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10 ITIL implementation mistakes and fixes

By Karen Guglielmo, Special Projects Editor

12 Mar 2008 | SearchCIO.com

The IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is implemented in companies worldwide to change and improve processes within an organization. With ITIL, everything is changing -- organizational change as much as process change.

But change doesn't always come easy. Organizations often make mistakes within the first year of an ITIL implementation, and that's normal. In his presentation at Pink Elephant Inc.'s 12th Annual International IT Service Management Conference & Exhibition, Graham Price, IT management consultant at Pink Elephant, addressed the 10 biggest mistakes IT organizations make during the first year of an ITIL implementation.

Mistake No. 1: There is no vision. No one is sure of what is happening with ITIL and there are no clear answers.
What to do: Make sure the plan and focus for the ITIL project is clear, so you can get buy-in or support. A vision will also build momentum for the initiative.

Mistake No. 2: Top-down commitment isn't necessary. The project can be infiltrated via middle management.
What to do: You really need an executive sponsor for ITIL, especially when you need more time, money or resources. It's hard to sell ITIL to an executive board, especially when executives have no idea what you're talking about. You need a boardroom champion or sponsor for any ITIL project.

Mistake No. 3: We don't need a business case. We know why ITIL is important and why we're doing it.
What to do: You need to articulate the business benefits of ITIL to the stakeholders. Create a project checklist that includes the following items:

  • Understand and articulate cost. We know there's a cost for doing ITIL -- but what do we get in return?
  • Confirm the scope. This must be very clear.
  • Specify success criteria and define benefits. Define the success of your program and how to meet your goals. Outlining benefits will help justify the resources you need.

Mistake No. 4: We don't need an initial baseline. Let's just get started.
What to do: Figure out what you're trying to improve on. Have specific targets identified and have examples of usable baseline methods such as maturity assessment and change readiness assessment.

Mistake No. 5: ITIL is not a strategic project, so we can use existing resources to implement it.
What to do: Create a formal project plan and identify the best resources for the project, not just people who have free time. Create a "Dream Team" of ITIL resources that includes the following: an executive sponsor, steering committee, stakeholders, process owner, process manager, project manager, process advisor and process team members.

Mistake No. 6: We don't need a communications strategy. A few emails and a kickoff meeting will suffice.
What to do: A clear communications strategy will help you tell management the what, when and why for the ITIL project. Use a variety of ways to communicate. Most people prefer face-to-face communications (Web meetings, videocasts, etc.) vs. just email. Be creative to bring attention to the project. Involve a marketing or communications person to help create a communications strategy. Tailor the messages for your various target audiences, i.e., senior management, middle management, etc. Have a consistent message and use the same terminology throughout all communications. Two-way, interactive communication allows for more user feedback.

Mistake No. 7: We don't need an overall process strategy. Different process teams can do their own thing and we'll worry about process integration later. Let's just get it done.
What to do: Introduce document control and establish common templates for all processes. Be consistent. Design your processes with integration in mind.

Mistake No. 8: We'll start with a new tool and build processes around that later.
What to do: Allow ample time for implementation. When selecting a tool, remember that the vendor's version of ITIL isn't necessarily the same as yours. Listen to the vendor's views, but base your selection on your own plan and process design.

Mistake No. 9: Unmanaged scope creep. Manage growth as you go along.
What to do: Don't bite off more than you can chew. Continual service improvement is a large part of the new ITIL. You don't need to get it perfect out of the gate. Work on making it better and keep improving. A steering committee should approve any scope changes.

Mistake No. 10: We don't expect much resistance to ITIL. We'll just tell them what to do.
What to do: People will resist change and need a reason to change. Let your staff know what's in it for them. You're not just changing processes with ITIL -- you're changing culture and people, too.

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