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Author  Colin Rudd, IT Service Management Consultant, itEMS

March 10, 2015 |

 5 min read

  • Blog
  • Capabilities
  • Change management
  • Processes
  • Service management
  • ITIL

“It won’t work if organizations expect IT people to pick up an ITIL® book or go on a training course and then implement successful service management solutions.

“Organizations and people need to ‘adopt and adapt’ ITIL to the specific and unique requirements of their businesses – and be aligned with the cultural and regulatory demands that might involve.”

Colin Rudd considers the importance of “adopt and adapt”.

IT services are there to provide the tools for business units to achieve their own objectives and the overall objectives of the organization within which they operate – the IT services are a means to an end, not the end in itself.

Above all, ITSM professionals need to recognize there is an interface with a customer who requires a service. Despite that truism, a lot of my time has been spent looking at companies’ over-engineered processes that have no relation to what the customer needs or the business requires.

For example, if a company department needs a PC and mobile for a new employee there is an obligation for IT to provide something. But the value stream should be effective from the customer perspective and deliver the right outcome(s) for the new employee, not just be effective and convenient for the IT department!

Unfortunately, many IT service providers often don’t understand the range and value of the services they provide. Some service providers view the services just as the provision of equipment and technology, rather than the relationship and the complete experience that the business has with IT.

Where ITIL fits in

When it comes to delivering customer services, ITIL isn’t just what’s in the best practice guidance book. The framework is not a universal, ‘one-size-fits all’ solution and practitioners have to adopt and adapt ITIL to their particular situation. Yes, there’s a lot of valuable information in ITIL, but you need to “pick and mix” the relevant elements to fit together to make it work effectively for you.

What’s critical to note is that ITIL and service management is a transformation rather than an implementation; this goes deeper than a process change, right to the heart of an organization’s values and culture.

Understanding customer requirements

Understanding the needs of the business and the customer means going back to basics and looking from the ‘outside in’ rather than the inside out (or just the inside in the worst cases).

IT is integral to the business, but too many IT professionals concern themselves only with IT and forget they are a service provider to the other business units within the organization.

In fact, it’s compulsory in some of the best IT organizations to spend time with the operational end of the business, for example working in the warehouse or a retail outlet for at least one week per year. This gives IT a very different perspective on how to work best.

As a service provider to the business IT needs to understand the critical products and services it provides, the business processes they support and the value they generate. In plain terms, a high street retailer might measure the value of IT services by the amount of clothes they help to sell.

The value delivered will depend on the industry sector. So, for example, change management will be required to fulfil certain regulatory requirements in the financial sector and this will differ from what is needed in pharmaceutical organizations, with specific regulations governing the introduction of new services or products.

ITSM is a culture thing too

People adopt and adapt processes differently depending on where they are – and that affects companies that operate in one place or are multi-national.

But in order for processes and IT to work, someone has to take and accept accountability/ responsibility. Therefore, an organization might have a “global process”, but simultaneously encourage a ‘no-blame’ culture that allows innovation to ‘adapt’ a process or service more suited for working in a local environment.

Adopt and adapt in practice

To adopt and adapt ITIL, you’ve got to understand an organization and its requirements along with the culture and the environment in which it operates.

The ITIL Planning to Implement Service Management book – a complementary publication to the core guidance – offers good practical advice on how to ‘adopt and adapt’ what’s necessary.

It takes a “helicopter view” of what’s going on in the organization which enables you to assess the environment in which you’re planning to introduce processes and adapt them accordingly. Equally, if people don’t accept the processes, you need to work withthem to alter the way they think and act before implementing change.

But don’t lose sight of business strategy and meeting the needs of the business and customers, rather than just implementing a set of processes.

By fully understanding your environment, processes and services, and adopting and adapting them to your organization’s unique perspective, you will achieve success and deliver increased value to your organization. However, in order to do this you must accept that the implementation of successful service management solutions requires you to plan a wider cultural transformation programme, not just a project plan to implement a number of new processes.

Related Blog Post

To find out more, read the blog post, ITIL® - Adopt and Adapt, from AXELOS ITSM Portfolio Manager Phil Hearsum.