Too many 'experts' spoil the ITIL mix

When John Talbot, the general manager of operational management at the Commonwealth Bank, said identifying the real experts from those who make hollow claims can be a real stalling point in an IT service management project, his comments hit home with a number of IT execs.

Talbot said the problem with many so-called 'experts' is that they have textbook knowledge, but not real-world implementation experience.

There are the 'textbook' people - consultants who make big claims, and the subject matter experts provided by suppliers.

"Our initial challenge with IT Service Management was that there were far too many 'experts' out there; I know certification isn't easily obtained so that lends credibility, but you need some experience under your belt as well."

Talbot, who was speaking at an IT Service Management Forum (itSMF) roundtable in Sydney this week, said another stalling point is lack of executive sponsorship.

Fortunately, he said, the bank had a "depth of active sponsorship" when it started its $1.5 billion transformation project.

Branko Milenovic, Centrelink's ITSM project manager, also participated in the roundtable and agreed with Talbot about seeking out expertise.

Milenovic said he found experts with "appropriate accreditation", but they lacked credibility and integrity.

"While we had people with appropriate accreditation to assist us with the journey we soon found the credibility and integrity was in question, and that is an important factor when implementing IT Service Management," he said.

Centrelink began an IT Service Management project, based on Hewlett-Packard's OpenView solution using ITIL in August 2005. The multimillion-dollar contract is expected to be completed by December 2006 and will give Centrelink a central point to manage IT service requests and incidents.

Another roundtable participant Roger McPhee, project director with Queensland Transport, already had practices and processes in place, none of which were aligned to ITIL.

He said the project as was much about changing the internal culture as it was about redefining processes.

"For us it was a challenge because of our immaturity in terms of having practices in place; those we had weren't aligned to ITIL and as a result we would fix the same problem 45 times. The enormous investment going into fixing issues was not helpful to our organization," McPhee said.

"All good intentions aside, a lot of our people were driven by their belief that they could find the solution to a problem; it was about changing that culture.

"It was a perfect opportunity to redefine the processes and align them to what is recognized as a de facto best-practice standard and an opportunity for us to build from the ground up."

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