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5 Steps to Successful ITIL Adoption

If you get behind the wheel of a car and floor the gas pedal when you have never so much as glanced at a driver’s manual, your final destination is going to be the hospital regardless of where you originally planned on going. In that same vein, if you try to adopt ITIL in your organization without taking the proper steps to fully understand it, your IT department might end up needing some life support of its own. Stephen Mann offers up in an article five steps to adopt ITIL in your organization successfully:

  1. Understand what ITIL is all about, especially the importance of people.
  2. Be realistic about existing IT service management (ITSM) process maturity and improve it gradually.
  3. Evaluate technology only after you’ve addressed goals, people, and processes.
  4. Plan beyond the “technology project.”
  5. Regularly communicate ITIL’s value and involve the IT and non-IT stakeholder.

The first step highlights a common issue where infrastructure and operations (I&O) executives spend more time and energy improving processes and picking technology than they do hiring and developing the right people to carry out ITIL. In this case, the “right” people are the ones with good work ethic and relevant experience, not just the ones who already have some ITIL qualifications. All in all, a great deal of ITIL builds on practices that are already being followed in many workplaces, and knowing how to apply these ITIL processes gradually will ease growing pains. Figure out which specific processes will best address key business priorities in order to prioritize ITIL application.

Throwing out your current ITSM technology wholesale and jumping into replacement mode is a mistake, since, like Mann says, applying a new coat of paint to house that is falling down will not make the house any more livable. He elaborates:

Think long and hard about what you want from your ITSM tool. What business and IT issues do you need it to solve? Which ITIL processes does it need to support both now and in the future? In addition, consider the effect of tool design — single application or integrated solutions “hit the spot” for I&O’s growing need for simplicity. Turn on capabilities only when you have addressed the required people and process aspects; and insufficient planning for technology integrations with other corporate systems can be a painful oversight.

Getting new technology up and running at a brisk pace and allowing it to be tweaked as necessary is a good decision, since it means people will be using it sooner and will not have to worry if the technology does not do everything they need right that instant. Expressing the value of ITIL to everyone involved will be necessary to get everyone on board with what it can and cannot do for an organization, and that means tailoring the message to your audience.  If you can accomplish all of this, you will find your IT steering blissfully clear of the ICU.

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