fully supported world class IT Asset Management/CMDB with Software License Management. Your work is done and you can skip ahead to the last paragraph to find out who the fifth Beatle was!

But wait – why are you still here reading? Is it because you don’t have support from your peers? Is it because you are not getting the funding and support you need to integrate IT Asset Management into all of ITIL?

We need to face facts – sometimes the conceptually right thing to do isn’t always given the funding and support needed to make it a reality. That’s the challenge all of IT faces yearly at budget time. When the gladiator games of budget time start each year, who else beside you is saying “Let’s give more money to the ITAM team!” If we are all having the same frustration do, we just accept that and continue to lurk in shadows? I hope you said no and are just wondering – what can we do about it? How can we make our IT organization realize that IT Asset Management should be well funded and well supported?

The simple fact is that most people look to their own systems, to improving their own functions when it comes to time, support and funding. Each ITIL function leader is looking at how to improve their metrics, provide better service, improve the functionality of IT as a Service, and while many of them may see the benefit of ITAM, they may not be aware of how much we can do for them.

If that describes your organization, then there are things you should be doing to show people that ITAM can be a key to many of their problems. You need to make them want your ITAM solution to be supported, to give them what they need for their own systems to work better. One of the best ways to do that is learn their pain points, what is working in their world and more importantly – what isn’t. In reviewing this, you not only gain a peer relationship, but you may actually find ways to have your data support them.

For example – let’s take Incident Management. I spent many years in charge of Incident Management for a Website and one of the most important metrics for an incident is Service Restoration duration. Very often delays in service restoration are prolonged by people relying on tribal knowledge. Imagine its 11 PM and your website is down and Operations is trying to wake up the one resource that knows what database a function uses 4 levels down from the customer facing application that is actually down. However, with an integrated IT Asset Management/CMDB, the Incident Manager could bring up the application in the CMDB and see not only the applications, but the servers, databases, web services, etc. that are all used for that function – without waiting an hour for the right resource to wake up and get on the outage call.

I bet if you think about it, this thinking can be applied to every aspect of ITIL, and IT in general. If we can show how our data can be used to solve many of the problems happening throughout ITIL, how we can improve response times, track trends, prevent outages, provide answers without needing the one person who isn’t responding at 11:00 PM, then we become as important to ITIL as the other roles.

It’s very simple my readers. Help your peers solve their problems, and they will in turn come to rely on ITAM for more and more functionality.

This is best way to get support, to get funding, and to get everyone to remember that there is an all-important A in ITIL is to become involved.

Finally – For those of you that stayed till the end – the answers are George Martin, Shemp, and Gummo. If you want to know which is which, well you can try to wake someone up who you think knows….or go look it up!

About the Author

Rob Rosenthal is a Director of IT Asset Management for DSNY