Learning the laws of navigation

ITIL has recently seen tremendous growth in popularity. With discussion forums popping up around North America, certification rates going through the roof, and ITIL buzzwords on every IT jockey’s lips, ITIL has consolidated its position as the undisputed standard for the management of IT services organizations.

More about ITIL

ITIL was created in the 1980s by the British government’s Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA), with the objective of promoting better use of IT services and resources. This resulted in what is sometimes referred to as ITIL version one. The initial version rapidly grew in popularity in the UK, while slowly gaining acceptance across the world. With the advent of distributed computing and the Internet, the requirements of service management changed, and so did ITIL. The CCTA became an integral part of the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) in 2001, and the OGC published an updated ITIL known as version two. Version two is now the most widely used IT service management best-practice approach in the world. IT is also used by a number of major vendors as the standard for automated network and systems management (NSM) tools.

“ITIL is based on a centralized model of IT that existed in 1980,” writes Jan Duffy, principal analyst of Solutions Advisory Services for IDC Canada, in an IDC research paper1 focussing on IT service management. “Since then, the advent of distributed computing and the Internet have expanded the requirements of service management, and ITIL has adapted accordingly. Today, ITIL is the de facto worldwide standard for managing infrastructure, with a supporting role being played by a growing number of new IT process frameworks that complement ITIL.”

For the uninitiated, ITIL is the acronym for the IT Infrastructure Library, which represents best practices for IT service management. It comprises a series of books and information which provide guidance on the quality provision of IT services.

With all the frenzy surrounding ITIL, and with all the tangible and intangible benefits associated with a process-driven organization, why do we still see only a few processes deployed within IT organizations? Why do IT organizations seem to give up championing ITIL after two or three processes?

Some claim that the ITIL framework is flawed – too conceptual, not practical enough. But it is the means used to deploy ITIL that need to be revised. Starting off on the wrong foot will seriously jeopardize the success of an ITIL implementation. CIOs need to know and implement the laws of navigation if they want to see the business-enabling value of ITIL.

This need for focus on proper planning is confirmed by Meta Group. According to research published in 2004, 95 percent of IT projects have difficulty respecting their budgets and their schedules. And this past February, the President of L

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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