BMC: How Much ITIL is Enough?

ATN-300InsightaaS: A recent column by ZDNet’s Joe McKendrick (himself an Across the Net favourite) highlighted the post “How Much ITIL is Enough?” published by BMC’s Chris Rixon in the company’s Communities blog site. It’s easy to see why McKendrick found the post to be valuable: it does a nice job of highlighting the ways that ITIL can be used to both support core IT operational processes and to align those processes with business requirements. Some of the post (actually, much of it) might come across as heresy to ITIL advocates, such as when Rixon urges IT managers to consider whether a “formally specified process [is] really needed in full,” and/or whether the benefit of a specific process can be achieved with existing staff resources. However, in other areas, he highlights some of ITIL’s strengths – for example, when he advises, “If an ITIL process doesn’t support one of your stated goals, look carefully at the purpose of that process. Have you missed an important capability gap in your process audit?” In the end, Rixon suggests that “for best results, mix [technology-centric and customer-centric] approaches with care.” ITIL can, and should, he argues, provide a framework for ensuring that the benefits of both technology-centric and customer-centric design philosophies are realized by the organization.

How Much ITIL Is Enough?

ITIL, and ITSM process design in general, remain divisive topics, sparking a number of healthy online debates in recent times. There are those who believe that any amount of best practice is overkill and that a framework will restrain their process design (this is a relatively extreme position fuelled by unique requirements or prejudice.)

At the other end of the spectrum, there are those who think that their organizations should adopt all ITIL processes–exactly as the books recommend. Unless you’re trying to achieve formal ISO accreditation, this approach can be highly constraining. In reality, even accreditation does not depend on adopting every ITIL detail.

It’s unlikely that your organization will need to adopt ITIL in its entirety–or even benefit from doing so. Make sure you’re not ignoring all other factors and focusing solely on ITIL. Instead, try to balance the recommendations made in the standard with the realities of their operational environment and business goals.

Following are some helpful filters to apply when you’re thinking about the degree to which an ITIL process will fit your environment:

1.Does the ITIL recommendation support your business goals?

If, for example, a formal problem management process will address greater service stability for the business, you can move ahead–applying more filters to help you decide how much to use or what to change…

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