Repeat after me: “I am not IMPLEMENTING ITIL®”

'...If I go to one more presentation, or read one more blog about how to “implement” ITIL I think I will scream!'

Maybe I am being pedantic or overly precious about this, but if I go to one more presentation, or read one more blog about how to “implement” ITIL I think I will scream! And that would not be a pleasant experience for me or anyone else in the surrounding area.

Please don’t get me wrong, ITIL is a fantastic tool, and one that I use on each and every assignment I undertake in service management. But that is what it is – a tool – it is a repository of really good ideas that can help you introduce best practice into the IT Service provision hub of any business. It just isn’t something that you implement.

You are what you eat

I liken this to a book on healthy eating. You buy the book and read it, you use the good advice that it contains to improve your dietary best practice. You do not implement the advice letter for letter – chances are that you just don’t like some of the foods that they are recommending, or they are not available locally. Just because you did not follow ALL the ideas contained in the book religiously, does not mean that you didn’t gain value from your investment. You picked the advice that suited your circumstances and discarded the ideas that didn’t.

There are some parts of ITIL that are non-negotiable, just as there are some parts of healthy eating advice that you really can’t ignore. You have to get the business supporting your ITSM journey, and you need to define your services, those things are essential. You must monitor what you are doing to make sure it is working and then make adjustments. But if you only want or need incident and request fulfillment management, then nobody should be telling you that you have to do problem, change and request management – or create a CMDB.

If I am trying to lose weight (and I usually am) then I need to follow a healthy diet and exercise plan, but if a recipe calls for a good helping of broad beans, then I am just going to leave them out! But I am not going to add half a pound of butter instead, as that would defeat the purpose. What I am going to do is monitor the success of the things I am doing and adjust them accordingly, if the results are not what I want and expect.

No Priorities or Prescriptions

ITIL consists of recommendations, not prescriptions. It gathers together decades of fantastic common sense, which has been constantly updated and republished to suit current thinking, technology and practices. It is just not something you implement.

I have shuddered recently on reading claims from vendors stating that their product will “automate your ITIL implementation”. You might be able to automate some ITIL based processes using software tools, but there is no “one-size-fits-all” model for this, and there is a very high chance – almost an inevitability – that if you decide to implement processes this way, you will be disappointed with the results. Certainly not all vendors are trying to market their products with these methods, there are some excellent ones out there who understand that the tools they are supplying are just that, tools that will help provide a means for you to improve the way you provide and support IT services. My advice would be that if a vendor comes to you and tells you that their tool will do it all for you…run away, and fast.

So please, USE ITIL, and other best practice advice, to create a recipe for your business that will provide the results that you are looking for. Don’t set about implementing 27 (is that the current count?) processes and functions, just because they are contained in the books. I can guarantee that you really don’t need them all.

So now, I am going to review my healthy eating process since this morning’s monitoring tells me that something I am doing currently is not working – although I have a feeling that this may relate to a major incident that occurred over the weekend involving Whittakers Peanut Slabs!

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