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ITIL implementation: The role of ITIL software and project quality Tom Roar Eikebrokk

Jon Iden

Department of Information Systems University of Agder Kristiansand, Norway [email protected]

Department of Strategy and Management NHH – Norwegian School of Economics Bergen, Norway [email protected]

Abstract: This research will investigate the implementation status of the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) reference processes and the influence of ITIL software quality and ITIL project quality on implementation status. The paper analyzes data from a survey of 160 Nordic companies.

achieved. We expect that ITIL implementation will benefit from the use of ITIL software, provided that the ITIL project is handled well. We have thus formulated this research question as two hypotheses: H1: “As ITIL software quality in the ITIL project increases, so does the level of ITIL implementation,” and H2: “As the quality of the ITIL project increases, so does the level of ITIL implementation.”

Keywords: ITIL; implementation status; ITIL software; ITIL project quality



IT departments are reorganizing how they develop and deliver their services using the ITIL process reference model. Research on ITIL is increasing; however, few studies have investigated the implementation status of the ITIL processes in IT departments. Aileen Cater-Steel and her colleagues at the University of Southern Queensland, who are conducting an annual survey at the itSMF Australia conferences, are notable exceptions [1-3]. Introducing ITIL involves several activities, including finding and implementing an ITIL software tool and managing the ITIL project itself. ITIL software tools are used for logging and tracking cases handled by the various processes, and include databases for storing data about key ITIL elements like assets, configuration items, capacities, and availabilities. ITIL software tools are module-based; most commonly, one module per ITIL process. A list of evaluated and recommended ITIL software tools can be found at the official ITIL website ( They are categorized into three groups, Gold, Silver, and Bronze, according to their level of ITIL compliance. As of March 2012, a total of forty-two software tools have been licensed. In addition, companies are developing their own software tools based on open source software [4]. First, we investigate the implementation status of ITIL processes in IT departments. What are the maturity levels of the various processes? Second, we investigate if and to what extent ITIL software tools are being applied, as well as their implementation status. Third, we assess how firms evaluate the usefulness and usability of the ITIL software tools. Fourth, we explore whether there are any positive relationships between ITIL software quality, the quality of the ITIL project, and the level of ITIL implementation

This paper uses data from a survey of company members of the Nordic itSMF chapters. Four considerations motivate our research. First, there is still little academic research available around process reference models like ITIL, and especially on implementation activities and status in firms. Second, there is almost no empirical research on ITIL software tools, and little is known about their dissemination and effects. Third, to date most empirical studies of ITIL are limited to Australia and the U.S. This calls for more research in other international settings. The four Nordic countries (Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway) constitute an interesting opportunity, as Nordic companies have been especially active in adopting ITIL and engaging with the IT Service Management Forum (itSMF). Although their combined population is less than twenty-five million people, the four Nordic countries constitute about fifteen percent of the total number of itSMF members internationally. This paper addresses the gap in knowledge noted above. The paper is organized as follows. First, we account for the survey method. Next, we present findings regarding our research questions and hypotheses. Finally, we present our conclusion and suggest paths for further research. II.


The paper analyses data from ITSM Monitor, a biannual, anonymous survey of IT service management and ITIL in the Nordic countries. The survey targets firms using ITIL in their own organizations, and one person from each companymember of the national itSMF chapters is invited to participate. Of the 950 invitations sent in January 2012, 160 responses were returned. The resulting sample represents a wide range of firms. Fifty-eight percent belong to the private

sector and 42% to the public sector. More than 50% of the sample represents large companies with more than 2,000 employees. Twenty-five percent of the respondents work in firms with more than 300 IT professionals. Still, firms of various sizes and with varying numbers of IT personnel are well represented. The majority of firms have more than four years of experience with ITIL. The respondents represent different roles in their ITIL projects: project managers, project members, and process owners. Ninety-three percent of the respondents have ITIL training certificates, most of them at the ITIL Foundation level. About 70% of the respondents have at least four years of experience with ITIL. All in all, our sample represents a variety of firms and project characteristics, and we find that the respondents are well-qualified to answer the survey. In order to test measurement quality and the quality of our hypotheses, we used the Partial Least Squares (PLS) approach [5] and XLSTAT-PLSPM as our analytical tool. III.


