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Top 10 Tips for Adopting and Adapting to ITIL ®

Hitesh Patel International Senior ITIL Transformational Consultant, Trainer, Coach and Author

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Copyright © Learning Tree International, Inc. and AXELOS Limited 2011. All rights reserved. Material in this document has been sourced from the ITIL® Service Lifecycle Publication Suite, 2011 Edition. No part of this document may be reproduced in any form without the written permission of both Learning Tree International, Inc. and AXELOS Limited. Permission can be requested at and ITIL® is a registered trademark of AXELOS Limited.

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1. IT Strategic Alignment. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 2. Financial Support . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 3. Short-term versus Long-term wins . . . . . . . . . 2 4. Momentum . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 5. People . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 6. Training . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 7. Consultant(s) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 8. Processes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 9. Tools. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 10. Suppliers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Summary. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 About the Author . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 About Learning Tree International . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6

The ITIL publications are a valuable resource but put down the books for the moment, step back, and consider these 10 essential tips to kick start your journey in adopting and adapting to the ITIL best practice framework.

1. IT Strategic Alignment The application of ITIL best practice must be aligned to overall IT strategic objectives and drivers which, of course, will underpin one or more business objectives. This will help guide or shape the application of best practice across IT. Organisations currently face challenges when ITIL is being applied in isolation and discussions to determine how to align the adoption and adaption with organisational goals and objectives come later. The intention of applying the ITIL framework isn’t to assist with identifying the vision or mission of IT within the organisation. While most ITIL adoptions I’ve carried out have uncovered weak areas which are then corrected in updated or modified IT objectives, it is still clear that ITIL will not drive IT, but merely assist in the steering of support and delivery of IT services.

2. Financial Support With most journeys involved in applying ITIL best practice, especially large-scale initiatives, funding can be a constraint. Even if large financial backing can be obtained, a concern remains for organisations with no ITIL application experience embarking on such large-scale changes without the benefit of long-term financial planning. I’ve seen many projects fail due to following the short-term view: “We need to get things done and can only focus on the here and now.”

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This might prove fruitful in the short term but will cost the organisation later in the operational arena and when trying to apply some form of financial governance. So how do you know how much to invest and when? There is no right or wrong answer - it’s about being pragmatic and looking at what is required in the bigger picture. What is the long-term driver of the organisation? How is IT expected to support the business objectives? Financial support must be available before, during and after the adoption and adaption to the ITIL best practice framework. On many accounts, I’ve witnessed the benefits of ITIL best practices deteriorate because there has been no focus on ensuring ongoing financial support to aid in the practical application of improvements. Recently, I’ve seen some clients maintaining a reactive focus - only willing to invest when there is a potential problem or when something has gone wrong.

3. Short-term versus Long-term wins Short-term wins will ideally address current pain points or areas that can show continued progress. The focus is really to ensure that momentum continues and management commitment is maintained throughout the implementation best practice journey. It is true that the ultimate success of the practical application of best practice will be judged on whether the long-term wins have been achieved. However, it’s also important to recognise that achieving long-term wins also relies on accurately identifying the short-term wins. Short-term wins will ideally address current pain points or areas that can show continued progress. The focus is really to ensure that momentum continues and management commitment is maintained throughout the best practice journey. In terms of duration and what it means for the organisation and of course IT, short-term wins should be defined at the start.


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Most short-term wins I’ve set out when adopting and adapting to ITIL have been based around a number of months to deliver a piece of work which is also aligned to the bigger picture of applying best practice as a whole. Expectations have to be managed with the identification of short-term and long-term wins. Customers and other stakeholders have to be aware that achieving short-term wins does not guarantee the achievement of long-term wins. In fact, you are also likely to make changes to some long-term objectives based on what is achieved in the short-term, this is also another trend that I’ve started to notice with a number of clients.

