Systematic Approach to Successful Implementation of ITIL

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Information Technology and Infrastructure Library implementation is not well spelled out in documentation and therefore can be very challenging. In this study, a literature review is conducted to identify critical success factors (CSFs) for ITIL implementation. The CSFs are then used in an improved solution to the decision problem using Analytical Hierarchy Process. In order to validate the proposed model, it was applied to a case study of a company in the United Arab Emirates, where the ITIL implementation project failed.

1. Introduction

Demand for a governance model or a quality improvement framework such as Six Sigma, Total Quality Management (TQM) or Business Process Reengineering (BPR) increases as managements begin to recognize the importance of Information Technology (IT) to the core business. However, most of the models are very limited in scope and are mainly designed for products not services. In order to address these limitations, researchers and governmental bodies introduced IT frameworks such as Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI), Information Technology and Infrastructure Library (ITIL) and Control Objectives for Information and related Technology (COBIT). Among these three IT governance models, ITIL proved best adherence to Information Technology Service Management (ITSM) [2], [7-9]. ITIL is a set of service management standard library that focuses on the IT industry. It was developed by the Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA), which later merged with the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) of the UK government in the middle of 1980s. The latest version of ITIL enacted by the OGC is ITIL 3.0 [6]. Even though ITIL has been around for more than 20 years now and has gain significant popularity among IT practitioner, there has been little academic research published to date about issues related to ITIL adoption and implementation. Implementing ITIL has proven to be challenging because it depends on various critical factors each of which might compromise the overall implementation of the project [3], [11-12], [15]. It was found that a large number of the CSFs are not technology-based, that is, they do not depend on the vendor or application selected to aid in ITIL implementation. On the contrary, most of the CSFs relate to user acceptance of the framework. Therefore in this paper, we propose a set of CSFs that considers both human and technological factors. We then use these criteria in an improved solution to the decision problem using the well-developed Analytical Hierarchy Process. Since ITIL popularity has much to do with the fact that it is not based on academic view but purely on what has been proven to work effectively, we tested our proposed model at a financial firm in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). We surveyed fifteen experts who were directly involved in the ITIL project at the firm. The case study confirmed our main objective, which was to help the decision makers to better identify an appropriate practice for ITIL implementation using a systematic approach.

2. Literature Review

2.1 Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL)

Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is a framework of best practices compiled from the public and private sector organizations worldwide. The objective is to deliver high quality IT services, essentially for IT Service Management (ITSM) [6]. There are two major reasons that explained the move towards implementing ITIL. The first reason is the increased focus on customer service [3], [11-12], [14-15] and the second reason is the increased interest in effective and transparent IT governance [3]. ITIL has proved to provide many benefits such as cost savings, risk management and streamlining of IT operations [10], however it also faces several implementation challenges. ITIL is not well spelled out in documentations, and it provides only general guidance on what processes to implement. As such, many managers were in doubt about the best practice to implement ITIL [10] and often relied heavily on the consultants, and vendors. Another common challenge in ITIL implementation is the resistance it receives by staff due to poor change management [10]. In order to overcome, or at least reduce ITIL implementation limitations and setbacks, researchers studied CSFs and how users perceive IT frameworks.

2.2 Critical Success Factors for ITIL Implementation

ITIL has become a global standard of best practices in IT service, but many companies agreed that ITIL implementation was challenging and not all ITIL processes are of equal importance and value to them [3], [10]. It is therefore important for companies to understand the factors that would help to determine whether ITIL implementation would be successful. In this study, an extensive literature review was conducted to identify critical factors for successful implementation of ITIL. The first paper reviewed was a meta-analysis of previous studies on critical success factors (CSF) [14]. In another paper, an ITIL expert, Marquis [10], provides a list of concise CSFs, and non-technical best practices for each ITIL implementation based on his experience about ITIL. Another paper identified CSFs that was based on results of a questionnaire completed by itSMF National Conference delegates [3]. Most of the papers reviewed were multi-case studies of organizations that have implemented ITIL where the authors interviewed ITIL stakeholders in the studied organizations [2], [7-8], [11-12], [16]. In Cater-steel [2], key success factors for ITIL implementation were derived by studying five Australian organizations that have successfully transformed their IT service management by implementing ITIL. In another paper, Iden and Langeland [7] studied the adoption of ITIL in the Nordic countries where they managed to get 446 responses from firms in the four Nordic countries. The final paper presented barriers instead of success factors to successfully implement ITIL, hence, these factors were negated to their positive counterpoints in order for us to use them as CSFs in our paper [15]. In total, we identified 17 factors and their significance is briefly explained in Table 1. Table

1. Identified CSF for successful ITIL implementation Critical Success Factor Significance

1. Management Support

Endorses policy and enforces compliance to following newly implemented standard processes [16] Guarantees funding needed for consultancy, tools, and training [12] Triggers communication between stakeholders [14]

