by Patrick Bolger
Date Published - Last Updated May 11, 2016

ITIL v3 was officially launched in June 2007, after a three-year development period. Much has happened in the world over the past three years, which has slowed every business down considerably, yet research shows that in ITSM, things are still moving along.[1] Overall, 68 percent of ITIL (v2 and v3) adopters report having achieved low to medium levels of maturity, with 32 percent claiming high levels of maturity. But a number of other indicators suggest that IT still has some way to go before it can claim to be fully integrated with business goals.

Greatest Challenges to ITIL Adoption

The challenge to ITIL adoption can be grouped under three headings:

  • Insufficient resources (time, people, and budget)
  • Cultural resistance to change
  • Business sponsorship

Insufficient Resources

ITIL adoption initiatives often stem from the desire to do “something” to break the cycle of firefighting that consumes IT resources. ITIL works, but it’s a challenge adopting a new way of working when you are struggling to keep the lights on.

Cultural Resistance

Evidence suggests that the majority of IT organizations remain focused on technology, are generally not receptive to the benefits of process, and do not have a natural affinity for managing services. This is one of the greatest challenges associated with ITIL adoption.

Business Sponsorship

ITIL emphasizes the importance of securing backing from the business and while this is desirable, the business may not see the value and may view this as yet another IT project that promises much, but delivers little. If IT wants a place at the boardroom table, it must show that it can deliver the improvements and efficiencies that capture executive attention.

The ITSM Journey

When planning any initiative that involves continual improvement, there are a few things to consider before you start. Obviously, we need to know our starting point, where we are aiming to get to, how much effort we can afford to expend, and how long we anticipate it will take to reach our goals. Along the way, we are likely to encounter obstacles that we didn’t plan for, but if we don’t take the time at the outset to consider and plan our progress, we are not very likely to reach our goals in a reasonable timeframe, if at all.

This prompted me to look at ITSM as a journey, with IT growing and taking on new cultures as it evolves through each maturity stage.[2] The first phase encompasses the initial steps out of “chaos,” with a focus on using the ITIL processes to bring order, enabling IT to manage the technology. The second phase, technology to service, demands the greatest cultural shift, but can be the most rewarding, moving IT up the ladder of influence in the business and closer to demonstrating value.

One aspect of ITIL v3 that has certainly given IT food for thought is its orientation toward business services. What is now becoming apparent is the need to focus on people, for they are the enablers of process. The main drivers for implementing ITIL (v2 or v3) are the same: improve service quality and increase customer satisfaction. Process can only take you so far. It is people that make the difference between poor and excellent service. The service desk is ITs shop window. By ensuring that it is manned by the right staff, with the right attitude and the right tools, IT can tackle service quality and customer satisfaction head on, instead of expecting processes alone to make a difference.


Patrick Bolger is Hornbill’s chief evangelist. An industry veteran and thought-leader, he is dedicated to working closely with customers, industry organizations, and IT luminaries to identify, communicate, and promote IT best practices.

Tag(s): process, framework and methodologies


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