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ITIL the Russian Way or Our Response to WTO

Genrikh Bystrov (UNIT-Orgtekhnika, Russia)

Both individuals and businessmen understand that without IT there is no business. Operative communication, informational support, real-time control with feedback – all this is just a small fraction of what modern informational communicational technologies can present to the user. However, the price of these technologies also increases the dependability on them (it is not surprising that among top-managers there is a popular view, that though we cannot do without IT, we must strive to reduce the damage it brings). That is why reducing ownership costs of IT-support is quite often a first priority for both legal bodies and individuals. In practice, there are several general ways to reduce IT costs.

  1. Using old technologies, which became considerably cheaper, reduces procurement costs. However, it increases total informational-communication-technologies ownership costs and doesn’t allow to retain required level of competitiveness in business. That is why the only real way to keep reasonable level of spending for IT, while retaining high competitiveness, is to use IT technologies of two years prescription. They are also renewed every 5-7 years and require though smaller, but anyway bigger investments… 
  2. Using IT outsourcing, including “cloud” technologies – modern IT service outsourcing, this actually means being serviced by providers. This is more effective approach than renting the equipment. Rather than offering its customer data-computing network resources, the outsourcing company offers informational services, in other words, complete informational communication technology solutions, taking all associated tasks into its hands, leaving a possibility for the customer to concentrate on his business only. However, in this case, the customer data is stored on third-party organization’s equipment and is transferred through open channels (being encrypted, but only through programming methods, not through hardware methods, which means it could be decoded also by programming methods) becoming accessible to different parties uncontrollable by the customer… It is evident, that there are problems with data safety.  
  3. Using your own software and hardware (your own data-computing network resources), but leaving the tasks of repairing and maintenance of it to side company. This is the most effective solutions of all, since the corporative data remains protected, and the total ownership cost of data-computing network resources is considerably decreased through hardware exploitation costs decreasing (80% from total ownership cost of data-computing network resources).

Putting in practice any of the cost reduction method requires building of effective IT services managing system. ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library) role in this process can hardly be underestimated. But there are serious problems with ITIL-solutions implementation. Even in The Netherlands, a country, where ITIL is being recognized for a long time already and where there is a certification center (EXIM) for ITIL-specialists, there exist heavy difficulties with ITIL implementation. Not to mention Russia…

As the experience shows, studying books and recommendations about ITIL, passing specific examinations do not necessary mean that the IT-specialist is ready to implement ITIL in any organization. So what does ITIL implementation imply?

Quite often high company executives think that if they implement in their IT-organization certain means of IT-service instrumental control corresponding with certain ITIL-processes by the name they can state that they have partial or even complete ITIL implementation. However, such an approach is being oriented towards functional abilities of instrumental means, while ITIL is not a set of complete solutions, but rather an ideology. In its core lies a formation of IT-processes that will lead to an effective organizational service model creation and realization of profitable IT-service (including their control systems) within its practical functioning. In other words ITIL helps transform IT-resources into IT-services. It makes IT-services (completed IT-solutions) supplier or service-provider out of IT-organization.

So, the ITIL implementation essentially supposes building of a service model that will raise the effectiveness of the services themselves and all related processes. The books on ITIL only contain the description of processes on the whole, which means they tell us what to do, not how to do. ITIL is a methodology, not a set of prepared solutions.

As we all know, the first thing before any undertaking is to set up a task. Task setting for ITIL implementation consists of formulating the implementation aims. And here is where the Russian commonplace and specific difficulties start.
However funny it may sound, but practically all the executives of Russian companies think not about cost optimization but about straight profits – getting new clients, saving and enlarging of exactly the client base. While to implement ITIL it is important to correctly and completely formulate the complete body of IT-services – the structure, the content, and the form of presentation for each service, as well as the parameters of all necessary processes. This is extremely difficult task. That is why in most cases high management of the company doesn’t understand the aims of ITIL implementation and as a result the implementation itself doesn’t seem necessary, and if necessary, than only for better image of the company. It is not surprising that nowadays in Russia practically no cases of successful practical ITIL implementation are observed.

At the same time, the process was invented quite long ago and is successfully implemented around the world. Then, how to implement ITIL methodology in our country? And why it should be done?
The second question is easier to answer. It is necessary to implement ITIL methodology because it is not only raises the maturity level (corporate culture) of managing IT-organizations, but also increases the efficiency of their business, their competitiveness. Only with this “industrial” style of doing business, one can retain his competitiveness on world’s scene. And, recently, Russia became a WTO member, whether we want it or not, but Russian companies now have to compete with “western” companies on the inner market. Should we compete as equals or leave the market? And what should we do? 

Psychologists say that the only way to “eat the elephant” (to solve difficult task) is to “cut him into pieces” (to divide a task into sub-tasks). Consequently, a real possibility for actual implementation of ITIL-methodology into Russian business practice is to reduce the task to the sectoral scale. This means that it is necessary to create a Russian sectoral standard, build on ITIL principles and actively implement it into business-practice. Several Russian companies during last 10-15 years tried to develop such standard, but due to various subjective and objective reasons failed to do so. However, the experience gained during these attempts hasn’t been lost. At the end of April 2013, one of Russian IT-service market leaders, UNIT-Orgtekhnika (working since 1994) ratified corporate standard named “Controlling Data-Computing Network Repairing and Maintenance Services Done for Businesses by Service Companies on the Conditions of Outsourcing” (“РТО ИВС” Standard). This standard was developed on ITIL/ITSM-methodology basis and “ГОСТ Р ИСО 20000” standard, while taking into consideration the requirements of “ГОСТ Р ИСО 9000” standard series, as well as realities of Russian data-computing network and its infrastructure service, repairing, and maintenance market. Also the long years of UNIT-Orgtekhnika practical experience were used during standard preparation.

If the corporate standard developed by UNIT-Orgtekhnika will be taken as national standard, then it would be a cure to the headache of the modern Russian market, namely, how to find and exclude from the list of data-computing-network-service-repairing-and-maintenance suppliers companies that are fraudulent (these including one-day-companies, trying to win tenders with their attractive but unreasonable prices), since it contains methods of service quality evaluation.  Besides, the acceptance of official national sectoral standard, which considers Russian specifics, will allow stimulation of national economy development due to equalization of chances in competition between Russian and Western companies (the latest having initially more resources).

The acceptance of this standard as a national will allow to solve the key problems of ITIL-solutions implementation:

  1. The lack of full set of solutions for specific company in ITIL will be compensated by the full set of solutions for typical Russian company included in the Standard.
  2. The Standard doesn’t require full consideration of all funding streams for a company implementing ITIL, since budgeting of services is considered in accordance with existing Russian laws.
  3. Since the solutions described in the standard are fully compliant with ITIL and its process approach and do not require any improvements, the standard relieves companies of the necessity of having multiple highly qualified practicing ITIL specialists on the staff. Using the solutions from the Standard increases the level of the company management to the most modern heights. 

So, the invention of “РТО ИВС” Standard by UNIT-Orgtekhnika and its acceptance as a national put the Russian IT-industry on a threshold of demonstrating maturity and ability to practically use advanced developments of international level in IT-field.

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