Does ITSM/ITIL become more important when businesses consider outsourcing?

In a previous post, Adam Miller at GlassHouse Technologies explored whether or not ITSM had changed to adapt to the proliferation of cloud computing. He argued that although cloud computing hasn’t changed ITSM per se, cloud providers do need to review existing processes to confirm that they will meet the needs of their customers whilst maintaining profitability.

He also argued that, from the customer’s perspective, how the service is managed is not of great concern so long as they do not experience any degradation in service or face any regulatory or compliance issues. In this post Adam will argue that when a business is considering outsourcing its IT services, ITSM/ITIL becomes all the more important.

Outsourcing IT services remains a popular course of action for many organisations. Research published by AMR Research Inc earlier this year reported that approximately 80% of enterprises plan to increase or maintain their level of IT outsourcing. These businesses may be seeking to redirect their in-house resources to focus on core business capabilities, or to improve agility through scalability; either directly or indirectly, the desired net effect is a reduction in costs.

To increase the likelihood of outsourcing offering a business the desired financial returns, it is crucial to start from a strong position and negotiate the best possible deal with your provider. To do this, a theme from my previous post raises its head: that of “getting your house in order”.

By ensuring that relevant and appropriate ITSM processes and controls are in place and that they meet the needs and demands of the business, nasty surprises will be avoided during discovery exercises performed by systems integrators. Some factors that need to be considered include:

  • Are the services currently offered to end users understood fully in terms of their scope and the business processes supported?
  • Are the associated service levels clearly defined and the agreed targets achieved?
  • Are assets within the IT estate fully known and contained (and updated) within a single CMDB (configuration management database)?
  • Are changes consistently carried out within a controlled manner?

These may sound like fairly basic or naïve questions, but it would perhaps surprise you how many organisations across all sectors, from SMBs to global enterprises, don’t have answers to these questions.

A solid underpinning of established ITSM processes like this will enable any organisation considering outsourcing its IT services to better understand its exact wants and needs. This information can feed directly into the creation of an RFP/RFI and puts the organisation in a position of strength when at the negotiating table with an outsourcing provider. A clear set of service level agreements can then be established, enabling the organisation to easily measure the provider’s performance and the all important return on investment.