When I’m visiting organizations that need help with their processes, I almost always find myself saying the same thing: “stop reading frameworks as if they are rules.” This point bears repeating.

Often, when organizations use frameworks such as ITIL for their processes, they focus a little too much on the guidelines and not enough on how their organization actually works.

I will usually hear, “but that’s not how ITIL does it, is it?” And a lot of the time, they’re absolutely right. But my response is usually: “why does it matter?”

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Frameworks are meant to be flexible

Obviously, ITIL makes some great recommendations about IT service management. Service desks should be closing calls on time, keep communications consistent and follow up on customer satisfaction, and so much more. These are great pillars to base your service desk on.

But let’s say your service desk consists of a single person. Would it be a good idea to double this person’s workload for the sake of adhering to the ITIL guidelines? Or maybe not all ITIL rules and guidelines are a good fit with the best practice of working in your organization. Isn’t it counterproductive to then try to force these processes?

No two organizations are alike, so why should their processes be?

… so, keep them 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-this-or-else”-works. In fact, ITIL itself addresses this: I’m sure every ITIL Foundation Course attendee remembers hearing about “adopt and adapt” on day 1.

A framework can be of vital help as long as you realize there’s a lot of room to improvise, improve or invent within said framework. Sure, let’s use the guidelines that we are given, but let’s not use ITIL (or any other framework) as a holy book. It’s a framework, not a rigid set of rules. And you have to make its guidelines work for the unique requirements of your own organization. After all, no two organizations are alike, so why should their processes be?

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