Why are people not making ITIL a priority

By ITIL® from Experience©

It’s a recurring theme; the project to implement an ITIL® process or the ITSM tool gets stalled all the time. The project is frustrated: “People don’t get it! It’s ironic, if they would focus on improving their processes it would free them up and they wouldn’t be stretched thin all the time.”

The conflict between operations and projects is a classic. The project's priority is to deliver on its objectives on time, on budget and to the expected level of quality. On the other hand priorities for operations typically are:

  1. Major Incidents (e.g. affecting availability, security threats);
  2. Incidents;
  3. Service Requests;
  4. Service Design issues like capacity and availability risks (e.g. patching and security);
  5. High priority projects (e.g. end of life/out of warranty replacement of critical equipment, roll out of new features/technology);
  6. Projects (e.g. life-cycle replacement of aging equipment, business enhancements); and
  7. Finally, IT process improvements and training.

The fact of the matter is that for most organizations process improvement is the lowest priority. For sure senior management and the CIO can say that process improvement a high-priority.

Prioritizing the implementation of an ITIL® process over meeting business needs is embarrassing when it is something IT should have been doing all along, like Change Management, Problem Management or IT Asset Management (ITAM). It is also difficult for the business to accept that IT will be dedicating resources to themselves when they are not meeting their commitments. Moreover, a CIO may say that process improvement is a priority, it will not want to look bad in front of their peers, the heads of business units, by prioritizing one of its own project over theirs. (See What does it mean to have CIO and management support).

This can be summarized as the ongoing tug-of-war1 between short-term objectives which requires agility to constantly adjust to a changing reality vs. the long term strategic objectives which requires continuous innovation, foresight and relentless process improvements.

However, even with this backing it is difficult for many organizations to make the ITIL®/ITSM project or process improvement a priority as they struggle to meet day-to-day and project workloads (see How to dedicate people when we’re struggling to manage our workload).

Besides, the status quo is easier know than to create new ways of working. As people who work at improving processes can attest, improving a process is tough work especially when various organizational units are involved. Just think of the struggle of creating a new employee onboarding process as one example of such a challenge.

All this helps make process improvements a low priority. It also explains why implementations from the bottom up or grass roots are often as challenging as when they are driven from the top.

Last updated on: 2017-12-16
Published on: 2012-06-25

Some people are happy to see an ITIL® process implementation project finally rocking the boat while others think that it will cause a massive shipwreck

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