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When should an SMB draw the line with ITIL best practices?

Where does ITIL fit in with SMBs? It seems more organizations are following ITIL best practices in their overall IT operations and service delivery — creating some form of a service catalog, practicing change management strategies and focusing on service design — but not following ITIL frameworks full circle. Is the trend of ITIL a la carte a good thing?

For example, my colleague Christina Torode recently wrote a story about SMBs and service catalogs — and how many are using ITIL best practices to build a portal or a catalog that works for their specific organization, sometimes using SharePoint and workflow processes, without following ITIL to the letter.

Has ITIL matured to the point of being mainstream, as organizations learn how to pick and choose the ITIL best practices that best suit them? In other words, are they taking what they’ve learned about ITIL in the past and applying it in a more palatable way?

According to Evelyn Hubbert, a senior analyst at Forrester Research Inc., many of her clients have picked the critical pieces of ITIL they need to improve efficiency and effectiveness and adopted them as ITIL best practices. However, without accurate metrics measuring where IT was before the implementation and how ITIL has improved it, it’s harder to continue moving forward after the quick wins.

“[IT] cannot say where they are before they took off and don’t know where they have gotten to and cannot justify the benefits,” Hubbert wrote in an email. “Therefore, the effort is cut.”

Further, she said, ITIL adoption in terms of service delivery (a piece many organizations fail to add) needs to continue for organizations to stay competitive moving forward — especially as technologies continue to grow and change.

“I believe that ITIL will be part of most IT organizations … by 2012,” she said. “With clouds, virtual worlds, etc., the topics of service-level management, service portfolios [and] cost models will become much more critical.”

So the question remains: How much ITIL is enough?

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As an SMB, we have adopted a form of the ITIL change management processes. After 2 years, we believe we are much better off, but as the article discussed, we have no metrics from "before" to prove the value.