Reaping Benefits from ITIL

December, 2004

A question that I am frequently asked is can ITIL provide tangible benefits?”

In the past, I have had to respond to this query by pointing to the benefits realized by companies adopting ITIL best practices and principles in terms of organizational or cultural intangibles. The main reason I have had to point to “intangible” benefits is that most U.S companies have been unwilling to share the measurable improvements they have obtained through the implementation of ITIL.

There are various reasons why collecting data on ITIL can be a difficult if not impossible process, but most often these issues boil down to concerns with the proprietary nature that surrounds the release of information regarding the measures and costs of delivery of services to customers. Most companies have considered that data to be too sensitive to release.

However, several notable organizations have recently released new data on the benefits of ITIL that point to hard savings and benefits. These companies illustrate that ITIL implementations can reap significant rewards in a variety of areas.

Procter & Gamble: Started using ITIL three years ago and has realized a 6% to 8% cut in operating costs. Another ITIL project has reduced help desk calls by 10%.

Ontario Justice Enterprise: Embraced ITIL two and one half years ago and created a virtual help/service desk that cut support costs by 40%.

Caterpillar: Embarked on a series of ITIL projects 18 months ago. After applying ITIL principles, the rate of achieving the target response time for incident management on Web-related services jumped from 60% to more than 90%.

A few obvious questions arise when looking at these benefits:

  • What do these numbers really mean?
  • What are the direct associations to the implementation of ITIL best practices?
  • Have these companies only applied some or all of the ITIL principles?
  • Have they applied these principles to one, some, or all the core service support and service delivery processes?

The answers lie within the motivations, needs, cultures and direction of each organization individually. While every company’s motivations and application of ITIL best practices and principles are unique, these examples indicate that by applying best practices (no matter how, what, when or why) these organizations have realized tangible, bottom-line benefits.

The fact is that business profitability and shareholder loyalty is dependent on the high availability, dependability, security and performance of IT services. This has made the relative maturity or immaturity of IT processes highly visible. Many companies state that due to the rapidly changing nature of their business, and the pressure from competition to become more cost-effective while still achieving the same or greater profits and output, they find it extremely difficult to devote the time and resources required to apply the needed improvements.

Commentary by Charles Williams. Charles is a senior IT professional with more than 20 years of experience as an IT Director and Consultant. Currently, he is a Managing Partner of Kedar Information Technologies, an IT consulting firm serving the Fortune 1000. He has spoken at numerous industry conferences and seminars, and has written several articles and special reports on the IT industry. He can be reached at

December 2004