Monday, November 26, 2012

ITIL Framework: Value Added or Out -of-Date

Do not let ITIL or any other framework ruin your common sense. Take it as a guideline but put your own flavors and ingredients. 

It is the framework which changes with each new technology and not just the picture within the frame.  --Marshall McLuhan

All companies are quite different and CIOs also have different understandings and experiences of ITIL. Some think ITIL provides a tremendous amount of benefits to many global companies; while there are also many companies fail at its use and others using it as an excuse to slow down the speed of business.

Is it one of those "old school" frameworks from the era when IT focused on risk mitigation and process integrity rather than customer satisfaction and business success? or does ITIL still add value in ITSM at digital speed? Some CIOs are abandoning ITIL, while others use it religiously. Is it still appropriate and why?

1.  Common Understanding of ITIL is vital to its Value Proposition in ITSM

1)    ITSL is a framework, not gospel. The elasticity and resiliency of any frameworks start with an understanding that we are trying to provide a foundation for continued success . . . the goal should not be the construction of a monolithic standard that is incapable of adapting to the changing needs. 

2)     ITIL is Recipe: Don't eat the recipe; eat what you make from it! ITIL doesn't give you all the answers for one thing. It's more a book of recopies than the finished article. It was intentionally designed to be a guideline and not the gospel. As such, it is expected to be tailored to meet the requirements of the organization.

3)    ITIL is basically a detailed analysis of all the aspects of operations and recommendations for the best practices. However, you can't just implement ITIL as written; you have to use it as a guide for the development of operational procedures that suit your own operations. ITIL clearly doesn't develop and adapt as quickly as some organizations change and therefore,  operational managers have to use their brains to adapt to satisfy the needs of the organization in which they work.

4)    ITIL is a set of best practices and a framework, and Best Practice is not a one-off implementation, nor is it self-sustaining. As Version 3 of ITIL underlines, there should be an iterative and interactive lifecycle approach to the various processes. Best Practice is an ongoing commitment and not a time-restricted project.

5)     ITIL is a guideline - not a standard. Weaving it into the fabric of compliance as a standard will continue to cause heartburn. The more we change, the more we often stay the same . . . in so many respects. 

2. Top Ten Reasons Why ITIL fails or Some Move Away from it

1)     The #1 reason for anyone to move away from ITIL seems to be lack of flexibility: The CIO's misconception that it adds more time to implementations, modernizations, and transformations

2)     ITIL is not to blame. The implementation of ITIL is to blame. To be efficient, ITIL should never be a burden to the operational staff, but a toolbox to work efficiently. The administrative burden should be taken by the support system. ITIL is to frequently hijacked by administrative forces and turned into a nightmare of controlling layers. 

3)     It takes too long for ITIL to keep up with trends and new technologies requiring different models, such as cloud and other new architectures. They also feel it has required them to spend too much time on operational aspects.

4)     Change Management Fails: The biggest failure in many organizations and their implementation of ITIL or other methodology is their strict adherence to the methodology without any consideration for adapting the methodology to their culture, business, technical infrastructure, operations, or even the circumstances of a given project.

5)     Too Much IT Focus, not Enough Business Focus: TIL is still relevant, but sometimes organizations spend so long focusing on implementing the processes that they forget about basics - focusing on discovering what is the cause of the problem and constant improvement.

6)     Becoming the end itself: Some organizations treat ITIL as an end in itself rather than a tool to help IT efficiently and effectively deliver the services the organization needs to achieve its overall goals. It is also essential to take into account the skills and experience of the staff that will operate the process when designing it so that it doesn't become overly prescriptive and takes advantage of their professional expertise. ITIL can help you get there, but it doesn’t have to be the end at all. 100% adherence to any methodology is not necessarily a good thing.

7)      Misunderstanding & misusage: It is not mandatory in its entirety and that it is one of several tools and guidelines they can use. There is no reason why you can’t make the best of ITIL, the parts that work well in your company culture, and tailor the rest. Infrastructure and operations benefit greatly from well-designed, air-tight processes that can be automated. The goal should be to right-size ITIL for your organization without breaking the bank.

8)     People take "it" too seriously. The key is to look for improvement opportunities to solve problems or increase value, not to simply pass some process audit, and sending people on training is never the silver bullet. Otherwise, ITIL just becomes the flavor of the day until the next fad comes along. Or when you start to expect it to be an all-encompassing solution for IT is when you start to get into trouble. This is where you need to start to embrace other frameworks and even bring in your own creativity to be successful in the delivery of IT services.

9)     Some believe ITIL is still relevant but it is costly: That may explain why some are abandoning it. Efficiency should not come at all costs. The reason for failure is a mismatch of expectations and failure to deliver on what was perceived to be the outcome.

