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ITIL® – Preventing Costly IT Errors and Saving Reputations!

In today’s world of increasingly complex technology, providing a stable and secure IT environment can prove an interesting challenge. Yet, it is of critical importance that companies of all shapes and sizes, across all industry sectors, make IT best practices an organizational priority if they want to succeed. Indeed, a number of hard hitting news headlines have recently illustrated just how crucial a robust IT Service Management framework really is.

Take the latest technical glitches at Southwest Airlines, for example. The prominent US airline was seemingly ill prepared for a huge surge in ticket sales, following a popular promotion that offered one-way fares for as little as $29. The resulting system malfunction, which charged disgruntled customers multiple times, was a public relations disaster that the airline will quickly want to put behind them. The Southwest Airlines debacle came hot on the heels of another much publicized technical failure that impacted one of their competitors, United Airlines, just three weeks before. When their on-line booking system began erroneously awarding flights to Hong Kong for just four frequent flyer miles, countless customers were left angry and disappointed when United Airlines refused to honor the bargain fares. But it’s not exclusively US airlines that have been hit by such adverse media attention arising from technology blunders. Established British banking giant, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), has just set aside some £125 million to cover costs related to IT problems that left millions of customers without access to their bank accounts and a stream of failed transactions.

These types of catastrophic IT system failures do not only result in devastating financial loss for an organization, they also cause irreparable damage to their reputation. So how can companies proactively avoid such high profile IT disasters? The most simple and cost effective solution is to implement the internationally recognized and most widely adopted set of IT Service Management best practices, known as ITIL®. The Information Technology Infrastructure Library® uses a comprehensive and scalable approach that focuses on aligning IT with the needs of the business. It is a practical, common sense framework that identifies, plans, delivers and supports IT services to ensure optimal customer satisfaction. And implementing ITIL not only improves the overall IT service provision, it also dramatically reduces costs, significantly increases productivity, harnesses the appropriate use of skills and experience, and even enhances the delivery of third party services.

Here are some of the ITIL processes and best practices that can help prevent precisely the type of incidents that occurred at Southwest Airlines, United Airlines and RBS:

  • Change Management and Release Management – ensure that changes to IT systems and/or infrastructure are rigorously tested and professionally assessed before approval and deployment into the live (production) environment
  • Capacity Planning – verifies that IT capacity meets both the current and future needs of the business
  • Incident Management – focuses on restoring service outages or disruptions as quickly as possible, minimizing the impact to the business and identifying corrective actions to prevent such failures from recurring
  • Proactive Problem Management – identifies potential issues (thus preventing future Incidents), eliminates recurring Incidents and significantly reduces the impact of Known Errors
  • Continual Service Improvement – formally identifies service improvements and ultimately improves customer satisfaction
  • Continuity Management (including Disaster Recovery) – prevents, manages and contains major IT incidents that may result in financial loss and reputational damage

Of course, it goes without saying that implementing the ITIL framework is not a solution in itself! It’s vital that the entire organization supports and actively adopts the principles of ITIL too. It’s also important that the traditional conflict of interest, between the business desire for rapid solutions and the need for strict governance, is appropriately addressed. Forward thinking organizations solve this dilemma by providing an ITIL Awareness Course for key business decision makers in addition to ongoing ITIL training for their IT personnel. And they recognize that the ITIL best practices are constantly evolving, so their staff must benefit from the very latest ITIL training if they are to guarantee an IT Service Provision that isn’t plagued by costly errors.


About this author:

Angel Prusinowski

Angel is a leading ITIL® instructor at Ashford Global IT.

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