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How to get IT to Accept ITIL

Aug 6, 2010

Kristy Smith

The communication plan will be designed to repeat a consistent ITIL message using various forms of creative media. It should include the following from Kotter’s sixth stage, Generating Short-Term Wins. A few short-term wins such as renaming the help desk to the service desk, which establishes the service desk as the primary point of contact or implementing ITIL-aligned classification categories -- can be identified and implemented to market and promote ITIL to stakeholders.

Concepts from Kotter’s seventh stage, Consolidating Gains and Producing More Change, can also be included in your communications; pushing for more change while acknowledging interim accomplishments.

Some people respond well to e-mails and newsletters, while others must not only read the message, but hear it in formal training sessions, awareness presentations and during departmental updates. Some prefer to use social media like Twitter, Facebook or blogs to stay informed. Considering a variety of media types when developing and executing your communication plan will help guarantee results.

Another important factor to consider is the need to "hear" the message multiple times before individuals fully comprehend it. People often do not fully absorb new information the first time it is presented to them. At Forsythe, we informally call this repetition of a consistent message the "theory of nine hits". We have observed that it takes an average of nine hits before most people understand the information being delivered well enough to make the associated actions a habit. Some people get the message after a few hits and others require numerous hits before the information is absorbed. Plan to repeat the same message, in different ways, as many times as it takes to institutionalize the new direction.

To determine where to target communications, a stakeholder analysis is performed. Stakeholder groups are analyzed to determine where they are in terms of their support for change, (e.g. Level 0 - No Contact; Level 2 - Awareness; Level 5 - Acceptance; Level 7 - Ownership). Examples of stakeholder groups include IT upper and middle management, service desk agents, infrastructure support groups, application development teams, enterprise architects, application support groups and key representatives of your business management.

Groups are questioned to assess potential impacts, attitudes, communication and training needs, project knowledge, influence level and potential risks. Next, the current change acceptance level and the minimum desired acceptance level are determined. The gap between the current level and the desired level is calculated and stakeholder analysis change curves are generated (Fig. 2).

When communication requirements for each stakeholder group are clear, the communication plan is modified to ensure that each group receives the appropriate amount of communication to move them to the desired acceptance level.

A formula for success

Success of any ITIL initiative lies with cultural transformation and one of the best ways to ensure cultural buy-in is to establish a communication plan tailored to suit your organization. Start by establishing a sound foundation of leadership support and end the process by anchoring these changes into the culture and by continuing to push for more adoption and adaptation.

Cultural transformation and measurement coupled with a sound process methodology (including policy, process, procedure, work instructions, and work flow) equals success in adopting the ITIL Service Lifecycle. Organizations that institute solid cultural transformation techniques are more likely to be successful. At Forsythe, cultural transformation is a key element of every ITIL implementation.

Kristy Smith is an IT Service Management consultant at Forsythe in Skokie, IL. Contact her at ksmith@forsythe.com.