It is the framework which changes with each new technology and not just the picture within the frame. –Marshall McLuhan
The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is a set of practices for IT service management (ITSM) that focuses on aligning IT services with the needs of business. In its current form (known as ITILv3 and ITIL 2011 edition), ITIL is published in a series of five core publications, each of which covers an ITSM lifecycle stage. ITILv3 underpins ISO/IEC 20000 (previously BS15000), the International Service Management Standard for IT service management, although differences between the two frameworks do exist. ITIL describes procedures, tasks and checklists that are not organization-specific, used by an organization for establishing a minimum level of competency. It allows the organization to establish a baseline from which it can plan, implement, and measure. It is used to demonstrate compliance and to measure improvement. The names ITIL and IT Infrastructure Library are registered trademarks of the United Kingdom’s Office of Government Commerce (OGC) – now part of the Cabinet Office.
Following this move, the ownership is now listed as being with HM Government rather than OGC. ITIL v3 is an extension of ITIL v2 and fully replaced it following the completion of the withdrawal period on 30 June 2011.
ITIL v3 provides a more holistic perspective on the full life cycle of services, covering the entire IT organisation and all supporting components needed to deliver services to the customer, whereas v2 focused on specific activities directly related to service delivery and support. Most of the v2 activities remained untouched in v3, but some significant changes in terminology were introduced in order to facilitate the expansion.
All companies are quite different and CIOs may also have different understandings and experience of ITIL. Some think ITIL provides a tremendous amount of benefits to many global companies; while there are also many companies fail at its use and others using it as an excuse to slow down the speed of business. Is it one of those “old school” frameworks from the era when IT focused on risk mitigation and process integrity rather than customer satisfaction and business success? or does ITIL still add value in ITSM at digital speed? Some CIOs are abandoning ITIL, while others use it religiously. Is it still appropriate and why?
1. COMMON UNDERSTANDING OF ITIL IS VITAL TO ITS VALUE PROPOSITION IN ITSM 1) ITSL is a framework, not gospel. The elasticity and resiliency of any frame works starts with an understanding that we are trying to provide a foundation for continued success . . . the goal should not be the construction of a monolithic standard that is incapable of adapting to the changing needs.
ITIL is organized around a Service Lifecycle: which includes: Service Strategy, Service Design, Service Transition, Service Operation and Continual Service Improvement. The lifecycle starts with Service Strategy – understanding who the IT customers are, the service offerings that are required to meet the customers’ needs, the IT capabilities and resource that are required to develop these offerings and the requirements for executing successfully. Driven through strategy and throughout the course of delivery and support of the service, IT must always try to assure that cost of delivery is consistent with the value delivered to the customer. Service Design assures that new and changes services are designed effectively to meet customer expectations. The technology and architecture required to meet customer needs cost effectively is an integral part of Service Design. Additionally, processes required to manage services are also part of the design phase. Service management systems and tools that are necessary to adequately monitor and support new or modified services must be considered as well as mechanisms for measuring service levels, technology and process efficiency and effectiveness. Through the Service Transition phase of the lifecycle the design is built, tested and moved into production to assure that the business customer can achieve the desired value. This phase addresses managing changes, controlling the assets and configuration items (underlying components – hardware, software, etc) associated with new and changed systems, service validation and testing and transition planning to assure that users, support personnel and the production environment has been prepared for the release to production. Once transitioned, Service Operation then delivers the service on an ongoing basis, overseeing the daily overall health of the service. This includes managing disruptions to service through rapid restoration of incidents, determining the root cause of problems and detecting trends associated with recurring issues, handling daily routine end user requests and managing service access. Enveloping the Service Lifecycle is Continual Service Improvement (CSI). CSI offers a mechanism for IT to measure and improve the service levels, the technology and the efficiency and effectiveness or processes used in the overall management of services.
