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Positioning ITIL for Success

Aug 6, 2007

Glen Willis

One of the most important benefits of focusing upon standardizing process is the dynamic of repeatability, which provides two things for an organization: the opportunity to get better at what it does (via repetition) and the opportunity to measure what it does. Don’t underestimate the importance of making process metrics a central focus for your program. This will allow the organization to give clear explanations of benefits to executive stakeholders and position the organization to manage in an empirical, strategic manner.

7. Market Your Program Bi-Directionally

Over the last few years, it has become better understood that a successful ITIL initiative requires that organizational buy-in be won both horizontally as well as vertically. However, too many organizations seem to lack the understanding of how this can be accomplished. The key is to have different strategies for each direction.

Winning the organizational buy-in vertically comes down to two dynamics: cost and customer satisfaction. We challenge you to think of an IT executive that has been fired for any other reason (apart from something on the lines of criminal behavior). If the IT organization can demonstrate to senior management that an ITIL implementation, properly-positioned with the right amount of executive support, can deliver results in both of these areas, you are well on your way to winning the organization buy-in vertically.

Winning the organizational buy-in horizontally primarily comes down to one dynamic: pain. Most of the frustration that we hear voiced by IT line workers and junior managers is around the pain associated with their jobs: the pager going off at 3 a.m., having to answer the same questions or perform the same time-consuming task day after day.

If you engage this part of the organization with the clear message that lack of standardized processes and a consistently reactive approach causes significant pain for all parties involved, you are well on the way to winning the organizational buy-in horizontally.

8. Associate Your ITIL Initiative with a Visible Organizational Mandate

Too often, organizations trying to begin an ITIL initiative do so in somewhat of a reserved manner, which is understandable for organizations that have been conditioned to be skeptical of anything new that is introduced with the intent of bringing about real change. Regardless of the organizational culture in which you are working, it is imperative to understand that this approach very rarely results in success. As previously mentioned, you should start small with process designs and implementations, but don’t start without tying the initiative to a visible organizational mandate.

This does not mean the organization needs to create a new mandate. Often, mandates already exist that fit nicely with the benefits of ITIL. For example, perhaps there is a mandate to reduce costs, or to reduce the resource allocation to support work and increase the resource allocation to innovation initiatives, or to empirically demonstrate continuous improvement. Many mandates such as these, likely already visible in your organization can be quite easy to associate with the ITIL initiative.