ITIL career path

By smitha smitha Points: 40 | Level: Starter | Status: [Member]
Posted on: 10/2/2011 1:06:42 PM | Views: 11949 | Points: 30
Hello ,

This is Smitha.Hoping to find some answers to the many questions assailing my mind regarding my career path.To provide some background
I have 5+ years experience in the IT industry as a application/production support analyst.I have worked in 2 of the top most companies in the world.Now ,I am hoping to do something in the IT industry other than production support.I love the IT industry but feel that support of 5 years is more than enough and time to explore the different. However i would like to choose a path where i can use my 5+ years support experience.Also right now my technical skills are not really in great shape.My best strength is my communication skills and i like interacting with people.
I am an MSc in Physics but a BSc in Computer science.
Recently a friend told me about ITIL consulting .I have done a ITIL v3 foundation course.

So to summarize I would like a day job(want to get out of the rotational shift that i am in presently).I would like to make the best of my strengths that is communication skills .

Could you please advise on What are my best career options from here on and what i can do to achieve this.Does ITIL offer any hope to achieve my requirements?


Sainath's Advice on Saturday, October 08, 2011 :
Hi Smitha,

Firstly, please go through the 3 previous posts below - there's plenty of information in there which will be useful to you.

Coming to your specific situation, below are some additional points:

Current areas of strength :
  • Quality production support experience
  • Strong communication skills - written and spoken
  • All round technical skills

Current areas of weakness :
  • Lack of knowledge in current technologies
  • Lack of development experience

Typically, in production support, the job forces you to be an all-rounder in many technologies without gaining deep knowledge in any particular technology. This is natural. Moreover, the systems in production may be 1 generation (or more) behind in technology. But the job also provides opportunities to learn a variety of skills as detailed in the links above.

I am not able to determine the quality of your experience though you have stated "I have worked in 2 of the top most companies in the world". In my experience, it's about the kind of projects you have been involved  with and the kind of clients. Handling production support  for mission critical applications which service an investment bank with huge volume of transactions is a great role - irrespective of whether you are working in the in-house captive center of the investment bank or as part of a software services based company. At the same time, handling production support for a non-critical back-office application having a small number of stakeholders as part of India's topmost software services company is still not a good role in my opinion. It's the project which determines the "quality of experience" you will gain and learn. The situations faced will force you to grow and learn and become better without realizing it. Please do not define yourself by the company logo or account logo which you are part of - rather define yourself by what you are more than anything else.

In my opinion, the time is ripe for you to aim for a managerial role - typically, you should have the responsibility of handling a big portfolio of mission-critical applications with a big team or multiple teams reporting to you. If the client is in the financial world, that's even better. This can happen progressively over a period of time. This is a big responsibility and will require to have a combination of skills as listed below:

(1) Decision making

This is a critical skill - the bigger your responsibility, the more you will be called upon to take decisions almost on an ongoing basis. Bad managers keep stalling taking important decisions - good managers have tremendous analytical skills, get to the core of the problem fast and take a good decision and initiate action.

For example - let's say that you are responsible for certain applications whose transaction volume is very high  and the database size is greater than 20-30 GB. If users are progressively complaining of worsening performance you will need to initiate steps to identify the problem which could be one of the below:

  • Bad indexing strategy
  • Bad database segmenting strategy i.e all the database files have been placed on the same segment of the disk
  • Bad database housekeeping - no real weekly re-indexing in place
  • High compliance requirements of the project demanding encryption of data which is now beginning to cause performance problems. Sometimes all the best standards may have been adopted but if encryption has been implemented without anticipation of performance problems this may need to be re-visited
  • An increasingly brittle application architecture - if every new change in the application is leading to a huge cost for the business then there is something wrong in the manner in which the application has been designed, either the architecture is inherently bad or it has become so over a period of time.
  • Other software on the infrastructure which is creating performance bottlenecks - for ex. you could have a messaging software like MQ Series or a full-fledged ESB (Enterprise Service Bus) like TIBCO which has been badly implemented which is leading to huge bottlenecks
  • A poorly designed capacity plan i.e the amount of database space available v/s the daily database growth, the transaction log back-up strategy,etc
  • Poor serivce delivery practices - if ITIL has not been followed you will have muliple problems like - an inefficient or non-existent Service Desk, the absence of quality incident management tools like CA Service Desk, Remedy,etc, the absence or poor implementation of Change Management, Release Management. All in all it will be a chaotic scenario wherein every day will be a fight at the office. If ITIL has been implemented correctly, this will function smoothly with each team knowing it's responsibility with stringent SLAs in place.



