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10 Reasons Why Your ITIL Implementation Will Fail

03/07/2012 by: The SunView Team

Life is not about expecting failure. Well, perhaps that's the optimist in me talking, but in my experience most people rarely start something calculating that it won't work out. Even with Pandora leaving hope in that ill fated box, we all tend to think things will work out. Unfortunately, from relationships to IT improvement projects, many times they don't, at least not at first.
Even with the inexplicably weak outlook we march on. We attempt new things, with an outlook that we can make things better, improve them even. Experts weigh in, some incredibly insightful, and others just making a quick "buck." Either way, we like to take their advice, often thinking this will be the one thing that makes a difference. We kick out our own subject matter expertise gained from existing in the real world, and subscribe to the fact that their suggestions, probably not based on any reality, and entrenched more in theoretical musings than much of anything else, are better for us, our life, and our organization. A big, and perhaps the first, mistake.
Mistakes pay out in a capital known as experience though. That is, the do if we learn both from our own lessons as well as those of others. Plus, even with all those "experts" that might steer us for monetary gain, there are still those that have intentions of improving the world, our lives, and our organizations.

Recently, Stephen Mann, an analyst at Forrester (if you aren't reading his blog, you should be), posted some suggestions on how to get started with ITIL in just about 30 minutes. He's one of the good guys, not one of those we mentioned above. In fact, there are some great suggestions in his post, and if you've been wondering what ITIL is all about, or had some questions about some of the mistakes that can be made, Stephen gives a great introduction.

Reading Stephen's blog, we started thinking about a lot of people that seem to attach to ITIL as a buzzword, and even worse, love to talk or focus on "ITIL Implementation." If those two words make you shiver a little bit, you are quite at home and will enjoy the list we put together below. If they don't, you definitely need to read through these 10 missteps before you even think about going any further with ITIL.

1. You treated it as an implementation.
Stephen's blog touches on this briefly. ITIL is not something you implement, it is not a standard. It is a set of best practices that you can integrate into the unique properties of your IT organization.

2. You hadn't already evaluated your existing processes.
ITIL isn't simply going to solve all your problems. There are two key components of any organizational improvement, and that is process improvement and the ability of people (See Item 3) to change or adapt to change.

3. You didn't spend enough time getting people on board.
This could be hit or miss, but it is more likely to miss if you simply sent a team out to make the changes, and did not directly include the people affected by the changes. Work done on bringing people over to the new initiative, especially those passive resistors, early and throughout the process, will pay handsomely in a projects success.

4. You picked areas of ITIL that didn't demonstrate ROI immediately.
Some areas of IT Service Management are more reactive to change from best practices like ITIL. For Example, looking at Service Desk, Change Management, or Self Service improvements, will tend to have immediate results, and are highly influenced by automation. If you are looking to get buy-in for longer-term projects, start with these areas and then move outward. Once an organization can see impact from ITIL, future projects will be easier to get everyone on board.

5. You approached ITIL and its various components subjectively.
Whatever emotions and previous experiences (failures or successes) you take with you into applying ITIL concepts and best practices will cause pain. Like everything else, look at the big picture, and be as objective as possible.

6. You placed too little importance on your ITSM solution.
Your ITSM solution is the CPU of your IT organization. If it's bogged down, or unable to change and move at the speed of the new processes, ITIL may not help. Again, take a step back and see how your goals line up with the abilities of your tool. Of course, we'd love for you to take a look at ChangeGear, built with ITIL best practices in mind, out of the box.

7. You focused on ITIL as a goal that has a finish line.
ITIL tends to work best as an iterative process with continuous service improvement. So, in a manner of speaking, you will never be finished with ITIL, that is if you plan on it being a successful part of your IT organizational philosophy.

8. You compartmentalized the benefits to IT and/or technology.
The entire organization, not just IT should see benefits, and thus should understand that changes will be occurring and will likely impact the business as a whole. Besides, with the modern metamorphosis of the IT department, ITIL can fit nicely into the other technology initiatives already happening around the organization.

9. You tried to improve too many areas at once.
There are no rules to adopting ITIL best practices. This is your organization. You can do as little or as much as you want. Stephen's blog highlights some of the best and most common places to start, which is probably a good idea. Just stick with the idea that boiling the ocean tends to lead to failure, or at least a lot of unhappy beach goers.

10. You ignored the influence of, and impact to, culture.
Your organization is unique. Before implementing anything, take a step back and look at how it approaches change, and how it may be affected by change. Understanding the culture you will be working within, might just change a failure to a success.

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