ITIL reduces costs by up to 48% - another crap factoid to beware of

Time and again the analysts come up with these numbers using totally unscientific methods and before you know it they are gospel and popping up everywhere like bird flu. I'm not sure who's worse; the snake oil salesmen who invent them or the gullible twerps who repeat them.

ooh I got all excited when I read this question in an article on InfoWorld:

1. What can I do with ITIL that I couldn’t do before?

And the answer is......

Implemented properly, ITIL raises customer satisfaction, reduces waste in the IT organization, and lowers operating costs

Analyse this and you see the answer can be reduced to: "Nothing". You can do what you did before. If you get it right ("Implemented properly") you will do the same only better.
So I'm still searching for that killer business case argument...

They offer three quick examples of this. I got all excited again - some evidence!! - until I saw: Proctor and Gamble, Libery Mutual and ... yes all together now ... Caterpillar.


Several pages later, we get

As was noted at Microsoft’s 2004 IT Forum Conference, “Recent studies are showing that an IT service organization could achieve up to a 48 percent cost reduction by applying ITSM principles.”

This is one of those factoids that's gonna stick, I just know it. A little Googling reveals it originates from ... come on you know this one, all together ... Gartner!

Not 50% Not 45% 48% Bullshit sounds less like bullshit when it is exact bullshit. And "up to". Just like the "up to 50% off" sale.

One thing Google couldn't find for me was the Gartner paper in question. I'd love to check out their data, and their methodology. Anybody help me out here? See my recent blog entry for a discussion on how this analyst twaddle is typically generated.

At the end of the day, though, it doesn't matter how they came up with the number. (I know how they came up with it: they pulled it out of their ... um ... analyst). 48% has a nice authorative ring to it and we will never stop hearing it. How do people keep falling for this bilge and how can someone call themselves a credible source while repeating it?



ITIL is the latest desperate act of consulting firms to sell anything that business managers who are clueless about IT would buy to make themselves feel better about their own insecurities. Some parts of ITIL could make sense, but for the most part it's a dunces way of looking at IT in hopes to gleam some understanding from it. Of course, there is no money savings from buying into any of this bullshit, but government organizations could wet themselves when they hear about ITIL. It all comes down to having the right people do the job, when you have non-IT people running IT, you'll get bunch of morons wanting to understand what they're doing to justify why they're doing it. In private sector there's motivation to do your job right, with government it's all about positions (with any warm body simply filling a position). The whole thing is kind of like drugs, with HP and Computer Associates (CA) being the drug dealers, and business dumb asses (managers) running IT (mostly into the ground) being the drug users, both being codependent on each other (partners, as ITIL would call it).

Pearls like this are why I

Pearls like this are why I keep coming back to this site.

It's better than political talk radio.

Glad to be of help ;-)


Contact me directly on my published email accounts, or create an account on the site with Rob and I'm sure he will be glad to talk further. You might not have noticed but neither Rob nor I are ITIL's greatest fans, but we do see it's value.

If you would like to expand on the connection to political radio I would be intrigued. In my experience political radio is driven by a mixture of ignorance and conservatism which doesn't fit with my personal world view.

James Finister
Wolston Limited

talk radio

Totally off topic, but check out Air America - Ed Schultz, Thom Hartmann... where Rachel Maddow comes from ... you can get podcasts.

And I thought the Skeptic was Skeptical

Consultants are very good at selling ITIL as a silver bullet, when it isn't, and a lot of consultants sell ITIL without the practical experience needed to understand what works and what doesn't.

I also agree that without the right people it doesn't matter what framework you use.

So there are just three minor areas where I disagree with you.

First of all the trouble with IT people running IT is that they aren't great at understanding the business needs, and that's the key value add of ITIL, understanding that IT that doesn't help get the job done is a waste of time. Now it happens that at times I can be highly technical, particularly where security is involved, but if I'm trying to work out a security policy for an organisation the key question I ask myself is "Will this help or hinder the business?"

Is there a money saving? Well of course there is. Without ITIL incidents get fixed in the order that IT decides based on how interesting they are, and c**p changes get put in that bring the whole system down because the change builder is so sure of their own technical competence. Just tell me which part of ITIL doesn't make sense? When would you be better off NOT doing what ITIL suggests rather than doing what it does suggest?