A. Implementation status ITIL version 3 organizes the various processes into four main categories: Service Strategy, Service Design, Service Transition, and Service Operation. In addition, there is a fifth book, Continual Service Improvement, which addresses activities for improving the services and the processes on an ongoing basis. In order to measure ITIL status in their firms, the respondents were asked to report the implementation status of each of the ITIL processes using a five-point ordinal scale: not started (1), early (2), halfway (3), advanced (4), and completed (5). Service Strategy and Continual Service Improvement As implementation status for the processes in this area were low in 2010, and in order to reduce the size of the survey, only the three most mature processes were included in the survey. Table 1 shows that the maturity level of these processes is low and that there have been little progress since 2010. The processes within this category are still in an early phase. Service Strategy and Continual Service  Improvement  Financial Management  Service Portfolio Management  The 7‐Step Improvement Process 



2.1  2.0  2.1 

2.1 2.5 2.2


Service Design The Service Design processes involve the development of IT services with security, availability, capacity, and continuity in focus. It also involves managing the service levels, the service catalogue, and relationships with suppliers. The survey answers indicate that the firms have come furthest with service level management, which

includes managing the SLAs (Service Level Agreements). Table 2 shows that the Service Delivery processes in ITIL version 2 (Availability and Capacity Management), which have been available since 2001, still have a long way to go before they are fully implemented. However, progress is evident for most processes. Service Design Processes Service Catalogue Management Service Level Management Capacity Management Availability Management IT Service Continuity Management  Information Security Management  Supplier Management

2010 2.6 3.0 2.0 2.0 2.3 2.3 2.0

2012 2.7 3.0 2.3 2.5 2.6 2.8 2.6


Service Transition The Service Transition processes involve the passage of services from development to production and delivery. Table 3 shows that the “old” processes from ITIL version 2, Change and Release Management, are the most mature. The new version 3 processes have lower values. In sum, the firms are still in an early stage with the Service Transition processes. Only two processes have reached “halfway” or above. Progress is evident for all processes. Service Transition Processes Transition Planning and Support Change Management Service Asset and Configuration Management  Release and Deployment Management  Service Validation and Testing Evaluation Knowledge Management

2010 2.3 3.4 2.5 2.6 2.2 1.8 2.0

2012 2.7 3.6 2.7 3.0 2.7 2.4 2.3


Service Operation The processes in this category deal with the daily operation of the IT department, and focus on handling user requests and on discovering and recovering errors and problems in the IT infrastructure and in IT services. The Service Operation processes are normally very personnelintensive. As we see from Table 4, most firms have prioritized the processes that are closest to the user: Incident Management and Service Desk. Progress from 2010 is evident for all processes. Service Operation Processes Event Management Incident Management Request Fulfillment Problem Management Access Management Service Desk

2010 2.5 3.9 2.8 3.1 2.4 4.0


2012 2.8 4.2 3.5 3.2 3.1 4.2

Maturity and Prioritization If we rank the processes according to maturity, we find firms have emphasized the Service Operation processes. Apart from Problem Management, all six processes are reactive in character, and all of them are oriented towards servicing the user directly. The more long-term and planning-oriented processes found in Service Design, and the control- and quality-oriented processes in Service Transition, get less attention. Firms are primarily using ITIL to improve their daily operations. Processes Ranked by  Maturity  1. Service Desk  1. Incident Management  3. Change Management  4. Request Fulfillment  5. Problem Management  6. Access Management 

Implementation  Status  4.2 4.2 3.6 3.5 3.2 3.1

Category Service Operation Service Operation Service Transition Service Operation Service Operation Service Operation


