Idwell on Service Management

Thoughts on how to design and implement IT Service Management

Paul Leenards

At least 5 reasons why ITIL implementations fail

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There are many reasons why ITIL implementations fail and I want to mention some here:

1. Trying to IMPLEMENT ITIL. ITIL is not an Implementation Framework, it is a reference framework for IT Service Organizations. It is a bit silly to try to implement a reference framework. You do not implement the encyclopedia or the phone book either. You can use ITIL as a reference framework when you transform your IT department to a mature IT service organization. Leaving you to choose which of the best practices to use and how to use it. If you want to use ITIL as a standard for implementation, please don’t. Use something like ISO20000 instead. Because everyone is talking about Implementing ITIL, I’ve grown used to the concept of ITIL implementations. It should be ITIL Transformations.

2. Starting with the CMDB: It has been argued before by several Service Management Guru’s that trying to set up a CMDB is very difficult. To do it well is almost impossible. It is a daunting task to start with and it will not bring any additional benefits to an ITIL transformation. When you’ll try to set up a CMDB together with some of the staff involved, you’ll end up with more specifications than was needed to design the Apollo program (allright, that is a but too much, but it will be very close). CMDB’s are useful when applied lightly. Otherwise it will mainly distract from reaching the desired results.

3. Designing the processes with the staff involved: I’ve used to think that it is wise to have the people responsible for doing the processes help to design the processes. Now I know I’m wrong. I’m not against involvement of the ITIL Transformation victims at all. But, at the right time and with the correct starting point. Now I’m a firm believer of Design Top-Down and transform Bottom-Up. Involving staff in process design has several negative aspects: 1. it demonstrates that process design is not difficult at all and anyone can do it, certainly the system operator with limited education. 2. It is an easy way to obstruct any possible improvement of IT by taking forever to come to an fully agreed design. 3. When there are no guidelines on the results the processes are suppose to deliver than all this design work is futile to begin with. In the end you’ll have wasted time of the IT staff and in the meantime the number of incidents have gone up since the incident solvers were in a workshop. Well done!

4. ITIL (or ISO20000 for that matter) are a goal in itself. And when that is the case you’ll have a couple of meters of paperwork to show for a successful project (specific when it was run in a Prince2 way) and the RFI for the next ITIL project on your desk. I’ve been in organizations where they had evidence (ic. handbooks) of 6 ITIL implementations. And still they were no where near to delivering services to the business satisfaction and against reasonable costs. If there is no clear goal, in terms of business value and strategy, then almost all ITIL transformations will certainly fail.

5. Thinking that ITIL is only for the operational IT management part of IT. In Holland they call IT management ‘Beheer’ and this is the least sexy part of any IT organizations. If ITIL is for ‘Beheer’ then anyone else do not want to be involved. It makes for very interesting situations where the developers, project managers, architects and others are doing their upmost best to stay out of Incident- or Change management. Which means that only a small part of the IT Service Organization is trying to transform to become more service- and process-oriented. Which is not found to be a successful solution.

What to do when you want to Implement ITIL, sorry – transform your IT department according to the guidance offered by ITIL?

1. Create a Change Program for your IT Department using ITIL and other frameworks for guidance

2. Define clear results in term of Busines Value that the IT department has to achieve

3. Based on these results design the processes on reaching these

4. Train, develop, coach, train your IT staff in all aspects to be able to execute these processes and to achieve the desired results.

5. Start using the processes as soon as you can, and discover in using them how to improve these processes and what tools you need. And get these tools.

I wonder what more reasons we can find for all the failing ITIL implementations and what would we advise to prevent more failures from happening?

Author: Paul Leenards

Service Management and ICT Strategy expert. 20 years of Experience in the ITSM, ITIL, COBIT, MOF, DevOps, Etc. Company website: Twitter: @pllnrds

One thought on “At least 5 reasons why ITIL implementations fail

  1. Amen on your 1st point! Unfortunately consultants and sales people LOVE to implement ITIL, they get all giddy whenever the phrase is uttered.

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