I don't know which country you are from, but I've worked in the public and private sector, and trust me there is a good reason why ITSM best practice was developed in the UK public sector. We had very talented people trying very hard to do more with less.

But you know I do agree with you about the drugs analogy. As I used to say to my students, there are only two industries who talk about users; one is IT and other is the narcotics trade, and both of them hold the user in utter contempt.

ITIL - Remake of The Emperor's New Clothes

Once upon at time ........ oh sorry forgot myself there for a minute.

I could not agree more with the comments made. Anyone capable of thinking for themselves will realsie that ITIL is bureaucracy maskerading under some tosh about business efficiency touted by consultants looking to sell their services advising on this crap.

I could write a new novel highlighting the nonsense of this methodology but I think most of the enlightened readers know the story already. What I can never understand is the "sheep mentality" of large business that follow each other blindly investing company resources adopting this sh*te that adds no value to their business, in fact I would argue actually detracts from it and serves the customer poorly.

I would like someone impartial to put up the compelling argument based on hard facts that adopting ITIL actaully is worthwhile. Demonstrate that over a non ITIL based model what the significant improvement are having netted out the investment in new tools, training, rewriting processes that worked before yet now we wonder how we ever survived before ITIL came long, yeah right !

Reality is ITIL is a fad, fashionable like TQM, ISO900*, etc which all based on reasonable concepts just when it comes to implementation all logic and sense appears to go out the window.

As in one of my stories adopters of ITIL are the Emporor's and it is only a matter of time I hope before the little boy is heard and people wake up and smell the coffee.


The Emperor has no clothes

Look to the right of this page Hans and you'll see "The Emperor has no clothes. Where is the evidence for ITIL?" is the third most popular page on this site of all time :-D

Emperor or the Clothes??

Just thinking aloud!
Being one of the most quoted and reused fable in all contexts!

The emperor having no clothes is one behavioural (or otherwise) issue what the emperor had - and equally to be blamed on the people around him who didnt have the guts to point it out!

Now was he an 'Emperor' just because of the clothes (which as the story goes he was not wearing!)
Or because he was not wearing clothes and he didnt realize that, can it be assumed that he doesnt have any of the qualities of being an emperor? I am not sure if the fable had any indication of that!!

Coming back to the context, ITIL has some (or to avoid another debate here - 'many') flaws. And all the debates show here, the people and organizations around the ITIL has much more.

Does that really mean ITIL is of NO value and it is a complete fad???

adopting ITIL is an act of faith not science

I never claim ITIL has no value, only that the value is unproven (and probably unmeasurable) so adopting ITIL is an act of faith not science.

It better have value: I still pay the bills consulting in it. [trust me, this site doesn't keep me].

Mind you perhaps the value is in the act of implementing not the ITIL. I suspect any framework would do as well.

A dork with a framework is still a dork...


As they say: a fool with a tool is still a fool. It might seem a semantic discussion but it is not ITIL as such that can give value. Implementing ITIL as a stand alone entity suggests to me that you'd implement ITIL as a goal instead of a means to reach a goal. ITIL as a goal creates no added value (it rather destroys it), ITIL as a means should move the question of added value away from ITIL however, and on to the wider project (including people, performance, tooling) which should be able to make a business case.

Therefor, asking how ITIL can give added value is in my opinion a narrow approach to the use of ITIL. True, effective and value adding change can only be accomplished by an approach that acknowledges people, performance, proces and tooling (in other words changing the entire organisation), ITIL in itself only adresses one of those 'P's directly. Depending on the business need and circumstances, one could use ITIL, Cobit, ISO20K or any other framework combined with the other P's. This makes ITIL to some extend interchangable with other frameworks (entirely dependant on the organisation / business case etc.)



PS: I'd be interested if all four P's could be caught in a oneliner :-)

people "do" ITIL

Hi Michiel

Yes we are in wholehearted agreement... in theory.