B. ITIL software and project quality The 2012 version of ITSM Monitor included new questions related to the status and the quality of ITIL software tools. The respondents were first asked to state their implementation status using a five-point ordinal scale: not started (1), early (2), halfway (3), advanced (4), and completed (5). Their responses show that it is standard for firms implementing ITIL processes to implement a corresponding ITIL software tool. Only six of the 160 firms stated that they had not yet started implementing ITIL software. Scores show that the Nordic companies as a group have achieved an implementation status of 3.2, which is just above halfway. This result may partly be influenced by the fact that many of the processes that the tools are expected to support are still fairly immature. The implementation status varies noticeably among the countries, from Sweden (2.8) to Denmark (3.4). We then asked the firms to respond to five statements about how they perceive the usefulness and usability of their chosen ITIL software. Responses used a five-point scale from “totally disagree” (1) to “totally agree” (5) (Table 6). The scores are generally high, well above the neutral midpoint, which indicate that most firms are finding these tools useful. It is noteworthy, however, that the usability factor scores the lowest. This can be a result of insufficient training, but may also be an attribute of a rich functionality system intended to cover many different IT processes. Perception of ITIL Software Quality  ITSM software makes it easier to align our own needs with  ITIL’s recommendations  ITSM software helps us implement ITIL faster   ITSM software improves the results of our ITIL implementation  ITSM software helps us perform our processes more efficiently  It is easy for our staff to use the ITSM software   TABLE 6. PERCEPTION OF ITIL SOFTWARE QUALITY

The questions related to the quality of the ITIL project were also new in 2012. These questions are important, since low project quality might reduce the level of ITIL implementation, regardless of the ITIL software quality. The respondents were asked to rate their perception of ITIL project quality on a five-point ordinal scale, from “totally disagree” (1) to “totally agree” (5). Table 7 lists the indicators and their average values in our sample. Perception of ITIL Project Quality  The project has managed to stay within budget  The project has managed to stay within time limits  Management is satisfied with the ITIL implementation  IT staff is satisfied with the ITIL implementation 

2012 3.2 3.8 3.5 3.3


The scores for ITIL project quality are all above the neutral midpoint, indicating that firms viewed project quality positively. The project’s ability to stay within budget and the IT staff’s satisfaction with the ITIL implementation had the lowest scores. The highest score is related to the project’s ability to stay within time limits, indicating that shortage of time is less likely to be a problematic issue. C. ITIL software and ITIL project effects on ITIL implementation We developed a research model to study the influence of ITIL software quality and ITIL project quality on ITIL implementation status (Figure 1). The model builds on previous research [6] and includes our two new hypotheses involving these variables. The antecedents to ITIL implementation, including senior management involvement, organizational commitment, group efficacy, and organizational resources, are the primary focus here and are treated as control variables. Appendix 1 provides a more detailed view of the control variables.

2012 3.7  3.5 3.8 3.8 3.2


ITIL software quality was operationalized, with the reflective indicators listed in Table 6. All standardized loadings were above 0.7 and significant, and coefficient alpha was 0.86 for the set of indicators, all indicating sufficient convergent validity. The indicators of ITIL software quality showed discriminant validity, with AVE

higher than the squared correlation between software quality and other constructs. See Table 8 for a summary of measurement quality. Analysis of the structural model provided strong support for our hypothesis that software quality is positively related to ITIL implementation (0.16; p=0.008). We measured ITIL project quality with four reflective indicators (listed in Table 7), which showed whether the project was within budget (a) and time (b), and whether managers (c) and IT staff (d) were satisfied with the project. All these indicators showed sufficient convergent validity (all factor loadings were significant and above 0.7). Coefficient alpha was 0.832, indicating convergent validity. AVE was higher than the squared correlation between ITIL project quality and other constructs, indicating discriminant validity (Table 8). After concluding that measurement validity was sufficient, we investigated our hypothesis and saw a positive relationship between ITIL project quality and ITIL implementation (0.18; p=0.014). Measurement Quality  

Significant standardized loadings (indicators) Standardized loadings > 0.7 (indicators)  Coefficient alpha > 0.7 (construct)  AVE > Squared correlations between constructs 

ITIL  software  quality  All  All  0.859  Yes 

ITIL project  quality  All All 0.832 Yes


The control variables were found to influence both ITIL project quality and ITIL implementation. The level of ITIL project quality increased with senior management involvement (0.18; p=0.030), organizational commitment (0.31; p=0.000), and group efficacy (0.24; p=0.002). ITIL implementation increased with the level of organizational commitment (0.27; p=0.001) and group efficacy (0.26; p=0.000). However, with increasing levels of organizational resources, the level of ITIL implementation decreased (-0.26; p=0.000). In evaluating the formative indicators of organizational resources, only experience with ITIL in general and time since the project was initiated contributed significantly to the variance of the construct. The observed negative relationship shows that the more years spent on ITIL and on the ITIL project, the lower the implementation status. There was no significant relationship between experience with ITIL and project quality. IV.


