I’ve been involved in many ITIL® implementations over the years. There’s a common theme in which needs to be corrected at the beginning of almost all of them – ITIL implementations are often viewed at IT programs. This is really a shame as IT Service Management has always been about the business. It will always take time for IT to move from the red-headed step child to trusted business enabler. But that’s exactly what IT can be with a good ITIL implementation.
There really is no concept, process, or practice within the iTIL framework that is solely IT focused. There is always a drive to unify IT and the business. Whether this is reality in real-world implementations depends largely on the ability of the IT organization recognize business priorities and strategies and to make an honest attempt to align with and support the business.
The IT department is often filled with smart technology people. What we need are some good business people – those that understand the dynamics of the business and how technology and services can be leveraged to increase performance and remove constraints. Many of the skills and capabilities referenced in ITIL are more business-focused than technically-focused. This can provide a real organizational benefit when IT embraces this dynamic instead of fighting it.
ITIL has always attempted to be the type of framework that unifies the IT and the business. But rarely do organizations address the cultural issues that create friction and disunity between IT and other business units. Left unchecked, these cultural issues often lead to failure.
ITIL credits success to the fact that it is non-prescriptive. (Some would argue that there is a lot of prescriptive advice contained in the non-prescriptive framework, but that’s another discussion.) There should be a concerted effort, sometimes very prescriptive in nature, that seeks to bring more intentional unity between IT and the business. With the ever-increasing use of shadow IT resources, IT capabilities will continue to become more dispersed through the organization. Good control, management, and governance driven by the business will enable ITIL implementations to provide more value.
Yes, ITIL does help the business. When implemented with a business focus, ITIL can help transform the IT organization to a true business enabler.