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ITSM Processes

Using ITIL as a Framework and not a set of rules

By William Bolton on July, 11 2017

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William Bolton

TOPdesk Consultant

When I’m chatting with customers that need help with their processes, I almost always find myself saying “yes, but you’re looking at frameworks and reading them if they’re rules”. This point bears repeating.

A lot of the time when making decisions with people who are working with a framework such as ITIL for their processes, there is a lot of reading of the guidelines and too little actual consideration of how their own organisation actually works. This can cause some problems.

I will usually hear, “but that’s not how ITIL does it, is it?” And a lot of the time – wouldn’t you know it - they’re absolutely right. But my response is often something like, "why does it matter?"

Frameworks are flexible

ITIL obviously makes some great recommendations about ITSM. Service Desk’s should be closing all calls in order to re-categorise if necessary, keep communications consistent and follow up on customer satisfaction, etc, etc. Great pillars to base your Service Desk on.

However, in a hypothetical company where the Service Desk consists of a single person, would it be a good idea to effectively double this person’s workload for the sake of adhering to a set of guidelines?

Or in another hypothetical company where these rules and guidelines just don’t fit the best practice of working, isn’t it counterproductive to try to force processes?

Keep frameworks flexible

The point is that we should apply a little common sense to granular recommendations from frameworks. They’re called frameworks, not ‘you-must-do-exactly-thisworks’. In fact, ITIL itself addresses this: I’m sure every ITIL Foundation Course attendee remembers ‘adapt and adopt’ on day 1... Do you follow it?

Applying common sense to processes is key. Sure, let’s use the guidelines that we are given, but let’s not use ITIL (or any other framework) as a holy book. For example, at TOPdesk, we sometimes use something called Best Practice Service Management, which can loosely be defined as a less rigid ITIL-style framework. We find it incredible helpful, but even this should be adapted to fit each individual organisation.

The bottom line is that a framework can be of vital help, but there’s a lot of room to improvise, improve or invent around that frame. No organisation is the same as another, so the processes shouldn’t be either.

 If you do want some help with your processes (with a lot of room for improvisation and adaptation), check out our guide to better Incident Prioritisation.

Download our Incident Priority Matrix

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