addition to VITA.

"We are applying ITIL as a component of a larger program we call Operation Excellence," he said. "ITIL really brings a common set of languages, structures and guidelines. We are using those as a starting point and adapting them to meet our needs. It allows us to ensure that all of our practices and procedures are in line with best practices from an infrastructure standpoint."

Created in 2003 by the General Assembly, VITA has taken the IT shops of 90 executive-branch agencies and collapsed them into a single IT organization. Now, with all these disparate agencies operating under one umbrella, VITA was looking for a way to standardize.

"What really drew us to ITIL was that it is an existing set of best practices," said Saneda. "ITIL makes things visible to us in terms of incident management. We have a single point of contact, which is a best practice of ITIL. That point of contact follows up with every call they receive to ensure that the problem has been resolved to the customer's satisfaction. I'm not sure it's unique, but it is a best practice we've implemented here. And it's taken over our help desk and improved it tremendously. I think customers see a tremendous turnaround in our practices."

Saneda and others are finding that ITIL is renewing the focus on serving customers needs. The consolidation movement sweeping the nation would be utterly pointless if it didn't improve the functions of an organization. And in government, the primary function is serving the public.

"These processes should be bringing value to the customer," said Saneda. "That is the big focus of ITIL. Becoming customer-centric is something that ITIL can help you achieve."

Matt Miszewski agrees. As CIO for Wisconsin, Miszewski is all too aware that the help desk, or as ITIL recommends, "service desk" is often at the front lines when it comes to government interaction with customers.

"The service desk is the place where the rubber meets the road," said Miszewski. "As you start to build up your knowledge base of problems and incidents, service becomes better, then users become happier."

As part of the state's Shared Information Services Initiative, Miszewski said ITIL merges very well with the goal of consolidating IT infrastructure and the overall goal of better customer service.

"We made a promise to our business owners that this consolidation would not just mean lower prices but better service," said Miszewski. "ITIL gives us a way to deliver on that promise. And instead of being a radical change, ITIL is much more of a nod to the things we were doing right and understanding we can always improve those things. We found that we were doing about 70 percent of the management best practices in ITIL, but we just weren't doing them in a cohesive way."

Miszewski believes the current drive toward open source interoperability is facilitating the sudden interest in ITIL, and that ITIL implementation will propel the movement.

"From an end-user perspective, the speed to incident resolution has got to be one of the key reasons why ITIL is starting to catch on," said Miszewski. "ITIL makes sense. It doesn't cost anything [other than the books] and increases customer service, which is great for everyone. We're leading the charge. If it starts in IT and works well, we could save a lot of money."

Coming Soon

As Virginia, Wisconsin, Oklahoma City and others are proving, ITIL is here to stay. In fact, it may soon be doing much more than that. It has been the de facto world standard for service management and may soon be given an official title.

"ITIL is being promoted as the international standard," said Hamilton, who forecasted that itSMF

Chad Vander Veen  | 

Chad Vander Veen is the former editor of FutureStructure.