A METHOD FOR ANALYZING IT SERVICE DELIVERY

Introduction

Nowadays, IT Service management is one of the challenges of the organizations, because of the demanding of high quality of the service by customers. IT Service Providers are continually striving to improve the quality of the service, while at the same time trying to reduce the costs [1]. Academics and practitioners have proposed and developed frameworks such as: Control Objective Information related Technology, Cobit1, which is composed by five focus areas: strategic alignment, Value Delivery, Resource Management, Risk Management and Performance measurement [2] [3]  and the Information Technology Infrastructure Management, ITIL2,  which is the undisputed global de facto framework for IT service management and widely accepted around the world for IT service management. This is corroborated by the rapid increase in membership of the IT Service Management Forum, which is an interest group enhancing and propagating the ITIL principles [4].  Also the large number of practice-oriented ITIL conferences, publications and training opportunities [5] [6] [7] [8] indicate the growing relevance of ITIL. ITIL V.20 provides a set of eight interrelated IT service management processes derived from the best practices of public and private sector [1]. ITIL is an evolving and complex framework with many intermingling factors and confounding effects that postulate the leverage of intensive knowledge and does not offer clear-cut implementation techniques [9]. Therefore, to know the current situation of an organization before ITIL implementation could help to minimize the complexity of its implementation. In order to contribute to the analysis of the current situation of IT service management in an organization. The authors proposed a method for analyzing the IT Service Delivery of an organization based on ITIL-processes. The method proposed is addressed by the research question how to analyze the IT service delivery in an organization? Service catalogue management, Service Level management, financial management, capacity management, IT service continuity management and security management of ITIL were adopted as theoretical background and case study technique for implementing the method proposed.

IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL)

Developed in the late 1980s, the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) has become the world-wide de facto standard in Service Management. Starting as a guide for UK government, the framework has proved to be useful to organizations in all sectors
through its adoption by many companies as the basis for Service Management, as well as consultancy, education and Software tool support. Being a framework, ITIL describes the contours of organizing Service Management. The models show the goals, general activities, inputs and outputs of the various processes, which can be incorporated within IT organizations [1].
ITIL V 2.0 is composed by:

  • Service Delivery (SD) is focus on delivering the service that the business requires in order to provide adequate support to the business customers [1].
  • Service Support (SS) is concerned with ensuring that the User has Access to the appropriate services to support the business functions [12].
  • Application Management addresses the complex subject of managing applications from the initial business need, through the Application management lifecycle, up to and including retirement [13];
  • Software Asset Management (SAM) is concerned with the all infrastructure and processes necessary for the effective management, control and protection of the software assets within an organization, throughout all stages of their lifecycle [14].
  • Security Management is the process of managing a defined level of security on information and IT Services [15].
  • Infrastructure Management is concerned with the processes, organization and tools to provide a stable IT and communication infrastructure [16].
  • IT Planning to Implement Service Management is concerned with the key issues to be considered when planning for the implementation of IT Service management and explains the steps required to implement or improve IT service provision [17].
  • Service Delivery [1] [18] is composed by: Service Catalogue Management, Service Level Management, Financial Management, Capacity Management, and IT service Continue Management. At the following a brief description of each process:
  • Service Catalogue Management is to provide a single source of consistent information on all of the agreed services, and ensure that it is widely available to those who are approved to access it; its goal is ensure that a service catalogue is produced and maintained, containing accurate information on al operational services and those being prepared to be run operationally.
  • Service Level Management, SLM, is the name given to the processes of planning, coordinating, drafting agreeing, monitoring and reporting on SLAs3, and the ongoing review of the service achievements to ensure that the required and cost-justifiable service quality is maintained and gradually improved SLAs provide the basis for managing the relationship between the provider and the Customer.
  • Financial Management is the sound stewardship of the monetary resources of the organization. It supports the organization in planning and executing its business objectives and requires consistent application throughout the organization to achieve maximum efficiency and minimum conflict.
  • Capacity Management is responsible for ensuring that the Capacity of the IT Infrastructure matches the evolving demands of the business in the most cost effective and timely manner. It ensures that the future business requirements for IT services are considered, and the performance of all services and components are monitored and measured.
  • IT Service Continuity Management (ITSCM) supports the overall Business Continuity Management process by ensuring that the required IT technical and services facilities (including computer systems, networks, applications, telecommunications, technical support and Service Desk) can be recovered within required, and agreed, business timescales.

Analysis Method of Service Delivery

The analysis method of IT Service Delivery (AMSD) proposed is founded in the interpretative philosophical stream [19] that allows constructing the world by its participants based on subjective meanings of their experiences within certain objects [20]. As qualitative research, its design is focused on understanding the social and cultural contexts within that people live [21] which support the analysis in an organization. The qualitative research approach adopted is the case study technique that is an empirical inquiry that investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real-life context, especially when the boundaries between phenomenon and context are not clearly evident. [22]. Many researchers have used the case study approach as their research strategy [23] [24] [25] [26] [27] [28] [29].
A research design is presented at figure 1 that is an action plan for getting from here to there, where here may be defined as the initial set of questions to be answered, and there is some set of conclusions (answers) about these questions [22].


Fig1.
Research Design.

In order to respond the research question (see fig. 1), financial management, service level management, service catalogue, capacity management, IT service continuous management, availability management, and security management of ITIL were adopted as theoretical background. Here and after will be referred as IT service delivery processes and their activities, guidelines, performance indicators, methods and components were identified and summarized in table 1.

