ITIL is not a set of instructions. It is a set of recommendations based on best practice. The ITIL ‘books’ describe how, at a high level, IT Service Delivery processes should be structured and interact. No two IT service environments are the same and IT service contracts vary greatly therefore it is simply not possible to have a single definitive best practice set of processes.
So what’s good about ITIL?
ITILs key strengths are its common concepts and language. Once individuals and organizations have a common understanding of what an Incident or Problem is it makes it so much more simple to be effective at providing IT services. The enormous operational and cost savings from ITIL come in where services are provided by the likes of Fujitsu, IBM, HP and others to clients. Some IT service contracts are worth billions of dollars and the complexities of the service delivery contracts is significant. When the client and service provider are ‘speaking the same language’ (i.e. using ITIL terminology), communication is immediately enhanced and complexities reduced. Of course, smaller IT service providers also benefit through implementing ITIL as many large organizations will simply not contract non ITIL aligned providers.
ITIL is Expensive to Implement
Yes, there is no denying that implementing ITIL for the first time is costly. Where many organizations go wrong however with ITIL implementations is by trying to implement a full set of mature ITIL processes at the ‘get go’. Because ITIL is a framework it should be implemented and the processes designed in a way which benefits the organization most. Processes, as in any quality management framework, take time to mature; by attempting to design and implement mature ITIL processes on first ITIL implementation will be a very costly exercise for any organization (and will certainly fail). Processes, and the organization, need time to mature and discover what works best.
Implement and Relax
Decision makers often look at a mature ITIL aligned organizations and decide that a quick ITIL implementation is all that is needed to become a world leader in IT service delivery. Unfortunately, not only is a rushed and initial mature process attempt at ITIL implementation bound to fail but process improvement is an ongoing activity. Customers, organizations and external forces are constantly changing so even the most mature ITIL implementations require ongoing process improvement. All significant Quality Management frameworks (e.g. Theory of Constraints, Total Quality Management, Six Sigma etc.) stress ongoing improvement.
Should I implement ITIL?
Whether to implement ITIL may be best answered by this question ‘can your organization afford not to implement ITIL?’. For some small IT service providers there may be little to no benefit in implementing ITIL. For medium and large size IT service providers it is becoming increasingly necessary to be ITIL aligned in order to win new business.