Watch for pitfalls from ITIL

The IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL), a collection of best practices for IT operations, is gaining notice among CIOs because the guidelines it offers can improve their IT department’s quality of service, including increased system uptime, faster problem resolution and better security.

But using ITIL isn’t easy, because it demands major changes in how IT organizations are run. Consultant Malcolm Fry offers some reasons why ITIL projects fail:

• Lack of management commitment. ITIL takes time and a lot of process change. Employees won’t commit to either without top-level support from both IT and the business.

• Complexity. IT staff will get overwhelmed if you break each ITIL process into 40 or 50 steps. Ideally, limit the number of steps to five or six.

• Poor work instructions. ITIL gives you guidance, but it doesn’t tell you how to actually do anything. You need to spend time figuring out how ITIL’s best practices apply to your organization.

• Misdirected metrics. You need to measure quality, not just performance. For instance, often the top metric for service desks is number of incidents resolved in the first call. Customers, however, will define success as not having to make the call in the first place.

• Diminished momentum. ITIL can be a five-year project, and long projects are hard to keep going. You need to develop achievable goals that keep this in mind.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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