Should Anyone Care About ITIL?ITIL, even v3, is no panacea if your company isnt run well to begin with, writes ITSM Watch guest columnist Patrick Gray of the Prevoyance Group.
On the surface, the promise of ITIL seems fair enough. Rather than reinventing the wheel in designing and managing an IT organization, ITIL promises a compendium of ready-made best-practices that can be applied to any organization, cutting costs and increasing efficiency.
Nearly every industry has fallen victim to promises of best-practices at one point or another. Usually concocted and hawked by consultants and toolkit vendors, the sales pitch claims the finest thinking from an industry is compressed into a set of guidelines that can be applied anywhereif you merely purchase the associated methodology and consulting services.
While I have spent the preponderance of my career in IT, the only true best-practices I have come across are not sticking your finger in the power outlet in the server room, and looking both ways before you cross that busy street between the office and the nearest coffee shop. The notion that a magic bullet exists in the form of some best-practice is foolish on several levels:
These factors are combined with an additional, perhaps even more subtle nuance: The companies that are the poster children for a particular methodology or certification are often successful companies to begin with.
GE has long been an outstanding company, and it can be easily argued that purported glories of Six Sigma are as much a result of that success as a contributor to it. Other companies that religiously applied Six Sigma did not become the next GE if some fundamental aspect of their business remained flawed.
So, what of ITIL?
How should a savvy CIO react to all the hoopla about ITIL? The simple answer is, just like any other tool, be it software, hardware, methodologies or human resources. Rather than rushing out to learn every detail of the latest and greatest version of ITIL, immerse yourself in your companys business. Learn the nuances of its products, what competitors in the industry are doing and what markets the company plays in today, and where it wishes to dominate tomorrow.
Perhaps ITIL is a tool that can create a lean and mean IT organization, freeing the CIO to focus on using IT to enter a highly competitive new market. On the other hand, ITIL may be a distraction that shifts the IT organizations focus away from building systems to support, for example, a critical new product launch.
In summary, the CIO is the organizations ultimate architect when it comes to technology. He or she should be translating the vision and strategy of the company into an IT blueprint that will facilitate that vision rather than obsessing over which hammer and nails are used to build what is detailed in that blueprint.
Patrick Gray is the founder and President of Prevoyance Group, located in Harrison, NY. Prevoyance Group provides strategic IT consulting services. Past clients include Gillette, Pitney Bowes, OfficeMax and several other Fortune 500 and 1000 companies. Patrick can be reached at email@example.com.