Friday, March 4, 2011

Writing & Supporting an ITIL Business Case

Preparing a ITIL business case to present the benefits of spending money on something the Board doesn’t understand can be hard work. Proving the development project will deliver value-adding results and Return on Investment is a challenge in today’s environment.

All the board want to know is “how much will it cost” and “what will it save financially”.

Not every IT project is about huge spending to achieve long term saving. It depends on the business goals. Spending money to improve customer service and retain existing customer base is money well spent in my eyes.

This is what ITIL can do for your business if properly executed. The return on investment out weighs the return on spending if you’re increasing quality, building customer relationships, productivity, accountability, gaining over the competition, reducing the cost of ownership, reduce waste, preventing security breaches and opening up new opportunities.

ITIL will increase your delivery and support levels but it also requires culture change for best practise to be a success. Success as always needs planning and you’ll need to review your goals and decide what you want from the implementation.

ITIL is very flexible and can be adapted to organisations big and small, take the processes and functions that will develop your business and it’s growth. The bottom line is service improvement needs “buy in from the top” to drive the ITIL project forward and deal with resistance.

Service Management will bring cost saving and quality review to IT departments. This mean understanding your current environment and understanding the changes needed across IT Service Support & Delivery. Including Incident, Problem, Change, Release, Configuration, Availability, Financial, Capacity Management.

At the core is your Strategy, surrounded and delivered by the people, processes, partners and technology. Improving all these will maximise the IT budget and allow return on investment to take effect. If ITIL doesn’t complement your business then you don’t need really need an ITIL business case in the first place.

Start by assessing/measuring ROI and look how you can explain the long term efforts, the impact or losses if you don’t use ITIL best practise approach. This argument works if you can explain the impact and risk of not having or developing Incident Management, Problem Management or Business Continuity Plan.

Resistance to ITIL is often related to the fear of change and lack of investment buy in. Proving and quantifying ITIL improvements and defining the business benefits is not always easy for ITIL Managers. My advice is to look for quick wins and short term gains to please the Board.

For example, explain and calculate the costs of downtime and damage to reputation because of lack of Availability Management, Capacity Management and Security Management. Another approach to securing some financial backing is to look at the support costs per customer versus and demonstrate the saving if ITIL is implemented. E.g. Call resolution costs = £40. After project deployed call costs reduced to £15.

Show these to senior Executives and the Board of Directors and you may find they want to you to take some action and increase your budget to meet the deliverables. The saving money tactic usually lights up Executive faces because most see IT as a cost and not a business driver.

You’ll need to show that ITIL will bring value for money and help deliver the long term business goals and of the organisation, like increased revenue, reduced costs, a better understanding of your customers and encourage a proactive and profitable company.

Aligning your IT Service with company goals and show you want to work along side the business to deliver your company’s goals. Connect the dots from your role to your company’s vision and key objectives. How does your work align with the organization’s goals? What can you do to maximize ROI from IT Services?

In some cases the golf playing Executives don’t full understand IT so you can roll-out your own ITIL business case without there knowledge or play on their fears to secure the investment. If you fail to get understanding at board level and the necessary time, resources and hard cash then try making up some “white paper” type facts or inserting some pretty colour graphic and charts in to your business case.

Sometimes the right perception and use of buzzwords can work in your favour to grab some ITIL project funding. Try re-label it as “Microsoft Operations Framework”.

To secure your ITIL business case and budget you may need some marketing spin or to start playing golf. But then again if you need to make stuff up you probably don’t need ITIL in the first place.

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