ITIL version 2 was released between 2000 and 2004. It was this version that triggered IT departments’ booming interest in IT Service Management. ITIL version 3 was released in 2007, and contributed to a more integrated process reference framework, in addition to some new processes.

The ITSM Monitor survey, conducted for the second time, finds that implementation status of the ITIL processes is increasing. Most processes have progressed since 2010. Results show that most firms have prioritized the operative processes of Service Operation; the status for these processes is by far the most mature. In general, however, firms have a long way to go if they intend to reach a completed status for every process in the ITIL process reference books. The importance of ITIL software quality and ITIL project quality are new to this year’s research. Our findings clearly show that higher levels of ITIL project and ITIL software quality are beneficial for the ability to implement ITIL processes. The inclusion of control variables in terms of important antecedents to ITIL implementation [6] shows that important sources of influence on ITIL project quality as well as on the implementation of ITIL processes reside within the organization itself. More surprising was the negative relationship found between organizational resources, in terms of experience with ITIL in general and the ITIL project in particular, and the level of ITIL implementation. No significant relationship was observed between experience and ITIL project quality. Future studies should investigate possible explanations for this negative relationship, including organizational complexity. Future studies should also evaluate whether the indicators of organizational resources are sufficient to reveal its influence. REFERENCES A. Cater-Steel, et al., itSMF Australia 2006 Conference: Summary Report of ITSM Standards and Frameworks Survey, University of Southern Queensland, 2006. [2] A. Cater-Steel, et al., itSMF Australia 2007 Conference: Summary Report of ITSM Standards and Frameworks Survey, University of Southern Queensland, 2007. [3] A. Cater-Steel, et al., itSMF Australia 2009 Conference: Summary Report of ITSM Standards and Frameworks Survey, Technical Report, University of Southern Queensland, 2009. [4] J. Iden, “Implementing IT Service Management. Lessons from a University IT Department,” Information Technology Governance and Service Management: Frameworks and Adaptations, A. Cater-Steel, ed., IGI Global, 2009. [5] V.E. Vinzi, et al., “PLS Path Modeling: From Foundations to Recent Developments and Open Issues for Model Assessment and Improvement,” Handbook of Partial Least Squares; Concepts, Methods and Application, V. E. Vinzi, et al., eds., Springer, 2010. [6] J. Iden and T.R. Eikebrokk, “Understanding the ITIL Implementation Project: Conceptualization and Measurements,” Proc. First International Workshop on IT Service Management and Its Support - ITSMS 2011, IEEE Computer Society, 2011, pp. 21-25. [1]

APPENDIX 1: CONTROL VARIABLES Measurement Quality:  reflective indicators 

Stand.  loading 


Senior mgmt. involvement  Mgmt. involved   Continuous feedback  Mgmt. champions project  Org. commitment  Sufficient resources provided  Key people staying in project  IT staff strongly supports  Group efficacy  Sufficient knowledge  Well‐defined methods  Easy to understand ITIL  Easy to develop own processes  English books no problem  English exam no problem  Measurement Quality:  formative indicators 

  0.911  0.894  0.904    0.846  0.836  0.714    0.605  0.663  0.691  0.675  0.619  0.647  Weight 

  46.17  42.91  46.75    17.388  22.046  12.912    7.849  8.615  10.624  9.092  4.887  5.087  t‐value 

Org. resources  Experience  Year since project initiated  Staff IT  Turnover 

  ‐0.152  ‐0.181  ‐0.071  0.461 

  ‐1.522  ‐2.417  ‐0.278  1.350 

Coeff.  alpha 

AVE >  squared  corr. Yes

0.886        0.721  Yes       0.731  Yes             Multi‐collinearity No        


Path  t‐value  p‐ coeff.  value  Explained variance of ITIL project quality Senior mgmt. involvement  0.175  2.187  0.030  Org. commitment  0.312  3.738  0.000  Group efficacy  0.235  3.222  0.002  Org. resources  0.034  n.s  n.s  Explained variance of ITIL implementation (including  influence of software and project quality)  Senior mgmt. involvement  ‐0.055  n.s  n.s  Org. commitment  0.271  3.480  0.001  Group efficacy  0.256  3.770  0.000  Org. resources  ‐0.267  ‐4.551  0.000  TABLE 10. INFLUENCE OF CONTROL VARIABLES

R‐ square  0.368