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There is No Evidence for ITIL

Feb 20, 2007

The IT Skeptic

“Some helpdesks can way outperform a site that has adopted the best practices of ITIL," said Bruton. "Best practice does not mean superior performance. It is beginning to sound that ITIL is the only way to go. It isn’t. It is only one way to go.”

Finally, the piece de resistance from none other than the itSMF USA, earlier this year:

"Compass then asked the companies how well they actually measure their ITIL process maturity. Only 4 percent of respondents felt able to say that all of their ITIL processes were fully measured for maturity and fewer than one third of respondents had maturity measures for all ITIL processes. Compass also asked people to define how well their organization is able to relate process maturity to performance improvement based on measurement. Only 9 percent of respondents felt able to say that the relationship was based on full measures, fully linking process maturity with performance."

A staggering 72% felt unable to acknowledge any linkage at all between process maturity and performance improvement.

How on earth do they get the money? And how do their managers keep their jobs?

Not only do we have no rigorous evidence for ITIL, but the apocryphal and casual data we do have indicates there is real cause for doubt and hence a crying need for objective investigation.

The IT Skeptic would like to see some solid scientific research on:

  • Quantified cost/benefit analyses across a statistically significant number and diversity of organisations of adoption of ITL vs. other BPR methodologies, or vs. a simple process review and reorganisation, or vs. implementation of a service desk product.
  • Quantified cost benefit analyses of organisations that have only done ITIL without concurrent Six Sigma or CMMI or other quality improvement programs.
  • Analysis of the proportion of organisations that would actually benefit through adoption of ITIL.
  • The delicious irony in all this is ITIL’s own emphasis on the importance of a business case and ROI. But the fact is few organisations even bother to examine the business case before embarking on ITIL; even fewer measure results; and the few that do are building their business case in the absence of any solid research to justify their estimates, and in the face of conflicting informal evidence.

    The IT Skeptic is an ITIL professional and active itSMF member who, for obvious reasons, prefers to remain anonymous. More thoughts from the IT Skeptic can be found at IT Skeptic.org.