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1/16/2008
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Service Provider EasyStreet Finds Fewer Dropped Calls With ITIL

The latest version of the IT Infrastructure Library is proving to be more useful to small businesses.

The IT Infrastructure Library is normally implemented at large enterprises with entrenched IT staffs that recognize the value of adopting industry best practices. It takes time, training, and new processes in the data center to adopt ITIL.

Version 3 of the IT Infrastructure Library released last May attempted to condense and simplify ITIL in hopes that it would become more useful to small businesses. And it is, according to John Beaston, VP of customer services and cofounder of EasyStreet Online Services, an Internet service provider and managed service provider in Beaverton, Ore. Founded in 1995, the firm has 50 employees.

Eighteen months ago, EasyStreet started working on ITIL adoption with a select group of IT staffers.

"The thing that drove us to ITIL was its attraction to big customers. They needed more formality in business processes with their business partners" to satisfy their own compliance requirements, said Beaston.

Unlike larger adopters, however, EasyStreet decided to concentrate on incident management and change management among the many ITIL best practices. All its business managers and a 12-person operations group have entered into ITIL training, a six-week course that requires part of a day each week. So far five operations people have gone an additional step and are certified as ITIL trained.

As a result, EasyStreet has replaced its e-mail-based, incident tracking system with a help desk system that does a better job of identifying a trouble ticket and tracking its status. The e-mail system could receive a user request for help and send notices to other parties, "but it had no way to look into the process and see where the action on the ticket was," said Beaston in an interview. "It had no notion of service level agreement or compliance requirements."

EasyStreet is now using Numara Software's Footprints 7.5, which includes business processes that allow a manager to view how speedily trouble tickets are being acted on, who's responsible, and where they stand in the resolution process. If a service level agreement applies, the system alerts the troubleshooter. More than one department can consult on an incident at a time.

"It hasn't reduced the number of incidents, but it's made their handling a lot more predictable," Beaston said.

The new ITIL procedures and practices ensure that someone pays attention to a problem, tracks progress on it, and reports on its outcome. Those tasks used to flow up to EasyStreet managers; the ITIL training has reduced that management workload. Reducing the number of problems is the ultimate goal of ITIL.

"Managers don't have to worry so much about whether a special process is needed to escalate a response, whether a ticket has been lost, who picked up a particular incident," said Beaston. ITIL training and the new help desk/change management software is making all the trouble shooting steps more of a routine, verifiable process, he said.

With increased interest in ITIL, a wide range of packages are available to help small business implement it. BMC Software, CA, HP, and IBM, all have offerings. In addition to Numara, small business-oriented systems are available from Kace Systems Management, FrontRange Solutions, SunView Software, SignaCert, and Tideway Systems.

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