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12 May 2011 | Juan Jimenez Blog
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ITIL Adoption: Management Not Required For Assembly
This week Juan explains how it is possible to begin ITIL adoption without management commitment or a specific budget...

  Juan Jimenez

It has been several months since I wrote my last blog entry, and as you can probably imagine, I have been very busy. The end of 2010 and the first quarter of 2011 were very hectic for me, and my work has required me to travel all over the Americas. In the past few months, I have also seen a distinct uptick in the worldwide economy, evidenced by organizations loosening the training budgets, among other factors. Some hiring is taking place as well, but mostly at the mid to upper levels of management, with some notable exceptions (Silicon Valley, for example… and McDonalds). There is still plenty of room for improvement in unemployment statistics, but I am convinced that the process of bringing relief to the job market has begun, and not a moment too soon.

As you may have also noticed, on average the budgets for service management improvement initiatives are still tight in all but the most critical areas of IT. Most of my customers are focusing on areas where they feel the most pain, and even then, the emphasis is on triage and stabilization rather than diagnosis and treatment.

This brings me to the subject of this blog. As you know, I choose most of my blog subjects on the basis of what I see discussed on the business networking web sites. One particular query from a gentleman in the IT world drew my attention. He asked if it was possible to begin ITIL adoption without management commitment, or a specific budget.

I noticed the discussion a few days after the question was posted, and I was not surprised to see the responses given by that point. Lots of “book replies” from “consultants” and practitioners unequivocally stating that this was not possible, because ITIL requires management commitment to avoid utter failure. I even saw some of the usual “you can’t implement ITIL…” comments, causing me to shake my head in amazement to see there are still people who think ITIL can be implemented. See my previous blogs on this subject.

My response to the question was the complete opposite of what had been said so far. I told the author that it is entirely possible to do exactly what he was asking. Adoption of ITIL can certainly be performed without any commitment from management, and in most cases without any specific budget. (Cue the angry masses claiming sacrilege, as they light the fire and prepare the stakes.) I fully stand by that statement, and here is why.

The key to the issue is to clearly understand what is being asked. The word used by the author of the post was entirely appropriate: “ADOPTION.” The use of the word shows that he clearly understands how to use ITIL. It is not a methodology, so it cannot be implemented. To use it, you find which best practices can be applied to your service management activities, and then ADOPT and ADAPT. But how can that happen without management commitment, you ask?

Simple – you do not need management commitment to exercise your personal initiative and look inside the ITIL core guidance volumes to find ideas on how to improve your activities in IT. You do not even need a budget, other than perhaps the funds to purchase one or more of the books, and even then you can begin with the volume that applies to your area(s) of involvement in IT, and borrow the books from someone else if necessary.

Let us assume that you work in your organization’s Help Desk (or Hell Desk, if it is run incorrectly…) and you wish to see what activities from an ITIL-aligned Service Desk can be applied to your organization. You may want to improve your prioritization methodology, or the metrics that are needed to give you information that you can use to improve customer satisfaction. Perhaps you are looking for suggestions on escalation procedures, or nothing more than a way to document roles and responsibilities using RACI and/or Swim Lanes, because your process workflows are so cryptic not even the best cryptologists can make sense of them.

Do you need management commitment to open the book(s) and look for ideas? Of course not. Do you need a budget to do the same? Certainly not! No “consultant” is needed either. All you need to do is open the book, find the section(s) that apply to your concerns, and read. The idea is to use the books as a pharmacy that contains medicine, and find the one that will give you relief.

In fact, you should not be surprised that this is how service management improvement activities based on ITIL begin in many organizations – as informal initiatives that lead to improvements, which lead to success, which are then used as justifications to engage in larger initiatives. It is those larger initiatives, projects and programs that will require management commitment and funding in order to succeed. The little things only require a desire to improve, some time and personal effort.

The point to be made here is that you should not lose sight of what ITIL is meant to be. It is not about making busy work for “consultants” claiming only they have been properly anointed with the knowledge and ability to use ITIL for your organization’s benefit. It is also not about practitioners who think the only way to use the books in any organization is the way they did it in their own organizations. ITIL was written as a collection of best practices in IT Service Management that anyone can refer to and use to increase customer satisfaction. Got pain? Find the medicine and obtain relief.

As always, the point of my blogs is to get readers to think, rather than provide ready-made answers, because I will be the first to admit I do not always have them.

Feedback on my blog entries is always welcome!


18th May 2011

Hi Juan,
I finished reading your article and would like to offer some feedback. Actually, I would like to offer validation to your Blog:  ITIL adoption without management commitment, or a specific budget.

I am a recent ITIL v3 Foundations recipient and found your comparison of “Methodology vs. Best Practice” to be accurate. To your point, ITIL will be correctly used when you Adopt / Adapt Best Practices to your specific Service Management Activities vs. what seems to used more commonly today; Implementing ITIL as a methodology. I also agree with this point: “ITIL was written as a collection of best practices in IT Service Management that anyone can refer to and use to increase customer satisfaction. Got pain? Find the medicine and obtain relief.” 

In order to Adopt  or Adapt ITIL, I think those that wish to use ITIL must understand IT Service Management and how ITIL framework can  add value to their IT Service Management group or team. The real value is how ITIL is Good Practice and can positively impact how work is currently being done. ITIL can be customized for your specific organization.

Going back to my study material that I used to pass the ITILV3 Foundations certification, I found this: “Regarding ITIL V3 Lifecycle. The Lifecycle paradigm is the big thing: the Lifecycle is a framework for the interaction of processes which in turn are better integrated with business processes.”

Back to your point of “Got Pain? Find the Medicine and obtain relief. “ITIL v3 is all about business-driven IT.” Some benefits include: Improved use of IT Investments, Integration of business and IT Value, Clear Demonstration of ROI & ROV and IT Service assets linked to Business services. Again this is what I learned my class-work.  I think you are correct that ITIL adoption can be performed without any commitment from management. That said, I think this cannot be a broad based global response. It really comes down the organization itself. Can ITIL be adopted to that specific organization and that organization’s IT Service Management group? I guess the answer is, one will need to try it.

It will take the right person or people to make this happen. With or without Management commitment, I believe that is how ITIL works. It really will take the right person to “Open the Book”, read the right material and make an educated decision.  The ITIL Framework can provide “relief” to the specific concerns and problems that specific  Service Management group is being challenged with.

Brian Owens


21st June 2011

Hi Juan,

I get your points in your post on ITIL adoption, but I think I also understand why you could get a lot of push back.  I work in a DOD IT shop, but I am a contractor.  The management knows less about IT than they probably should, and the few government IT staff members the office has know very little as well.  Getting them to document anything is a task in itself, so at some point you need executive sponsorship to implement ANY change sometimes, not just those related to ITIL.  The only people who really like change are dirty babies.  If you cannot get that grassroots support to implement those things that need done, you need someone else who has the authority in the office to put foot to ass.    



(ITIL® is a Registered Trade Mark of the Office of Government Commerce in the United Kingdom and other countries.)

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