Are IT departments in Asia Pacific still focused on IT process improvement?

Recent research undertaken by Forrester across Asia Pacific has indicated that while there is clearly a strong drive to improve the efficiency of IT systems, this will not often be through the implementation of process improvement systems, such as ITIL or CMM.

 
Major IT Management Themes In Asia Pacific
Forrester BDS data
Source: Enterprise Global Technology Adoption Survey, Asia Pacific, Latin America, Middle East, And Africa, Q1 2009
 

 

So why has interest in these processes suddenly plummeted in Asia Pacific? While I have no strong evidence of the answer to the question, the many discussions I have had with IT leaders across the region leads me to believe that a number of factors have lead organizations to delay or put a stop to their ITIL process improvements and their broader ITSM initiatives. 

 

  • Mature ITIL implementing economies have a case of “ITIL lethargy”. For many IT departments in countries across the region that were early adopters of ITIL (such as Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore) they have implemented a number of ITIL processes – typically those centred around the service desk, such as incident and change management, but as they implemented the processes without the support of technology – or perhaps with limited support, they have had to work hard to maintain these processes. Staff move on, new employees don’t get the right training, and before you know it you are no longer running the processes as you had originally implemented. 
  • The move to ITIL vr3 is too big an ask – right now anyway. With IT staff stretched at the moment, many organizations have lost the appetite to make major changes to their IT processes. The potential requirement to retrain all affected staff, reinvent processes that already do the job, and potentially implement new IT systems to support those processes is a leap too far in times when IT budgets are down while demand for IT-based capabilities continues to rise.
  • Some individuals don’t like that ITIL vr3 appears to be a vendor-led initiative. ITIL has always been about IT departments and IT people speaking to each other, collaborating, and sharing best practice in order to help each other improve their processes. And while I am sure many recognize that the IT outsourcers in particular probably know more about running IT systems and processes effectively than anyone, some individuals have an inherent mistrust of the vendor community – as they believe there always is a “catch”. With ITIL vr3 being a vendor-led exercise, some in the IT sector in Asia are less willing to make the leap until at least they have seen their peers do so and get the gains promised.

 

So what can IT leaders do to continue improving their process through times of IT budget cuts and limited resources? Well, you can get lean.  Forrester has recently focused a lot of energy around the concept of “Lean IT”. By focusing on the lean principles of cutting waste in processes and systems that do not focus on business outcomes, you can free up valuable time and money to ensure that your people and budget are focused purely on the outcomes required by the business. Even applying lean to the ITIL vr3 roll out would make sense – which of the process improvements will drive the biggest benefit and help you drive waste out of your IT processes.

Having the systems to support your "lean adventure" is also important - and some vendors are starting to understand this, and are supporting the lean principles within their solutions. There is still a considerable amount of waste within out IT processes and within the processes that IT supports - so removing this waste and focusing purely on customer outcomes should be the mantra for all IT organisations across Asia Pacific.