1. In your service management experience, how much of a foundation does ITIL provide?
One of the benefits of ITIL as a foundation is that it has created a common language across organizations, by establishing both basic terminology and the processes they define. It also provides guidance organizations can use to assess themselves against (do you meet/exceed the best practices being described) or from which they can create improvement programs.
The foundation can also extend beyond the ITIL framework itself. In a recent Security Operations project, I compared the Information Security Management processes against frameworks designed specifically for Security Operations, finding that the foundation provided by ITIL was enough to understand, evaluate and work with people in an adjacent industry, drawing on knowledge gained through ITIL.
By providing a base from which IT professionals can operate, it gives us ways to talk with one another and enables consultants like myself to go into a client organization and communicate about best practice without spending a lot of time building a glossary or understanding of what service management entails.
2. How has ITIL made a difference in your organization, or organizations you've worked with?
ITIL made a huge difference in my last role as a direct contributor. I was the ITIL champion for the largest automotive dealership group in the US. Even though we were the largest, organizationally we were quite young. Adopting the ITIL v2 framework made a huge difference in our system and service availability in a short period of time, initially by reducing the incidence of repetitive issues and also by cutting down the impacts of implementing changes to the environment. Our initial efforts started during Y2K remediation and by 2004 we had reached the limits of what the framework provided at the time and began cobbling together some development and quality assurance processes to create a robust operations framework, which was essentially what we now see in ITIL v3 and 2011. All new or significantly changed services were presented via our PMO and assessed strategically, then fully designed and vetted before they were built, then joining the transition/operations pieces of the framework.
Our first year after adopting ITIL the savings were calculated by Alan Nance, working with our CIO, and totaled approximately $465K. Savings in downtime continued to be significant and the use/maturation of the framework enabled us to begin centralizing field support, adding another $2M in savings to the total.
3. How relevant is ITIL today and how do you think it complements other frameworks?
I believe the framework is still relevant today and that it complements other frameworks. The challenge I see however, is that practitioners in many organizations don’t understand the entire lifecycle and that adoption often ends at Service Operation and Service Transition with a little CSI. Many organizations never actually adopt the business-facing aspects of the framework and then move onto the latest/greatest framework to solve the issues ITIL never helped them with. The problem is not the framework, it’s mastering the full lifecycle and performing the organizational change management needed to succeed.
I think an outreach program is needed to help people see that there is more than a foundational level of understanding needed and that when you stop training after one or two intermediate courses, you’re not really getting trained in the entire framework. Consequently, when adopting only to that level, you’ll see some incremental benefits in system and service availability, but will never see the level of business alignment and strategic engagement that come from understanding and adopting the entire framework.
More to the point, using automation more effectively to deliver ITIL processes more efficiently begins to allow organizations to have the humans work more strategically. This creates the time we need to actually step back and start engaging the business, taking them along for the ride, rather than pretending they don’t exist and doing ITIL for ITIL’s sake, which is a lot of what I see in organizations today.
See our More than meets the I page for more information.
Read Phyllis Drucker's previous AXELOS Blog Post, ITIL® Misconceptions: “ITIL doesn’t require any formal training, it is just common sense or a tool that will fix it all”.
More posts in our More than meets the I series
More than meets the I: a deep foundation for IT service management
More than meets the I: How ITIL makes a difference in Mergers and Acquisitions activity