Don't think you'll have resistance to the IT infrastructure Library (ITIL)? Think again. While CIOs may be ready to employ ITIL, it may take some convincing to bring others on board. In November when I interviewed Patrick Bolger, chief marketing officer of Hornbill, a provider of service-management software, about ITIL, one of the key points he made was to expect cultural resistance to ITIL from both business users and IT. He told me:
One of the difficult things for an organization to make progress with ITIL is securing backing from the business. Even within IT itself, I think you have a culture that's resistant to change. "We've always done it this way, so why should we change how we are doing it?" And from IT's customers within the organization, if they can shout loudly enough and get something today, then why would they want to do something that may make them wait longer to get access to an application?
This idea also comes out clearly in a list of the top 10 types of resistance to ITIL improvement initiatives on the GamingWorks blog. GamingWorks' top 10, gleaned from a survey of 250 ITIL practitioners and from ITIL discussion groups on LinkedIn:
At least half of the list relates to pushback from IT and from business users. You can read many specific instances of these pushback scenarios by clicking through to a compilation of some of the points made by members of ITIL groups on LinkedIn. Some of the comments paint a pretty scary picture, but don't get too discouraged. They also offer some ideas on making ITIL work, many of which are echoed in my interviews with Bolger and other ITIL experts, a list of ITIL success factors from GamingWorks and a recent SearchCIO.com roundup of real-life ITIL experiences of organizations including Spectrum Health System and Canadian Tire Corp.
The title of my interview with Bolger pretty much says it all: "Taking an Incremental Approach to ITIL." Bolger told me Hornbill recommends "bite-size ITIL." He said:
We start with a tool, with the option to upgrade at any time. People are sill focusing on getting the basics right, so we sell them a tool that does incident, change, problem and service-level management. We say, "When you can prove you can operate more efficiently, you can get the go-ahead for more." We advise them not to talk about ITIL, which will probably raise some objections, but to talk about service improvement or "service first" or whatever they want to call it.
Laszlo Takacs, manager of service management at Canadian Tire Corp., one of the sources interviewed in the SearchCIO.com story, also suggests an incremental approach. Says Takacs:
Decide what areas you can get the biggest wins from and where your pain is. Once you define your major problems, look into the processes to get a foundation to start.
For many companies, incident, problem and change management will be the entry point to ITIL, as they can produce quick wins and visible results, something that all the folks represented in the various discussions agree is important to getting both user and management buy-in.
It's also important to involve business and IT in joint discussions to determine tangible ways ITIL can be used to improve the business. Getting people to look at business processes from different perspectives is helpful, learning what their coworkers do and how IT and business interact helps change attitudes, according to GameWorks. Such discussions will bring any resistance to the surface and should ultimately lead to acceptance and behavior change.
Other good ITIL advice: