13 August 2015 blogs Dennis Rietvink 7 min read
Despite the mixed views and doubts of IT managers and other business executives, ITIL is definitely here to stay. The reluctance of IT managers to adopt ITIL can be explained by several factors, such as their need to commit to a long and tedious project, as well as having to include executive management, which is never a simple task.
Common Arguments against ITIL
1. Too many process limitations. Just like any set of rules, ITIL was bound to stumble upon this argument. IT managers and business executives state that too much rigidness will eventually render the IT department inefficient and hamper the whole business process as a result. What is less known, is that ITIL offers the opportunity to adapt it to use only what’s truly helpful to each company. In other words, while it may seem rigid to others, ITIL can actually function as a tailor-made solution. This allows you to balance the limits you impose against the needs of your business processes so that you can improve your infrastructure’s reliability, efficiency and security without compromising efficiency by introducing needless restrictions and special procedures.
2. High investment costs. A lot of money and people are required in order to implement ITIL, which puts off a lot of business executives. Indeed, ITIL does not offer an instant ROI, but its efficiency in the long-run has been proven, according to a recent whitepaper by Rob England.
3. Complexity. IT managers dread ITIL, especially since its v3 was rolled out. Their argument? Compared to the last version this one includes up to 50% more information and materials to digest and implement. Thus, not only IT managers who have not yet adopted ITIL are reluctant, but also those who have implemented v2. However, it is worth noting that v3 is based on market feedback for v2, so it offers a significant improvement over what you can already obtain in v2. Furthermore, it is a necessary upgrade, so if ITIL v2 compliance is an asset for the company, not upgrading means losing this asset.
Main Challenges in Adopting ITIL and How to Surmount Them
Even for the IT managers who agree that ITIL is mandatory for any healthy business management service, obstacles adopting it are inherent and they mostly stem from the inside of the company. The most common ones (and their solutions) are:
Challenge 1: No support from the executive management. As previously stated, executives often cite the lack of financial performance of adopting ITIL. Since this is a major step for any organization, irrespective of its size, it goes without saying that top management needs to be on board and that the IT department must find a solution to get them there.
Solution: Oftentimes, executives are reluctant to implement ITIL because they don’t really know enough about it. Thus, the best course of action is to start a small “campaign” that informs the whole company (not just the executives) about ITIL and its benefits. These are the questions that need to be addressed even before they are asked: “What is ITIL?”, “Why do we need ITIL?” “What are ITIL’s costs?” and “What are ITIL’s benefits?” Try to answer these questions in a manner that can be understood by non-technical personnel. Another useful tip is to always lead with the benefits and turn them into a personalized presentation of ITIL (i.e.: don’t just talk about it in general; state what adopting it would mean to your organization) and you will be one step closer to receiving the executives’ approval.
Challenge 2: Choosing the wrong starting point. There has been a lot of debate about where an organization should start when implementing ITIL. Most people seem to agree that establishing the Service Catalogue as early as possible is the way to go.
There are a few reasons why this is not the ideal place to start. To cite only two of them: most organizations already know what services they are providing; also, this process has virtually no return on investment.
Solution: Think about ITIL as a helpful solution, not as just another thing you need to cross off your list. So, which are the areas in which you need help? Once you have the answer to this question, you will know where to start implementing ITIL, since there really is no single good way to do it. For instance, if your company is experiencing availability problems – internal solutions or, worse, customer-facing websites and services frequently going down and being slow to restart – a good place to start would be implementing a System Outage Analysis procedure. This has benefits that are obvious for everyone; it leads to tangible process improvements and is an excellent example of why a well-formalized procedure is beneficial in organizations with complex IT infrastructure requirements.
If you are not certain what to pick, a good place to start is a gap analysis. As its name implies, gap analysis can be used to find the areas in which your organization meets the ITIL standards and those in which it does not meet the ITIL standards. Implementing ITIL provisions for even one non-compliant area and has immediately-visible results.
Challenge 3: Too much measuring. Generally speaking, frameworks for best practices encourage organizations to regularly review their processes in order to optimize them and ITIL is no stranger from this tendency. But over-measuring tends to generate a lot of unjustified costs, as well as keep a lot of employees busy for long periods of time. Naturally, this will be frowned upon by the executives and for good reason.
Solution: In this case, the solution is quite simple – you must resist the urge to over-measure. Just concentrate on the things that really need measuring and that can yield results. In fact, ITIL includes specific provisions about measuring the efficiency of a process or the risk of certain changes. When in doubt, use the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, Timely) rule to guide. This way, you will save yourself a lot of time and the company – a lot of money.
Adopting something as complex as ITIL is bound to come with certain challenges. Even more, IT managers will almost certainly encounter some other obstacles, aside from the general ones listed above. However, this does not mean that, overall, ITIL implementation is not worth it in the long run.
Furthermore, appropriate solutions can help easily and quickly overcome some of the ITIL obstacles and, ultimately, lead to a more speedy implementation of the whole set of practices. For instance, a solution that can map the dependencies between your company’s underlying IT infrastructure and the business services can help you decide which step of ITIL needs to be implemented first in order to get the best ROI. Such solutions are invaluable especially to medium and large companies.
If you have a solution that can do this mapping, you have the information needed to educate and inform your employees. With Savision’s Live Maps you can structure and visualize your monitored IT components, it is a powerful, unifying solution for monitoring service health and performance, bringing IT and business together by letting them speak the same language.
About: Dennis Rietvink
Dennis co-founded Savision in late 2006 with Douwe Van de Voort.
Dennis has over 12 years of systems management, architecture design, and deployment experience working for Fortune 500 companies at EDS (now Hewlett Packard) and other firms.
He is the co-architect of multiple innovative (patented) systems and management products used globally at EDS to centrally manage Microsoft-based infrastructures of their large accounts.
As an infrastructure architect for multiple projects, Dennis specializes in maintaining communication with customers and translating business requirements into technical architectures. He worked for many global accounts like Dow Chemicals, DSM, Aegon and the Dutch Railways.
Dennis studied Computer Science at the Hogeschool of Etten-Leur, the Netherlands.