ITIL strategy guide for the midmarket CIO

The IT Infrastructure Library provides companies with a framework to achieve quality service -- but is it the right answer for midmarket CIOs? Find out in this Midmarket CIO Briefing.

Businesses across the globe have adopted the concepts set forth in the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL), but how does a midmarket company go about instituting such a vast framework? Is version 3 really more streamlined and worth the effort? ITIL, a set of guidelines to help companies determine best practices to achieve quality service, has its devotees and critics in the midmarket as well as the enterprise. Hear their views and find the answers to your questions and more in this ITIL strategy guide.

For free advice and resources on more IT and business topics, visit our list of Midmarket CIO Briefings.

Table of contents

  ITIL has place in midmarket -- if it's focused
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When considering your ITIL strategy, you've got to ask yourself: Where's the return?

If you can't answer that question, then don't do it, advised Larry Killingsworth, an IT consultant at Pultorak & Associates Ltd., a Seattle-based consultancy firm.

This is especially true for midmarket firms, where resources are limited.

"If you can answer that, then go for it," he said. "To blindly follow because some guru said so is just foolish."

Learn more in "ITIL has place in midmarket -- if it's highly focused." Also:

  • ITIL strategies for CIOs
    ITIL is designed to help IT professionals improve processes within their organizations. Learn more about training and educating IT staff on ITIL, configuration management database and IT Service Management with this guide.
  • Mediacast: ITIL v3
    ITIL version 3 has arrived! Now what? Get the lowdown on the latest version of the IT Infrastructure Library with webcasts from SearchCIO.com.
  Midmarket slow to adopt ITIL v3
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ITIL gets a refresh. Does the middle market care? Maybe.

Last summer ITIL released a new version of its best practices framework, dubbed version 3. Published by Great Britain's Office of Government Commerce, ITIL v3 has been touted as a huge leap forward in making IT services cheaper, more efficient and vital to the business.

"The refresh has transformed the guidance from providing a great service to being the most innovative and best in class," ITIL itself promised. "At the same time, the interface between old and new approaches is seamless so that users do not have to reinvent the wheel when adopting it."

But analysts say the actual reception to v3 by CIOs has been more muted than you'd expect from such a purported big advance.

Find out more in "Midmarket slow to adopt ITIL v3." Also:

  ITIL versus MOF
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I love ITIL … I just don't use it anymore.

Please let me explain. I have spent much of my IT career in turnaround assignments: Someone decides that IT needs to be "fixed" -- and I'm the fixer. This is grueling work. I often need to repair the IT/business relationship while improving methods and practices, all while keeping the wheels moving. The net result of this is that I am a very high-mileage IT practitioner.

In my first turnaround role, I looked for but could not find some type of standard I could use as a set of ready-to-use best practices. I toyed with the Capability Maturity Model, but it did not help me much with processes, tools and methods. I explored CoBIT, but its focus was (and is) too narrow. I needed something that would describe how I should deliver IT products and services to my business customers, something that covered the range from governance to implementation to maintenance to enhancement.

In short, I needed something that gave me a shortcut for running a reliable, credible IT organization.

Learn more in "ITIL versus MOF." Also:

  ITIL at SMBs challenging but rewarding
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Lou Hunnebeck compares the challenges of adopting an ITIL strategy to those of starting a diet: lifestyle changes take some getting used to, and you'll probably still crave sweets.

"IT folks are ones and zeroes people. They want a kit," said Hunnebeck, IT Service Management (ITSM) practice director at CCN Inc., a New York-based ITSM and IT workforce technology provider. "ITIL can be very frightening because it takes a certain amount of trust. It's really about changing culture."

But more small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are adopting the concepts set forth in ITIL, which puts a framework around IT practices and aligns them with business strategy. A revised version of ITIL standards is expected to be released at the end of May, with new instructional materials to follow in about a year, according to Hank Marquis, director of ITSM consulting at Enterprise Management Associates, an analyst and consulting firm in Boulder, Colo.

Find out more in "ITIL at SMBs challenging but rewarding." Also:

  The Latest Wave in Service Management
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A few years ago, CIO Barry Paxman of Cascade Designs Inc., a Seattle-based maker of camping equipment, began investigating ways to improve how his group developed solutions and handled service calls. His efforts led him to the IT Infrastructure Library, or ITIL -- a kind of CIO playbook.

After further study, Paxman concluded that his 11-person staff couldn't handle the sweeping changes ITIL would require. "The real turnoff for me was the overload of information and the feeling that it was going to be overwhelming for my developers," he says. And so he opted to stick with regular meetings and informal responses to help desk incidents. "Although ITIL has a lot of good ideas, we simply didn't have the time or resources to put them into practice."

Some 300 miles east in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, Mike Carper, divisional vice president of technology and operations at Coldwater Creek Inc., a women's apparel company with $780 million in revenue, faced a similar challenge. Help desk incidents would go days without being resolved; nothing was tracked; staffers fixed problems without taking credit.

Learn more in "ITIL: The Latest Wave in Service Management." Also:

  More resources
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This was first published in January 2008

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