As with everything that is new and inspiring, the best practices comprised in the ITIL framework, now owned by Axelos, provided a breath of fresh air to an IT industry that needed a boost growing up. Now, virtually every corner of the world has “stopped at the ITIL station and has smelled the ITIL roses”.
To stick with this metaphor, one never stays forever at one station. No, I won’t go as far as to say that these ITIL roses have withered. Maybe at certain places, but I’ve seen enough of them still showing off their beauty.
Why is it time to move on then you may ask? Well, didn’t Deming teach us that there is always room for improvement? Now that’s just it. ITIL has served the industry well for more than two decades. At the same time, for many years, service providers have complemented ITIL best practices with best practices from other frameworks and standards. Building on top of ITIL’s success is what I consider “going beyond” or “moving on”.
ITIL is not an all-comprehensive set of best practices that service providers can benefit from to provide quality services. It was never intended to be. For the aspects that ITIL did not touch on, there are comprehensive frameworks and standards that complement ITIL. Think of best practices for the management of risks, organizational change, projects, governance, information security, business and supplier relationships, contracts, applications, software development, architectures, management responsibilities, etc., etc.
The good news is that we have a plethora of IT Management frameworks we can choose from. In a publication of Van Haren (www.vanharen.net) that is called “Global Standards and Publications”, Ivo van Haren references and highlights 35(!) frameworks and standards.
I can hear you say, “Oh no! Enough already…! We have tried adopting some best practices of one of them, and that was more than enough”. And you know what? That might have been all that you needed. You, your management, and your business customers are the best judge of that. The message that I am trying to convey is that “there is more out there”. Knowing that there is, is all that matters. Knowledge is power. And who knows when you need some best practices from another framework than ITIL to mature your organization? It is the unknown that can hinder or hurt you growing up as an IT organization.
So how does one “go beyond ITIL”? One way of doing this could be as follows.
By now, you, as an adopter of best practices, you have learned that there is always room for improvement. Nothing is perfect and 80% is good enough (initially). And along the way of improving your service quality, I truly hope you have captured at least some of your ideas and suggestions to make your services even better. It’s called continual service improvement, CSI, right?
Well, each of your CSIs could benefit not only from ITIL best practices, but also from complementary best practices. In other words, try to look further than what is in the ITIL books. For example, when you are implementing SLAs, e-Competence Framework (e-CF) has a whole section about contract management. Who knows if one or more of its best practices can help you with your improvement efforts around contracts?
Or, when the appetite for the next CSI is rather low, try benefiting from one or more best practices around organizational change as they have been captured for example in the Information Technology Capability Maturity Framework (IT-CMF) and/or in the framework that is called Management of Portfolios (MoP).
Or, when needing to decide if (yet) another tool would make sense in support of your processes and people, try benefiting from one or more technology architecture best practices that have been captured in The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF).
I could go on, but I hope you get the idea: “Don’t reinvent the wheel”.
Another way of “going beyond ITIL” is to show that you have the guts to comply with the international standard for service management: ISO/IEC 20000. Oops, did I just say that? Well, something makes me think that leadership of many IT organizations are intimidated by standards such as ISO/IEC 20000. This assumes they even know about the standard.
As we all know, ITIL is a framework: a non-prescriptive, or descriptive, set of best practices. You choose what works for you or what (you like) to adopt or not. Going “above and beyond ITIL”, in my humble opinion, is to show to your (prospective) business customers that your IT organization complies with the minimum requirements for effective service management. This means that your organization is serious about its commitment to the delivery of quality services. Quality services which are supported by a Service Management System that is certified by independent external auditors. A system that is based on continual service improvement and that has the visible backing from top management, that manages services end-to-end, and that places the business customer’s needs on the forefront, and that has built-in resilience and sustainability, and that has a service quality culture at its core.
What a sales pitch for ISO/IEC 20000 you may think… Yep. It is. No denying there. At the same time, would you agree with me that when your organization is ISO/IEC 20000 certified by independent external auditors that it has gone beyond a non-prescriptive ITIL? And, to make it less intimidating, all the standard is asking for is to meet a minimum set of service management requirements. In other words a set of service management best practices that every (IT) service organization should adopt at the very least when it is serious about delivering and managing quality services.
To me, as an ITSM consultant for more than two decades, this minimum set of best practices is a blessing and not intimidating at all. The standard makes it so much easier to advise my customers which best practices to adopt first, or which best practices to adopt at the very least.
For any organization that is seeking ways to go beyond ITIL, I highly recommend considering obtaining a copy of the ISO/IEC 20000-1 (requirements) document and the ISO/IEC 20000-2 (recommendations) document. When reading these common sense requirements and recommendations, I hope it will inspire you to seek compliance and maybe even certification as an organization. I am convinced that your business customers, your IT staff, your IT management and even your business partners (i.e. suppliers/vendors) will eventually be appreciative. CIOs of my certified customers are happy to confirm this statement, given the transparency, the focus, the capabilities, and last but not least, the customer and IT staff satisfaction that came with meeting the requirements.