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A competency-based maturity model to reduce ITIL adoption risks

Dan McMahon and Laurie Hathaway, Pace Harmon | Feb. 9, 2011
As large enterprises search for solutions to get the most out of their outsourcing vendors, many are turning to operational frameworks like ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) to improve the effectiveness of IT service delivery.

FRAMINGHAM, 9 FEBRUARY 2011 - As large enterprises search for solutions to get the most out of their outsourcing vendors, many are turning to operational frameworks like Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) to improve the effectiveness of IT service delivery.

While ITIL is commonly adopted as the standard for IT service management best practices, its current framework does not provide a road map for achieving its proposed end-state. Additionally, the complex and time-intensive task of aligning service providers and contracts makes ITIL adoption challenging for enterprises that outsource.

A competency-based ITIL maturity model can successfully reduce the risks of traditional approaches, which often require a full contract renegotiation with outsourced vendors. Specifically, it can be used as a template to assess, monitor and manage an organization's progress against ITIL's best practices; serve as a guide to plan the organization's targets for achieving full ITIL maturity; and enable companies to hold partners accountable for ITIL alignment and performance.

The maturity model discussed here relies on a multi-dimensional perspective, providing a more complete view of an organization's maturity and the likely complexity of change required for ITIL adoption. For companies with IT services outsourcing agreements, the approach reduces process uncertainty and enhances common understanding of the overall journey. In addition, the approach aligns well with organizational change management philosophies that promote acceptance and adoption. Organizations must understand their level of maturity across the five dimensions.

Organizations will ultimately align with one of the five phases identified in this model, but assessing the levels of maturity is a subjective process. It is most successful when deployed through small workshops facilitated by a senior-level individual with ITIL experience, as well as participation from managerial and operational lead-level professionals from both the organization and outsourcing vendors. The five levels of maturity are defined as:

* Ad Hoc: No formal definition of the function exists and activities are most frequently performed in an inconsistent and event driven (ad-hoc) manner.

* Aware: The function, or an "awareness" of the necessity for the function, exists. However, the definition and scope varies and is often driven by organizational structure or alignment.

* Managing: The organization recognizes the need for, and understands the benefits of, performing and managing function/activities in a formal and consistent manner.

* Improving: The organization proactively manages the function for improvement and is deploying quantified functional performance measurements.

* Optimizing: The organization proactively redefines functions/activities, processes and outcomes to optimize the function's performance based on changing needs of the business.


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