2. ITIL Awareness and Training

Effective communication among stakeholders [14] Knowledge of ITIL documentation is considered a quick win [8] Reduces employee resistance [12] Increases cooperation and adoption of new processes [14]

3. Interdepartmental Collaboration

Maximizes knowledge sharing and communication [12], [14] Makes modifying cross-functional process smoother, hence, minimizing the risk of project implementation from running overtime [4]

4. Process Priority Accurate process definition has priority over tool selection [12]

5. Tool Selection Avoids underutilized tools [12] Allows easier configuration of the processes [12] Influences Perceived Usefulness (PU) [14]

6. Change Management Critical in situations with big bang (revolutionary) [11], [15]

7. Customer Orientation Provides proactive IT process rather than firefighting [15]

8. Use of Consultants & Consultant selection Knowledge transfer to permanent staff is critical once implementation is completed [12]

9. Implementation Strategy and Design

Provides proper applications of implementation strategies [11]

10. Project Champion Advocates and promotes ITIL [3]

11. Ability of IT staff to adapt to change Involving the staff in the ITIL implementation process from the beginning till the end is very crucial to help the staff adapt to the change [3]

12. Quality of IT staff allocated for ITIL

If ITIL training positively impacts communication and collaboration on ITIL processes [14], it can be drawn that competent knowledge in ITIL is critical to smoother implementation

13. Monitoring and Evaluation of ITIL Implementation

Ultimately affects Attitude towards Use (ATU) [14] Essential for continuous improvement program that is a must for ITIL implementation [10]

14. Feasibility Study before the Actual Implementation

Helps planning the implementation process [8]

15. Project Management and Continuous Service Improvement

Analyzes business needs, involves stakeholders, establishes goals and manages processes of change [10]

16. Goal Setting Through Process Maturity Framework

Helps companies know when and where to begin implementing ITIL [10] COBIT. [16]

17. Continuous Reporting and Auditing through a Quality Management Framework

Ensures a step-by-step close eye analysis of the implementation process of ITIL [10]

The 17 CSFs are then grouped into 7 key classes of factors. The 7 key CSFs were originally proposed by [14] as the main CSF relevant to ITIL implementation after conducting a qualitative meta-analysis of available ITIL research. The 17 factors are then mapped to the seven key factors in order to have a comprehensive and detailed list of CSFs (see Table 2). Table 2 also summarizes the conducted comparison between ten most prominent research papers in terms of reported critical success factors.

4. Methodology

In order to test the framework defined in Figure 1, we interviewed and surveyed fifteen experts from a financial institution in the United Arab Emirates. The firm is fairly young; it was established about thirteen years ago. We chose this particular firm because it has the financial, and human resources necessary to manage a variety of activities; it has service management professionals within the company; and it has the ability to acquire differentiated knowledge about best practice adoption through various cooperative strategies with other organizations experienced in IT service management. At the time of first approaching the company, the firm had just finished its ITIL implementation. This situation provided an excellent opportunity to test our proposed model in an attempt to identify the factors that drive success of ITIL implementation and highlight the pitfalls, which could impede the adoption of ITIL framework.

4.1 Survey Sample

The participants were selected based on their job descriptions and their involvement in the ITIL implementation. In addition, the selection covered different categories of users at different organizational levels (see Table 3 for details). The survey questionnaires were e-mailed to the fifteen experts who had agreed to participate in judgmental exercises involved in the AHP. The experts were given two to three weeks to complete the survey. By the deadline, all fifteen experts have successfully completed and returned the survey. It is important to note that the results obtained from this convenience sample of subjects represent a broad cross -making and perception towards ITIL implementation. All participants were promised anonymity and confidentiality of their participations; therefore we will refer to the participants as IExpert1-5 for the IT team, EExpert1-5 for the end-users and MExpert1-5 for the upper level managers.

5. Data Analysis

The fifteen experts evaluated the hierarchy of the CSFs (Figure 1) constructed by pair-wise comparison. Since the model consists of more than one level, hierarchical composition was used to weigh the eigenvectors by the weights of the criteria. The sum was taken over all weighted eigenvector entries corresponding to those in the lower level, and so on, resulting in a global priority vector for the lowest level of the hierarchy. The global priorities are essentially the result of distributing the weights of the hierarchy from one level to the next level below it. The individual judgments from each expert were entered into the AHP software and results from each expert were combined and calculated for the entire group. AHP can be applied easily with groups. Each member’s assessments are evaluated for priorities and inconsistency using their own hierarchy, and then the group rollup is synthesized and calculated by taking the geometric mean of the final outcomes of the individual judgments [13]. This approach provides an efficient way to build consensus since each expert can see where he or she stand and compare it to the group as a whole.

