Why Small and Mid-Size Companies Should Care About ITIL

Large companies and government organizations create most industry standards by sharing ideas, but when it comes to harvesting value from standards, small and mid-size companies have much to gain. ITIL is a good example – it was the efforts of the UK government and some large organizations (that Axelos now privately owns and administers) that led to the creation of the IT Infrastructure Library. ITIL is the accepted industry standard and set of practices that most companies follow for IT Service Management (ITSM). Even though most smaller companies won’t actively contribute to or participate in the standards development process, they will benefit tremendously.

Basic service assurance

IT service management is a necessary set of functions for most modern companies; however (in most cases), it isn’t a strategic differentiator that allows companies to innovate and operate differently. ITIL and other industry standards provide a playbook for companies, outlining a set of activities that companies can use to put a basic set of ITSM functions in place quickly – without having to determine it themselves. This enables companies to provide a baseline level of service assurance with minimal investment.

Affordable technology options

Most companies, as they grow, will want some sort of tool and a set of capabilities to support their ITSM functions. Because ITIL is a standard that most companies use, there is a large market for tool capabilities that align with the standard, and which decreases prices and encourages suppliers to enhance their offerings. Before ITIL, ITSM tools were quite expensive and, in many cases, custom-developed. Because of the cost, only large organizations could afford them – now there are cloud service offerings, priced to be affordable for even small companies of a few people.

Availability of skills and knowledgeable resources

Similar to the technology market, ITIL certification has created a large global supply of knowledgeable human resources with skills and experiences to support IT systems. ITIL certification doesn’t mean the person is an expert, but it is a basic qualification that indicates a potential human resource understands what must be done to manage and operate IT systems. For small companies, therefore, it’s easier to hire (or contract) IT staff.

Standard metrics

To know whether your IT systems and management processes are healthy or in need of attention, you must rely on some sort of performance metrics, as most companies do. One of the most popular uses of ITIL and other standards is as a reference source, so management knows what can/should be measured and how to interpret those metrics. Such metrics as Availability, Mean Time to Resolve and SLA compliance (all defined as part of ITIL) provide management an easy and effective way to manage the IT functions within their organizations without having to become technologists or service management experts.

Outsourcing opportunities

As is often the case with most small businesses, the founder(s) initially performs virtually all of the many functions required to operate the business. Then, as they grow, they often leverage outsourced organizations to provide additional capacity and/or specific areas of expertise. The ITIL standard has created a large and diverse market of suppliers able to augment your company’s internal capabilities with standardized offerings and working methods – making IT one of the easiest functions for small companies to outsource. ITIL is often referenced in IT supplier contracts.

If you are a small or mid-size business and haven’t yet formalized your IT service management functions, then industry standards, such as ITIL, have much to offer. By combining standard processes with cloud-based ITSM tool offerings, many companies will have a basic set of internal service management functions up and running within a few days or weeks and outsourced functions almost immediately.