Many people believe that the need for process improvement efforts, especially highly structured ones like the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL), increases along with the size of a business.
An understandable assumption, considering that most of the case studies detailing such efforts tend to focus on big companies -- like this CIO Insight piece from last February that details Johnson & Johnson's adoption of ITIL.
But smaller businesses can benefit just as much, if not more so, than their larger counterparts, says Steve Brasen, an analyst with Enterprise Management Associates and author of a new report called "Is ITIL Right For The Mid-Market?"
This is because mid-size businesses simply cannot afford to allocate additional resources to solve their vexing IT issues, according to an InformationWeek story about the report. ITIL helps eliminate the chronic, recurring problems that can eat up scarce IT resources.
ITIL implementation can seem overwhelming -- although perhaps less so now that the number of books in the library has been reduced from 10 to five in the latest version of ITIL. But rather than becoming discouraged, Brasen advises mid-size businesses to focus "on only those processes that are most relevant to their unique situation."
Brasen's advice is echoed in my August interview with Nigel Arbery, the practice service leader for IT service management for Getronics, ITIL v. 3: More Business Guidance, but the Core Remains the Same.
In the interview, Arbery says:
You also need to be aware that the whole of ITIL won't be relevant to all organizations. It really is a matter of picking not only the parts of it, but the levels of adoption that are necessary, to achieve your business goals. Many organizations just jump on the bandwagon without truly understanding what they are trying to achieve from it. So really understanding the current position they are in and what their goals are should help many organizations be better adopters of ITIL.
Another factor often overlooked in ITIL adoption, says Arbery, is companies becoming so focused on getting the initial processes in place that they lose sight of ITIL's emphasis on continual service improvements. He says:
The core message ends up being putting a process in place. They don't put in the control mechanism to do reviews and constant evaluations of whether they are achieving their goals.
The good news, according to the InformationWeek article, is that several vendors focus on assisting SMBs with their ITIL implementations. Two mentioned in the article, Kace and SignaCert, offer appliances that can help.