2) ITIL is Recipe: Don’t eat the recipe; eat what you make from it! ITIL doesn’t give you all the answers for one thing. It’s more a book of recopies than the finished article. It was intentionally designed to be a guideline and not the gospel. As such, it is expected to be tailored to meet the requirements of the organization. 3) ITIL is basically a detailed analysis of all the aspects of operations and recommendations for best practice. However, you can’t just implement ITIL as written; you have to use it as a guide for the development of operational procedures that suit your own operations. ITIL clearly doesn’t develop and adapt as quickly as some organizations change and therefore, operational managers have to use their brains to adapt to satisfy the needs of the organization in which they work. 4) ITIL is a set of best practices and a framework, and Best Practice is not a one-off implementation, nor is it self-sustaining. As Version 3 of ITIL underlines, there should be an iterative and interactive lifecycle approach to the various processes. Best Practice is an ongoing commitment, and not a time-restricted project. 5) ITIL is a guideline – not a standard. Weaving it into the fabric of compliance as a standard will continue to cause heartburn. The more we change, the more we often stay the same . . . in so many respects.
2. TOP TEN REASONS WHY ITIL FAILS OR SOME MOVE AWAY FROM IT
1) The #1 reason for anyone to move away from it, seems to be lack of flexibility and the CIO’s misconception that it adds more time to implementations, modernizations, and transformations
2) ITIL is not to blame. The implementation of ITIL is to blame. To be efficient, ITIL should never be a burden to the operational staff, but a toolbox to work efficiently. The administrative burden should be taken by the support system. ITIL is to frequently hijacked by administrative forces and turned into a nightmare of controlling layers
3) It takes too long for ITIL to keep up with trends and new technologies requiring different models, such as Cloud and other new architectures. They also feel it has required them to spend too much time on operational aspects.
4) Change Management Fails: The biggest failure in many organizations and their implementation of ITIL or other methodology is their strict adherence to the methodology without any consideration for adapting the methodology to their culture, business, technical infrastructure, operations, or even the circumstances of a given project.
5) Too Much IT Focus, not Enough Business Focus: TIL is still relevant, but sometimes organizations spend so long focusing on implementing the processes that they forget about basics – focusing on discovering what is the cause of the problem and constant improvement.
6) Some organizations treat ITIL as an end in itself rather than a tool to help IT efficiently and effectively deliver the services the organization needs to achieve its overall goals. It is also essential to take into account the skills and experience of the staff that will operate the process when designing it so that it doesn’t become overly prescriptive and takes advantage of their professional expertise. ITIL can help you get there, but it doesn’t have to be the end all. 100% adherence to any methodology is not necessarily a good thing.
7) Misunderstand that it is not mandatory in its entirety and that it is one of several tools and guidelines they can use. There is no reason why you can’t take the best of ITIL, the parts that work well in your company culture, and tailor the rest. Infrastructure and operations benefit greatly from well-designed, air-tight processes that can be automated. The goal should be to right-size ITIL for your organization without breaking the bank.
8) People take “it” too seriously. The key is to look for improvement opportunities to solve problems or increase value, not to simply pass some process audit and sending people on training is never the silver bullet. Otherwise ITIL just becomes the flavor of the day until the next fad comes along. Or when you start to expect it to be an all encompassing solution for IT is when you start to get into trouble. This is where you need to start to embrace other frameworks and even bring in your own creativity to be successful in the delivery of IT services.
9) Some believe ITIL is still relevant but it is costly, and that may explain why some are abandoning it. Efficiency should not come at all cost. The reason for failure is a mismatch of expectations and failure to deliver on what was perceived to be the outcome.
10) ITIL turns to be an inflexible doctrine that drags down the enterprise. Failed ITIL initiatives lies not with the service lifecycle management framework, but rather with the application of that framework. Fundamental, conceptual understanding of continuous improvement is lacking from many implementations.
3. DEFINE THE RIGHT SET OF QUESTIONS TO EVALUATE ITIL OBJECTIVELY ITIL gains some reputation, also cause confusions or even resource waste, if any comprehensive surveys are taken to ask ITIL users, what is the right set of questions shall you ask:
1) IT Maturity: on average, do ITIL users have significant higher IT maturity, or not so much difference?
2) Innovation: What matters now, innovation, most of businesses now also think IT as their innovation engine, so, do ITIL users have better capabilities to be innovate or less? Why.
3) Value: What are the key values it can bring to IT or business as a whole? How about value/cost ratio? How about User feedback and overall customer experience? How about short term win vs. Long term Perspective?
4) Agile: Is Agile complimentary to ITIL? Or does ITIL become the barrier for company to adopt Agile. Although Agile came out of the software development world, can things like kanban and scrum be used effectively by infrastructure and support teams?
5) Change: Can ITIL adapt to change? Is ITIL still an effective framework to embrace IT/Business Changes with right governance discipline? Or is ITIL an “old school framework” to be very rigid applying controls or stifle changes?
6) Simplicity: Does ITIL add the un-necessary restrictions on users/systems? Or It has the necessary design complexity to enforce service delivery?
7) Digitalization: Can ITIL framework help build business’s digital capabilities/maturity such as: business/IT integration, tailored solution, or a unified digital platform?
4. ITIL TIPS FOR CIOS
IT Service Management (ITSM) derives enormous benefits from a best practice approach. Because ITSM is driven both by technology and the huge range of organizational environments in which it operates, it is in a state of constant evolution. Best practice, based on expert advice and input from ITIL users is both current and practical, combining the latest thinking with sound, common sense guidance.
ITIL is not one Size fits All: TIL and other processes, can only work if tailored specifically to the environment a CIO finds him/herself in. What works for one organization may not work for another, even if implemented by the best ITIL practitioner in the business; and, sometimes the CIO may rightly take the decision that a bespoke process is what’s needed rather than a widely adopted one such as ITIL.
Cloud Transformation: Which role ITIL can play in such transformation? With more and more companies adopting cloud, the opportunity has never been greater for IT to transform into a service-oriented organization and grow the business it serves. According to IDG research, more than one third of current IT budgets are allocated to cloud solutions. However, in their haste to adopt the cloud, CIOs may be missing an opportunity: the chance to use this transition to reshape IT.
Key to success is IT transformation to services broker. With a service lifecycle approach, organizations can increase the velocity of IT service delivery and operate efficiently, without sacrificing governance. CIO must see what they can get out of ITIL and at the same time what is the best for the organization to adopt. No one is forcing anyone rather it is just a tool which help you to be more vigilant and smart. CIOs must see the ROI using this tool for business in terms of value addition, controls, business benefits etc.
BUILDING TRUST THROUGH TRANSPARENCY: In many organizations, IT needs to gain the trust of the business. Research to measure business perception of IT across many companies clearly demonstrates that, while IT is seen as an important partner, it receives low ratings in areas such as budget effectiveness, business understanding, and communication, any framework should enforce such transparency. CIOs should have in-depth understanding of ITIL at strategic Level: most CIOs, including those who actively champion ITSM, have little more than superficial understanding of the ITIL, or the implications of adopting ITSM processes. Worse, they rarely regard the effort as a true organizational transformation effort touching every aspect of the IT organization, and many aspects of the enterprise organization. Be pragmatic not dogmatic. An organization has to balance the time it spends on process (ITIL) and the time it spends on products/deliverables. If the ITIL implementation became such a focus that the organization loses traction on deliverables, then it a re-balancing would be in order. Embrace Agile: Agile Scrum and IT management, many organizations use agile as mainstream software development methodology, and even as management discipline, that said, what is needed from effective framework is the governance process also being agile enough to adapt to changes Social Collaboration: The emerging ITSM solutions may add social collaboration in service management to build up a better democratic environment, such as DevOps to converge IT development & operation for improving agility, the CIO’s evaluation for new tools may also include how the framework support the new trend and deliver innovative IT services & solutions.
Value Driven Questions being asked by CIOs: ‘how much of this particular process or method should I implement in this role to get the business to where it needs to be?’. The answer to that question should never be based on the technology in use in the business, rather on the particular needs of the business – including taking into account where it currently sits with regards to the good practices proposed by ITIL and other methods out there.
As a reference framework, ITIL is not a “one size fits all” solution. CIOs should be innovators, not lemmings. Use what makes sense, apply it in a way that considers what’s unique about your organization but without abandoning the spirit of the framework. IT becomes business catalyst to build competitive uniqueness, how do you differentiate yourself from other IT organizations, besides standardization, there’re optimization and innovation, IT is shaping your business, but framework is not strategy. Do not let ITIL or any other framework ruin your common sense. Take it as a guideline but put your own flavors and ingredients. Select a mix of framework, toolset and process architectures to improve flexibility and agility for speed of business change, doing better with less, and doing more with innovation.