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ITIL: “We Don’t Need Another Hero”

A sticky note placed on the desk with "ITIL, Information technology infrastructure library" phrase

People, of a certain age, reading this blog will remember, in 1984, Bonnie Tyler singing about “Holding Out For A Hero”, and this seems to be the anthem for most IT organisations that I have experienced.

The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) has been with us for well over 20 years now, and yet most IT organisations still have that most invasive of practices, “The Hero Culture”. The Hero is celebrated, rewarded and admired, and perceived as being a good thing. The Hero comes in and saves the day when everything is falling to pieces.

But a Hero is not something to be celebrated. A Hero means that something has gone wrong and that the service being provided by the IT department to the business has compromised in some way.

An IT department only exists to provide computing services to its business and customers. If these services are compromised then the IT department is failing in its obligations. The Hero is the manifestation of this failure.

A significant number of IT organisations seem to fail to truly appreciate the elements of ITIL that allow them to be proactively managing a stable service, rather than running around reactively trying to stabilise service. ITIL means there should be no need for heroes, and if they exist then something is going wrong.

Incident Management, Problem Management, Event Management, Capacity Management, Change Management and Configuration Management (SACM) are all ITIL functions that most IT departments would recognise, yet their implementation typically means that they are not as effective as they should be, and ultimately encourage the “Hero Culture”.

For an IT Department to truly be able to serve their business all aspects of ITIL should be fully embraced and supported. An IT Department should be a proactive entity, providing benefit to the business through ensuring the continuity, stability and performance of the services that it provides.

Just because you think you have implemented ITIL, doesn’t mean that you have done so effectively. It is essential that you have regular reviews of your performance and recognise that things that are perceived as being good, like the ‘Hero’, are actually bad.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Often departments can’t see the wood for the trees, and get drawn into the celebration of the Hero without realise the damage it can be having for the business. Having an external set of eyes come in, can help identify areas of improvement, allowing an IT department to make the step change from providing a reactive service to a proactive one that really benefits the business and its ultimate success.

ITIL provides us with the framework to ensure that the “The Hero Culture” shouldn’t exist, and certainly shouldn’t be celebrated. Make sure it is correctly implemented and regularly reviewed. I suggest that the anthem of the IT Department shouldn’t be “Holding Out For A Hero”, rather it should be that other 80’s Tina Turner classic, “We Don’t Need Another Hero”!

If you would like to find out how iCore can help you with ITIL best practice, please get in touch on 0207 868 2405.