ITIL tells us that developing good communications and meaningful processes and working alongside customers and end users are essential, not least to protect IT from the vagaries of often ill-described requirements.
The good news is that practitioner reports are increasingly being complemented by high-quality academic-based research into the benefits of using ITIL. In their exploratory paper Cater-Steel and Pollard (2009) from South Queensland, Australia describe research-based evidence of success using ITIL V2 in four companies in Australia and the USA. What is interesting from the research are descriptions of the critical success factors needed for successful ITIL implementation. Specifically, these are ‘executive management support, interdepartmental communication and collaboration, use of consultants, training, careful software selection, creating an ITIL-friendly culture, process as a priority and customer-focussed metrics’. Whilst this research is somewhat limited because of the research pool (as highlighted by the authors themselves), it clearly shows that ITIL V2 was more successfully deployed when quality initiatives, communications, the creation of an end-to-end service culture and, importantly, strategic direction were in place. These are all key elements in the latest evolution of ITIL.
In trying to advocate different approaches within ITIL itself, are we not preaching to the converted? After all, we have evidence that V2 worked well in the majority of circumstances as long as it was in the domain of IT. By integrating the key elements from ITIL V2, it could be argued, we are substantiating what has been done already and this is acceptable and very well understood. So, four years down the line from the launch of V3, what do IT service management professionals tell us is important? According to Rudd (2010) the need to update the ITIL framework was built on:
- Improving the consistency, structure and comprehensiveness;
- Focussing on outcomes, service value and business integration;
- Taking an holistic approach to services and all stages of the Service Lifecycle, particularly in the area of strategy;
- Improving alignment with other frameworks and standards such as COBIT®, CMMI®, SOA and ISO/ IEC20000;
- Improving alignment and consistency with recent developments within the IT industry’.