As you can see, to be a strong decision maker you need to possess a vast span of knowledge. It is not that these people know everything, but I would say they know enough to be in a position to take the right decisions leading to quality output. If you do not have the fundamental amount of knowledge, which means only that you have not been learning with every new experience you will be highly dependent on what your team members say and will be taken for a ride. I have seen some real smart managers (smart people but a little laid back) being misled by their team, actually taking wrong decisions based on updates and causing irreparable harm. The trouble is, the day they start reporting to a person who is competent and has "been there, done that" kind of experienced person, their days are numbered.

Life is like trying to go up a downward escalator in that if you're not stepping up (putting forth effort), you're going down. Life is not like a stairway upon which you can reach a certain step and then stop and maintain your position. Just as a tree is either growing or decaying, so we are either progressing or regressing.In life, you cannot be at a standstill.
    - Cameron Taylor in "8 attributes of Great Achievers"

Everything you want is just outside your comfort zone.
    - Robert Allen

ITIL is a core Service Delivery standard, if you wish to really get good at understanding and implementing good service delivery practices you should understand ITIL in detail, particularly the areas which are relevant to your current job function.

Let's say that your top management suddenly decides to implement stringent SLAs across all the applications that you support - meaning that time to resolve incidents is clearly defined for Priority 1, Priority 2 incidents and as the manager you are asked whether you accept the same. If you do not know ITIL, you will most probably accept the same without really asking the right questions and end up sacrificing your team. If you know ITIL, you will ask all the relevant questions, for example:

Is the same SLA being implemented across teams?

Reason: Inevitably you will be dependent upon various teams including infra teams like DBAs. system administrators, etc. If a uniform SLA has not been adopted a priority call on your stack may not be equally important for them. This will lead to a Service delivery failure and frustrated customers. Trust me, this happens in companies all the time due to faulty ITIL implementations.

Is an OLA in place with external suppliers / other functions?

Reason : Let's say that your application expects some information from an external system which is not part of your company infrastructure - a data feed for instance which is critical to your internal customers as they cannot start their day without that information. Almost certainly, if the information does not come on a particular morning, a Priority 1 incident will be logged. In this situation, if you do not have an OLA (Operational Level Agreement) with the team responsible for providing you the data feed, almost certainly your SLA with your customers will not be met leading to problems and frustration. This is where your knowledge of ITIL will come to your aid.

More often than not, as a responsible manager, you will get exposed to ambitious top management persons who have an agenda and a recipe for making changes and making their presence felt across the organization. If you do not possess knowledge, you will end up facing the brunt of wrong decisions. On the contrary, knowledgeable persons will look upon you as an asset and will naturally offer you bigger and better roles.

As you can see, apart from ITIL, you should possess knowledge in a wide variety of areas.

(2) Strong interpersonal skills

The bigger the size of your team - the more problems you will have on a daily basis. You need to possess what I would like to call "sharp eagle-like observation". Within a few interactions you should be able to determine the caliber of the people in your team - ongoing observation will help you in validating / correcting the same. Remember the role is much like the captain of a ship - you need to know everything (or enough of everything) and be able to jump in wherever your presence is most required. This is why I always say that spend enough time in each role before accepting the next level of promotion. Do not be in a hurry to go up the ladder - be consistent and persistent, and experience solid growth, not hollow growth.

The below link provides some information about leading people, please note, I have mentioned leading people as people can only be led, people cannot be managed.

A lot of information has been shared. Sometimes, this can add to the confusion rather than leading to clarity. To summarize, I will say this,

Step 1 : Seek bigger responsibilities and grow in your job gradually

Step 2 : Learn new skills, 1 at a time, along the way

All the best !

Please feel free to continue the thread if you are still not clear about anything.

Success is a lousy teacher. It  seduces smart people into thinking they can't lose.
    - Bill  Gates

Sainath S,

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Comments or Responses

Posted by: Biswarup90 on: 11/23/2011 | Level:Starter | Status: [Member] | Points: 25
Good morning to all..

Thanks to Sainath Da for your advice...

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