What’s the Return on Investment for ITIL?

With the widespread adoption of ITIL, industries now have a guide that their IT services can utilize with information as to what works and what doesn’t. Implementing ITIL can be costly and even more so when done poorly or not according to a focused plan. So how can your organization expect to recover those costs?

One of the many benefits of implementing ITIL is the key focus on services and providing value to the business by enhancing the functionality and the ability to perform as required. ITIL also brings together a common dictionary, which is something that has been lacking in the IT world.

A few other benefits ITIL can provide your company are:

  • Improved financial management of IT, matching IT services to the needs of the overall organization while focusing on transparency and enhanced decision-making
  • Improved relationship between IT and the organization
  • Improved utilization of the IT infrastructure through a better understanding of the function of IT assets at all levels
  • Improved operations of IT personnel through automation, and standardizing service offerings
  • Improved reputation of IT within the organization with a focus on business outcomes and creating value

Those with ITIL experience say that adoption of ITIL has no end point, only a starting point and milestones along the way to measure your level of continuing success.

What Are the Difficulties of ITIL Implementation?

Let’s be honest, the adoption of ITIL may not be easy or short or cheap. IT has a habit of operating as an indispensable group instead of like a business that can use resources and provide services as it sees fit. How many times have you heard, “We know what our customer needs, and that is what we are providing”?

IT hasn’t run itself based on documented needs of the business, due to many organizations lacking a strong change management process. Due to the frequency of systems changes, most IT outages are the direct result of a well-meaning IT worker lacking sufficient knowledge about the systems on which they are working. Unknown to the IT worker, a simple modification, update, or change could result in disastrous consequences for the business. ITIL v3 believes lifecycle and service is crucial to the value of the business and offers excellent direction to managing knowledge.

The ITIL framework is about process, not organization. Most IT organizations spent years dividing up IT resources into responsibility, hardware, software, and staff. Redefining these roles to expedite the processes within the ITIL framework and ensuring the necessary information is passed between processes may be the most difficult challenge. It’s important to understand that the requirement for ITIL adoption must come from the very top of the IT organization. Implementing ITIL can’t be accomplished in six months, but there is an expectation that most IT projects should show positive results or even be completed within six months. ITIL will not meet either of those milestones; it’s better measured in years rather than months. A carefully focused plan makes it possible to achieve some results quickly — often in a matter of weeks, but “full ITIL” can take years. Not everyone needs to or can expect to implement all of ITIL. Adopt just those bits of the ITIL that have significant impact on your organization.

Implementing ITIL may also require new resources to support the processes or inter-process communication required by ITIL. The ITIL framework can only work efficiently when the right tools to support the processes are in place. For all but the smallest IT organizations, some form of automation or software tool is required.

So, where do you start? Two questions often asked are:

  1. Do we try to do everything at once? No, trying to do everything at once is too difficult and will only increase the chance of failure.
  2. It is such a major undertaking, where do we start? This varies for each individual organization.

ITIL provides flexibility in approach, offering a specific methodology for establishing a service strategy:

  • Define IT services. The fundamental first step to managing a service is understanding what it consists of.
  • Value the IT services. When the service is defined, establishing the relative value of each service to the business is next. Focus on the most important IT services that deliver significant and measurable value to the business.
  • Measure IT services. Once service is defined and valued, then the quality of service provided to customers can be measured. If a service does not meet requirements, this is the starting point.
  • Commission projects for improvement. Following the first three steps identifies what to focus on.

With this information, you can now examine ITIL (and its complementary guidance) to understand the service quality issue at hand and apply the guidance to the specific problem.

Although ITIL implementation can be difficult, the true value is the long-term adoption of best practices to see a positive return on investment. ITIL builds a stronger organization that matches the service provided to the present and future needs of the business in a cost-effective manner. These actions will improve the status of IT within the business and improve both the competitive advantage and bottom line of the business.

Recommended Courses
ITIL® v3 Awareness
How to Define and Value IT Services

In this article

Join the Conversation

1 comment

  1. Juan Jimenez Reply

    One way to help the organization understand the ROI/VOI of ITIL is to run a survey and ask all IT staff how much time out of each week they spend dealing with issues that they feel they should not have had to deal with had they been done correctly the first time around. That gives you a subjective number that can be turned into a very objective one by multiplying it by their salaries. Now take that and reduce it by between 10% and 50% with good practices from ITIL.