Your organization set out to adopt ITIL as a framework for service management. It seems like you first heard of ITIL related initiatives a long time ago. When was the first time you heard about ITIL within the company? Has it been months or years since you first heard about how the framework was being adapted to help with the customer experience and operations? You haven’t seen a lot of improvement yet you continue to hear about ITIL. Based on what you are seeing, you can’t understand why the company is spending time and money on this project. Why should you spend any time on an initiative that isn’t achieving any results?
Does the story above sound familiar? Organizations start their ITIL journey with the best of intentions. They need to provide the right mix of services to the business and they need to manage those services in an efficient and effective manner. Rising costs of technology and resources along with challenges associated with providing the business with an acceptable level of service are often the catalysts for creating an ITIL initiative yet many organizations fail to resolve these problems through ITIL adoption.
Whether the lack of progress is real or perceived, staff support for the initiative will wane without demonstrable progress. Staff will be exasperated when asked to contribute to the initiative as they won’t perceive it as good use of their time. This frustration is a sign of ITIL fatigue and it will make progress even more difficult.
Symptoms of ITIL fatigue include:
· A lack of attendance and/or participation in ITIL related meetings.
· Vocal disagreement over project direction and results.
· Discord between departments relating to process execution and the associated roles and responsibilities
· A lack of interest in performance metrics.
· Rumors relating to a major shift in operations and/or the staff involved in the initiative being reassigned.
Steps to minimize or resolve ITIL fatigue will vary depending on the pervasiveness of the problem but it will impede progress so action is needed to address the underlying root cause of the issue.
How can the organization overcome ITIL fatigue?
· Revisit the value proposition of ITIL adoption. What was the expected benefit? Are the benefits being recognized? If the benefits are being recognized, consider how to communicate this information to the team. They need to understand positive steps forward. If the value proposition is not being recognized, it may be time to bring in some outside assistance to help determine a course of action. Be sure that consultants or contractors actually have experience with ITIL adoption as well as experience working in IT operations.
· Review the communication plan for the project. Are you communicating merely about the project schedule? Project schedules don’t get people excited about change. The staff needs to understand why the organization is undertaking the initiative. What happens if IT does nothing? How will the changes impact operations and ultimately the individual staff member? Effective communications will reduce the fear and uncertainty in the organization and they can help to energize the staff about making improvements.
· Observe the leadership in the organization. Are they supportive of the project? Do the Managers and Supervisors understand how they are affected? Are they prepared to have conversations with their teams about the changes? If leadership doesn’t buy into the project, they won’t be supportive when talking with members of their team. Take the time to have one on one conversations with key leaders. Consider assigning the role of project evangelist to the leader who really understands why the initiative is important and how it will impact the customer and the company. A project evangelist should be assigned the task of helping with buy in and organizational change management.
· Re-evaluate service and process related metrics. What needs to happen for the organization to be successful? Will the existing metrics reflect success?Does baseline data exist? Adjust metrics to ensure that performance of the organization can be easily understood. Publicize both existing and ongoing performance metrics.
· Extreme cases of ITIL fatigue may require the organization to reinvent the initiative removing the use of the acronym “ITIL” and the associated acronym definition. Ensuring a common language for the team and ultimately producing results are the most important aspects of an ITIL adoption initiative. If necessary, reboot and rename the project. The organization can still build service management around the ITIL
ITIL fatigue occurs when organizations have a prolonged ITIL adoption period where signs of progress aren’t always visible to the staff. Recovering from ITIL fatigue can be difficult. Early diagnosis is key as organizations can usually identify some targeted actions to treat the symptoms. If ITIL fatigue becomes pervasive, it may be time to re-evaluate, reboot, and re-invent the initiative.
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