The Fourth Phase - Service Operation

This is a follow-up post continuing the introduction to ITIL V3 (George Ritchie is currently away). This week I'm going to talk about Service Operation in ITIL V3.

Quite simply, Service Operation is all about delivering the services to your customers and managing the infrastructure, applications and technologies that support these services.

This can be a real balancing act – and there are a number of conflicting goals that need to be considered. Getting a balance between these conflicting priorities is paramount to successful Service Operation. These conflicting goals are:

  • The internal IT view vs. the external business view
  • Stability vs. responsiveness
  • Service quality vs. Service costs
  • Reactive vs. Proactive Management

The key is to maintain an even balance in each of these conflicts, excessive focus on either side of the scale will result in degradation of service.

The key processes in the Service Operation Phase are:

  • Event Management
  • Incident Management
  • Problem Management
  • Request Fulfilment
  • Access Management

These should all be familiar to you, however previously ITIL dealt with Request Fulfilment, Access Management and Event Management within the Incident Management Process. V3 has cleared up this rather grey area and detailed these processes separately (something I think most people will welcome). I'll discuss each of these briefly below.

Event Management – “An event is a change of state that has significance for the management of a configuration item or IT service.”

An Event tells us that something is not functioning the way it should and causes the logging of an incident. Event management is reliant on monitoring, but it is NOT the same thing as monitoring. Event management lets us know when something has gone wrong, monitoring records information even when there are no problems.

Incident Management – “An incident is an unplanned interruption to an IT service, or a reduction in the quality of an IT service. Failure of a configuration item that has not yet impacted service is also an incident.”

There is a lot of information already in the blog on Incident Management so I won't elaborate on this. Use the search function to find related articles.

Request Fulfilment – “A service request is a request from a user for information or advice, or for a standard change, or for access to an IT service.”

Service requests were a real grey area in ITIL® V2, and many organisations were unsure of whether many of their service requests should be handled as minor changes or as Incidents. ITIL® V3 has attempted to clarify this for us. The purpose of the Service Request process is to allow customers to request and receive standard services. All requests must be logged and there should be a mechanism for approval in the process.

(And as an aside, the next release of Serio is almost certainly going to reflect this change in ITIL with a direct and clear way of handling Service Requests).

Access Management – This is the process of allowing authorised customers to access services, while preventing access by unauthorised users.

Problem Management – “A problem is a cause of one or more incidents. The cause is not usually known at the time a problem record is created, and the problem management process is responsible for further investigation.”

Again, this is a well established ITIL® process. For more information, search the blog or see our Problem Management White Paper