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Why Now Is the Right Time to Combine ITIL® 4 and Project Management

May 09, 2019
Global Knowledge

Nobody wants to seem out of touch or like they’re failing to keep up. Be it a politician with their electorate or parents with their children, the result of not understanding or not being aligned with others runs the risk of disaster. Similarly, our organizations can be a lot like people. They too can make excuses for not doing the hard work to rejuvenate themselves.

Based on years of experience, Global Knowledge’s position on this is clear. For organizations with the willingness to get in shape and regain their corporate vitality, combining and aligning best practice frameworks is a sure way to achieve that goal. Admittedly, it takes work. This article highlights why combining ITIL® 4 and project management should be high on the list.



Why now?

The advent of cloud, automation and everything-as-a-service means a changing role for many information systems teams. ITIL 4, the latest iteration of the global standard for service management, can help IT teams transform and provide real business value. ITIL 4 can help transform IT departments from a company cost center to the driver of value co-creation within the organization’s ecosystem of stakeholders. ITIL 4 provides the service management framework and project management (waterfall and agile) provides the structure for how to do it.


Where ITIL 4 comes in

When service improvement is driven by adopting and adapting ITIL 4 best practices, a company that transitions gets multiple benefits: the highly responsive functionality of a world-class service delivery organization, coupled with the agility, innovation and flexibility that is increasingly necessary in today’s competitive marketplace.

Almost since the first systems were computerized, technology and those delivering it have often been disregarded by many within their organizations frequently including, and even led by, senior executives. Why? Because despite their best efforts, many internal IT departments have been severely challenged in delivering real business value on time and within budget, often in comparison to external providers. External providers have been characterized as having no feel for their customers’ businesses. Checkmate and IT loses again!

ITIL 4 addresses many of the identified limitations of delivering technology. It provides a loosely coupled, service-oriented framework that meets the customer’s business needs taking outcomes, costs and risks into account. It enables the IT organization to act in co-creating value as a full partner in the ecosystem and service value chains that drive the 21st century business. But, in order to adopt and adapt ITIL 4’s best practices for your organization, it must work closely with other frameworks such as enterprise architecture, business analysis and, of course, project management.


Project management’s role

Project management has been around for hundreds, if not thousands of years. (After all, the pyramids must have been built by some kind of repeatable process.) However, from an IT perspective it was the threat posed by Y2K that forced maturity, better codification and wider adoption. Not forgetting of course that it was shortly after the shock of Y2K that the Agile manifesto was written and another episode started. Today there is much talk of organizations practicing their own forms of “Wagile,” a mix of the Agile and Waterfall models. All this activity around the millennium forced IT organizations to adopt a much more disciplined approach because failure was literally not an option.

ITIL 4 requires project management in two specific areas. First, the introduction and improvement of ITIL-based best practices is often a project in itself. It entails changing not only the people, technology, processes and partnerships, but also the culture and interfaces between stakeholders. Most ITIL-based best practice improvements require a degree of project management. Anything less and the adoption is at risk.

Organizational change management is at the very heart of any improvements. Since the whole point is to ensure high-quality delivery of IT services at the optimum cost, change has to be managed very carefully to avoid risk to a stable and functioning environment. You also need project management (and a chunk of Lean thinking) to contain unproductive expenditures. At the same time we must remain highly responsive to the changing business needs of the customer. This is where project management really shines in either its Agile or Waterfall variants.


What to expect

A big challenge to service improvement via ITIL is acquiring qualified project managers with sufficient business acumen, a true product and service mentality, and enough ITIL knowledge, training and experience.

Managing the constraints of time, price and scope of work, while meeting quality requirements is the foundation of project management. Meeting the customer-defined needs for value, capability, availability, reliability and cost-effectiveness, while allowing for agility and responsiveness in the face of changing business requirements is the foundation of ITIL 4. Together, these disciplines truly deliver a competitive advantage. Imagine if you can, a combined project management and service management office who have a sole role of building the fabric to enable agility and self-determination within product teams.

Global Knowledge’s annual IT Skills and Salary Report has proven time and again that for individuals in the IT industry, particularly in management, there are few skill sets more valuable than ITIL and project management. Today our organizations are hiring T-shaped individuals. You need a multitude of talents. A combination of the latest ITIL 4 guidelines and project management should be high on your list of must-haves.


Related courses

ITIL® 4 Foundation
Project Management Fundamentals