An ITIL project in the real world

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Building the case for an ITIL project

That can be a real challenge. Here are the lessons I learned trying to get something started in the company where I work:

  • Lesson #1) Do not build a case based solely on the fact that your IT is inefficient and that adhering to best practices will solve the problem.

    That does not work (I tried!) It is badly received by all managers that have patiently been trying to improve the support services in their group. Why would so-called best practices be any better than what they are doing? And these best practices are no different from what we already do anyway! We have more urgent matters...

  • Lesson #2) Do not try to implement an ITIL discipline accross the organization without a project

    Implementing an ITIL discipline will change habits, organization, roles and responsibilities. In lack of a formally accepted project, the benefits of your initiative will be largely outweighted by the efforts you will invest in making these changes happen - you might even get nothing in the end!

    As most ITIL disciplines are cross-functional, you need strong support from top management to be able to implement real improvements. In lack of such a support, in lack of project supported by top management, the changes you can bring are limited to the groups which are under the control of the manager requesting the change. And even then, a project will help focusing, following up, controling we stay on track and get the right deliverables...

    I tried one year to bring improvements without a project. I will not brag about the results!

  • Lesson #3) Build the case based on needs expressed by the management

    Now that's not a new thing. Be close to your "customer". Ask them where they feel the pain. Ask them what they think is not working properly. Scope the discussion around a specific ITIL discipline (of course this implies that you know your topic well). Write carefully all their needs. All their requirements.

    Organize these requirements. See if that ITIL discipline implementation could help. Turn it around from their point of view. Check what they haven't mentionned. Why? Maybe that part of the process is working just fine!

    Then build the project with their words, focusing on their requirements, and staying within the scope of a specific ITIL disciple. The project must be their solution to their problem.

    This is how I have finally built the case for this "Incident Management" project. It seems that it will come through now... I can't wait to confirm...


  • Here's some other thoughts on building the business case...

    1. Build it as a phased programme that contains a number of smaller projects, certainly nothing moer than 90 days from stat to finish. You will focus people's mind on each 90 day delivery and obtain some real benefit every 3 months. Then, once the benefiots begin to show - you will have the credibility and real results to continue with the next project within the programme.

    2. Make sure you deliver small pieces of "sexy" stuff along the way. This could be a nwe dashboard, management report, trending graphs or chart tracking the reduction in repeat incidents - whatever. Just make sure there's something from each proejct that tries to go "above and beyond" what your stakeholders expectations are.

    3. Try to resolve some long standing busines challenge whilst you implement your ITIL projects. Learn the top 3 issues of each of the key business areas and demonstrate how your proejct has allieviated or resolved their issues. Result - much more buy-in and you create a buzz about ITIL in your organisation.

    4. Learn from your mistakes, own up to them, and "fail fast". By this I mean accept that it is not a perfect world. We're all "naked apes" at the end of the day - but demonstrate that any mistakes have been fully understood, correctly as soon as they were noticed and won't be repeated in the future. Fear of failure prevents real results. Let everyone know that you are not afraid because you know how to "fail fast".

    5. Last tip - for now - Plan all the way through to benefits realisation. Have someone made responsible for measuring, quantifying and documenting the results that your proejcts bring around. It's quite an effort but CRITICAL. As programme manager you should have one piece of paper that you carry around with you all the time. It lists: the costs you have expended with your projects and the resulting real benefits. The benefits should outweight the costs. For CIO's - it's incredibly difficult to "argue" with real numbers. (and CFO's for that matter!)

    Keep up the great work on this Blog!

    Dr. ITIL.

    By Blogger Dr. ITiL, at 12:42 AM  

  • Dr, thanks for the added advice - it confirms to me we are heading in the right direction...

    By Blogger ITIL Project Manager, at 2:09 AM  

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