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How to Customize ITIL® to Your Business Needs

Too many managers look at ITIL® recommendations and attempt to implement them in the form of checklists. Instead, managers should leverage ITIL’s flexibility and customize it to their own organizations, keeping these four principles in mind throughout the process:

1. Adapt ITIL to Your Business Cycle

ITIL should enable better service delivery, cost-effectiveness and efficiency. If the ITIL framework doesn’t deliver those goals in certain parts of your business cycle, then you don’t have to implement it everywhere.

Level 3 Communications is an example of effective ITIL customization. Level 3 doubled its workforce when it acquired Global Crossing in 2011. The company manages hundreds of applications and utilizes the Agile project management framework. Instead of seeing ITIL as flexible, Level 3 perceived ITIL as controlled and process-centric.

Level 3 divides its business cycle into four stages: Plan, Design, Build and Operate. During Plan, Design and Build, they utilize Agile. However, during Operate, they use ITIL. The rigorous ITIL framework helps the company to focus on service availability while Agile drives product and process innovation.

2. Consider How ITIL Could Affect Organizational Culture

ITIL implementation may be tough if you don’t cultivate a culture of continuous service delivery and improvement. Ask whether your organization’s values, behaviors and systems, both written and unwritten, support improvement and innovation. If they don’t, then honestly examine how corporate climate, leadership and management styles are stifling innovation.

Many employees resist change because they feel threatened in some way. Identify your employees’ resistance patterns and come up with plans to guide them through every stage. You can’t predict everything that they may feel or do, but you can choose to be proactive instead of being sidelined by resistance.

3. Encourage Everyone’s Participation

Employee feedback and participation in ITIL implementation are crucial if managers want them to take ownership of the new processes. Of course, IT worker participation is vital, but ITIL affects all corners of the organization. A key point of the Service Operation principle is making sure that IT and its customers see service delivery in the same way.

Not everyone will be happy with ITIL, but good communication can eliminate many employee concerns. If some employees lack the tools to make the ITIL adjustment, then managers must filter superfluous complaints from relevant feedback. Additionally, leaders should provide visible support for the implementation process.

4. Avoid One-Size-Fits-All Software Vendors

Again, ITIL isn’t a checklist to impose onto every organization. When software vendors promise one-size-fits-all ITIL implementation solutions, avoid buying them. Managers can’t automate the ITIL transition based solely on a software blueprint. They have to take the time to analyze their processes, see where ITIL fits and incorporate customer feedback at every stage.

If employees or company leaders are struggling with your ITIL deployment, then encourage them to take ITIL certification courses. Education provides a gateway to seeing the big picture of ITIL and how, when utilized effectively, it can benefit any organization.

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About this author:

Jon Francum

Jon is the Director of Training at Ashford Global IT.

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