ITIL Unplugged, a five part series on the Information Technology Infrastructure Library

ITIL, or the Information Technology Infrastructure Library has fascinated me ever since I started in the industry. Early in my career I had heard a colleague say that “ITIL was the holy grail of structured IT management” and from that day forward my interest was piqued. At the time the term held a sort of mystical quality about it. It conjured images of an IT utopia where everything functioned like a well oiled machine, services ran themselves, and large service delivery teams were a thing of the past. Perceptions can be very misleading to the untrained mind.

Today more than 20 years after the birth of ITIL, most fortune 500 companies, industry leaders, and large IT shops have implemented some form if ITIL, some very successfully, some not. The most elusive part of ITIL for some organizations is that it’s designed as a framework to be implemented according to the relevant details of the business in question. Very rarely do you see corporation’s even competitors in the same industry implement it in the same way. In addition to this, ITIL is also frequently viewed as an end state rather than a consistent change in approach or a foundational change in the culture of service management. This tends to complicate matters and is exacerbated by a lack of understanding at various employee and management levels in organizations, including those responsible for setting the tone and driving policy.

The fact that ITIL is in its 3rd version and that so many organizations have adopted it has done little to demystify it for those organizations who have not adopted the framework into their businesses even though it has been around in some form since the 1980’s. ITIL is moving right along into its third decade.

ITIL has deep roots extending into the foundations of six sigma and TQM, and interestingly enough was influenced in many areas by Dr. W Edwards Deming (you should recognize the Deming cycle) who had profound contributions to not only TQM and Six Sigma, but to the methods and ultimate success of the post WW2 restructuring of Japan and it’s industrial complex. I’m sure Deming never considered in the 1950’s how far reaching his ideas on quality and continual improvement would reach into the information age and beyond.

There is an innumerable body of articles floating around which cite the reasons why organizations fail to implement ITIL. The number of reasons is as diverse as the businesses that try to implement the framework. This is not surprising to me considering the sheer number of practitioners out there that view ITIL as a religion, a stark contrast against the backdrop of execs and managers who have a vague view of ITIL and what it means to their company.

In this series we are going to cover ITIL in detail from several different perspectives. We are going to look at the failures, the successes and what makes ITIL the most profound and confusing framework for IT service management today.

Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

Justin White

© Justin White and JCW Press, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Justin White and Nolander Press with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


About JCW Press
20 year technology profesional. Microsoft veteran.

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