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Benefits of ITIL and 5 things you may not know

ITIL, or Information Technology Infrastructure Library, is a comprehensive set of best practices that are used to develop and execute IT service management (ITSM). Benefits of ITIL include increased competitive advantage through cost reduction, improved quality of internal and third-party IT services, optimization of service delivery across the supply chain, moving from a reactive to a pro-active organization, and improved internal customer and user satisfaction. These you probably know. However, there may be a few things you aren’t aware of; here are five of them.

ITIL is not a tool

ITIL is not a tool or solution, but rather a framework of best practices. Implementing ITIL can help companies better align their ITSM processes, and measure, govern, and report on support activities in accordance with business goals and globally-accepted ITSM standards. That being said, many aspects of ITIL can be implemented using tools. For example, if an organization is small, simple templates and spreadsheets may be all that is needed. If an organization is large, they may need to find appropriate software tools to help.

You don’t have to adopt every aspect of ITIL

Most IT organizations that implement ITIL decide for themselves which aspects to adopt, and will then adapt their ideas to fit their environment rather than rigidly following all 26 processes exactly. For example, many IT organizations will adopt only the operational processes, such as incident management and change management, which make up only a small part of the ITIL framework. In addition, ITIL does not need to be implemented all at once. Many organizations implement ITIL in phases over a period of time which can help with change management and appropriate sponsorship.

Many ITIL implementations fail

There are several reasons why ITIL implementations fail. These include:

  • Not enough time spent getting people on board.
  • Lack of management commitment or executive sponsorship.
  • Trying to improve too many areas at once.
  • Not appointing the right people in the right roles and managing them.
  • Being too ambitious.

There are several more but it proves the point that leveraging ITIL best practices must be done with careful diligence and support from all levels.

ITIL can be frightening to some

Fear of change is real and many organizations suffer from it. This applies to all aspects of business, including IT. Many fear ITIL will leave their IT departments unrecognizable and perhaps make their jobs irrelevant or even obsolete. Other reasons include the necessity of measuring the effectiveness of processes prior to ITIL, the belief that ITIL processes are too rigid and may constrain IT too much, investment of time, people and dollars seems too steep, and too many processes to review and understand, let alone implement. These fears are understandable but what is more fearful is never changing and remaining stagnant.

ITIL is not the only ITSM best practice framework

Quite the contrary. There are other options such as IS, USMBOK, and COBIT. Some are seeing that ITIL may be a bit too narrow and rigid and ITIL revisions have been few and far between. So while ITIL is considered the de facto choice for most organizations, many are looking at not replacing ITIL but instead, using multiple frameworks, methodologies, and standards together to help better deliver against business and IT issues. This is commonly known as an ‘ITIL plus’ or ‘plus’ strategy.

There are always pros and cons to any framework or set of best practices, and it is up to each organization to do the necessary research to determine what works best for their needs and business goals. ITIL is here to stay, no doubt, but competitors are rapidly creeping in. Not a bad thing for organizations who now have more choices than ever on which best practices to implement.