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The Way Business Is Moving

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Issue Date: August 2005

The hidden pitfalls of ITIL

August 2005

Common reasons for failure include lack of management commitment and over-reliance on process diagrams.
In collaboration with BMC Software, Malcolm Fry, an independent executive advisor for BMC has unveiled the top 10 reasons why organisations fail to implement ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library) successfully.
Malcolm Fry
Malcolm Fry
According to Fry, the common reasons for failure vary from a 'lack of management commitment' and 'too much time being devoted to complicated process diagrams', to a 'lack of written work instructions' and 'process owners not being assigned'. In his opinion, successful ITIL implementations must be based on a process of continuous improvement.
Today, IT functions worldwide are being asked to add value to the business, in a stable, agile and cost effective manner, he explains. Many are still simply trying to cope with 'running an acceptable IT service' and supporting the users, with no consideration of how to achieve business service management (BSM) - a dynamic method for linking IT to the goals of the business. As a result, many IT departments are turning to industry best practices for guidance on how to improve quality of service while reducing costs, instead of inventing practices and processes themselves.
With such widespread adoption of ITIL best practices by internal IT departments as predicted by Forrester Research through to 2008 - from around 13% of large organisations in 2004, to around 40% in 2006 and 80% in 2008 - BMC Software sees ITIL being adopted and used across the world as the de facto standard for best practice in the provision of IT service delivery.
Ken Turbitt, Global Best Practices director, BMC Software said: "The final breakthrough is taking place now, as ITIL finally makes the shift from describing service delivery processes - the 'what' - to helping organisations implement these processes and measure service quality - the 'how'."
BMC Software is calling upon organisations in South Africa to ensure they are not left behind and recommends firstly that organisations:
* Group best practice functions together into manageable routes to value.

* Integrate and automate the functions and processes outlined in each ITIL discipline.

* Utilise a configuration management database (CMDB) to facilitate sharing of information across the IT organisation.
"Organisations often view ITIL as an end-point instead of a starting point, but should start with ITIL then utilise a cycle of continuous improvement," says Fry. "Memorising the ITIL books does not mean that you can effectively implement the ITIL processes; you can successfully implement ITIL best practices only by understanding how they apply based on your IT strengths and abilities."
BMC's Business Service Management strategy supports the ITIL best practice framework, which provides a common language and set of standards to deliver quality IT service from a business perspective, not just a systems perspective. BMC Software solutions help integrate and automate ITIL best practices that cover more than just service support, the most commonly deployed ITIL functions, delivering a business service management (BSM) solution, which aligns with five of the ITIL books.
* Service support.

* Service delivery.

* Business perspective.

* ICT infrastructure management.

* Software asset management.
Malcolm Fry's top ten reasons for failure
1. Lack of management commitment - no project can succeed without management commitment and drive. You can achieve isolated wins with ITIL without management commitment, but these wins will be few and far between. Commitment itself is not enough; those in management must show their commitment to ITIL by their presence and involvement.
2. Spending too much time on complicated process diagrams - when you start to approach ITIL, there is a great temptation to produce complex and detailed process maps. This is not necessary for most of the processes, and wastes valuable time and resources. Many of the processes, such as incident management, are performed hundreds of times every day and do not need rigid process maps. However, you should create simple process maps for some of the ITIL processes.
3. Not creating work instructions - too often, organisations fail to establish written work instructions because they spend too much time on creating complex process maps. Work instructions include escalation rules, priority definitions, and change categories. These work instructions must be written, published, and continually reviewed.
4. Not assigning process owners - IT, like most other departments, is often silo-based and not process-oriented. A process owner should be assigned to each of the ITIL processes that cross functional silos. The process owner should concentrate on the structure and flow of the process, without having to focus on staffing and other departmental issues. Quite simply, the process owner's job is to carefully monitor and manage the assigned process so that it can be continually improved.
5. Concentrating too much on performance - most IT monitoring activities concentrate on performance, while ignoring quality and processes. For example, most Service Desks can report how quickly they escalate incidents, but few can report how often they escalate incidents to the wrong person. Organisations need to spend more time on improving quality as part of implementing ITIL.
6. Being too ambitious - ITIL consists of 10 service management processes. Many organisations attempt to implement too many processes at once, causing confusion, staff unrest, and poor integration between the processes.
7. Failing to maintain momentum - it is a huge effort to implement all 10 ITIL processes and maintain the momentum, especially if the biggest gains come early in the ITIL implementation. A complete and successful implementation of ITIL takes most organisations between three and five years -a long time to maintain momentum. Remember, to maintain the momentum from those early achievements, you must implement all of the ITIL processes. Think of it like a taking a course of antibiotics when you are ill - after a few doses, you feel better. But, if you fail to complete the whole course of the prescription, you will soon be back to square one - feeling ill again.
8. Allowing departmental demarcation - some of the processes cross more than one department. This often causes conflict among departments, especially in organisations where department boundaries are rigid and ownership is important. All departments need to understand that ITIL is a joint venture and success comes from all working together; that is, the 'power of one', and not from ownership of a process.
9. Ignoring solutions other than ITIL - although ITIL is regarded as the industry 'best practice' for IT service management, many other best practices and frameworks exist to facilitate service management, such as Control Objectives for Information and related Technology (COBIT), Six Sigma, and CMMi. Corporate control requirements, such as Sarbanes-Oxley and Basel II, can also affect ITIL. These other components are often ignored, which can delay ITIL implementation. Even worse, if you do not focus on these components, then you are not maximising ITIL's potential.
10. Not reviewing the entire ITIL framework - although there are 10 basic ITIL processes, look at the entire ITIL framework when putting ITIL best practices in place. In particular, review the security management and the information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure management books, because ITIL success is dependent upon other IT processes.


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