How do you implement ITIL® successfully? Hang on a minute – is that even the right question?
My answer to the question is this: you can’t. That’s because ITIL is a framework of guidance it isn’t something to be implemented; everything you do with ITIL and ITSM is about cultural transformation.
Today, too many businesses are still focused on delivering technology when they should be focused on providing an end-to-end service; it’s not just about giving organizations a chunk of iron.
Instead, ITSM professionals need to help businesses change attitudes and behaviours, focus on customers, customer outcomes and business values and provide the linkage between them.
Implementation implies a start and a finish, but ITSM is about continual incremental improvements that are sustainable. So, how do you do that successfully?
- Start from where you are
It may seem obvious but not many people begin their ITIL journey by considering their current situation.
No one starts from a blank sheet of paper. There’ll be things you can and can’t do: existing processes as well as current roles, cultures and behaviours, should all be reviewed and evaluated before making changes.
At this stage, many businesses just focus on the processes, but practitioners should refer to the guidance in ITIL: Planning to Implement Service Management and consider the following seven aspects:
As you’ll see, process is only one part so it’s important to take a step back and look at what works and what doesn’t across all these areas. Then, you can identify your current capabilities and, critically, your pain points and where you’re bleeding from.
- Vision and governance
- Steering and strategy
- The process
- The people
- The product and technology
- The culture, service and attitude
- The organization, communication and relationships
- Where does the business want to be?
I’m always amazed by how often IT teams fail to understand their role within the bigger picture. On many occasions I’ve met with CIOs who, when asked about their current challenge and what they’re trying to achieve, say: “we’re trying to make this or that work”. Their answer is rarely what overall strategic objective the business is striving for.
Every organization has a certain culture and values it holds dear, but often IT teams don’t know these values or have a clear understanding of how their actions feed into the bigger strategic business goal. Instead, people are just too focused on the day job.
To use ITIL effectively, you need to understand how you fit in and the role of IT in the business strategy. Simply put, ITSM is there to make something better, faster or cheaper for customers and users and we need to always have that in mind.
- Build capability
Once you know where you are and where the business wants to get to, you should then think about what you need to do to get there. ITSM is about building capability, which is the power and ability to do something.
The third stage in successful, so-called ‘implementation’ is understanding the what, when and where of your capability. What are the priorities to improve? What capabilities do you need to develop internally and what are you better to outsource? Here, organizations often concentrate on the wrong thing. Internally, businesses should be focusing on the high value activities whereas the repetitive elements should be done by someone else externally.
IT teams should also be thinking about how this approach will change over time. As ITSM evolves, I believe successful organizations will adopt a more service broker or service integrator role where internal IT teams oversee and bring together different providers to deliver an end-to-end service. This will then allow them to focus on the most important capabilities.
- Evaluate and continue
Every incremental change must bring value to an organization, otherwise, why are you doing it? Always keep in mind that ITSM is continuous so make time from the day job to continually improve to deliver even greater value to the business.
Read more AXELOS Blog Posts by Colin Rudd
Delivering IT value
My CPD Life - IT service management consultant Colin Rudd
Cultural transformation and ITSM - the challenges are cultural and technical
ITIL – Why ‘Adopt and Adapt’ is the Only Way to Go