ITIL is a lifeline for the non-traditional IT Leader

IT leader presenting to IT service management practitioner colleagues in front of image of world's territories and company data

Five years ago, after more than 21 years with Ashland in multiple business roles, I was appointed director of IT customer support and service delivery.

Unfortunately, I had zero traditional IT knowledge. I literally Googled “IT education” and found the word ITIL®. Fast forward three years and I was the only ITIL Expert in the entire IT organization.

As an “outsider,” IT terminology and roles were a mystery. After I became ITIL certified, I began to see how it all fits together.

This was really valuable when the company was outsourcing key IT activities to a third-party service provider and IT managers had to transition from the role of technology manager to service manager. To assist with this effort, I relied upon the content in ITIL that explains the role of service managers and process managers to help educate our teams.

Gaining credibility with ITIL

Studying ITIL in the later stages of my career earned me significant credibility within the IT organization and also the confidence to speak articulately on the subject. My newly-acquired ITIL knowledge truly allowed me to gain acceptance with my IT peers.

I simply do not know of a better or faster way to learn about IT service management and acquire the skills to “connect the dots” to adequately deal with problems.

To process or not to process

I was involved in a “Process Centered Enterprise” initiative in the business between 2003 and 2010, which was understandably embraced by the IT organization: standardizing orders, delivery documentation and every aspect of business, obviously making it easier for IT to configure our Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system.

The business environment changed following the acquisition of organizations with new requirements, which posed more challenges to running the business in a standardized way. Consequently, the pendulum started to swing in the other direction, away from process centering as a strategy. Regardless of the overall organizational emphasis on process, it is important for IT to define and understand how their functions must operate to provide value to the overall organization.

I will be taking the ITIL 4 Managing Professional Transition course in the near future, and it will be interesting to see how its concepts will weave into very process-driven IT organizations; equally, how ITIL 4 concepts will support Lean initiatives in organizations where development teams are using Agile and DevOps techniques specifically.

ITIL knowledge is crucial to your ability to contribute

My employer is a manufacturer supplying chemicals for industry as well as for the consumer/personal care market. Our internal and external customer base requires us to maintain constant focus on service strategy, service design, and service delivery.

For this, ITIL helps us with the philosophy of how to build services which meet business, vendor and customer needs. Being in a senior IT leadership position means that understanding the entire ITIL lifecycle is crucial.

To develop mastery in IT, especially when it’s not your original field of study, it’s necessary to invest the time and effort to become educated as you will constantly depend upon your knowledge about how IT operates across the board.

I found that the journey to achieve the ITIL certification fundamentally changed my understanding of the value of the IT organization to the business it serves and my ability to contribute.

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