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The Seven Enablers & Constraints of ITSM

Why do many organizations stumble in their initial attempts at implementing ITSM best practices, asks ITSM Watch guest columnist Troy DuMoulin of Pink Elephant.
Dec 18, 2008

Troy DuMoulin


“Of course we all have our limits, but how can you possibly find your boundaries unless you explore as far and as wide as you possibly can? I would rather fail in an attempt at something new and uncharted than safely succeed in a repeat of something I have done.” - A. E. Hotchner



When I recall the many conversations I have had with distraught project managers and the battle stories of many a disillusioned ITIL sponsor, seven themes consistently emerge. These themes represent the seven key enablers that provide the vision, direction, energy and resources to produce lasting change across the political boundaries of technology silos that represent reality for most IT groups.


For many organizations these same seven enablers can quickly turn into limiting constraints that can kill ITIL programs when non-existent even at a basic level. The Theory of Constraints, articulated in The Goal by Eli Goldratt, teaches us that no process can be more efficient than its most limiting constraint or bottleneck. You can either choose to proactively manage those constraints or let them manage you.


Consider the analogy that these enablers are the heart of your ITSM initiative with seven valves that pump the lifeblood through a healthy ITIL program. Each enabler needs to be present in some capacity for success. If one or more of these valves is partially constrained, the reality of heart surgery may be required to keep the program alive.


Understanding, identifying and eliminating these terminal blockages is a critical success factor for any successful ITSM transformation program.


The seven key enablers are:


·      Leadership: Executive and senior level support, sponsorship and active participation.


·      Resources: Access to necessary project and ongoing process resources (time, people, funding).


·      Knowledge & Skill: The level of communication, information, knowledge and skill related to ITSM.


·      Integrated Tools: Availability of integrated ITSM tools to support process workflow and automation.


·      Ability to Deploy: The political capability to deploy new policies, processes and tools across organizational silos.


·      Ability to Affect Behavioral Change: Changing organizational behavior/culture and ensuring compliance to new practices over the long term.


·      ITSM Program Momentum: Sustaining the momentum, priority and funding for the ITSM programs.


The Most Challenging Enablers


During the summer of 2008, Pink Elephant conducted a customer survey to explore which of the seven enablers/constraints they perceive as the most challenging in their ITSM and ITIL implementations. The survey participants were of mixed roles but over 90% were involved as active participants or leaders in ITSM improvement efforts and possessed an accurate understanding of their program’s strengths and weaknesses.


What we found were the top two focus areas of ITIL v3 in 2008 are Service Operation (32%) and Service Transition (26%). Those focused on Service Design (17%) are beginning their efforts in Service Catalog and Service Level Management.


It is revealing that this year, almost 20 years after the introduction of the first ITIL book, most organizations are still focusing on the operational processes of service support. While ITIL v3 has over double the number of processes from v2, including several providing guidance for IT Service Strategy and Design, the implementation of ITIL principles still starts with the day-to-day issues of keeping the lights on and ensuring higher reliability of a constantly changing production environment.

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