ITIL is an excellent framework for running IT operations. It offers tools and process management to help you improve on what you’ve got. Unlike what many consultants would have you believe, however, it is not a panacea. You cannot simply implement all of ITIL and call it a day. If you were to try, you would certainly fail.
There are a number of key aspects to implementing ITIL. They have been summed up in many different ways. The ITIL Practitioner course collects them in nine guiding principles:
- Focus on value
- Design for experience
- Start where you are
- Work holistically
- Progress iteratively
- Observe directly
- Be transparent
- Keep it simple
It really is this simple. If release management holds no value for you, then you simply forego it. On the other hand, if you are constantly dealing with outages after performing changes, you might want to look at implementing change management. When doing so, you should make the process as easy to navigate as possible. If not, you’re sure to get push-back, limited implementation of the process, and – with time – a process that simply doesn’t work.
Continuing with my change management example, you probably have some sort of informal process in place already; that’s a good way of starting out. Working holistically involves looking at the changes within the larger context of your operations. Progressing iteratively involves making a bare-bones process – minimal viable product – and iterating on that, in accordance with DevOps principles.
Observing directly means just that; sit down with the engineers who perform the changes and talk through what happens. Better yet, have them show you what happens, what goes wrong, and what they did to avoid it. Transparency about what you’re doing – and crucially why you are doing it – is an important tool to reduce opposition to the change.
In the words of John Donne, “No man is an island, entire of itself”. Likewise, a process that only one person is involved with will not be particularly helpful, and will die sooner or later. Lastly, keeping it simple is key. If you are going to introduce bureaucracy – which is often a consequence of implementing a process – you need to know why you are doing so, and do so with the goal of making it as easy and hassle-free as possible.
Like with so many things in IT, ITIL implementation is based to a large degree on legwork and talking to people. Understand the needs of the business, introduce processes that are clear, simple to use, and well understood, and you are on your way to success.