Table 1. Summary of the Activities, Guidelines, PI/Metrics, Methods/Tools and Components of IT Service Delivery
Note. PI: Performance Indicators, N/A: Non-applicable, which means “Not defined by ITIL”

IT service delivery process

Activities

Guidelines

PI/ Metrics

Methods/ tools

Components of SLA, Budget, Cost and Depreciation

Number of elements by IT service delivery process

Percentage based on all of the elements

Service Catalogue  Management

4

N/A

5

N/A

N/A

9

3%

Service Level Management

10

N/A

38

N/A

14

62

20%

Financial Management

N/A

18

13

26

19

76

24%

Capacity Management

4

N/A

24

N/A

N/A

28

9 %

IT Service Continuity Management

10

N/A

8

N/A

4

22

7%

Availability Management

8

N/A

24

9

6

47

15%

Security Management

6

40

19

N/A

3

68

22%

Total

44

58

131

35

46

312

 

The elements of IT service delivery processes were grouped in a set of questionnaires, in a form of open-questions for gathering information about IT Service Delivery. The open-questions were changed to close-questions and regrouped by their IT service delivery processes based on the advice of the steering committee of the organization under study. The questionnaires developed are available at (http://www.itservice.uni.edu.ni/JFlores/introduction.html) ; each questionnaire include the characteristic of the responder, the time required and evidence for supporting their responder’ claims; a summary of the instrument for gathering information is presented at table 2.
For calculating the percentage of match between IT service delivery practices at the organization studied and IT service delivery process:

(Percentage of match) = (elements found of IT service delivery in the organization) * (100) / (total elements of the IT service delivery processes).

Table 2. Questions of IT Delivery grouped by caracteristic.
Note. PI: Performance Indicators, N/A: Non-applicable, which means “Not defined by ITIL”

 

QUESTIONS BY CHARACTERICTIC

Activity

Guideline

PI (*)/
Metric

Method/ Tool

Components

ITIL –IT  SERVICE DELLIVERY
QUESTIONNAIRES

Service Catalogue Management

(1)

N/A

(2)

N/A

N/A

Service Level Management

(1)

N/A

(2),(5)

N/A

(3),(4)

Financial Management

N/A

(12),(13), (14)

(8),(10)

(2),(3),(4),(7),
(9), (11)

(1),(5),(6)

Capacity Management

(3)

N/A

(1),(2)

N/A

N/A

IT Service Continuity Management

(2)

N/A

(3)

N/A

(1)

Availability Management

(1)

N/A

(5)

(3),(4)

(2)

Security Management

(3)

(4)

(2),(5)

N/A

(1)

 

Total

7

4

11

8

8

As part of the method proposed, a non-disclosure agreement—agreement restricting the use of information by prohibiting a contracting party from divulging data [30]—is required in order to protect the integrity of organization studied, and confidential information that should not be published. The non-disclosure agreement is a guarantee of safeguarding the competitive advantages of the company.

As sources of evidence suggested are semi-structured Interview, focus group and documents. The semi structured-interview has predetermined questions, but the order can be modified based upon the interviewer’s perception of what seems most appropriate. Question wording can be changed and explanations given; particular questions which seem inappropriate with a particular interviewee can be omitted, or additional ones included [31]. The focus group is a collection of respondents organized in a group discussion format to present their ideas about a subject [32]. The document characteristic [23] are stable--can be reviewed repeatedly, unobtrusive—not created as a result of the case study, exact—contains exact names, references, and details of an event, and broad coverage—long span of time, many events, and many settings. Data triangulation is suggested for evaluating the information collected that is verify the information amongst responders or document in order to guarantee a level of credibility [23],

The traceable case study database is a formal assembly of evidence distinct from the final case study report; based on chain of evidence, that is, explicit links between the questions asked, the data collected, and the conclusions drawn [22].

Semi structured-interview and focus group should be recorded in order to identify factual information that includes what respondents know about the subject under investigation, what respondents did in the past, are doing now, and intend to do in the future [33]. The duration of each semi structured-interview/focus group is approximately 1 hour. The interviewer should acts as a neutral medium through which questions and answers are transmitted and, therefore, endeavored to eliminate bias. In trying to clarify the respondent’s answers, the interviewer should be careful not to introduce any ideas that may form part of the respondent’s subsequent answer. Furthermore, the interviewers should be avoided giving overt signals such as smiling and nodding approvingly when a respondent failed to answer a question [34].

In order to implement the proposed method, a case study design is presented at figure 2. The case study design is made up by: (1) Select an analysis unit, that is the organization to be studied,(2) Establish coordinating meetings that are essential for identifying key respondents, documents and for reviewing draft case study report, (3) Sign a non-disclosure agreement for protecting the organization to be study and defining the study scope, (4) Construct a traceable case study database, as soon as possible, since we are getting information from notes, comments and suggestion. All of them can help you to assembling evidence.


Fig. 2.
Case Study Design.

The method comply construct validity, external validity and reliability. The construct validity is placed on multiples sources of evidence, establishing chain of evidence and has key informants review draft case study report [22]. The external validity is placed on the replication of the method in  multiple case studies [22]. The reliability is placed on case study design, and developing a traceable case study database [22]

IT service Delivery Maturity Model

Research Group at the National University of Engineering in Nicaragua
Authors Johnny Flores

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