The march of ITIL zealots

Today let's look closer at the recent survey I quoted previously. We will discuss the lack of decent empirical evidence for ITIL in a subsequent blog. Vendor surveys are a poor substitute (I know, I worked for one), but when they are all we have then we should at least listen to them.

Sadly I don't think I can include Evergreen in my Circle of ITIL Skeptics, but they undoubtedly take a mature and rational approach to ITIL:

Which industry standards are relevant to my organization and which are redundant?
How do I get started?
... Evergreen Systems can help you deliver value in your business.

Now that I've been nice to them, let me quote extensively from their survey results

• 72 percent claim the biggest barrier to ITIL adoption in their business is organizational resistance. At a very distant second, 34% are not sure where to start.
• ITIL is quickly becoming visible at the enterprise IT level, with 36 percent of respondents working on re-engineering enterprise IT service delivery, and 29 percent planning to leverage all 10 ITIL discipline areas.
• Most ITIL programs are living in a potentially dangerous vacuum. While 95% selected ITIL as a framework they are using to improve IT Operations, less than 20% even showed awareness of CobiT or CMMi.
“While visibility with CIOs continues to rise, the alarming combination of a lack of effective planning, organizational resistance to change and the enterprise level of change required for success in ITIL is very troubling. A large number of initiatives will fail to yield any value, and insufficient planning will be the root cause for failure to establish senior management support and funding,” said Don Casson, President and CEO of Evergreen.

Now, Evergreen are highlighting these facts because they want to help fix the symptom, while I would like to examine the underlying cause. These numbers scream out to me that people are embarking on ITIL projects because everyone else is.

They don't have the support of the organisation, they haven't looked at alternatives or context, and about a third are launching in holus-bolus, without proper planning, hacking away at everything. A third of these organisations have processes broken in all ten disciplines to such an extent that there is a good business case for fixing them? Puh-leease!

Yes the processes are inter-connected. In fact, one of the greatest strengths of ITIL is the way it defines the interactions and divisions of responsibility instead of considering the areas in isolation. But people implement chunks of it every day. It works. For heaven's sake, start where the pain is, do a bit, show benefit (or not) then decide what next. In the stats above I hear the march of zealots, sweeping aside reason in their quest for ITIL purity.


It gets worse

From itSMF USA's own research newsletter of April 2006:

Compass then asked the companies how well they actually measure their ITIL process maturity. Only 4 percent of respondents felt able to say that all of their ITIL processes were fully measured for maturity and fewer than one third of respondents had maturity measures for all ITIL processes. Compass also asked people to define how well their organization is able to relate process maturity to performance improvement based on measurement. Only 9 percent of respondents felt able to say that the relationship was based on full measures, fully linking process maturity with performance. A staggering 72 percent felt unable to acknowledge any linkage at all between process maturity and performance improvement.

How on earth do they get the money? and how do their managers keep their jobs?

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