Built on ITIL: digital transformation is an organizational challenge

Skyscraper on nighttime lit city skyline

One of the major challenges for IT is that it still operates in a silo.

An organization might understand its strategy, but the IT goals are often not aligned with the strategy; equally, there may not be a holistic view across the business and IT.

Karen FerrisThis needs a mindset shift as IT is as much the business as any other department.

And I question how many IT service management professionals have read the most recent version of ITIL, because there is a lot more value to gain than focusing solely on incidents, problems and the service desk.

If organizations want to keep up, survive and meet consumer demands today, they need to undergo digital transformation; this push to be quicker, more responsive and adaptive is coming faster than ever and many enterprises need to deconstruct to reconstruct, such is the extent of the transformation required.

Like conducting heart surgery, leaders need to open up and look inside their organizations to see how they are going to help their workforce innovate, experiment and make decisions.

Though the traditional “command and control” structure won’t work for today’s organizational transformation challenges, neither will sending people on an Agile course alone.

Organizations and best practice approaches

Organizations that have recognized the value of frameworks/approaches and best practice are picking the right ingredients from each of them for the job at hand.

Among them, ITIL has absolutely helped organizations in taking a big picture view and adapting its guidance to their particular circumstances and requirements. Any organization transforming needs a solid foundation on which to build and ITIL provides that foundation if they pick the right building blocks: this means using processes that suit the organization rather than slavishly following the letter of the guidance.

But what is vital to understand is that real digital transformation is an organizational change, not just IT. Therefore, Business Relationship Management (BRM) is absolutely core to this in helping communicate what transformation means to the organization. The same goes for using the Continual Service Improvement and Organizational Change Management approaches in ITIL.

Balancing risk and innovation with stability

Within a transformation programme, taking a combination of ITIL, Agile, DevOps and Lean gives you the ability to innovate and create while maintaining stability.

The bigger picture approach that ITIL brings means starting with your problem – for example, if you need to transform and touch every part of the business, how will you engage the business and what approaches in ITIL – for example BRM – can help?

IT goals need to align with organizational strategy, therefore pick up ITIL’s Service Strategy book and see how to cascade the information and best practice approach through the organization.

In fact, I believe ITIL’s Guiding Principles come of age with the demands of digital transformation: having a Focus on Value ensures the business is the driver of change, not IT; Design for Experience is all about organizations transforming based on user-centric design and experience while to Progress Iteratively involves sprints and continual feedback loops.

Service management excellence = competitive advantage and survival

Whether an organization is commercial or in the public sector, the demands they’re facing are increasing and speed of delivery needed won’t go away soon.

This means organizations having to be adaptive, getting on the “front foot” and continually looking at their competition. The lifespan of an organization is shrinking drastically because of the volatility of the commercial world and if it doesn’t respond another organization will.

The value of adopting and adapting best practices like ITIL is based on the fact they’ve been proven already in other organizations to have a positive effect based on selecting what works for the problem your organization needs to solve.

Taking a leaf out of the ITIL Guiding Principles, if you Observe Directly, it means getting out of your chair to see what other organizations are doing and learning how they have used best practice to achieve improvement and transformation.

For more information, see our Built on ITIL pages.

Read our previous blog post in this series, Built on ITIL: Taking ITSM to the next level.

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