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Positioning ITIL for Success

These are the 10 most important steps to getting your ITIL initiative to succeed, writes ITSM Watch columnist Glen Willis of the PA Consulting Group.
Aug 6, 2007

Glen Willis

Over the last few years, the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) has strengthened its position as the leading IT Service Management framework in the world. As the itSMF continues to grow and as ITIL v3, with its targeted improvements, is digested by industry, ITIL seems poised to maintain if not advance in popularity and usefulness. However, many organizations continue to struggle with achieving success through ITSM initiatives.

Many organizations find it fairly simple to design and document processes. However, implementations that result in long-term benefits require knowledge, experience, and competency that go well beyond process design, including that ability to manage change across organizations, the ability to build and maintain executive support, and the ability align these processes with the strategic goals of the organization.

Our Top 10 tips address those key skills and are important to remember when building a pragmatic, realistic ITIL implementation.

1. Begin with the End in Mind

The great question organization’s struggle with when considering an ITIL implementation is “Where do we start?” A more important question to consider is “Where do we want to end up?” When at this point, take a step back, and try to view ITIL not as the “what” (e.g. “We are going to do ITIL”), but rather as the “how”.

The “what” might be giving end users one number to call for IT support, reducing the rate of failed changes, increasing IT service availability, or simply reducing costs. You do not have to limit yourself to one “what". But understand and document the business drivers behind the ITIL initiative and the business value that the organization is aiming to deliver.

Next, view ITIL as the vehicle to deliver that business value, the “how”. After doing so, it should be much easier to demonstrate to executive sponsors the strategic business value that will be delivered, in addition to making it easier to identify the right place to start.

2. Don’t Underestimate the Importance of a Roadmap

Many organizations beginning to implement ITIL fail to understand the value of a program roadmap. Working without a roadmap will leave the organization struggling to move the program from being tactically-oriented to be strategically-oriented, which is the difference in full control versus zero control of the direction of the program.

A roadmap mustn’t be set in stone. It will need to accommodate some change as business needs and organizational priorities change. But it should not change frequently, and the roadmap will give the ability to control those changes effectively.

One of the most valuable aspects of a program roadmap is it can be a gauge of organizational buy-in. If you are revamping your roadmap frequently, you can be sure there is limited organizational buy-in. If this is the case, take a step back and reconsider the approach. The best process engineers in the world cannot overcome a program without sufficient organizational buy-in and Executive support.

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