During discussions or ITIL trainings, arguments are heard about ITIL implementation. And there is a pattern in such conversation – for what kind of organizations is ITIL suited? What kind of organizations implement ITIL – small ones or large ones? The usual answer is – large ones. But, is that really so?
The issue is that most people see ITIL as applicable only in large organizations. I also have to admit that this opinion prevails when the people who are involved in the discussion aren’t very familiar with ITIL and don’t have experience with it in real life.
ITIL is defined as a collection of best practices for IT Service Management (ITSM). ITIL consists of a five core books, 4 functions, and 26 processes, that address the problems and thereby improve results. The 5 core books are as follows:
- Service Strategy
- Service Design
- Service Transition
- Service Operation
- Continual Service
When considering small organizations we have to be aware of one thing – they also have customers, incidents, changes, etc. That means that they do many of the activities that big organizations do, so why wouldn’t they be good candidates for ITIL implementation? Yes, one can argue that ITIL processes can be complex, which is correct. But, in the case of smaller organizations pragmatism has to replace bureaucracy. What does that mean? That means that process structure should be narrow, avoiding unnecessary steps.
The IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is applicable to small- and medium-sized organizations. Consider these points:
1.) Don’t be daunted. Remember that ITIL can work for smaller companies. Even if the processes in ITIL were written with big companies in mind, the lessons apply to smaller organizations. ITIL can work for you, too.
2.) Appoint a process owner. You need a leader in charge.
3.) Pick your pieces and prioritize. Choose tenets of ITIL that work for your organization. It’s O.K. to select aspects of ITIL that are right for your organization. Pick up the points you think will work best.
4.) Follow the path, and chart progress. ITIL accountability requires someone assigned to make sure the organization is following ITIL guidelines.
Scope of the ITIL implementation is always a hot topic. Well, maybe the number of implemented processes in small organizations is smaller than in big ones (i.e., focusing on the most important ones), but smaller organizations may still do activities that are not part of (officially) implemented processes. For example, a small company will not have an official Supplier Management process, but the head of IT Service Management (ITSM) will be the one who will manage suppliers. Or strategy – large organizations can have someone dedicated to the topic of strategy (e.g., Business Development Manager), but in small organizations someone from management will take care of this topic.
Large organizations have invested huge effort in processes and organization, consultants have gathered vast experience through many implementations, and training organizations can provide shortcuts in building up the know-how. That’s the opportunity for smaller organizations – there is vast experience and they don’t have to “reinvent the wheel.”
When you put all considerations together, implementing ITIL in smaller organizations seems possible. That doesn’t mean it will be easy. Quite the contrary, I think that small organizations have to plan all details very carefully since they have less room for mistakes, and fewer options when choosing people or designing processes with many activities. But, it’s doable. The critical element is quality people, but that’s also a chance to make better use of their capabilities. And reward them, accordingly.