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ITIL Projects: What to Do, and What Not to Do

05/02/2012 by: The SunView Team

Navigating life successfully is about learning from your own mistakes, as well as the mistakes of others. IT, for better or worse, follows the same logic. Often though, we get wrapped up more in trying to figure out how to fix the problems ourselves, or simply try to follow a boilerplate set of instructions. IT, or even life for that matter, doesn't quite work that way.

Instead, what we must do is find both what has, and has not, worked for others. Then we can apply that knowledge within our own organization. We can then weave this into our own body of experience, finding a homogeneous mixture of what works for other teams, as well as our own. The best practices found in ITIL work perfectly in this regard.

Unfortunately, many teams often forget to consider those that have previously traveled the path. Even though there is a clear, well-worn trail, it can be more accepted to ignore the lessons of those that have succeeded, as well as those that have failed. All this ultimately results in a project missing the forest for the trees. In other words, failure, or in most cases, results don't justify the effort put in.

The important thing to remember is that in order to garner ROI from your project, especially one based in implementing the best practices from ITIL, you not only need to consider the uniqueness of your own organization, but also many of the similarities that exist to others. Moreover, a simple set of "dos" and "don'ts" can be incredibly valuable.

Listed below, we created a list of five dos and five don'ts that are gathered from our own experience, and the success we have seen with our customers. Take a look at this list, and then check out our ITIL Terms Getting started guide. Whether you are looking to start a project, just starting one, or have one ongoing, this list of thirty five terms defined will be an excellent resource.

The DOs

Adopt ITIL in pieces, not all at once.

There is not a requirement to implement every aspect of ITIL from the start. In fact, start with the areas that will have the greatest impact on your organization immediately. We typically see Change Management, Service Management, and Configuration Management as the first three key areas an organization will quickly see benefit in.

Understand the business is always looking for ROI, no matter the standard.

Resources, likely significant ones, will go into an ITIL project. Your organization is going to want to see ROI from that. So, be sure to pick areas that will give you the "biggest bang for your buck." Starting there will set the stage for additional projects down the road. Service Desk or Incident Management improvements are always a great place to start.

Remember ITIL is a set of best practices, not commandments.

Ultimately, the direction your organization decides to go with any project is your decision. ITIL offers a well-tested set of best practices. However, each organization will have unique characteristics, and not everything will be applicable. For example, you may not have the scope to include a full configuration management project, but you could still benefit from some of the recommendations found for managing assets.

Involve the business equally and completely.

The users of any service often have the best suggestion for how to improve it. This means understanding how IT services impact the various areas of the business, and giving those users, your customers essentially, a voice in any improvement project is essential to an ITIL project's success.

Consider technology as a partner, not another roadblock.

Technology should work with you, not against you. That means take a realistic evaluation of the capabilities of your current ITSM tool. If you find you will need to modify your processes to meet limitations of the product, it is very likely it is time for a new solution.

The DON'Ts

Expect ITIL to solve every problem.

Improving your IT Service Management operation will require changes in a variety of areas. ITIL won't be able to fix everything. Key items like additional training for your staff and encouraging better communication are just two areas that will likely need to be addressed as well.

Ignore constructive criticism from the organization.

Just because the business isn't a part of the technology team doesn't mean they can't offer valuable insight. Every opportunity to include the business should be considered, and even if you don't accept their suggestion, demonstrating that you considered it will go a long way.

Believe what worked for others will automatically work for you.

Sometimes specific industries can get caught in the belief that because it worked for another organization there is no chance for failure within their own. That just simply isn't true. We can learn from both successes and failures. However, it is important to recognize the individuality of your organization. People, customers, and culture will greatly impact a project, even one like ITIL, more than anyone initially assumes.

Forget to evaluate processes before, during, and after your project.

Continual improvement is one of the essential aspects of ITIL. You will need to understand where you are, where you are going, and where you came from with regard to ITIL related improvements. This body of knowledge will help you take best practices and recommendations, and then tailor them to your particular requirements.

Abandon an effort, simply because it seems difficult.

ITIL isn't a plug-and-play effort. That means there will be some growing pains related to the changes that will naturally come about. Since most people tend to fear, or be apathetic to change, don't base a projects success or failure on how easy or simple it may seem. Continue to remind yourself, and your team, others have done this and seen great success - you can too.