Ever wondered who’s ‘doing ITIL’? Who has a successful ITSM program leveraging the ITIL framework guidance?

ITIL in the real worldDoing ITIL

A while back I started a list of “who’s doing ITIL“. My intent was to create a resource that could be used by ITSM practitioners to help in their case for ITIL.

Sometimes skeptical management wants to know who else is doing the thing being proposed.

I compiled the list from publically available sources of organizations who were said to have an ITIL-based service management program.

It was mistake.

Adapt, Improvise, Overcome

It was a mistake becasue, to some degree, it contributed to the notion that ITIL can be implemented “like these organizations have done”.

I have since written that ITIL doesn’t work in the real world. There’s no such thing as ‘out of the box’ ITIL. It can’t be “implemented” in the sense that one might implement a RFID inventory tracking system.

ITIL is a tool that’s valuable in the hands of a skilled professional. Asking ‘who’s doing ITIL’ is roughly the equivelent of asking ‘who uses a hammer to drive nails’? Lots of people do. Most people do. And though there are other ways to drive nails, outside a very small group of tools designers, the hammer is rarely discussed.

What is discussed?

What’s being constructed with the hammer, of course. The answer is so obvious that it borders on insulting to say it. It’s not about hammers or nails, or saws or levels.

Only other carpenters would be interested in what tools the craftsman used to build the house. Everyone else admires the house; it’s design and beauty. How roomy and comfortable it is.

If I only had a hammer

Sadly, it gets worse. Think about it: how would you respond to hiring a carpenter who turns around and asks his peers if they use hammers to build houses? Imagine going to the place where carpenters hang out to discuss housebuilding. Imagine a young carpenter coming in and asking everyone if they use a hammer, and if they do, do they find it useful? Have they had luck with it, or should they use something else?

I’ll answer that so you don’t have to: That (hopefully fictitious) person would be laughed at.

Of course homebuilders use hammers. They use lots of hammers – of various kinds, depending on the task to be accomplished.

A better question would be what hammer would you recommend for a particular task. When new hammers become available, perhaps discuss where and how that hammer might be useful, or more effective at accomplishing a given task. That would be a good question.

Things customers care about

Tempting as it may be, ITSM practitioners must keep firmly in mind what it is that our customers care about. What things do our customers find valuable, which is the outcomes of our IT efforts.

Services that:

  • Meet their needs
  • Help them achieve their goals
  • Remove obstacles
  • Are cost effective
  • Are reliable

See a pattern here? It’s not the technologies themselves, nor the great processes used to delivery them, but the tangible things those services enable for the business.

This is the goal of IT Service Management.

  • Achieving business outcomes
  • Value realization

Stop doing ITIL

Please don’t “do ITIL”. Don’t ask who’s doing ITIL. Do learn the tools of the trade – ITIL, COBIT, DevOps, CGEIT, and a host of others. Hone your skills and know which tools to use in which situation. Seek to understand the needs and challenges of the business you serve, and use the right tools to solve those problems.

And, yes – organizations are using ITIL. Lots of them, big and small, in countries all over the world.