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Classroom Conversation #7: Why so many processes? It’s overwhelming.

Twenty-six processes spread across five lifecycle stages can seem to be a bit taxing.  Can’t this framework be simplified? Maybe the “ITIL Gods” (as I often refer to the architects of the framework) will re-think things in the next iteration and consolidate.  However, were I a betting person, I’d bet that we’ll see an increase in the number of processes.  Why?

I’ll answer the why shortly, but first I’d like to draw an analogy to the world of building construction.  It takes many people in many roles to build the building, and they all use appropriate tools to get the job done.  A framer works with a set of tools, not all fit nicely in a tool belt around the waist:  hammers, chisels, tape-measures, saws, plumb lines, levels, and so on.  Sheet-rockers have some similar tools, but also others such as knives to score the rock, t-squares, jab knives, and more.  Plumbers use pipe-cutters, torches, and….you probably get the picture.

The IT environment is complex.  To build it and to modify it and to maintain it takes a number of skilled people with the right tools.  It also takes the right processes:  Framers don’t start building the roof. They also know the best way to measure and cut and join. Each skilled worker knows what to do, how to do, and when to do.  That is basically what process is: a methodology for doing the work properly.

Each ITIL process is simply a documented methodology to be utilized when needed.  Over the eleven years I’ve been teaching and consulting on ITIL, I have frequently heard “We’re doing this stuff anyway—it’s not new.”  In many cases, that is true enough.  I have also heard “We would benefit from doing this.”  The ITIL processes (tools) are there to be used when you and your organization need them, and you don’t need all of them all of the time.  Some of them you may never need to utilize formally—you’re already doing what they recommend.

ITIL guidance will change over time.  It has to, because the world of IT, just as the world of business, changes with the development of other new tools and needs.  A brand new house went up next door to mine this past year. The framers were using nail-guns to nail the boards together.  New tools bring about change, thus requiring new processes, and changed processes. I remember, as a child, my dad saying, “Be careful, you wouldn’t want to smash your finger with that hammer.”  Today, he’d be saying, “Be careful, you wouldn’t want to shoot yourself with that gun.”

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