ITIL Processes (Hint: Less is More)

less is moreImplementing ITIL is not easy.

And a big fear organizations have about ITIL processes is they will become loaded down by rules.

Many IT managers have heard the tales or read the books dramatizing failed ITIL implementations. And in most of these cases, the stories are probably true.

Do the Shoes Fit?

The key for any successful service improvement plan is balance.  Too much of anything is not good, ITIL included.

The problem is, finding the right balance of ITIL processes (or controls) versus trust isn’t easy.

Trust is on the other end of the scale and brings the balance.

Before you decide to roll out any new process across the organization determine where existing pockets of trust are working. In these places it is a best practice to retain the trusted way of doing things and avoid adding anything which will become a roadblock to productivity.

These high trust areas of operation will keep the balance. However, on the flip-side, where trust cannot be maintained then lean ITIL processes should to be implemented.

For example:

Change Management in most organizations is a critical area of control. Too much trust in this area could lead to service impact and outages. However, too much control is also not recommended as it will lead to slow delivery of new products and services.

How much control is needed?

Enough control to ensure your services are not at risk and in compliance. And this really depends on the underlining infrastructure and the quality of the code.

If the environment or service is fragile, more control is required. On the other hand if it is robust and stable, then more trust can be allowed.

ITIL processes should fit the use case, otherwise they are just additional weight to be carried.

Less is More.

There needs to be a balance which is determined by feedback from the people doing the work, the quality of the environment, and the level of risk allowed and/or compliance required.

Becoming another ITIL nightmare is easy. But the same is true for success if you understand less is more, and balance the need for control with trust.

All Lean IT means is more Trust…

Look for opportunities to trust your systems and people. Do proof of concepts and pilots to determine the level of control required to release new services. And only use what is needed.

Never implement ITIL procedures only for the sake of saying you are an ITIL organization. Or because someone with an ITIL certification says it is needed.

Lean IT is achieved by having more trust and better services that do not need heavy controls and processes. Focusing on making things run simple (less complex) is the key. And automating the delivery of anything repeated is the best way to limit the need of heavy controls.

We’ve all heard the term “ITIL is a framework,” but you need to take it to another level and filter out any processes within an ITIL process that doesn’t add any value to your organization. Trim it down to only what is needed to limit risk and assure compliance. Anything else is weight.

Balance ITIL Processes with Common Sense

ITIL has gotten a bad rap from too many organizations rushing into processes without weighing the impact of adding more control.

Some companies desperate for improvement have implemented the full list of ITIL processes. The result of such actions (and lack of common sense) have been disastrous causing them to thrown in the towel and return to the chaos they were attempting to fix.

And, worst, jumping on another bandwagon such as DevOps, which inevitably also failed.

You can, have both: a lean IT and an ITIL organization!

Clearly they did not understand their own people or services well enough to properly carry out the right ITIL processes in the first place. It takes more than an ITIL certification or reading a book to make it work.

Begin by trusting the feedback of your employees about processes already working…because if you can’t trust the people or environment running your services, then it isn’t ITIL you need.


  1. Donna Kline
    • Joe

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