ITIL Mission Statement: Key to Better Services


Many I&O leaders and customers see little value from investments in ITIL. Not getting the Return on Investment (ROI) you expect normally comes from using ITIL incorrectly. You, your staff, and your customers must share the same goals and understand exactly what to expect from your ITIL investments.

The goal of ITIL is not “business and IT alignment” or “competitive advantage from IT investments.” Instead, its first goal is to stabilize service operation. This builds a base for the second goal: increasing value through service optimization. You must have clear-cut, documented, and managed expectations for each activity, and order is vital. Success requires that you stabilize service delivery before trying to optimize. Focusing on the correct goal and linking each ITIL task to that goal is the correct use of ITIL.

Creating an ITIL mission statement based on four questions is one way to start realizing benefits from ITIL-related activities and projects. Asking responsible staff and vendors to answer these questions can improve your ITIL ROI. If you do not yet have an ITIL program, use these questions to start one. ITIL advice, used right, can help you deliver more and higher-quality services in the face of rising demand and fixed budgets.

If you cannot fill in the blanks in the following ITIL mission statement form, you are more likely to fail than to succeed, and you may never obtain the ROI from ITIL that you expect:

“For the service ___, we use ITIL to ___. We will measure ___ to show ___ in ___.”

Examine each ITIL investment in training, hiring, organizational change, software, consulting, etc., and complete an ITIL mission statement for each. Ask responsible staff, managers, and vendors to “fill in the blanks” using the Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely (SMART) goal-setting method. This simple form will help you and your teams understand your goal. It will force the creation of reporting and metrics, and it provides a mission statement for the initiative. It will tell all involved what you are doing, why you are doing it, and when and how you will see its benefits.

Assume that you will not get clear answers to your “fill in the blanks” request. Be careful not to be punitive. Instead, use the lack of understanding and inability to answer as a starting point for improvement. Seek opinions of those in your organization that you trust first, and work together to gain understanding of the initiative. Use a service-based approach to understand firm and customer impact and value potential. Be sure to include whether the ITIL mission statement is for stabilization or optimization. If it is for optimization, you must verify that the service in question is stable.

Investigate each ITIL-related project and initiative to discover how you determine success today. Do you base your expectations on vague promises, or do you know in advance exactly what you expect to happen, when, and why? Assess the success of all services and all ITIL-related projects and investments based on its ITIL mission statement. Use the ITIL mission statement as the metric to reference maturity, benchmarking, Quality of Service (QoS), and Quality of Experience (QoE.) Use the mission statement to drive promotions, bonuses, terminations, training, etc. Require vendors to complete an ITIL mission statement for purchases, and ensure trainers and consultants complete one before engagement. Do your current service level management reports answer or provide an ITIL mission statement?

Launch your ITIL mission statement review by choosing one ITIL-related project or initiative. Introduce the ITIL mission statement at the next team or status meeting. Explain its purpose, and try to agree on one at the meeting. Always use a service-based approach to evaluate business needs or market initiatives. This includes engaging with customers to validate the mission statement in business terms. Ensure each ITIL mission statement reflects upon desired business outcomes. Share it with all I&O staff, users, and customers as appropriate. Review it every month if possible. Minimally, review it at least quarterly.

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  1. Rui Natal Reply

    Hello Hank Marquis. I am a frequent reader of your papers and articlos. And I liked the “Paradox of 9’s” very much.
    And this one here is very important as well. I consider myself an enthusiast of ITIL, almost an Evangelist, but it has been very difficult to sustain the ITIL speech and to keep up in the sky its flag.
    Down here in Brazil what we observe is that as soon as new technologies, frameworks and acronyms come up part of the Customers understands that those are a substitution to the old ones, part understands they have to be in this brand new wave, and immediately they move their focus from ITIL to the new announcements, for instance to BPM, and SOA, and Cobit, and Big Data, and BYOD and son on.
    And what we observe is that most companies and organizations that tel they have implemented “good practices” of ITIL, they have effectively implemented a “Serice Desk” portion and with not the minimum requirements and that’s it. This is sad, is bad. And the ITIL speech looses completely its strength. “Oh, you again with that same old ITIL speech” ?
    Well, I liked very much one of your first sentences in this paper: “stabilize service operation.
    That’s it.
    Congratulations and thanks a lot for your useful and important papers.
    Rui Natal

  2. Hank Marquis Reply

    Hi Rui! Thanks for the note. ITIL, or more specifically “service management” is more important now than ever since cloud computing is 100% about managing services. You’re right on though, and I’ve taken to talking about “service management” vs. ITIL, even though I know I mean ITIL! The question now is how to update all your processes for social, mobile and cloud (SoMoCo) — DevOps is the new buzzword, and we ITIL people have the central role in making it happen. But that means we have to make it happen! Established ITIL processes are usually not optimized for SoMoCo, and that’s where we can add real value.

    Thanks again, and keep in touch!