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How to Transition Away From Your ITIL Consultant

Planning the breakaway from your ITIL consultant should be considered long before you make the move, writes ITSM Watch guest columnist Mike Drapeau of the Drapeau Group.
Jan 13, 2007

Mike Drapeau

Breaking free from the ties that bind a consultant to his or her client is a topic of some consternation and embarrassment. From the consultant’s perspective, the temptation is to remain in a paid capacity, even beyond that healthy for the long term success of the client.

For the client, there is also the urge to keep the consultant engaged as a subject matter expert, disinterested party, and dependable provider of ideas and action.

And yet, for any rollout and enterprise-wide adoption of ITIL disciplines, there comes a time when client and consultant must go their own way. This article discusses when, why, and how such a severing of this business relationship should take place.

Out After the Start?

There a several key phases to almost any ITIL engagement, beginning with a maturity assessment. Many organizations opt to use a third party to conduct this analysis as it is oftentimes necessary to solicit the unvarnished opinions of an unbiased external party.

These assessments typically produce a series of rankings based on the CMMI (Capability Maturity Model Integration) model, ranging from a score of 0.0 (a process so totally without maturity it constitutes chaos and little value to the enterprise) to one of 5.0 (a process boasting of near metaphysical perfection such that people, task, tool, and management are seamlessly interwoven and all elements of Continuous Improvement Program are evident).

Needless to say, most processes, at least those initially surveyed by consultants, tend to cluster at the lower scores. This reflects both the reality that self-assessment is relatively new to most organizations and the fact that low scores create compelling opportunities for consultants.

It’s kind of like driving your car into a service station and asking them to look under the hood. Chances are they’ll find something wrong.

Are you ready to go it alone?

The goal of all this assessment effort is to determine how to achieve operational maturity, the realization of which should generate tangible benefits and save direct costs. Any consultant worth their salt will have already factored in their own fees into the overall ITIL implementation ROI. All that is left is for the organization to determine whether the efforts and expertise of the consulting firm can be provided from within.

In order to determine whether a rapid exit for your consultant is merited, ask yourself the following questions that indicate your preparedness for transformative self-improvement:

  • Have you ever implemented with internal staff only an enterprise-wide organizational change effort?
  • Have you created formal process design and policy guidance before and does it apply to all technology domains?
  • How many ITIL certified staff are on board?
  • How many ITIL processes are you going to adopt?
  • How mature is your current and planned ITIL-enabling software tools?
  • Do you have internal staff sufficient to modify and drive implementation of these tools to support emerging process designs (and not vice-versa)?
  • Have you ever created and rolled out role-based and process-specific workflows that inform staff behavior change?
  • Is your IT department amenable to organizational changes along cross-functional, not technology domain lines?
  • Have you deployed internal marketing and communications techniques in support of an IT-based change initiative?
  • Have you selected or previously utilized a project implementation methodology (e.g. Prince2) tied to process improvement?
  • Do you have internal project management staff (i.e. a PMO) that can handle the burden of project planning, resource management, and so on?
  • Have you successfully supported other quality initiatives (e.g. Six Sigma, TQM); and
  • Are you simultaneously trying to implement other frameworks (e.g. COBiT, COSO)?

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