Change Management Can Be Key to Winning Business Backing for ITIL

Ann All
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14 Tips for a Successful ITIL Implementation

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

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post in which I wondered if periodic refreshes of the IT Infrastructure Library would do much to address the broader issues that may be hampering ITIL adoption. In my post I cited some good suggestions from Forrester Research analyst Stephen Manning, among them promoting the proactive ITIL processes and making ITIL more relevant to top-of-mind issues such as cloud computing and multi-sourcing.


Interviewing a number of consultants and practitioners about ITIL and attending one service management conference put on by the IT Service Management Forum USA certainly hasn't made me an expert in service management, but it has given me some ideas about why so many organizations seem to struggle with getting ITIL initiatives off the ground. I think many organizations take a big-bang approach to ITIL instead of first focusing on what business problems they are trying to solve or business goals they are trying to achieve, questions that should help them determine which processes to implement first.


In an interview published in a blog post on the ServiceNow website, analyst Malcolm Fry suggests most IT organizations should first focus on incident, problem and change management as they are "the very basics in providing a high quality service to IT customers." Attempts to adopt other ITIL processes will stall without these foundational processes in place, Fry says.


Trying to tackle too many ITIL processes at once implies an excess of zeal. While that may be a problem for some organizations, I suspect many more have trouble mustering much enthusiasm for ITIL, especially among business folks who don't understand how it can be used to improve overall business performance. A post I wrote on overcoming resistance to ITIL offered a number of suggestions for involving business people in ITIL efforts. One example: Avoid alienating business users by using ITIL terms, instead using broader and more general language to describe service improvement.


In his interview, Fry says change management is one area in which IT organizations can demonstrate the importance of a framework like ITIL to business folks. While change requests were traditionally initiated by IT, Fry says that is beginning to change. He explains:

Now, change is a critical service that is driven by a growing demand from the business. Typically these fall into two categories; business competitiveness and business efficiency. IT management must recognize the importance of fast, accurate and proven changes. It is imperative to move the change management process from the shadows of IT into the limelight, working in conjunction with the business. This is best achieved by utilizing a best practice such as ITIL -- IT managers need to be confident that their change management process is sound and can be served by virtually all providers within the service value chain.

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Aug 19, 2011 7:14 PM Ian Clayton Ian Clayton  says:

Here we go again - implement a process - any one - and it will lead to some form of failing the customer.  We have tried again and again to pick one of almost 30 processes now documented within ITIL, with similar results - why?  because you don't succeed by focusing on what process to start with.  You succeed by address what is 'gap 1' - the difference in perception between what your customers expect, and what your management THINKS the customer expect - in the form of service.

The expectation is linked to need, need to results (outcomes), and results to activities performed in the work environment.  Start at the right place - customer activity, why they do this, and how you as IT help them do it successfully.

This is not about implementing anything - unless that means implementing a better means of delivering what your customer wants.

Aug 19, 2011 7:40 PM Ian Clayton Ian Clayton  says:

An apology - I vented first - now let me offer an opinion on change management.  Change Management is all about enabling risk assessed change.  Enabling.  It removes the sharp objects from the room and ensures all involved and affected by the change share in its risks.

Part of that process is understanding stakeholders and their level of impact.  Change must be presented so it personally impacts parties for them to pay attention.  Impact is linked to outcomes/activity you want to get done.  So this road leads again back to 'gap 1'  understanding and aligning everyone's expectation about what needs to happen, what is about to happen and whether they are ok with it all.

You can't succeed at change management without being able to assess the likely impact of a change (positive or negative) upon stakeholders, which likely include customers.

So what 'process' do you start with that gets you that visibility?  name that one in ITIL for me... BRM is closest but...


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