There are a lot of misconceptions around ITIL as a tool within IT Service Management (ITSM). Some people believe that if they implement a ‘tool’ or an aspect of the guidance, they’re implementing the whole thing. Others think that if they implement a tool it will fix every problem within their business.
Unfortunately, both these viewpoints just aren’t the case.
ITIL is a process that, alongside a change in approaches and practices, requires a genuine collaborative cultural shift of a whole business. If it’s considered simplistically and not in full, organizations won’t achieve the transformation they’re aiming for.
Where does this misconception come from?
I think this misconception comes from a belief that it’s easier to implement a tool rather than a process. Re-working what and how things are done requires a person to engage with the rest of their business and, for some people, that’s intimidating.
Faced with the tool they’ve got now, most people would rather just swap it, going from Tool A to Tool B, than actually make a wholesale change. When IT teams do try to adopt a full ITIL process, they instinctively just change what’s possible within their silo. And while IT teams may end up with a better incident management system or have a Service Level Agreement, it’s questionable whether the proposed way of working or a target is actually something that the rest of the business really want.
Most of the time, practitioners go as far as IT and stop. They don’t know the plans and initiatives coming down through the organization. They don’t speak business language. Consequently, projects halt and funding can dry up.
But isn’t ITIL just about common sense?
There are parts of ITIL that are common sense but they’re often the parts that most IT people are already familiar with and that’s why they seem logical.
But if you don’t know how to do something properly or what your business is doing in one or five years’ time, that’s nothing to do with common sense.
If IT practitioners stay within the realms of what they see as ‘common sense’, all they’ll have is a better version of what they have today, nothing new.
If you think about it, why do organizations have a CPD programme? Why is our industry evolving ITSM to integrate with the cloud or use agile processes? It’s because even experts recognize the need to update their knowledge continually, especially as our sector is changing and maturing all the time.
In fact, to use a quote from the film Kung Fu Panda 3 that’s as true of ITSM as it is of martial arts: “if you only do what you can do, you’ll only be what you are now.”
When you’re working with organizations, how do you challenge these misconceptions?
Well, as a New Yorker, I often just tell them straight out! That said, from my past experiences of working with businesses, I’ve got a lot of evidence to show that when organizations actually implement the whole ITIL lifecycle properly, the impact is huge and the difference is phenomenal.
It’s particularly important that businesses don’t just focus on Service Operations - something that some organizations are more inclined to do - but give equal thought to developing Service Strategy and Design too. When you do that, companies thrive and become much more stable. But equally when they don’t, there’s a risk that things can quickly fall apart.
See our ITIL section for more information
More blogs in our ITIL Misconceptions series
ITIL® Misconceptions: “ITIL is incompatible with other practices.”
ITIL® Misconceptions: "ITIL is for big organizations only
ITIL® Misconceptions: "ITIL is for infrastructure or production only."
ITIL® Misconceptions: “ITIL requires too many people.”
ITIL® Misconceptions: “ITIL is a standard to adhere to”
5 popular misconceptions about ITIL®: ‘ITIL is a standard’, and other folk stories
ITIL® Misconceptions: "You don’t need to worry about culture when adopting the ITIL framework."