6.0 Results and Analysis

We calculated the overall priority for each of the criteria for each group and the result in terms of ranking for the first level is shown in Table 4. The result showed that the three groups of experts the IT Staff, the Management team and the Users have different priorities in terms of the CSFs of ITIL implementation. Interestingly, we can see that both the IT Staff and the management team viewed top management support as the most important CSF while the Users viewed Communication and cooperation as the most important. Another interesting result was the rank for the least important factor. The IT Staff viewed change management and organizational culture as the least important while the management team viewed ITIL process implementation and applied technology as the least important. The users on the other hand considered monitoring and evaluation as the least important to them.

7. Discussion and Implications

In this paper, ITIL synthesized CSFs were identified from a comprehensive literature review and were applied to a case study of a company that suffered from implementing ITIL. It took the company five years to implement few selected processes of ITIL. According to the CIO of the firm, one of the reasons was the poor way the ITIL implementation was handled as the company does not have any project management strategies nor follows any project management methodologies. The IT Staffs agreed that there was no proper project management involved in the ITIL implementation. The absence of project management highly contributes to the failure of projects. In addition, the management neither communicated nor chased feedback from employees throughout the implementation process of ITIL. Finally, the management did not account for the stable organizational culture and attempted to implement ITIL as part of the business not as a project. This resulted in the employees looking at it as an extra workload. Therefore, handling ITIL as a project may help the employees realize the benefits. The IT Staffs added that training was not made mandatory by the management. In addition, the goals of the training were not communicated properly resulting in many employees not taking it seriously. The company did not spend enough effort in understanding its culture and did not implement the right methodology for tool and vendor selection, which resulted in a one-year delay trying to customize the tool. According to the end users, most of th This was due to the fact that the top management did not communicate the need for ITIL to the employees nor yees did not feel the urge to commit to the project. It is worth noting that the employees started changing their behaviour towards adopting ITIL in their relevant tasks only after the management started questioning them on their lack of adhering to the new processes. The IT Staffs mentioned that although management had approved the purchasing of an ITIL compliant tool, hired a consultant to guide the implementation process and provided the required training for the employees, the acceptance of ITIL was not as high as it was expected to be according to the adoption model. The reason behind that was the absence of other critical factors such as change management procedures, project management methodologies and effective communication.

References (All the article is taken from here, so I don’t claim any rights or benefits)

[1] Ahmad, Norita, Berg, Daniel and Simons, G. R. The Integration of Analytical Hierarchy Process and Data Envelopment Analysis in a Multi-Criteria Decision-Making Problem. International Journal of Information Technology & Decision Making, 2006; 5(2): 263-276
[2] Cater-steel, A. Transforming IT Service Management the ITIL Impact, Service Management 2006; 11. [3] Cater-steel, A. & gee Tan, W. 2005, Implementation of it infrastructure library (ITIL) in Australia: progress and success factors, in Australia: Progress and
[4] Cervone, Frank. ITIL: a framework for managing digital library services, OCLC Systems & Services, 2008; 24(2):87 – 90
[5] Cooke-Davies, T. s on projects, International Journal of Project Management, 2002; 20(3):185 190.
[6] ITIL Official Website (2012). Accessed on July 1, 2012.
[7] Iden, J. & Langeland ITIL Adoption: A Delphi study of it experts in the Norwegian armed Information systems management 27, 103 112.
[8] Kabachinski, J., Have You Heard of ITIL? It’s Time You Did, Biomedical Instrumentation & Technology, 2011; 45(1):59-62.
[9] Kanapathy, K. & Khan, K.I., Assessing the Relationship between ITIL Implementation Progress and Firm Size: Evidence from Malaysia, International Journal of Business and Management, 2012; 7(2):194-199.
[10] Marquis, H., Business Communications Review, 2006; 36(12):49 52.
[11] Pedersen, K., Krammergaard, P., Lynge, B. & Dalby Schou, C. ITIL implementation: critical success factors a comparative case study using the BPC framework, Journal of Information Technology Case and Application Research, 2010; 12(2).
[12] Pollard, C. Justifications, strategies, and critical success factors in successful ITIL implementations in U.S. and Australian companies: An exploratory study, Information Systems Management, 2009; 26(2): 164.
[13] Saaty T.L., The Analytic Hierarchy Process, McGraw- Hill:NY. 1980.
[14] Sarvenaz Mehravani, N. H. & Haghighinasab, M., ITIL adoption model based on TAM, in 5, IACSIT Press, Singapore, pp. 33 37. 2011
[15] Shang, S. S. C. & Lin, S.-F. Barriers to implementing ITIL-a multi-case study on the service-based industry, Contemporary Management Research, 2010; 6(1): 53 70.
[16] Tan, W.-G., Cater-Steel, A. & Toleman, M. Implementing it service management: a case study focusing on critical success factors, The Journal of Computer Information Systems, 2009; 50(2): 1 12.


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