Using ITIL for Non-IT Purposes

There is a lot of talk in various blogs and articles about whether ITIL can be used as guidance for non-IT purposes. For example, There are other frameworks that exist that may be better suited to other parts of an organisation such as USMBOK. However, ITIL has been used for non-IT parts of organisations and quite successfully.

My opinion is that we shouldn’t be too precious about what we use as long as it works for us. If an organisation is already using ITIL for the IT department and finds that it can be adapted for the non-IT departments, then why not do it.

ITIL may not cover things such as sales and marketing and HR, but if you already have effective and efficient processes for managing faults, problems, changes, inventory, capacity, business continuity, service levels and so on, why not use them for non-IT if they translate well?

If your priorities for process improvement in the business are some of the above, then use what you already have. If the priorities are different such as HR processes, then by all means seek other sources of best practice.

So, I believe that – yes, ITIL can be used for non-IT parts of a business – for the areas of coverage that it contains. At the end of the day it is just common-sense.

Let’s take an example of a chain of bookstores. A customer goes into one store to make a complaint about the quality of print in a recently purchased book. The proprietor replaces the book but the faulty book has to be sent back to the supplier. The storeowner needs a record of the fault and the action taken. The proprietor creates an incident record.

The same scenario takes place at another store and the same action is taken.

The owner of the company reviews the incident records on a regular basis and this reveals a trend of books being returned due to poor print quality from a particular supplier. The owner raises a problem record to track the recurrence of these incidents and this reveals an increasing occurrence of the incident. The owner contacts the supplier and provides the details of the books being returned. The supplier investigates the problem and determines that it was one print batch that was at fault due to missed maintenance on a machine and advises that the batch will be replaced and the owner is to send back the faulty batch. The supplier puts in process to ensure that maintenance is scheduled and checked. All stores are advised via the problem record that the source of the error has been determined and the faulty books are being returned. Customer details from the contact database that includes the books they have purchased can now be extracted and the stores can contact them proactively to advise of the fault and offer the replacement. Once all the faulty books have been returned the problem record is closed and the associated incidents. The owner keeps a check on any future incidents in relation to this supplier to ensure that the problem does not occur again.

The owner wishes to upgrade the signage at each of the stores. The Change Management process is invoked to ensure that the impact and disruption to stores is minimised. A change record is circulated to each proprietor and a Change Advisory Board convened. A schedule of change is produced and each proprietor is asked to approve or reject the change. One store requests an alteration to the schedule before approval as they have a book signing on the day and there would be too much disruption as they are expecting a large crowd. The amendment is made and the change approved. Release and Deployment Management takes over to agree the detailed plans with each proprietor, ensure that the release package for each store contains the correct assets, track and record the status of each installation, record and manage any issues and take corrective action. Each proprietor knows when the new equipment will be arriving at the store, when it will be installed and receive the knowledge transfer and training needed to operate the new equipment. The process also enables the proprietor to provide confirmation that the training has provided them with the necessary skills.

The owner has implemented a Configuration Management System (CMS) that enables recording of all assets including publications and the relationships between each of the assets. This not only provides a view of publications in stock, on order and being returned but also the relationships of publications to each other. For instance there is a relationship between publications, the series it belongs to, the associated audio book and so on. The owner also knows what equipment is located at which stores and can reallocate, reuse, refresh or retire as required. There is a complete view of all the stores and their assets and the value of those assets. Of course, each proprietor uses the Change Management process to ensure that the CMS is always up-to-date. The owner conducts regular and ad-hoc audits to verify the accuracy of the CMS.

The owner has service levels in place with all suppliers and each proprietor. There is a business continuity plan in place for loss of a store for whatever reason. Service levels vary depending on the size, location and turnover of the store. High profile and high turnover stores have higher service levels than others.

There is a Service Catalogue including services that customers can obtain online as well as in store. Services include on-line ordering of publications, return of books to be sold as second-hand, lamination, tickets for events etc.

By now I think you have the point that I am trying to illustrate. None of the processes described are dealing with IT but are effective for the requirements of the chain of bookstores, owner and staff.

If the owner wants to put in place a performance management process, talent retention programme, a sales and marketing campaign – do they look to ITIL? No, it isn’t in there. But they did want to address the other areas described in this blog and as they had a friend who worked in IT and had used ITIL widely, they took their free advice on how to do address them.

MACANTA can help you implement best practice processes with our Process Development service.

Karen Ferris is a Director of Macanta Consulting and can be contacted at

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