ITIL or not ITIL?

A couple of presentations at the conference looked at ITIL. One, from Noel Bruton suggested that it is time to replace ITIL; the other from Barry Corless highlighted the benefits of ITIL v3. The two came from different perspectives – Noel was focussing specifically on service desk whereas Barry was taking a more corporate view. And that is perhaps the difference between versions 2 and 3. The move to ITIL 3 really goes beyond the service desk into really institutional IT governance. Perhaps suggesting that ITIL 2 was just service focused was something of a mistake from the service management community. That focus may not have been the intention but it was certainly my perspective and I suspect may be the view of many others in the sector.

So is there a real answer? It is really a horses for courses sort of question. If I was to take a corporate view then I would look to promote ITIL version 3 throughout the organisation. There are clear advantages to the IT Director if ITIL was adopted as an institutional standard – there is so much in the new standard that concentrates on the corporate business rather than just the IT department. It makes sound business sense to look to push an institution’s executive in that direction. What are the key business drivers? Well portfolio management is one – I’m not convinced that many institutional executives understand what the business priorities are when making a decision. Understanding the impact of business constraints is another – how many executives understand the impact of their decisions on a project? What are the real corporate boundaries of a project? Is there really the understanding that a decision made on ethical grounds may have a real financial implication?

But that is all about ITIL 3. The conference here is focusing on the service desk and support function. Is there anything that version 3 offers over and above version 2? Probably precious little but the nub of the matter is that, in order to deliver a quality service, you need to have a prescribed methodology – if that is ITIL 2 or (a perception of) ITIL 3, that really doesn’t matter in my view. Provided you are delivering a quality, defined service your customers will be happy in the main. Where I think the challenge is to UCISA is looking to get ITIL version 3 implemented beyond the IT service – there is a lot here that focuses on IT as a delivery mechanism. Could this be the audit tool that drags senior institutional managers towards Dearing’s type 42 manager? Should this really be our real focus for getting senior management engaged?

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