4. Momentum is Vital Momentum is identified within a number of the tips provided. Why is this so important? For the answer, I would direct you to some amazing research that was carried out by W.E. Deming on continuous quality improvement. The Deming Cycle is based around 4 key stages: Plan, Do, Check and Act. I’ve noticed with a number of ITIL initiatives that IT organisations are very good in the Plan and Do stages, but I still have strong reservations as to how good IT organisations are at the Check and Act stages based on any recommendations put forward. If we take the classic project management methodology as to what constitutes a project closure, it may be based on whether the deliverables have been achieved (and acquiring customer sign off). However, does your project management arena within IT ask the key questions that could determine whether a project is actually successful or unsuccessful? For example, before a project is formally closed, has the project manager discussed how momentum will continue post project closure, and has this been agreed upon with the customer? This is one of the simplest questions to ask but it is often ignored, as some project managers may not want to become involved, or they may see this as outside the scope of their work. A classic situation of focusing on the here and now, without thinking about what might lie ahead for tomorrow. This is not a criticism of some project managers, but a reality check that this is a culture we are creating and accepting in some organisations.

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5. People The ultimate success will be underpinned by people. People are not just a resource but a crucial capability to make things happen. No matter how mature the processes or how great the ITIL best practice framework fits into the organisation, the ultimate success will be underpinned by people. People are a crucial capability to make things happen; Skills, experience and knowledge are the key differentiators between someone simply adding to a headcount and someone who is there to make a positive difference. We need more of these people to take responsibility for the best practice transformation, to lead when needed, and to continue the success after the framework is embedded into the organisation.


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experts, the key stakeholders who are initially leading the transformation must be governed in their actions, and for them training is essential. Of course all staff involved in the transformation should go through some recognised training of best practice if you have the resources available. My experience shows that it’s the stakeholders leading the service management transformations that often don’t have the required support in terms of coaches or mentors. If the person setting up an ITIL transformational roadmap isn’t experienced, governed, or supported, it doesn’t matter how well-trained the rest of the IT workforce is — failure is likely, as the vision, roadmap, and direction have no form of service management assurance. You may as well assume that this is just one big guess.

I recently assisted a client with creating a skills matrix for the organisation’s IT arena. We began by working with a number of operational staff, recording the skills sets and certifications they had. Gradually we repeated this exercise across the whole department. In the end we had a matrix of all the IT staff, a list of skills, certifications, experiences, etc. This provided the needed energy to make the adoption and adaption of the ITIL best practice framework relevant to the people within IT - putting the right people in the right roles to deliver the required value expected by the IT service provider.

6. Training Training is a key as part of the transformation. Key stakeholders who are initially leading the transformation must be governed in their actions. Training is essential. Training is a key part of the transformation. You might not be surprised at this suggestion as I am an ITIL trainer, however, I can assure you my training hat is away from my laptop as I write this. It’s worrisome how many organisations try to adopt and adapt best practices without any kind of formal training or coaching from an experienced service management professional. While it’s not necessary to have the entire IT organisation sent to ITIL courses or to populate all of IT with ITIL

7. Consultant(s) Yes, consultants are a great idea but the choice should be approached with caution. The consultant will only be as effective as the stakeholders leading the transformation. Rome was not built overnight, so we must manage our expectations for investing in consultants, especially in the short term. Consultants can also slow down progress or even reshape the direction of the transformation, so it’s vital that consultants are actively governed before and throughout their involvement. Remember that consultants will bring the knowledge and experience, but only you know the culture of the organisation and the constraints being faced. Therefore it’s important that the IT

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organisation takes responsibility to ensure the consultant has the appropriate fit. So what makes a great consultant for your organisation? Is it the focus on qualifications, knowledge, experience, or something more? It’s actually a combination of everything, with a focus placed on what the consultant is being asked to do. We set the framework of deliverables; therefore we are dictating the type of consultant we need to acquire.

8. Processes It’s not possible to discuss the adoption and adaption of ITIL without some mention of processes. Processes are the heartbeat of ITIL best practice, and without a clear understanding of them, as well as interfaces, outputs, and the governance mechanisms required, it will be challenging to put them into practice and maintain value. This is not about training, but about appreciation that the work we do in one area of IT is likely to impact another. As process owners, managers or practitioners, we have a responsibility and a duty to care for our customers so we must ensure we know what the interfaces are. For those with recent ITIL training, you are aware we have more defined processes than ever before. The practical application of ITIL is not a race to get all the processes out on the table as quickly as possible, but to ensure that the processes we put on the table don’t end up falling off. The key is to implement and continue progress. I’ve seen far too many ITIL initiatives where the success has been judged based on the number of processes in position as opposed to the value that each of the processes have delivered to the IT service provider and business.

