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Bite-size ITIL®: is this the reality of most ITIL v3 deployments?


16 September 2009

Bite-size ITIL®: is this the reality of most ITIL v3 deployments?

The majority of so-called ITIL v3 implementations today are still failing to adopt a lifecycle approach to IT Service Management, reveals Hornbill’s latest survey

The results of Hornbill’s latest survey have revealed that the majority of so-called ITIL v3 implementations today are failing to adopt a lifecycle approach to IT Service Management (ITSM), in reality taking a bite-size approach to the latest version of the ITIL best practice framework. Most organisations are still implementing the most commonly adopted ITIL v2 processes of Incident, Problem and Change management under the name of v3, while maturing their ITSM deployments in readiness for new ITIL v3 processes such as Request Fulfilment, Service Catalog and Event Management.

Over 500 executives and senior managers from US and UK commercial and government organisations took part in the survey, entitled “ITIL State of the Nation”, which looked into international adoption rates of ITIL v3 since its launch in June 2007 and the associated drivers for and barriers to its deployment.

ITIL v2 versus ITIL v3?
According to the survey, the majority (56%) of respondents are still using ITIL v2 with the remaining 44% using ITIL v3; of those 44%, 13% have adopted ITIL v3 from scratch whereas 31% have moved to ITIL v3 from their existing ITIL v2 implementations.
US survey figures show a higher overall proportion of ITIL v3 adoption (55%), with 37% upgrading from v2 and 18% going directly to v3.

Of the organizations currently using ITIL v2, 32% (US 36%) intend to remain with ITIL V2 but introduce some ITIL v3 concepts; 24% (US 17%) are considering upgrading to it with a further 8% (US 8%) having an ITIL v3 project underway; 19% (US 17%) have not yet considered ITIL v3; and a further 17% (US 18%) of respondents claim that they are unlikely to consider moving to ITIL v3, or have already ruled it out completely.

Most commonly adopted ITIL processes
Although the service lifecycle approach is cited as the top driver for adopting ITIL v3, it is not being implemented. Most organizations are deploying ITIL v3 simply to ensure they are up-to-date with the latest version. In practice, many are still just implementing the most commonly adopted ITIL v2 processes of Incident, Problem and Change management under another name (v3). According to the survey, Incident management (96%) (US 92%), closely followed by Change management (84%) (US 81%), then Problem management (67%) (US 71%) are the most commonly adopted processes of ITIL v2. This pattern is reflected by ITIL v3 adopters, with Incident Management (84%) (US 86%), Change Management (70%) (US 70%) and Problem Management (65%) (US 62%) as the top three implemented processes, suggesting that the majority of organizations claiming to have adopted v3 are simply updating existing v2 processes.

There is evidence that some of the ITIL v3 processes that are designed to aid the lifecycle approach to services are being adopted. 37% (US 31%) of respondents have already implemented a Service Catalog with a further 41% (US 41%) developing one currently. Similarly, 42% (US 34%) of respondents have already implemented a Configuration Management System (CMS) or Database (CMDB) with a further 24% (US 25%) planning to develop one in the near future.

Complexity and timescales in moving to ITIL v3
When asked about the timeframe for implementing ITIL v3, an overwhelming 63% (US 64%) of respondents who plan to move to ITIL v3 intend to do so within the next two years, indicating that many organizations are committed to maturing their existing ITIL v2 processes before moving on to ITIL v3. This reflects the overriding belief of survey participants that the more ITIL processes adopted, the more mature the IT services delivered, and the more likely the key goals and objectives of the overall business or organization are met.

The long timescale involved in moving to ITIL v3 also suggests the significant level of planning required for migration from one version of ITIL to another. 54% (US 55%) of respondents believe that they will have implemented most, if not all, the processes within each lifecycle phase of ITIL v3 by 2014.

US vs UK adoption of ITIL v3
The findings of the survey reveal that the UK is only marginally ahead of the US across most of the lifecycle phases, with the notable exception of Continual Service Improvement (30%) (US 25%) and Service Reporting (42%) (US 30%), which are adopted more widely in the UK. It is perhaps not surprising that the UK market is further ahead of the US, given its earlier exposure to ITIL.

Lisa Erickson-Harris, Research Director at Enterprise Management Associates, commented,
“This research illustrates the reality of ITIL adoption. Two years after the introduction of ITIL v3, to see that its adoption is international but piecemeal rather than following the aim of the service lifecycle, is unsurprising yet still unfortunate. The value of service management and delivery should be good for industrial recovery & growth and yet corporate culture and people are still major hurdles - often tackled, but seldom overcome. Once again, we see that IT and the business are still in need of better alignment.”

People or processes?
Gerry Sweeney, CEO of Hornbill Systems commented: “One notable aspect of ITIL v3 is its orientation towards business services, moving IT away from a pure technology play. Whichever version of ITIL organizations are looking to adopt, the drivers are the same: improving service quality and increasing customer satisfaction. Process can only take you so far. It is people that make the difference between poor and excellent service. This is what Hornbill calls the ‘human touch’ - putting customers at the core of everything we do and developing technology that can be used to drive excellence and prevent process stagnation.”

“The service desk is IT’s shop window and by ensuring that it is run by the right staff, with the right attitude and the right tools, IT can tackle service quality and customer satisfaction head on, instead of expecting processes alone to make a difference. The challenge for IT remains to demonstrate some quick wins to secure business attention, then forge ahead with the more strategic aspects of ITIL v3, complete the service lifecycle and demonstrate the true benefits of ITIL.”

According to the survey, the greatest benefits realised from adopting an overall ITIL framework correspond to the major drivers for its adoption and comprise improvements in service quality (66%), standardized processes (58%) and improved customer satisfaction (48%).

About the survey
Hornbill collaborated with Ken Turbitt of the Service Management Consultancy Group (SMCG) Ltd to prepare the survey with input from the IT Service Management Forum (itSMF), and it was promoted via the Service Desk Institute (SDI), Pink Elephant and ITP Report online. Mauricio Marrone of the University of Göttingen contributed to the statistical data analysis and findings.

To register for a copy of Hornbill’s survey and white paper, please go to: or visit Hornbill at itSMF USA Fusion, Booth 2018,2020



About Hornbill Systems
Service Management software from Hornbill enables organizations to provide excellent customer service while benefiting from the economies of consolidation on a single technology platform. Supportworks’ service desk templates are designed for rapid deployment within any employee or customer support environment, including ITIL-compatible IT Service Management, IT Helpdesk, Customer Service, HR and Facilities Management with the flexibility to build additional desks at minimal extra cost. Hornbill’s software supports thousands of commercial and governmental sites worldwide. Hornbill Systems was founded in the UK in 1995 and has US offices in Dallas, Texas.
Hornbill has earned many industry accolades including; Service Desk Institute “IT Service and Support Technology Supplier of the Year” for 2008, “Best Business use of Support Technology” with Sharp Electronics and “Support Excellence Award for Smaller Helpdesks” with Camelot in 2005.
High profile customers include Atos Origin (Athens Olympics 2004, Torino Winter Olympics 2006 and Beijing Olympics 2008), Drew University, Half Price Books, London Metropolitan University, RSPB, Chubb Insurance, House of Fraser, Halfords, The National Archives, and Camelot.

For more information about Hornbill’s solutions please visit

For Company and editorial information contact:
Ann James
Hornbill Systems, Inc.
Tel: 972 717 2300
Andreina West
PR Artistry
Tel: +44 (0) 1491 639500


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