Lars Nielsen's Discoveries

December 7, 2009

ITIL with SharePoint

Filed under: Application,SharePoint — Lars Nielsen @ 11:10 pm

There are several aspects of SharePoint 2007 I thought of that fit well with the ITIL framework and can help an organisation to apply ITIL principles.  SharePoint is a great tool for record-keeping, and much of ITIL is around good record-keeping.   So here are some ideas I came up with:

  • Solutions are an obvious one.  Solutions are ITIL change packages – packages of changes which can be deployed as a unit.  SharePoint lets you deploy solutions at scheduled times, so you can avoid hours when you need high availability, and create a proper change schedule.  The solutions store gives you a list of solutions and when they are due to be deployed.  Ideally you’d want that change schedule to be available widely in the organisation, to people who you don’t want getting into Central Admin, so you might also want a separate calendar of changes in a more public location.
  • Your solutions will contain code and with strongly-named DLL’s, you’ve got version control on the DLL’s as well.  This helps with Release and Deployment, and again change control.
  • You can use document templates to standardise the key documents, like RFC’s, service catalogues, service level agreements, operational level agreements, the components of the service design package, etc.  SharePoint gives you version control on each of those documents as well.
  • You can use lists as well for RFC’s, with metadata to track status and approval.
  • You can also have separate lists for incidents, problems, known error records, and problem records.  This gives you a lot of the tracking you need for the service operations phase.
  • You could organise all this by creating a site for each service, and there you have a container for all the documentation and tracking for that service.  Put those sites into a site directory and you’re starting to create a service catalogue.
  • You could model at least some of your Configuration Management System(s) in SharePoint as well, although with the Configuration Management System you need to create relationships between the Configuration Items so a proper RDBMS could be a better bet.  It’s important not to push SharePoint too far in trying to model complex data relationships with lists; I’ve seen several attempts to create solutions for customers using SharePoint lists when what they really wanted is a proper database, and pretty soon you run into severe limitations.  It’s a bit like the case (I’ve lost count how often I’ve seen this) where someone is trying to build a database in Excel.  They get themselves tied up in knots with lookups across worksheets, data being pulled from cell to cell.  As the complexity rises, they start to get errors in the results which they can’t track down or solve, which then makes the whole tool worthless and you have to start all over again.   If you need a database, you need a database.
  • The Definitive Media Library lends itself well to SharePoint.  You can use a list to track copies of media (DVD’s etc.), and the master copies of software licences can be filed into a document library.  With the version control, you can keep those documents current.   If your organisation keeps the binary installs of key applications on a file share, of course SharePoint can index and search the files on that file share.  SharePoint can index any “readme” type documents in Word, PDF (with a PDF IFilter) , or HTML format.

There are probably plenty of other ways that SharePoint can help with ITIL implementation.  The great thing is that SharePoint automatically gives you date and timestamps for every modification as well as who initiated it.  This lends itself well to the kind of tracking work that you need to do at various points in the ITIL service delivery lifecycle.


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