5 excuses why IT organizations avoid ITIL implementation

In my line of work, even in this day and age I come across many IT organizations that don’t follow any ITSM guidelines or principles. With a long history and widespread adoption within the industry, ITIL is certainly the most appealing solution for ITSM implementation. Of course, ISO 20000 is another viable option, but they are not competitors in the field.

Therefore, I’m always surprised when IT organizations have heard of best practice frameworks, have done some research, but in the end decided not to follow that path. If you are wondering what the most common “explanations” for not jumping on the ITIL train might be, here are my top five “reasons” why IT organizations don’t implement ITIL.

#1 – ITIL is exclusively for large organizations

The most fascinating “feature” of ITIL is, by far, its flexibility; you don’t have to force complete implementation in order to get the benefits. Smaller IT organizations may even have an advantage in ITIL implementation – smaller implementation scope means a faster and more cost-effective implementation. Some common issues smaller organizations may face with ITIL implementation are addressed in the following articles: ITIL Incident Management – How to separate roles at different support levels, What ITIL roles can be combined in one person?, and 5 ways ITIL can help your small business grow.

#2 – ITIL is exclusively for IT service providers

Every IT organization is a service provider. What differentiates one from another is its customers; Type I (Internal Service Provider) is tied to a single Business Unit, Type II (Shared Services Unit) provides services to the whole organization (just like Finance, HR, or Procurement), and only Type III (External Service Provider) provides services to external customers. By following best practices in ITSM, each service provider type is trying to gain a competitive advantage in order to secure its existing position; Type I and Type II will compete against external providers, and vice versa. If Type I and Type II service providers are not doing anything to ensure a competitive advantage, they are at risk for getting outsourced by better-performing external organizations.

You can read more on service provider types in the following articles: ITIL Service Provider types – Type I: Internal service provider, ITIL Service Provider types – Type 2 or Shared Services Unit, and ITIL Service Provider types – Type 3 or External Service Provider.

#3 – ITIL Implementation is time consuming and expensive

… if performed by untrained individuals, or unfocused / undedicated organizations – if I may add. It should be obvious that at least some level of familiarity with ITIL is required before considering implementation. Luckily, knowledge can be obtained easily through training and certification (both online and offline), external consulting, and of course, Internet articles such as this one.

As mentioned before, ITIL is flexible regarding implementation; therefore, implementation can start with one or only a few “core” modules from Service Operations (notably Event Management, Incident Management, and Request Fulfillment). A smaller scope will result in a shorter implementation time scale, and necessary documentation is easily found on our website, which contains everything you may need for ITIL implementation without expensive consulting fees.

You can get some general guidelines regarding ITIL implementation in the following article: Ready, steady… go – Starting ITIL implementation.

#4 – ITIL has no visible benefits

IT organizations may fall into a false sense of security when business is going well, when almost every problem can be solved by throwing enough money at it, or by hiring more people to take over the additional load. But, once circumstances change, which we all experienced with the fall of the global economy, IT organizations face challenges to do more with less.

One of the major guidelines within ITIL is to provide the best possible service with the lowest possible cost. This philosophy is present in every part of the service lifecycle, and is one of the core values in the whole value chain. On top of that, ITIL is focused on creating value for the business by bringing a clear connection between business and IT processes, measurable performance of supporting processes, and measurable quality of service provided.

More information on this topic can be found in our knowledgebase article: Why ITIL?

#5 – Our organization has external providers doing most / all of the work

Managing a large number of vendors and external providers is like trying to keep a colony of ants in a straight line using a wooden stick. Each provider is only concerned with its own service scope, and generally, chaos is ensured when a single action requires coordination between two or more providers. Managing third-party providers and suppliers, their contracts, and obligations requires a great deal of understanding of your own organization, even greater than if outsourced work would be done internally. When services are provided internally, there is still flexibility to change or improve anything that was not arranged properly, without contractual setbacks or additional charges that are often included when dealing with external providers.

Only once you clearly understand both the business your company is in, and the outcomes IT has to produce in order to support the business, can you confidently outsource parts or whole services to third parties. You can read more on this topic in the following article: ITIL Supplier management – the third party you depend on.

Value is the key reason why you should start implementing ITIL

The concept of value is elusive for IT organizations that decide against ITIL (or ITSM in general), as described within this article. Value comes from a service’s ability to be fit for purpose and fit for use (utility and warranty). Without the service, there is no value. You can read more on service value in the following articles: ITIL strategy – Framing the value of services (part I).

From the customer’s perspective, the service is a “black box” that produces the desired outcomes. The owner (IT organization) of the “black box” (service) expects the service provider to do whatever it takes, within agreed constraints (e.g., price) to keep the “black box” working. This set of actions required for the “black box” to keep working within given constraints is what ITIL describes as best practice framework, and at this moment there are very few reasons for not following it, though none of them are listed in this article.

Use this free  ITIL Gap Analysis Tool to see how compatible your organization is with ITIL recommendations.