ITIL out of the box

Dear Skep,

A friend of mine works at an organisation that is migrating from one tier-1 ITIL tool vendor to another tier-1 ITIL tool vendor. They have been assured that they can adopt ITIL compliant processes out of the box using their toolset and are starting with Incident, Problem, Change, Service Catalogue, Request Fulfilment, Configuration and Service Level Management.

The vendor also sold a project manager and a technical guy for implementation.

It all seems too easy. What could possibly go wrong?

Thanks in advance.

Dear Nervous

You should relax. Nothing can go wrong here. Look at all the things you have on your side ... um.. I mean your friend has on their side:

  1. Implementing a tool is the most effective and cost-effective way to drive cultural change and improve process - it really hammers it home
  2. Your new and preferred vendor is clearly confident and adept, ready to take on a comprehensive set of ITIL processes all at once. They can do this because they can knock off an ITIL process in one or two months, unlike the ITIL consultants who try to tell you cultural transformations take years
  3. Software vendors are expert in ITIL. The tier-1 vendors you refer to have OGC's official certification of that on their products, as they frequently remind us
  4. When you get software vendors' resources to do your project management for you, you buy the best in the industry - that's why you pay a premium.
  5. Who better to understand how to implement ITIL processes than the vendor of the tool? C'mom this should be obvious. The vendor's technical staff may seem young to you, and maybe their only formal certifications are a computer science degree and a training course in their own product, but you can be sure they have done hundreds of ITIL process transformations in the same industry vertical as you using their product
  6. Contracting with software vendors for delivery of an outcome is guaranteed - that's another reason why you pay more. They stand behind their products. They bring in their very best people from all over the world, especially in the pre-sales cycle, and again if the project is going badly wrong.
  7. Software vendors have rich IP in ITIL processes: their material is always exciting and colourful and easy to understand
  8. Software vendors demonstrate their deep understanding of cultural change through their own internal sensitive handling of human resources

Yup. When you hand your ITSM journey over to the software vendor you put yourself in safe hands.

Of course none of this applies to the tier-1 vendor that you are I mean your friend is migrating away from. Clearly the outgoing vendor had deficient non-ITIL-compliant technology and hopeless implementation skills, otherwise why would you be going from one to another? It must be their fault that you haven't already achieved ITIL nirvana.


non-ITIL compliant technology

Yes, I am 95% certain that I know the tool you are mentioning implements less than 25% of the first two books (Service Strategy and Service Design). Once the project was complete... the vendor went on to evangelize that they can implement ITIL in 4 weeks or less with case studies and speaking engagements.

case studies and speaking engagements

ImageFrom Introduction to Real ITSM:

In order to optimise being managed by vendors, it is worth seeking to be a reference site. Being a reference site will bring benefits:
Love and attention. This requires far more vendor resource than could ever be sustained in more than a few clients, so be one of them.
Glory. Vendors will make you look a hero, in glossy brochures, advertisements, articles and best of all conference presentations. They will put your CIO’s face on full page ads in magazines where their peers will see and then give them a poster-size framed version of the ad for their office wall.
Conferences. Research on the number of reference sites whose CIO went to the vendor’s world conference at the vendor’s expense as a speaker or regularly appeared on speaking tours to warm sunny countries would yield interesting results.
This works particularly well with a CIO about two years from retirement: apply love and glory, and then once they retire employ them on contract to be an overseas superstar keynote speaker at conferences in exotic places.
Celebration. In the face of defeat, declare victory. This was an old British military tactic when faced with unshakeable guerrilla insurgence: walk away and hold a victory parade. No need to admit the half-million-dollar project is a failure when you can bluff your way out of it with vocal assistance from the vendor. Tell everyone how successful it was for long enough and even your own staff might start to believe it, especially if they start getting invited to conferences in exotic places.

Vendor Conferences


I guess you don't allow image replies...


I was reading your main blog page and saw an ad by N*mera asking if I wanted to replace my expensive Service Desk tool. Then I read this article. Hmm...

swapping one tool for another

I agree. There is seldom any reason to swap one tool for another. It's usually a bad idea from a bad manager.

Even if it is cheaper, the true total cost of changing usually far exceeds any licence savings.

Even if the vendor screwed you, don't delude yourself the others will be any better, and don't spend your employer's money to get even.

Don't pretend it's better. It is rare for a tool to really do something that its competitors don't, especially in the mature markets that we generally deal with: service desk, security, monitoring, asset, operations... Service catalogue tools - I dunno, don't know enough of them well enough to say how they stack up. It is even rarer for that difference to really truly matter to your business (as compared to feature envy).

I'd swap if local support (including third party) for the incumbent tool truly sucked, or the product was retired, AND the resulting risk exceeded some threshold AND all the impacted processes were already mature/optimised to a useful level AND the team rocked. If the culture and processes are broken, don't waste your time and money fiddling with tools.

In the words of Ralph Wiggum

In the words of the immortal Ralph Wigum,

"That's funny, but not ha-ha funny".

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