I’ve had a couple of ITIL conversations as of late…mostly centering around the question of what exactly it is.  I’ve given the standard response as to British government best practices on IT operations supported by a vibrant collection of user groups around the world.  That never seemed to resonate.

Then I was chatting with an ex-oilfield equipment sales representative, and I was trying to find terms that he could relate to.  How’s this:

ITIL is merely taking all of the best practices around expensive capital equipment operations and maintenance, and applying them to organizational IT operations.  If a critical piece of equipment in a refinery breaks down, the organization is out hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of dollars until it can be returned to operation.  Therefore, people don’t (or ought not) do stupid things when it comes to equipment maintenance.  IT is no different.  Even though the base components may be relatively cheap and available from the local big-box retailer, when you put them all together, they’re supporting the enterprise – and when they go down, so does the revenue stream that the enterprise depends on.

So ITIL is all about not doing stupid things in production IT environments.  It’s based on capital equipment maintenance techniques that have been well documented and studied since the 50s – if not earlier.  Furthermore, ITIL is about creating a learning organization that can identify stupid things, and avoid repeating them in the future.

So, assuming that most of the folks who read this blog came here because they’re interested in all things Microsoft Project or Enterprise Project Management systems, you’re probably asking yourself what does ITIL have to do with EPM tools…?

ITIL has everything to do with EPM tools.  Just try adopting ITIL processes in your organization without clearly defined project or change selection mechanisms….without the ability to accurately estimate the potential costs of changes to the production environment or the associated schedule risks….it simply can’t be done.  ITIL processes can’t be adopted without an EPM tool.

Conversely, although I have been working exclusively in Oil and Gas for quite some time now, many EPM implementers are IT PMOs building processes to support IT projects.  How can you implement EPM tools without also implementing the processes to identify environmental issues, and to develop the funnel of project proposals that will feed into the EPM system…or that will provide the feedback for determining project efficacy?

I fail to see how one can be implemented without the other…