ITIL v3 still mostly an enterprise outsider

* Version 2 of this best-practices IT framework remains the favored choice, survey results show

If you've embraced the IT Infrastructure Library best practices framework but haven't yet touched Version 3, you're not alone. Three years since becoming available, ITIL v3 adoption within the enterprise remains underwhelming, reports Forrester Research based on recent results of a survey it conducted with IT process stakeholders.

It's not that companies aren't embracing IT services management (ITSM) at all. They are, but in ITIL v2's favor.

In the survey, 53% of 115 respondents said they were either fully or partially practicing ITIL v2 guidelines while only 18% of respondents said the same of ITIL v3.

ITIL not being one of those things you can rush right out and implement, even if you're 100% committed to ITSM, perhaps this news isn't all that surprising. Eveline Hubbert, senior analyst with Forrester, says she doesn't find it to be.

"The adoption of ITIL v2 was also very slow and there the focus was just inside IT. With ITIL v3 the focus is also to connect with the line of business and/or business partners to understand how to align IT strategy to the business -- this is one of the most difficult challenges IT had in the past and requires a cultural shift," she says.

You can see the difference in how one organization might adopt the service catalog, a common ITIL starting point, compared to another. "In some cases it is an IT service catalog only -- e.g. resetting passwords, ordering equipment (laptops, etc.), receiving consulting services, desktop services, service desk," Hubbert says. "In other organizations, it is the design of the IT services in support of the business services -- e.g. the onboarding of the employee business services [that are] supported by the e-mail setup, desktop provisioning, application access, phone, IT services."

For many companies, ITIL v2, with its operational focus, will satisfy the IT group's most pressing needs -- incident, change and configuration management, for example -- for years to come. That changes when IT needs to support an enterprise's mission to differentiate itself, Hubbert says. "Then the alignment of IT services and strategy to the company's strategy becomes an imperative."

"But the fact is," she adds, "that only about 1% of IT organizations today are predictive -- meaning they can predict what is happening in the operations and adjust accordingly -- which means the maturity of IT is still way low. The majority of IT organizations are in the stable state -- meaning they can manage what they have and keep things going but proactiveness is not possible."

All this said, more than twice as many of respondents, 38%, said they were considering ITIL v3 vs. those who said they're considering ITIL v2 -- so perhaps the future is looking up for the latest iteration. Overall, Forrester says, "many organizations will continue with ITIL v2 to gain maturity in service delivery and incorporate targeted practices from ITIL v3 that promise to solve pressing problems or create quick wins that enhance business value."

Does ITIL v3 fit into your current or future ITSM plans? Tell me how.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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