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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.

Tangible, well-defined goals: A competency-based maturity model defines short, mid- and long-term goals for a function at the material level, allowing managers to transform ITIL from a best-practice, high-level model to a set of achievable wins.

Road map for transformation: Understanding the function's current level of maturity, as well as the detailed steps necessary to achieve the next level, allows an organization to define a realistic timeline for migration and avoids the misstep of underestimating the effort ITIL may require to adopt successfully.

Stakeholder alignment: The process of assessing a function's maturity will often require the input of multiple stakeholders, including both leadership and IT service staff. It allows an organization to level set on the function's current competency and future road map.

Vendor support: For organizations with outsourcing vendors providing IT services, a change will naturally introduce uncertainty into the relationship. Identifying the ITIL end state and the migration path allows the vendor to anticipate an organization's changes and, in many cases, accelerate the transition by adopting corresponding and supporting activities. Most vendors welcome ITIL-based improvements.

The complexity of implementing an ITIL-compliant environment increases when an IT organization's suppliers and partners must transform as well. Because the company often has little control over its suppliers outside of contractual means, managers must think creatively to influence their behavior. The Maturity Model productively communicates change and the migration path, allowing vendors the option to willingly support and enable the change. Most vendors support this approach without requiring a re-work of their contract.

In addition to tangible goals, a realistic road map, and a common understanding across the IT organization, transforming IT functions according to the competency-based maturity model helps to establish the critical characteristics of a successful and sustainable supplier relationship model.

These areas for transformation include:

* Governance activities: Moving into the improving maturity level requires a performance and compliance monitoring mechanism to manage agreed upon outcomes, measure and improve overall performance, and carry out any non-compliance interventions.

* Governance structure: The maturity model calls for formalizing roles and responsibilities within an IT function, such that:

• decision making responsibilities are clearly articulated and confined to the formal governance structure.

• recognized leaders from the retained organization and the supplier are appointed to the governance organization.

• objectives of the retained organization and the supplier are aligned to the overall goals of the company.

• roles , responsibilities and accountabilities of the retained organization and the supplier are clearly communicated.


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