9. Tools The bottom line is that successful adoption and adaption of ITIL best practice relies on supporting tools. For me, one of the main best practice foundation blocks is a service management tool that can support a number of processes and functions in the support and delivery of IT services. With some clients I have found that when implementing tools, IT providers either believe the tools will deliver the full processes or that the tool is the answer for kick starting the initial application of the process. I disagree with both approaches. No tool should ever be purchased in the hope that it will train you in the adoption and


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adaption of the process. Every tool configures processes a different way so no one tool can be trusted as the one best way of operating. No service management tool available will operate in the same way as another and for that reason there is no perfect solution, but there is potentially an ideal one for your organisation. The solution that works could be realised after a number of trial and error runs of the proposed tool. Service management tools are not provided to give you the end solutions, they are a platform by which your end solution can be configured, and potentially customised, if needed. Remember, reconfiguration of a tool is not the same as customisation. I encourage organisations to reconfigure tools to optimise the support for your and your customer’s needs.

10. Suppliers We all need a little help from our special friends, the suppliers. The world of IT depends on suppliers in ever-increasing amounts. How many suppliers do you think your IT department has? Now double that figure and you’re probably closer to the number of suppliers you actually have. A number of my clients are shocked when they realise the amount of suppliers they use and the cost for total services. Normally it’s procurement/finance that provides this wakeup call when it’s time to pay the suppliers for their services. I believe every organisation has at least one supplier who is going through the same challenges in terms of adopting and adapting best practice, or is working with another organisation facing the same challenges. We need to work with our suppliers, learn what challenges they have faced and how they overcame them with other clients or within their own organisation. The answers may help you avoid repeating

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mistakes made by suppliers or their other clients as you go through your journey of best practice. The ethos of ITIL is to share best practice, so why not leverage the knowledge of our suppliers to do this!

Summary This ITIL white paper is intended to open your mind to the scale of work that is potentially required to get the practical application of best practice right within your organisation. These tips I have discussed are not typically areas of focus for many organisations, and I strive to get this message across with my own clients: These areas can really provide significant value if managed well. If this white paper has got you curious for more, please stay tuned for additional updates and resources from Learning Tree International to help you and your organisation successfully transition to an ITIL-aligned IT service provider. Thank you and good luck in your ITIL journey!

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About the Author

About Learning Tree

Hitesh Patel

Established in 1974, Learning Tree International is a global provider of hands-on IT and management training. Learning Tree develops, markets and delivers a broad, proprietary library with over 6,000 scheduled, instructor-led courses offered at Learning Tree Education Centres around the world, on-site at client facilities, or via the Internet with AnyWare™ — Learning Tree’s superior, online attendance platform.

Hitesh Patel is a senior best practice transformational consultant, instructor, coach and course author for Learning Tree International. With over 14 years of service and project management consultancy, Hitesh is recognised as a specialist consultant and trainer. He trains globally and is the author of Learning Tree course, Putting ITIL into Practice: A Roadmap for Transformation and Achieving the ITIL Practitioner Certification. He teaches all the ITIL courses at Learning Tree International. Hitesh has extensive programme and project management experience and has successfully undertaken business, service, technical, process and cultural change programmes. He is a qualified COBIT and ITIL Expert, and certified in all ITIL Intermediate Modules (Lifecycle and Capability Streams), including ITIL Practitioner. He also is certified as an ISO20000 Consultant and Auditor. He holds a 1st Class degree in Business Computing from Middlesex University in London and is the CEO of A.I.L. Hitesh was recently awarded the ‘2015 ITSM Rising Star of the Year’ award in recognition of his global contributions in the field of service management.

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Top 10 Tips for Adopting and Adapting to ITIL®



Top 10 Tips for Adopting and Adapting to ITIL UK Edition  

Discover the the top 10 essential tips for adopting and adapting to ITIL in your organization.

Top 10 Tips for Adopting and Adapting to ITIL UK Edition  

Discover the the top 10 essential tips for adopting and adapting to ITIL in your organization.