Unfortunately as discussed elsewhere here and in my articles, people "do" ITIL as a project. They call it ITIL, they give it a budget and they look for results. it is just the way people do things. It is easier to fund changes as a lump of CAPEX than as an ongoing increase in OPEX. Managers look for a step-change not an incremental improvement. Executives want to see a before and an after, with numbers moving. Culutral change seems easier as revolution not evolution.

And most of all people focus on a thing/product/artifact/object, the least important of the Ps. What are we doing? ITIL. What is it? These books.

the best we can do as consultants is to make sure the project is thinking holistically - all the Ps - and try to get some sort of ongoing BAU to own the improvements and ensure they stick (and maybe even continuously improve).

'What' to achieve


Now we are aligning some where on the thoughts.

If I dont have any target/objective to achieve or a specific improvement I am looking at - in Service management, I dont need ITIL (or any other framework for that matter).

So the measurement of benefit from ITIL should be if and how much I have achieved (or didnt) the objectives/targets.
These objectives/targets should be the 'incrememental improvement' towards the step change (which could be the final target).
As long as ITIL helps me with it - I am reaping benefits.

Yes, we need to fous on all the Ps (or other letters - C for culture ?? ) during this continual improvement journey.

The problem , is when it comes to "ROI from ITIL Implementation"!! And all the false claims put fuel into that fire! The ROI should be on the improvement initiative which we have taken - the investment around ITIL will be 'one of the line item' in the total investment of that initiative.


people who are faithful

So there is definitely value for people who has faith in it.
I too strongly believe any framework which has some logic (+ experience) built into that can add value to somebody. That still make each of them useful.

ITIL may not be great for experts in the field- as there might not be any thing completely new in it.

But there are people who struggle to put any kind of framework/process into the IT activities - and ITIL provides them some kind of guiding framework (which I believe otherwise was non-existent).

ITIL, as many pointed out already - looked like structured common sense; and with the context that common sense is not always very common :-)

So the basic issue is not with ITIL itself - it is about all the 'halo' being unnecessarily created around it, the bucks being linked to it, the manipulation of proofs and data around it, and a highly distorted and overhyped certification scheme!!

My only disagreement was to the comments that ITIL is a fad (Not specifically from you, Skeptic ;-)) just because of the issues with people, organizations and dynamics around it.

Like you, I too making a living out of it - and I would hate to think that I am fooling people all the while!!! ;-)

If the pointing finger is about the 'absence of the clothes', i will be on the front row as another small kid! But I still like and respect the emperor!

waving its willy in public

A bad emperor is usually still better than a leader-less state. And yes, ITIL is good.

But ITIL is still occasionally inclined to jump about waving its willy in public. There are some absurd business cases for ITIL projects, claiming benefits that have zero substantiation.

If people choose (and approve) to do ITIL, they should do so on the understanding that the benefits are intangible and unproven. if they still want to do it, then good.

Benefits or objectives?

I agree with you on the overall view.
But regarding the last point, I have a different view point:

The issue is with people 'implementing' ITIL and expecting benefit(s) 'from ITIL'.

If one starts with his/her organization objective/targets (this can change at different points in time)and see how the best practices can help (not 'ITIL as-is' - of course, in a customized manner), then the benefit can be measured in terms of achievement of the objective/target.

I strongly feel this was (or should have been ;-)) the intended purpose of ITIL. Not just ITIL any such framework should be viewed in that manner.
I always go with the statement (not sure about the source- due credit to who ever said this): "No two organizations are exactly the same; No two organizations are entirely different"

Subsequently, the people/organizations around it made a larger-than life image of it, tried (or continue) to make big money out of it. As you mentioned "But ITIL is still occasionally inclined to jump about waving its willy in public" - Not ITIL, but the community around it!

The whole game changed when people started talking about quantified (upto 48% ?????) returns from 'ITIL implementation' - which is definitely absurd.
A typical cycle of ITIL process implementation takes minimum of months (if not years) - and so many things would have changed in the organization during that period. How on earth we can quantify and apportionate the benefits 'from ITIL' and from other initiatives?


"What do you think of Western Civilization, Mr Gandhi?"