10) TIL turns to be an inflexible doctrine that drags down the enterprise: Failed ITIL initiatives lie not with the service lifecycle management framework, but rather with the application of that framework. Fundamental, conceptual understanding of continuous improvement is lacking from many implementations

3.  Define the Right Set of Questions to Evaluate ITIL Objectively

ITIL gains some reputation, also cause confusions or even resource waste, if any comprehensive surveys are taken to ask ITIL users, what is the right set of questions shall you ask:

1) IT Maturity: on average, do ITIL users have significant higher IT maturity, or not so much difference?

2) Innovation: What matters now, innovation, most of the businesses now also think IT as their innovation engine, so, do ITIL users have better capabilities to be innovative or less? Why.

3) Value: What are the key values it can bring to IT or business as a whole? How about the value/cost ratio? How about User feedback and overall customer experience? How about short term win vs. Long term Perspective?

4) Agile: Is Agile complementary to ITIL? Or does ITIL become a barrier for the company to adopt Agile? Although Agile came out of the software development world, can things like kanban and scrum be used effectively by infrastructure and support teams?

5) Change: Can ITIL adapt to change? Is ITIL still an effective framework to embrace IT/Business Changes with the right governance discipline? Or is ITIL an “old school framework” to be very rigid applying controls or stifle changes?

6)   Simplicity: Does ITIL add the un-necessary restrictions on users/systems? Or It has the necessary design complexity to enforce service delivery?

7)    Digitalization: Can the ITIL framework help to build the business’s digital capabilities/maturity such as: business/IT integration, tailored solution, or a unified digital platform?

4. ITIL Tips for CIOs

  • ITIL is not one Size fits All: ITIL and other processes can only work if tailored specifically to the environment a CIO finds him/herself in. What works for one organization may not work for another, even if implemented by the best ITIL practitioner in the business; and sometimes the CIO may rightly take the decision that a bespoke process is what's needed rather than a widely adopted one such as ITIL.

  • Cloud Transformation: Which role ITIL can play in such a transformation? With more and more companies adopting cloud, the opportunity has never been greater for IT to transform into a service-oriented organization and grow the business it serves. According to IDG research, more than one-third of current IT budgets are allocated to cloud solutions. However, in their haste to adopt the cloud, CIOs may be missing an opportunity: the chance to use this transition to reshape IT. The key to success is IT transformation to services broker. With a service lifecycle approach, organizations can increase the velocity of IT service delivery and operate efficiently, without sacrificing governance.

  • CIO must see what they can get out of ITIL and at the same time what is the best for the organization to adopt. No one is forcing anyone rather it is just a tool that helps you to be more vigilant and smart. CIOs must see the ROI using this tool for business in terms of value addition, controls, business benefits, etc.

  • BUILDING TRUST THROUGH TRANSPARENCY: In many organizations, IT needs to gain the trust of the business. Research to measure the business perception of IT across many companies clearly demonstrates that, while IT is seen as an important partner, it receives low ratings in areas such as budget effectiveness, business understanding, and communication, any framework should enforce such transparency.

  • CIOs should have an in-depth understanding of ITIL at strategic Level: Most CIOs, including those who actively champion ITSM, have little more than a superficial understanding of the ITIL, or the implications of adopting ITSM processes. Worse, they rarely regard the effort as a true organizational transformation effort touching every aspect of the IT organization, and many aspects of the enterprise organization. 

  • Be pragmatic, not dogmatic: An organization has to balance the time it spends on the process (ITIL) and the time it spends on products/deliverables. If the ITIL implementation became such a focus that the organization loses traction on deliverables, then a re-balancing would be in order.

  • Embrace Agile: Agile Scrum and IT management, many organizations use agile as mainstream software development methodology, and even as a management discipline, that said, what is needed from an effective framework is the governance process also being agile enough to adapt to changes

  • Social Collaboration: The emerging ITSM solutions may add social collaboration in service management to build up a better democratic environment, such as  DevOps to converge IT development & the operation for improving agility, the CIO’s evaluation for new tools may also include how the framework supports the new trend and deliver innovative IT services & solutions.

  • Value-Driven Questions being asked by CIOs:  'how much of this particular process or method should I implement in this role to get the business to where it needs to be?'. The answer to that question should never be based on the technology in use in the business, rather on the particular needs of the business - including taking into account where it currently sits with regards to the good practices proposed by ITIL and other methods out there.

  • As a reference framework, ITIL is not a "one size fits all" solution. CIOs should be innovators, not lemmings. Use what makes sense, apply it in a way that considers what's unique about your organization but without abandoning the spirit of the framework. 

IT becomes the business catalyst to build competitive uniqueness, but how do you differentiate yourself from other IT organizations, besides standardization, there're optimization and innovation, IT is shaping your business, but the framework is not a strategy. Do not let ITIL or any other framework ruin your common sense. Take it as a guideline but put your own flavors and ingredients. Select a mix of the framework, toolset, and process architectures to improve flexibility and agility for speed of business change, doing better with less, and doing more with innovation.