When we looked at ITIL in a previous article, we found out that the framework priorities less risk compared to speed. But what about benefits and costs, how does ITIL stand up to todays business need?
Cost-effective is a priority in ITIL as we can see from the description, but what does this mean?
Are we talking about purchase of systems, operational cost for services or TCO. When calculating TCO, do we have and expected lifetime for the service? What is the cost of getting rid of the system in the future?
We have the cost for making changes. If we design a system to be more flexible and more autonomus, the initial cost for development often higher. But the cost in the long run will be lower.
If I buy new tiers or a battery to the car, I have to pay an extra fee for disposal. I never heard of any company who calculate the TCO to also include the cost for shutting down the system and migrating out the data. Never.
Normally, the IT-department focus only on operational costs, and they are not the whole truth. This is why DevOPs as approch can be more benefical for the business than a traditional divide between Software Development and Service Operations.
The other risk is if the cost-cutting have an impact on business performance. Cheaper tools or lower service levels may be effective from a cost perspective in IT, but saving pennies in IT can easiliy be pounds lost in business. An area this is extra relevant in now is Security. If in doubt, ask former CEO of Sony Pictures or Madison Ashley.
Looking at the benefit perspective, it's more Portfolio Managment that is used to priorities investments than a topic for Service Management. It's neither a ITIL question in my opinion to decide a Business Strategy or start development of future products.
I believe that there are no easy answers of how to handle cost and benefits within ITIL.
But Service Management, using ITIL or not, must be very clear to the business with how they calculate IT-costs and what the trade-offs are. Then the business side can make qualified decisions about business technology.