Know Your Options for ITSM Adoption

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14 Tips for a Successful ITIL Implementation

Tips on completing a successful IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) initiative.

Adoption of IT Services Management (ITSM) frameworks, particularly the sector bell cow, the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL), has probably never been as rapid or comprehensive as tech press coverage might lead the casual observer to believe. We say "probably" because, frankly, it's next to impossible to measure.

First off, you have to distinguish what you mean by "adoption" - a CIO may intellectually sign off on the governance principals and general wisdom of an ITSM framework, but actually implementing all those checklists across an enterprise is an enormous task, all unto itself. And you do actually have services to deliver, not just manage.

Network World reported three years ago that while about 60 percent of U.S. CIOs in a survey said they were "working with" ITIL, only about 10 percent said they were experts in it.

The authors of a recent review of ITIL studies, sourced by APM Group Ltd and published by Best Practices Management, found that based on 12 surveys:

We have 95% confidence that the level of adoption of ITIL in the general population is somewhere between 31% and 83%.

So there you have it.

(If you are really interested in how ITIL is being adopted, spend a few minutes and absorb this 15-page report, written by Rob England, "The IT Skeptic," and reviewed inline by several other experts. It touches on issues such as "cultishness" and Google search trends - interesting stuff.)

One option for bringing ITSM frameworks into your shop without embarking on what amounts to a cultural re-education program is to simply invest in management automation tools that have the standards baked in. Our Mike Vizard discussed this trend last fall, saying that ITIL (and we'll assume other ITSM programs, as well) should really be viewed as "aspirational," and busy IT teams may well have other uses for their time than building out compliant processes from scratch.

A guest opinion piece at ZDNet by Markos Symeonides, an executive with ITSM solutions vendor Axios Systems, lays out steps for framework adoption that, as you might expect, are based on purchasing and implementing ITSM software. Some of the advice is fairly generic (e.g. ensure a vendor is actually accredited against your "aspirational" ITSM framework), but Symeonides also addresses the bane of all centralized governance initiatives: fragmentation and silos.

It may not be what your team wants to hear, but Symeonides warns:

most organizations approach ITSM in stages and the tools they select to automate processes become a patchwork of applications that over time have been tweaked and often heavily customized. This results in ITSM tools that are expensive to support and maintain.

He gently advises a more "strategic" - we'll assume top-down - approach to tool selection that might actually force a specific team to change a business process or two along the way. (He deftly slips in a warning against vendors who tell you "There is no such thing as out-of-the box.") ERP had to go through it, so why should ITSM be absolved?

Symeonides touches on a few other interesting points, including the fact that many current tools have BI and other analytics built in (our own Ann All discussed this recently, as well). It's an interesting read if you are debating how you want to tackle ITSM adoption - whatever that means.

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