St John of God Health Care ahead of the ITIL pack

Perth-based St John of God Health Care (SJOG) will be one of the first organizations in Australia to roll-out ITIL version three following the successful implementation of version two.

According to SJOG IT service manager, Russel McCarren, the hospital developed an IT service management (ITSM) platform based on the ITIL framework to connect and streamline its disparate IT departments located in each of its hospitals.

"We did a complete ITIL two roll-out, which adhered to all frameworks and processes, rather than a cut-and-paste approach," McCarren said.

The project was driven by a number of factors. McCarren said there was a lack of understanding between IT and the business which frustrated users, created an inefficient IT shop, as well as poor visibility into trends such as process changes, technology adoption, and anomalies.

Plus business acquisitions put further strain on IT support which did not have the staff to cope with the increased user count.

SJOG operates 11 hospitals in Western Australia and Victoria and is Australia's third largest private hospital with its 6600 staff and 1666 beds across its acute, rehabilitation and psychiatric facilities.

The not-for-profit hospital admits more than 140,000 patients each year through rural and metropolitan clinics.

The success of the project, attributed to intense staff training and foresight, put IT in line with the business, improved its ability to manage an increasing user-base, and roll-out changes across the enterprise.

A CA Unicentre Service Desk handles SJOG's ITIL frameworks, with the exception of financial processes, and all support requests are filed centrally in the hospital's configuration management database (CMDB).

"We will acquire the new ITIL three documentation and bridge it across our ITIL frameworks. The new version focuses on implementation and does not have new materials; it's essentially a re-write of ITIL two [with] a better way to implement ITIL," McCarren said.

He warns that business will lose money if it mistakes the heavier business focus of version three as methodology rather than practice.

"You will throw your money out the window if you don't outline what changes you need and how you are going to measure them, because there is a lot of misuse of ITIL," McCarren warned.

He said the attraction of ITIL three is its detail in integrating existing ITIL processes, noting that other ITSM frameworks would also suffice.

"ITIL is only one of three frameworks that underpin ITSM, you could use ITIL, MOS [Microsoft Office Specialist], and IBM's solutions [Tivoli] which look like clones because, by definition, they are all best practice," he said.

McCarren said ITIL's ten processes represent a stripped-down, best practice framework which should apply to all IT organizations, regardless of size, scale or business.

"You need to find your own methodologies that are relevant to your business; we did not implement financial processes because we had a strong system in place, but we will need to hook it in with expenditure and services to meet version three," he said.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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