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The Practitioner’s Dilemma: How to Adapt ITIL

ITIL is supposed to improve IT service management, right? Well, not necessarily. As Greg Sanker posits in a blog for ITSM Transition, the true “magic” of ITIL has less to do with a rigid set of standards and frameworks, and more to do with the ability to adapt those frameworks to the needs of the organization.

Design for Context and Business Value

Sanker warns heartily against a “by the book” approach. He cites ITSM consultant Ken Gonzalez on the “six questions” one should ask before implementation, such as: What value does this represent to the customer? From start to finish, the goal of support management is to maximize business value with the two-part approach of knowing where that value lies, and being aware of the unique variables present in each new environment. Sanker says it best, using the analogy of the good architect:

Part of the problem with best practices training is the vanilla context. It’s helpful for learning the concepts, but can leave the impression that processes are to be implemented in the real world without understanding the context. A house that doesn’t fit its environment.

Like the architect who designs the house to fit perfectly with the property, you must understand the current IT environment – the good, the bad, and the ugly – and make the process fit with it.

4 Basic Activities of Support

Once the value of the operation is identified and its context is understood, only then is it time to roll up your sleeves and get down to business. Sanker has identified four basic actions of the support process.  

  1. Mapping Relationships: between current processes and new states that are required or desired.
  2. Engaging Stakeholders: keeping them involved and informed.
  3. Defining Changes to the Existing Processes: including roles, responsibilities, ownership, and accountability.
  4. Modifying as Needed: because parts of ITIL guidance may simply not deliver value.

Overall, the motto of “adapt and adopt” adequately summarizes what Sanker advocates – an approach that goes beyond the book.

Read the entire article at:

About Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. He is an intern at Computer Aid Inc., pursuing his master's degree in communications at Penn State University.

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