"I think it would be a good idea" (unsourced, which is rather unfortunate)

To bring a different perspective to this you do have to ask how many organisations have actually implemented ITIL, whatever that means, before asking has ITIL delivered benefits. Of course we now have ISO/IEC 20000 certification as a more objective test of whether an organisation has really embraced ITSM. I have some sympathy with MOODS, though I also know some of the original authors of ITIL and do know that they HAVE implemented ITIL, and in more than one organisation. That doesn't mean we don't still need the small boy in the crowd.

Let me turn the debate around a little though. Does anyone really think, as an example, that an organisation that doesn't know what constitutes a change, that doesn't differentiate between different types of change, that always takes a developer's/supplier's word that a change can't possibly go wrong, and doesn't check post implementation that a change has been successful, and can always slip an iffy change through by using the emergency change procedure, is going to be more effective, efficient and economical than one that does the opposite?

barely recognises the concept of a change

yes, I know a site that barely recognises the concept of a change, accepts and implements vendor changes untested (in fact in some cases vendors make their own changes to Prod), and has zero concept of a Problem.

i know another that knows what a change is and know they really must get a process for them some day. Right now they'll start with a change form.

I worked on an MVS mainframe site that did not understand the concept of having an environment other than production, or of having more than one version of code, including for their developers!

ITIL is actually news to some folk.

The first benefit of ITIL is finding out what a mess you are in


I've said elsewhere, I'm sure, that we forget so many stuggle with the basics of ITIL, never mind the fancy strategy stuff. When people are in this situation, which is often a mix of ignorance and denial, I don't believe they can have any idea of the direct and indirect costs of the process not being in place. If they don't know what the true situation is now, how can they identify how much they start to save when they do implement the process? Often by the time we are in a postion to objectivly measure improvement the key improvements have already been made, and the step change benefit dleivered. What happens in fact is that often it appears as things have got worse "We never had failed changes until we implemented ITIL" being one quote I heard, which is true in that they never classed a change as having failed until ITIL, no matter how many incidents it caused.

More dangerous still, I guess, are the sites who think they have implemented ITIL because they are using the words without undertsanding. Problem management is the most common example, I can count on one hand the number of IT shops I know that are actually doing problem management, as oppossed to major incident control and third level technical support.

ITIL reduces costs by up to 48% - another crap factoid to beware

Well welcome to the ITIL world of bullshit where the people writing the books have never even smelled an implementation, the so called master certified people are int he same boat , all theory no action, as if the ITIL books is a recipe for implementation, no matter how many cookbook you have, if you suck at cooking, you will remain an horrible chef or cook.

Dont even start me on the GARTNER, FORRESTER and the bullshit, can i say that, of the analyst, I have bene involved with someof the successful implementations on ITIL in this country, me and my company that is not publicised and I have figures ot prove it but the ITSMF don't like smal companies or people like us, thye play wiht the big boys like Microsoft, HP, IBM etc...who are the ones messing up ITIL implementations for clients...I willl say shame on this clients for letting tool vendors dictate everything and using inexperienced people to help with thier implementations.
If I see another caterpillar, procter, etc whitepaper or presentation again, damn, even state farm people that I ran into at the bullshit ITSMF forum, what a waste of our time, are telling not so good stories...I applaud what you are doing here and u will be seeing some more response on this blog...

Will someone please remove Caterpillar from 'ITIL Benefits!"

To begin - Caterpillar is singularly our ITSM reference. Their headquarters in Peoria IL is our customer and has been since 2000. We were there running more workshops only last week. Like them I am a bit fed up with their name being bandied around by analysts as a company that reaped significant benefit from 'implementing ITIL'. As one Caterpillar executive expressed to me recently "...we did not get where we are today by doing ITIL, it was by doing ITSM".

If anyone cares to ask them - they will explain they are taking a common sense approach, respecting ITIL and what it has to offer along with many other key inputs. Day by day they identify problems, state the impact of those problems, translate them into opportunities for improvement, and then go to the ITSM 'best practice' tool box for something relevant. All wrapped in a 6-Sigma initiative.

If anything - Caterpillar's success is based upon them NOT doing ITIL.....

As for State Farm- that is another story entirely - they once had most of their staff trained in ITIL and are now having many 'refreshed' in ITSM.... Training alone does not guarantee anything - the single most important 'best practice' is being able to define a problem and its impact....

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