Adopting a value-based, outside-in approach to ITIL

Adopting a value-based, outside-in approach to ITIL

Q: When is an iceberg not just a large block of ice that can sink ships?
A: When it’s the hidden iceberg of attitude, behaviour and culture that stops an organization getting the full benefit from implementing ITIL

Paul WilkinsonFor example, a large European bank had adopted ITIL, sending staff on ITIL training and implementing a tool and numerous ITIL processes. Months later, the CIO was frustrated: the business and users were still complaining about IT performance, IT employees were not following the processes and there was a lot of resistance in the organization. ITIL was delivering no transparent key benefits and there was no focus on value.

One of his team suggested he attend an itSMF event focused on Translating theory into practice because “the itSMF is a community for sharing experiences and learning how other organizations adopt and adapt ITIL”.

After attending an event he realised the organization’s issues were all related to Organizational Change Management (OCM). He recognized that attitude, behaviour and culture (ABC) were a hidden iceberg, creating resistance and preventing his ITIL investment journey from realizing value. The answer was to address this resistance.

Performing an ABC assessment he identified the top resistance issues and engaged with the users with the same exercise to gain their input. The top ABC Resistance issues were:

No understanding of business priority and impact

No understanding of business priority and impact

Throwing solutions over the wall and HOPING people will use them

Throwing solutions over the wall and HOPING

ITIL is the objective... not what it should achieve

ITIL is the objective

It was now clear that different teams needed to collaboratively design their own procedures so that they owned them and that procedures related to business impact and priority.

Therefore, the CIO asked a training provider to organize a series of simulation workshops. The 8-field model from the ITIL® Practitioner toolkit was used to identify the stakeholders and scope the training needed. The simulations brought together people from different teams to collaborate and identify their own improvements to the processes; they were challenged to translate theory into practice, with a focus on keep it simple (an ITIL Practitioner guiding principle) and to make processes fit-for-use and fit-for-purpose.

The key focus was using ITIL to deliver value within the concept of a service, defined within ITIL as:  “…a means of delivering value to customers by facilitating outcomes they want to achieve without the ownership of specific costs and risks.” (VOCR)

Within the simulation, the participants learned to assess their ITIL process activities, how they contributed to value, evaluated major incidents, changes, releases and – when things went wrong – asked “what is the impact of this in terms of lost value, wasted costs and risks?” And with Continual Service Improvement (CSI) in mind, they explored how it could be prevented from happening next time.

At the end of the simulation workshops the teams had captured a number of improvement items to take away and apply and recorded them on a CSI register, which were displayed on the walls for all to see and use in the coming months.

While not all improvements could be carried out immediately, teams would prioritize based on  the impact on VOCR and choose two or three improvements each month – a.k.a. progressing iteratively. Ultimately, this created buy-in and ownership and empowered the teams to improve their own work, with a strong focus not on ITIL, but on value.

Aligning the business and IT to obtain value

ABC issues relating to the business arose during the resistance workshops:

Everything has the highest priority... according to the users

Everything has the highest priority... according to the business

Demand and Give. I demand and you give in!

Demand and Give. I demand and you give in!

This meant that to truly realize business and IT alignment – and to realize value – the business had to recognize its responsibilities and change its behaviour.

Saving 1.2m Euros using ITIL Practitioner skills

Six months later the CIO had been called in by the CFO, who was demanding that 1.2 million Euros of the IT budget be spent on a new banking system.

The CIO used VOCR to discuss and understand:

  • the value and outcomes the business unit director was hoping to achieve and how that related to the bank strategy.
  • whether the business would be ready for the risks of a fast deployment and able to exploit the system to achieve the desired outcomes?
  • whether the CEO was prepared to accept the risk of it going live, failing and damaging the reputation and shareholder value, especially as banks were increasingly under public scrutiny following the recent financial scandals.
  • Had they thought about the outcomes it needed to achieve in terms of measurable benefits relating to the strategy and the value this would generate?
  • Did they acknowledge that previous systems from that banking department had caused excessive additional downstream costs and downtime due to lack of adequate testing and business involvement and rework? Operations had been inadequately trained and enabled with event and security management systems to support the critical functionality.
  • The business already had a system for this new need. Why was this not delivering the envisaged outcomes? Eventually it was ascertained that the current system was not delivering value and outcomes as they had not been explicitly quantified, let alone measured for benefit realization. End users had not been engaged in requirements definition and testing and the system was not designed to meet their needs.
  • There was extensive rework and the users were angry and frustrated with the system – blaming IT! It appeared that with some amendments the current system could be made to work now that they knew the functionality needed and the expected key performance indicators the system was to enable.

The CIO got credit points from the CFO for exploring these issues, balancing VOCR, and showing a real understanding of the ITIL Practitioner guiding principles of focus on value and design for experience. In turn, this helped the business units to better shape their demands on IT.

ITIL and ITIL Practitioner sections for more information.

Read more AXELOS Blog Posts from Paul Wilkinson

Cyber security simulation: a crucial learning curve for organizations

Making the Guiding Principles live! - Designing for User experience?

Developing outside-in capabilities


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